A small flyer that has been distributed around parts of Munjoy Hill disputes facts that Fire Department Chief Keith Gautreau asserted at a budget workshop this evening at city hall and on a previous occasion. The flyer and its facts are the talk of the Hill according to numerous people that this blogger has spoken to recently. The Fire Department Chief has proposed a budget designed to cut overtime in its budget Chief Gautreau has stated at several public meetings this blogger has attended – including this evening’s workshop.
Overtime has long been an issue that councilors have sought to bring in line. The Chief’s proposal would remove Engine 1 from the Munjoy Hill station and its crew would be otherwise employed in the Department – in a pool from which substitutes for sick leave, vacation days, etc. could be called upon. There are currently 12 people needed to staff Engine 1, although Assistant Fire Chief Christopher Goodall told this blogger tonight there are only 8 people staffing Engine 1. What?
It must be remembered and taken into account that the Fire Chief’s boss is the city manager Jon Jennings who also controls the city’s purse strings. Do you think the Fire Chief is caught between a rock and a hard spot?
Many on the HIll that this blogger has spoken to are concerned that the loss of Engine 1 is a safety issue as well. “The loss of Engine 1 and the firefighters who staff it will decrease the protection and increase response times city wide,” according to the flyer. However, in response to a question asked of him, the Chief assured the councilors that with the loss of Engine 1 and fewer fire fighters, there would be no safety threat to residents of the Hill. “Rapid response by the appropriate amount of fire personnel keeps fires small,” said the flyer.
Chris Thomson, president of the firefighters union, has met with members of the Finance Committee to explain his proposal. He has asked to meet with the city’s accountant, but has been denied that opportunity – probably by city manager Jon Jennings? Chief Gautreau said that the Thomson proposal did not address his “priorities.” He will respond to the Thomson proposal tomorrow, Tuesday, May 14, 2019.
The Munjoy Hill Neighborhood Organization has called for a moratorium to support a full financial analysis regarding Engine 1 according to a long email signed by Jay Norris, president of the MHNO, dated May 14, 2019. He cites the old, wooden buildings that could go up in flames in an instant as a real concern to the neighborhood. The neighborhood is very concerned about one less engine and fewer firefighters on the Hill he wrote. Norris additionally wrote that “We take no position on any specific plan, nor have we aligned with or endorsed any union or group offering alternatives.” Norris asks for the Finance Committee to call for the moratorium this evening.
Please see previous post herein dated May 2, 2019 for background information.