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  • Its getting bad people

    Lynn fire cuts expected to impact entire North Shore


    Staff writer

    A massive firefighter layoff in Lynn today could have a domino effect across the North Shore, potentially slowing firefighter response times and mutual aid services, area fire chiefs said yesterday.

    Lynn is scheduled to eliminate 36 firefighter jobs today, after the Lynn City Council voted last week not to add $2.1 million to its city budget. Lynn Fire Chief Edward Higgins Jr. was still trying to determine how to deal with the crisis yesterday. But one thing was certain, he said: "Obviously, we have to rely more on mutual aid."

    Area fire chiefs said they expect to make more runs into Lynn to provide coverage there this year. But there also is a concern that if local departments need to call upon Lynn for assistance, help may be a long time coming.

    "The system is going to be more taxed, and you are going to see responses into Lynn more often, obviously," Salem Fire Chief Robert Turner said. "We also have to be concerned that if we called Lynn for something and they had something going on, they may not be able to come."

    Turner said he hoped to meet with other North Shore fire chiefs this week to discuss the impact of the layoffs.

    While anxious about the situation, some chiefs also expressed understanding.

    "I can see it creating issues," Peabody Fire Chief Steve Pasdon said, "but at the same time, Lynn has always been a good neighbor. And in the past when you couldn't get someone else, Lynn always sent something."

    All of this comes as local fire departments are dealing with budget cuts of their own. While there have been few actual layoffs, in some cases departments are taking firefighting apparatus off the road to save money, leaving fewer vehicles available to respond to mutual aid calls.

    In Beverly, for example, Fire Chief Richard Pierce said cuts to his overtime account will require him to take his only aerial ladder truck off the road beginning next week. That same truck was needed to respond to a three-alarm blaze at a triple-decker on Hanover Street in Lynn early Sunday morning.

    "That won't happen next week," Pierce said.

    Beverly still will have a "quint" truck available, which is an engine truck that has an aerial ladder on top. But the quint's ladder is shorter than the normal aerial truck. So, instead of running three engines and one ladder truck, Beverly will begin running two engines and one quint, a situation that will last until Pierce is certain his overtime account can make it to the end of the year.

    But of all the North Shore communities, perhaps Swampscott will be the one most affected by Lynn's fiscal trouble.

    "Their layoffs will mean they will be calling our companies to Lynn more often," Swampscott Fire Chief Larry Galante said.

    And that is not the only consequence.

    When a fire occurs in Swampscott, Lynn typically responds to provide mutual aid, Galante said. As a Swampscott engine goes directly to the fire's location, Engine 8 from Eastern Avenue in Lynn is responsible for responding, hooking up hoses and providing the water source to put out the blaze.

    But Lynn's Engine 8 has been closed, Galante said.

    If another Lynn engine then has to travel across town to reach the fire, or if the second Swampscott engine must respond, the truck already at the fire has only about 4 1/2 minutes of water available before it runs dry, Galante said.

    "It puts more strain on us because we need a secure water supply for any type of situation, and time is against us always," Galante said.

    But then comes the domino effect.

    As Swampscott deals with the fire and waits for Lynn or a second Swampscott engine to secure the water supply, the Swampscott Fire Department must call on another community to provide coverage in the event of a second emergency in town. The community whose fire department steps up and provides coverage may then be required to call in additional men to cover for its firefighters in Swampscott.

    As more calls come in, the dominos continue to fall, and more communities become involved.

    Mutual aid on the North Shore includes 19 communities and is handled by the Beverly Control Program. The program's dispatch center receives all requests for assistance and sends mutual aid where it is needed. It has a constantly changing list of the resources member communities have available at one time, said Bob Battis, director of emergency communications at Beverly Control.

    So far, Battis said he has not seen any reduction in mutual aid services. But, he noted, the new fiscal year just began this week.

    "I am hoping that someone in the state Legislature is going to wake up and realize you have to do something," Battis said. "You have to pump some money into the cities and towns. It is definitely going to impact life safety."

    Turner, Salem's chief, said yesterday he intended to contact his counterparts across the North Shore this week to discuss the impact of Lynn's reductions.

    "I don't know what the answer is, but we'll put our heads together and see what we come up with," Turner said.

    For his part, Lynn's Higgins expected the mutual aid system to continue; it is needed now more than ever, he said. But as budget problems become even more profound, the system may need restructuring.

    "Mutual aid is going to have to survive at some level. Whether or not it is going to survive at the level right now, I don't know," Higgins said. "I think we will always continue to help each other, but it is going to come from farther and farther away."

  • #2
    Since i think I'm the only other person in the same area as you, I hear ya. I'm one of those people in Beverly who's at risk. Dfdex1- maybe you can talk Danvers into putting another truck into service so that it can come to Beverly more

    "Man is the only creature that dares to light a fire and live with it.
    The reason? Because he alone has learned to put it out."
    - Henry Jackson Vandyke Jr. (1852-1933)


    • #3
      HAHAHAHHAHAHA Which one Our Eng. 2(quint) that wont stop or shift and is in the mechanics bay,Our reserve Eng. 4 that broke and axle and was scheduled to be going out to get re built but cant cause it has to cover Eng. 2. Or we could send our Eng. 3 err I mean North Reading Eng.2 that is ours for a while our Eng. 3 is down with alternator problems. Let this serve as a lesson------do not by demo trucks!
      Last edited by dfdex1; 07-01-2003, 09:40 PM.


      • #4

        I know what you mean. We did that with 2 Squads and found out thatit just doesn't pay.

        I'd give you guys MA....but it wouls take a while. I'd be more than happy to bring the Skunk Killer up to you guys.
        AKA: Mr. Whoo-Whoo

        IAFF Local 3900

        IACOJ-The Crusty Glow Worm

        ENGINE 302 - The Fire Rats



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