Firefighter: Plane passengers less safe after layoffs

NORTH BEND, Ore. -- Firefighters are speaking out, after the City of North Bend announced 2 of them would be laid off because of the fire service agreement coming to an end with the airport.

Some firefighters are saying the agreement coming to and end means people won't be as safe at the airport. "The airport keeps telling everyone they will be as safe or safer than they were before, that simply is not true," said firefighter Mike Lucero.

With the recent airplane crash in San Francisco still fresh in everyone's mind, and this fire service agreement officially terminated, people want to know if a plane catches fire at Southwest Oregon Regional Airport, who is going to be boarding the burning plane?

The short answer appears to be nobody.

John Lucero, a North Bend firefighter, says they won't be able to help. "There could be multiple people in there needing to get off that plane. We, North Bend Fire Department personnel will not go on that plane, because we won't be certified to do so anymore," he said.

Theresa Cook, the airport's executive director, says firefighters could hinder people leaving a plane. "We don't want any fully dressed firefighters entering or trying to enter the aircraft and blocking the exiting passengers," she said.

The airport says having federally trained personnel run a truck used to surpress the fire at a safe distance from the hot zone is the most adventageous scenerio.

The firefighters feel different, but say their hands are tied. "We're not coming out there to go into that hot zone, and that's where lives are saved and lost," Lucero said.

As the termination of the fire service remains a hot zone in it's own right, the city says there is no saving the two positions lost without the agreement.