The purpose of Manchester Fire and Rescue is to provide the citizens of Manchester-by-the-Sea a swift professional emergency response to incidents involving, fire, rescue, hazmat, and emergency medical services in an ever-changing environment. If the fire department no longer existed independently, would this still be the case? Simply put, no. The idea that this town has, to establish hybrid police officers/firefighters, is not only a threat to public safety but completely outsources fire services and silences the voices of Local 2912.
Every first responder career is considered understaffed, including both firefighters and police officers. In combining these two positions, the town of Manchester by the Sea creates an impossible amount of labor for these hybrid officers, who lack all the training, education, and certification necessary for the position. This plan to create a hybrid police/firefighter is unheard of in Massachusetts and in short, poses significant safety risks to Fire Union members and the citizens of this town.
The individuals of the fire department do far more than just fight fires. They are crucial members of this affluent community, helping the population from young to older. In schools, they volunteer to provide education in student awareness fire education (SAFE) programs. With parents, they offer car seat installations and safety checks. Within the community, they arrange CPR training programs and even handle all permits and their fees, like burning, outdoor cooking, and dumpster. All of this could not be done without Local 2912 and its four core values of integrity, compassion, dedication, diversity and respect.
In Manchester-by-the-Sea’s fire department, there are 11 certified firefighters. While they handle an impressive average of 1200 annually, they actually had 1400 calls for service in 2022. Not only that, but 90% of their department is paramedic certified, something that is bound to be critical in emergency situations, and not as common among police officers. Implementing the new, unprecedented, model drastically reduces the capabilities of the department, and puts the safety of the residents at risk.
Earlier this month, the fire department was dispatched to Essex for a 2nd alarm structure fire. There, they battled bitter cold, wind gusts and gales, while working to overcome a water supply issue to bring the situation under control. One home ended up being a total loss but due to their efforts, several neighboring residences were saved. After their hard work here, they were dispatched yet again to a fire alarm activation, which turned out to be accidental activation, but necessary for them to be there, nonetheless. When all was said and done, the unit arrived back at their quarters past 3 am, over four hours after starting, and still had to refill the water tank on the engine, clean up the tools and SCBAs (air packs) and decontaminate their turnout gear before getting rest.
The Professional Firefighters of Massachusetts (PFFM) and Barrault and Associates LLC both stand behind Local 2912 in their efforts to fight back and save, not only their job but the residents of Manchester-by-the-Sea. Both of these organizations criticize the town’s attempts as it would create far more dangerous situations.
As Local 2912 puts it, they strive to be a “progressive, well-respected Fire/Rescue Department that sets an exemplary standard in fire safety education, fire suppression, rescue, and emergency medical services through dynamic leadership, innovative practices, and effective customer service.” This simply cannot be done with hybrid police/firefighters, and the town deserves better than casting out a vital part of emergency responses.