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Firefighters protest 24-hour shutdown

Lexington firefighters spent hours Saturday gathered in front of a historic fire station, protesting its temporary closing and alerting the public that their homes and families may not be safe.

Fire Station No. 4 on Jefferson Street was closed Saturday in order to reduce Lexington Fire Department costs.

On Friday, Mayor Jim Newberry said the closing would not compromise public safety because there are four other fire stations within a 1.6-mile radius of the historic Vogt Reel House.

But about 50 firefighters who protested on Saturday disagreed and displayed signs that said, "This engine is closed! Who is protecting your house?" and "Mayor Newberry closed this company. Who is protecting your family?"

Lexington fire Capt. Edward Crews, secretary of the Lexington Professional Firefighters Local 526 said fire stations are sometimes out of service for maintenance or training. But training can be halted in case of emergency and maintenance is unavoidable.

Crews said more station closings will occur based on daily staffing levels because the mayor wants to save money by not paying overtime. Newberry has said the city could save as much as $900,000.

On Saturday, firefighters urged residents to contact council members and the mayor to tell them not to call for further closing.