Opinion: Dartmouth residents at risk from New Bedford’s fire department cuts

Jul 29, 2020

To the editor:

My name is Alan King. I am the President of Dartmouth Permanent Firefighters District 3 Local 5156. We represent the full time firefighters of Dartmouth Fire District 3. District 3 is responsible for the protection of the north half of the town of Dartmouth. This consists of the majority of the town’s businesses, UMass Dartmouth, Interstate 195 and countless homes.

I am writing today out of a growing concern of the conditions of the New Bedford Fire Department staffing and apparatus closures. As many of you may know, Mayor Mitchell’s administration has closed Station 11 on Brock Avenue in the city’s south end. They now are planning to shut down Engine 8 on Acushnet Avenue.

There are dozens of reasons this reckless behavior cannot be allowed to continue. I am focused on only one, life safety. Mayor Mitchell’s administration is not only placing the safety of the people and firefighters of New Bedford in jeopardy, he is placing the safety of the surrounding communities at risk.

By increasingly relying on mutual aid from other departments, he is stripping those communities of their resources.

Speaking for District 3 in Dartmouth, we routinely provide our only ladder truck to New Bedford when requested. Now, make no mistake, we are happy to help our brothers and sisters whenever the need arises. However, our doing so only puts lives at risk in Dartmouth. Each time we respond out of our district we take a guaranteed response away.

District 3 has only three firefighters on staff at a time. We rely heavily on our call firefighters to respond to incidents. Now, as professional as the call firefighters are, there is no guaranteed response at any given time of day.

Each time our staff responds to a neighboring community it severely limits our abilities to respond quickly and effectively.

I strongly urge the taxpayers and business owners in and around New Bedford to reach out to Mayor Mitchell and voice your deep concern for your safety to him, and encourage him to rethink his position on these continued cuts to the Fire Department.

Alan King, Dartmouth Permanent Firefighters District 3 Local 5156 President