The Falmouth Select Board at its meeting on Monday, October 25, will discuss how the town will proceed with fire and rescue services and whether more firefighters will need to be hired.
“We need to have an in-depth discussion on long-term planning,” chairman Douglas C. Brown said at the board’s Monday night meeting, October 4. “We need a clear direction before we go to Town Meeting in November.”
Town Meeting members on November 15 will consider setting aside $25,000 from free cash to prepare for a new fire station that could supplant the West Falmouth and North Falmouth stations.
The funds would be used to hold or put a down payment on a parcel, should a suitable property be found to build a new station in the northwest part of town. A subsequent Town Meeting would need to vote on the actual purchase.
The select board in May directed the town manager and the fire chief to explore building a new station in the northwest, after a consultant’s report identified an area best positioned to service residents there with fire and rescue services.
The question remains whether the town would close the North Falmouth and West Falmouth fire stations, the latter of which has been staffed intermittently and with firefighters receiving overtime pay.
Meanwhile, Town Meeting last April approved building a station near the George Gaspa Sports Complex on Sandwich Road to better serve the Hatchville area. The same consultant’s report identified the northeast section of Falmouth as a problem area, with response times up to eight minutes.
Despite overwhelming support for that new station, it has sparked a debate over whether the West Falmouth fire station will be closed and, if not, how the town plans on staffing six stations once the Sandwich Road station is operational. The question remains of whether Falmouth taxpayers are amenable to hiring more firefighters, after appropriating $971,507 in 2020 to hire eight additional firefighters through an override of Proposition 2½.
“We need to really look at long-range implications of whether we want to continue to operate west and north, which will probably mean we need more staffing. We need an honest conversation on how many people we need to do that,” Mr. Brown said.
Select board member Nancy R. Taylor agreed.
“I would like to see us plan and project out the costs and staffing under all scenarios. We need more information,” she said.
Falmouth Fire Chief Timothy Smith was not present Monday, but will be at the October 25 meeting to answer questions and provide information.