Fire chief implements 2nd wave of reorganization

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Fire Chief Charles Doody is calling his most recent department reorganization the most impactful change to come to the CFD since EMS ambulance service was added to the force in 1972.

Doody recently implemented the second major wave of personnel adjustments with the retirement of Fire Captain Dan Beal, who stepped down after 31 years of service.

cfd-truckOver the last two weeks, Doody assigned four captains — Wendell Robery, Ed Freitas, Andy Morgan, and Tad Johnston — to oversee all the calls at both stations and redeployed the department’s lieutenants into station and shift command positions.

He also recently submitted a budget request to add four additional firefighters beginning in FY19 — one for each shift — to bring the minimum manning from nine to 10 firefighters per shift. The additional manpower, if approved, will cost the town another $213,000 in salary, plus additional costs for training and equipment. These plans are currently under review by the Board of Selectmen and the Finance Committee.

Doody said there were two factors driving the reorganization. One was the successful implementation of a regional call center beginning in July, which has enabled the chief to move a firefighter previously handling dispatch onto a fire truck.

The other factor was the spike in call volume, which increased more than 10 percent in a one-year period — up from 3,900 calls in 2016 to 4,300 in 2017.

“We need more firefighters on the street,” said Doody. “The [growth in] development, hotels, opioids, calls within the neighborhoods, hazmat.”

The last time the department added more firefighters was in 2001, and Doody believes that growth in the town over the past 17 years, as well as broader societal changes, have led to the need for more shift personnel.

Earlier this fiscal year, Doody promoted four firefighters to lieutenant, giving the department a total of eight. The four new lieutenants are Tom Norton, Jason Coleman, Jamie Meier and Ryan Patrician. Tom Driscoll will be the training captain and Norton will also take over the responsibilities as the fire prevention officer.

Doody believes the new reorganization will benefit the department for years to come. But he also thinks the town should decide at some point whether the community needs to add a third fire station due to new development and population shifts, particularly in the Route 138 area.

In other recent Fire Department news, Doody was pleased to report that the FinCom has approved a $200,000 reserve fund transfer to help address a shortfall in the current operating budget. The shortfall was caused by increased overtime costs resulting from the temporary loss of six firefighters due to injuries and illnesses. Doody said the transfer will enable the department to keep both of its ambulances running at least through annual town meeting in May. By then he is hoping that some of the firefighters will have returned to work, which should help alleviate some of the budget concern through the end of FY18 and into the start of the next fiscal year.

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avatar Posted by on Feb 2 2018. Filed under News, Police & Fire. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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