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Watertown city council decides to demote 8 fire captains

Julia Botero
WRVO News File Photo
Dan Daugherty is president of the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 191.

The Watertown City Council has decided to demote eight fire captains at a council meeting Monday night.  Mayor Joe Butler said the council made the decision to avoid lay-offs within the fire department. 

“Our contention is that they have 1.7 firefighters for every officer. We’ve contended before that we are top heavy. This restriction will help eliminate that top heaviness and still preserve the personnel we have,” Butler said.

The change to the fire department will save the city close to $70,000. Dan Daugherty, president of the local firefighters union, said if the changes takes place, the Watertown Fire Department will lose the leadership they need to operate one fire truck.

“Because of the demotions there will no longer be supervisors for that apparatus. Without a supervisor there will no one to lead that crew. There will be no way for that crew to operate. Response time will suffer and service in Watertown will suffer," Daugherty said.

The firefighters' union will use whatever legal action possible to block the changes, Daugherty promised. Council members plan to meet Wednesday for a final vote on the issue.