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  • 19 Oct 2014

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Firefighters raise concerns about mayor's budget

At least 100 firefighters filled City Hall in Portland Thursday evening to raise their concerns about the mayor’s new budget, which does not include funding for 26 firefighter positions.

Abby Quarterman was one of the people who packed city hall Thursday but it wasn’t because she is a firefighter but rather a fire victim.

“I never thought a house fire would happen to me and then I woke up in the morning and it was happening,” said Quarterman.

Quarterman woke up to a five-alarm fire on the morning of August 8, 2013 at her home on NE Martin Luther King Boulevard.

On behalf of the firefighters who saved her life that day, Quarterman said she signed up to speak before the city council.

“I think there could have been some loss of life or harm to people,” said Quarterman. “I felt like it was my duty to come forward and say that the mayor’s budget is unacceptable.”

Quarterman was among at least 100 firefighters who filled into council chambers to protest the mayor’s proposed budget.

Twenty-six of the firefighters in attendance, including Chris Durkin, said they received pink slips last year because of cuts during the previous cycle but were saved by a temporary $2.6 million federal grant.

Durkin said funding for 13 of those positions with the $9 million of new funding for the city would help secure the future for public safety.

“We were told by the fire commissioner that he was going to secure funding for the safer grant,” said Durkin.

However, Portland Mayor Charlie Hales’ spokesperson Dana Haynes said the mayor’s budget proposals stand.

“There were no layoffs. There will be no layoffs this year. There will be no layoffs into half the budget for next year and that’s because of the federal grant,” said Haynes.

Haynes said the budget this year is about stabilizing the entire city budget.