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Fire fighters picket possible position cuts


Pensacola firefighters picket possible cuts at the Pensacola International Airport fire station.

Firefighters feel proposed budget cuts will put the 1.5 million passengers who use the airport at risk.

Drivers at the intersection of 12th Avenue and Airport Boulevard in Pensacola honked in support of dozens of firefighters standing at the airport entrance waving signs.

Airport firefighters are the first responders in an aircraft rescue.  In a situation where every second counts, firefighter, Jose Cobbs believes the airport's latest budget proposal will hinder their ability to save lives.
The proposed budget would eliminate a captain position, leaving the on-site fire station with just two firefighters on duty.

"Getting rid of the position they are trying to get rid of, there's not going to be anybody in command what so ever if an emergency happens at the airport" said Jose Cobbs, firefighter.

Pensacola has three fire stations on its airport property; the Federal Aviation Administration requires at least two.  The on-site fire station is located near the control tower and two more are at each end of the north-south runway, right outside the perimeter fence.
Airport director, Greg Donovan says safety won't be compromised with the cut, but it will save the airport money.

"This is a budget reality, and we're spending over a million dollars for 9-positions, we spend over 23-thousand dollars a month on overtime, we can do better" said Greg Donovan, Pensacola Airport Director.

"My life and my family's life, doesn't have a value to it, so whatever we can do to work this out and keep these firefighters at this airport that's what we need to do" said Cobbs.