Falmouth Town Manager Julian M. Suso said Wednesday, February 19 that there are no plans to close the West Falmouth Fire Station on July 1.
“What I can confirm is there is no proposal before the board of selectmen to close the West Falmouth station,” Mr. Suso said. “As long as we are able to staff the West Falmouth station, it will continue to be operational.”
There will be a change, but it relates to staffing. He said the start of shift staffing at the Falmouth Fire Rescue Department will increase from 10 firefighters to 14 firefighters on July 1.
“Chief Small will be allocating those 14 firefighters within the existing stations,” Mr. Suso said. “The challenge with West Falmouth is it can no longer function with one firefighter as it has in the past.”
At the community forum on the present and future of fire protection services on January 21, Chief Michael F. Small said starting on July 1, six firefighters will be assigned to the fire department headquarters on Main Street, four firefighters will be assigned to the East Falmouth fire station, two firefighters will be assigned to the North Falmouth fire station and two firefighters will be assigned to the Woods Hole fire station. He discussed a number of options to keep the West Falmouth fire station open at that time.
“The most active option we are exploring is a collaborative arrangement with the firefighters union to fill two positions with voluntary overtime starting on July 1, which would increase start of shift manning from 14 to 16,” Mr. Suso said. “That would allow Chief Small to staff two firefighters at West Falmouth, if those volunteers come forward.”
He is “cautiously optimistic” firefighters will take those overtime shifts, citing the Woods Hole fire station as the reason why.
“To put this in context, for the past 18 months, Chief Small has been working with the fire union in voluntarily securing an additional firefighter on overtime to staff the Woods Hole station,” Mr. Suso said.
He said the overtime shift at the Woods Hole station is filled approximately 80 percent of the time.
“In the past 18 months, we have had a firefighter willing to do that for the Woods Hole station,” Mr. Suso said. “This is an approach we’ve had some success with in working with the union.”
Noting that this concept was discussed at January’s forum, he said town administration has not proposed closing the station.
“I’m not sure where that conclusion was drawn,” Mr. Suso said. “There is no proposal before the board of selectmen that I have brought forward to them.”