Short-Staffed Williston (VT) Fire Department to Put into Service Two Apparatus

The Williston (VT) Fire Department plans to put into service two new apparatus this weekend, reports willistonobserver.com.

However, the department lacks the staff to consistently operate the new equipment, the report says. Voters in 2019 approved taking on $1.4 million of debt for the purchase; after some delays they arrived at the Talcott Road station in October.

At the time of their arrival, according to the report, the department received a staffing needs report it commissioned last fall. It presented a grim reality of the department’s ability to provide fire and emergency medical coverage.

The report, completed by CA-based AP Triton, recommended an immediate increase of nine career firefighters, and, over a five-year period, for nearly 40 new firefighters. Those moves would increase the overall budget by roughly $2.5 million annually, the report says.

The department currently has between three and four firefighters on-duty 24/7, which has been par for the course over recent years. However, the report notes that there has been a drop in on-call firefighters; the department has gone from about 30 on-call firefighters in 2016 to eight now.

The new engine has a rear-mounted, 100-foot ladder and enough removable ground ladders for nine additional firefighters; its predecessor had a mid-mounted 95-foot ladder with a bucket, the report says. It also carries 500 gallons of water, 200 more than the old apparatus. The other new apparatus is a water tanker. It can carry 1,500 gallons of water.

In total, the fire department has four fire trucks, two ambulances, and a utility pickup truck, the report says.

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