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Springville Journal letter to the editor: Clarifying study on Boston’s fire companies

Editor:
I have received inquiries, regarding the meeting arranged by Councilman Boardway, with the chiefs and presidents of North Boston Fire Company and Boston Fire Company on May 23, held outside of Boston.

After reading Boardway’s report, in the minutes of the board meeting of June 5, I felt some response was warranted, to address the confusion that exists, regarding the content of that meeting and the study to which he refers.

Boardway has been an advocate of consolidation in fire protection, since his election.

No reliable data was presented, to support a consolidation of fire protection. My priority is to maintain fire protection in Boston, using volunteer staffing, for as long as possible.

Boardway states, “Three fire companies have put together their own study, in which the conclusion was there is room for consolidation in the fire companies.” The fire companies did not “put together their own study,” but commissioned Michael Dallessandro to conduct the study, since his company specializes in this area of fire protection.

Contrary to Boardway’s statement, the study does not conclude that there is “room for consolidation in the fire companies.”

Dallessandro states, “The station locations in the town of Boston seem to provide healthy coverage to the community and ... if you were to possibly reduce a station, stations or a fire company, there will be negative impact on station, to incident response times and coverage.”

The study recommends that the fire companies and town establish a fire district, due to the dwindling number of active volunteers in each company. This would allow all active volunteers to respond to all incidents, in all areas of the town.

It would add another layer of government, within our town (added taxpayer expense), under this scenario. The board would relinquish the responsibility and control of negotiating contracts with the fire companies.

The elimination of Patchin Fire Company is the focus of several individuals on the board and within the fire service. Their elimination was not mentioned, in the study.

The chiefs at the meeting of May 23 stated that they thought their fire companies could handle the area voided by Patchin’s elimination. When I questioned the lengthy response times to some areas in Patchin’s area of responsibility, it was decided that some paid staff might be necessary, to maintain acceptable response times. Patchin’s Station No. 2 would need to remain online.

This is the opinion of a few individuals. In no way can it be interpreted as the consensus of the membership of the fire companies.

I have heard many different concerns associated with the possible elimination of Patchin.

It is not agreed “that consolidation is ... necessary for the continued viability of fire service” in Boston.

A merger of the three fire companies may become necessary in the future, to properly serve the fire protection needs of our residents. To accomplish this, establishment of a fire district may be necessary.

I do not foresee any savings to our taxpayers, by taking this route.

Russ Metcalf
Boston Fire Company Inc. president
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