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Five stations in Atlanta close after firefighters call in sick

  • Story Highlights
  • 27 firefighters call in sick Sunday; five stations forced to close in Atlanta, Georgia
  • Union president says budget cuts have left firefighters 'beaten down and run-down'
  • He says he doesn't believe call-ins were part of organized effort
  • Fire chief says Super Bowl Sunday historically contributes to absenteeism
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ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- So many Atlanta firefighters called in sick Sunday that five understaffed fire stations closed for the day, according to the city's fire chief.

Chief Kelvin Cochran told CNN affiliate WGCL that 27 firefighters called in sick, more than double the usual number.

Atlanta fire union President Jim Daws said a hiring freeze and city-imposed work furloughs as the city tries to cut costs have left firefighters "beaten down and run-down." But Davis said he did not think the situation Sunday was an organized effort. Video Watch local resident express concern »

The Fire Department has been on a four-day work week since December, according to the department's Web site. The site lists 40 stations in the department.

The fire chief said he did not think firefighters were trying to make a political statement, and he pointed to a possible Super Bowl effect on employees calling in sick.

"Historically, payday weekends and Super Bowl Sunday also contribute to absenteeism," Cochran told WGCL.

Some residents in areas where fire stations were closed Sunday said they were nervous.

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"It's nothing less than governmental malpractice on the part of Atlanta's elected officials," said 26-year-old resident Dan Dean.

A dispatcher with the department said calls had been routine Sunday.

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