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Bremerton Fire Department must agree to more than $400,000 in cuts in two weeks

The Bremerton fire fighters’ union is negotiating $407,600 in cuts to the Fire Department with the mayor’s office and is aiming for an agreement Nov. 24, a week before the City Council is expected to approve a 2011 budget.

Budget presentations this month have mentioned the possibility of a station closure, but union officers said it is one among several options being discussed between the the union and the city.

The city requested $1.4 million in collective cuts from its departments when they submitted budget requests in September, interim Finance Director Cathy Johnson said.

The union’s main objective is to maintain its staffing levels as it negotiates the cuts from the department’s $7.9 million budget, said Doug Baier, the fire fighters’ union secretary. Furloughs have been ruled out because they would create overtime hours, costing more.

“It wouldn’t really behoove the city to do that,” Baier said.

As for the possibility of a station closure, Baier said stations could take turns closing on different days or weeks, leaving two of the three stations to cover the whole city.

However, the Fire Department will not know what will ultimately be cut, or whether they will affect operations, until next week, Fire Chief Al Duke said.

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