Six days after Houston City Council approved 220 firefighter layoffs, Fire Chief Sam Peña followed through telling the department's newest hires in an emailed letter, "I am sorry to have to notify you that your position is being eliminated..."
Peña explained the layoffs, telling firefighters, "The City of Houston has experienced a sizeable budget shortfall due to the implementation of Prop B."
The letter says the layoffs are not a reflection of their individual work and informed them of upcoming informational sessions on unemployment resources.
Hours later, one of the 200 told ABC13, "It's a gut punch." He spoke with us on the condition we not reveal his identity as it would open him up to city discipline. The military vet and father of a young family moved to Houston to be a part of what he called "the best fire department in the country."
Tuesday, the email that could end his career informed him his last day will be June 30. "I got an email that said, 'Hey, you're no longer needed. You've got 60 days. Don't forget to turn your gear in, or you are going to get charged three grand.'"