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Ceres Fire Department Hopes to Prevent Layoffs

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CERES-

The Ceres Fire Department is cutting corners and doing everything they can to prevent layoffs.

They're also hoping budgeting and a federal grant will help them stay financially afloat.

It's part of a firefighters training to maintain equipment, daily. That same work ethic is what goes into how the Ceres Fire Department budgets.

"The layoff option was what we wanted to leave for our very last option,” Battalion Chief Michael Lillie, with the Ceres Fire Department explained on Friday.

According to Lillie, their 2012 SAFER grant - short for Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response federal funding- expired two months ago.

"Layoff meant six guys, six firefighters without jobs and it also reduced our staffing back down," he said.

Since then, they've had to cut back, while ensuring the 45,000 residents they serve are protected.

“But we don’t want to wait ’til last minute. We want to make sure we’re prepared ahead of time,” Lillie said.

The battalion chief tells FOX40 they're making due with what they have. The City allocated an extra $100,000 in September for the department and fire has also "browned out" one of their stations to save overtime expenses.

"It’s our station that had the lowest call volume,” Lillie said.

Meaning they’ll only staff fire Station Number 3 if they have extra firefighters on hand.

"Because of some major roads going into that area, station 1 can get into 3’s area pretty quick,” he said.

Lillie said all they can do now is wait for the application for the SAFER grant to open up but they may have to wait until next Summer to have their chance.

"But we don’t want to wait ’til last minute. We want to make sure we’re prepared ahead of time," Lillie told FOX40. And even then, the grant is not a guarantee they'll get the funding.  "We’re working together to come up with a plan. Basically, a plan-b if that does happen.”

Lillie adds, the last time they were awarded the grant they received almost $1.1 million which was enough to pay for the six positions within the Ceres Fire Department.​