Firefighter absences close 4 Atlanta stations

ATLANTA (AP) - For the second time this month, Atlanta fire officials closed fire stations after a rash of firefighters called in sick over the weekend.

The four stations that had been temporarily closed reopened Sunday. The number of firefighters who called in sick dropped from 25 on Saturday to 14 on Sunday.

Officials say the department averages 13 absences due to illness for every shift.

Chief Kelvin Cochran warned on Saturday that the city had reached "an extreme level of vulnerability" because of furloughs and an unusual number of firefighters calling in sick.

The chief issued a similar warning on Super Bowl Sunday Feb. 1 when 27 firefighters called in sick, and five stations were closed.

Cochran says he does not believe the absent firefighters were staying home in protest.

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