HOUSTON (FOX 26) - Houston firefighters who received lay off notices in the fallout over Proposition B are speaking out for the first time.
They didn't want their identities revealed and have all worked for the Houston Fire Department for three years or less. They all say working for the Houston Fire Department is their dream.
"This is more than just a job. This is our life. This is who we are," said a firefighter.
"I'm torn because not only am i fighting for my family at home, but I'm fighting to stay a part of my family outside of home," added another firefighter who is a single father of two boys.
"My oldest son has had three heart surgeries," he added. "He has more to come. I depend on this [health] insurance."
More than 200 Houston firefighters received the notices and they say it was through email.
"It was very impersonal. I felt a lot of disrespect from it," said one firefighter as another nodded. "The day we graduated, we [shook] hands with leaders of the city. They should shake our hand if they're telling us to leave the fire department."
"I refuse to go down without doing everything I can. If they want my badge, I want them to come and take it from me and look me in the eye and tell me they don't want me here anymore," said a firefighter who explained that he left another job with a fire department that paid more, because working for Houston was his career goal.
"A lot us have two or three jobs. It's not easy. Nothing is easy about this situation," added another firefighter.
They say despite the uncertainty, they are overwhelmed and grateful for the ourpouring of support from those they serve. One of the firefighters described election day as the day he felt most valued.
"To have them behind me and vote for me and fight for me, that just makes me want to come to work more," he added. "It just makes me not want to leave my station. It makes me not want to go anywhere else."
The firefighters, despite told their last day is June 30th, say the fight for pay parity is worth it.
"It's what these men and women who paved the way before us, who have worn the name 'Houston Fire' on the back of their bunker coats for years before us deserve," a firefighter told FOX 26.
"I'm willing to put up my job and fight for every other man and woman that's in the department so we can get what we're worth, " another one added. "Because we give our best."