“This neighborhood has a long relationship with fire,” said Jay Norris, president of the Munjoy Hill Neighborhood Organization, the organizer of a rally supporting the retention of Engine 1 as an active fire fighting tool at the Hill station. He added that Engine 1 was involved in the Noyes Street fire of several years ago in which numerous young adults died. This rally is in opposition to the proposal of Fire Department Chief Keith Leatreau has proposed with the blessings of his boss, city manager Jon Jennings, who has control over the city’s purse strings.
State Representative Mike Sylvester said: “We pay our taxes. The first question that should be asked is does this elimination make this community safer or not. It’s a conspirancy of numbers,” said Mike. “This is about the lives of people in our city.”
Chris Thomson, president of the local fire fighters union, told the assembled crowd: “As we stand here this morning engine 5 is out of service because it and its crew are in training. The next available engine is at Bramhall or across Tukey’s Bridge,” he said. Engine 5 provides backup for fires on the Hill.
Mayor Ethan Strimling said he will be introducing an amendment to restore the number of firefighters needed to allow them to restore Engine 1 to the Hill. Many Hill residents have long believed that the city wants to shutdown the Hill station eventually and this is just another effort in that long-term goal. (Maybe the city wants to sell the building to a condominium developer.)
The city’s treasurer has stated that he is so busy he doesn’t have time to work on the proposal numbers as submitted to him by Chris Thomson. At a previous finance committee meeting this blogger attended, Thomson was told by Chair Slippery Mavadones that Thomson could have access to city officials to verify his numbers on overtime vs. keeping Engine 1 on the Hill.
“I really think Belinda Ray has been a failure as a city councilor. She has let us down as far as development on the HIll is concerned and it will be obscene loosing any kind of fire support for these old buildings on the Hill. She has been a dud,” said Ken Bailey, a longtime resident of the Hill who attended the Rally this afternoon.
City Councilor Belinda Ray did not respond to an email from mhn.com about her absence from the Rally today on the Hill.
A Rally is planned for 4:30 pm on city hall steps on Monday prior to the meeting in objection to the planned budget which may be voted upon that evening.