Dedham (MA) Engine 4 has been taken out of service due to lack of funding which concerns firefighters and citizens.
A solution to a budget crisis and to cut overtime costs by the Town Administrator and Board of Selectmen is to remove a fire engine from service during the 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. day tours Mondays through Thursdays for the foreseeable future.
In a statement made by Dedham Firefighters Local 1735 President Stephen MacDougall, the Board of Selectmen and Town Administrator have ignored requests to fill vacancies created by retirements with full time new recruits opting to staff them with overtime.
MacDougall explains that due to the usual number of injuries that occur with the hazards of firefighting combined with the number of vacancies within the ranks have caused overtime expenses to skyrocket and depleting the budget to cover the manpower.
Normally the Dedham Fire Department operates three engine companies and a ladder truck, all staffed with one fire officer and two firefighters. There are 61 firefighters that are divided into 4 working groups that are on duty 24 hours and then off for 72 hours each.
The primary responsibility of an engine company at a fire is to provide a water supply but it only carries 500 gallons of water in the tank which is normally drained within minutes unless a supplemental supply of water is obtained from a fire hydrant which takes time but more importantly manpower.
However, fire apparatus not only responds to fires but more commonly medical calls, traffic accidents, hazardous materials incidents, downed electrical wires, bomb scares and many other incidents that pose a direct threat to public safety. Average response time from the receipt of a call for help to arrival time is on average 3-5 minutes which is crucial to mitigating any type of hazard or saving a life.
The Dedham Fire Department answered 6,248 emergency calls in 2011. Of those 188 were fires and 3,028 were emergency medical responses. On average the department responds to 17 calls a day.
These cuts come at a problematic time for communities as an alleged arson spree is ongoing on the South Shore with at least 19 suspicious fires in various communities over recent weeks.
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