The lights will be on, but there may not be anyone home. That would be a reasonable conclusion to be drawn from the front-page article on February 21 quoting Mr. Suso on the future of the West Falmouth fire station. It is hair-splitting to claim that there are no plans to close the station after presenting a staffing plan for the fire department that does not include anyone assigned to West Falmouth after July 1. If there is no staff there, it cannot respond to calls. So, in what way will it not be closed, planned or not?
I do not doubt either the sincerity of the administration or its efforts to staff the station using voluntary overtime. But it looks like wishful thinking when, as reported, using voluntary overtime for one position in Woods Hole has been successful 80 percent of the time. For two positions in West Falmouth, the same success rate would provide staff only 40 percent of the time. In the summer, when vacations in the department require overtime to cover the new staffing plan in other stations, it is even less likely that additional firefighters will be available and willing to volunteer to staff West Falmouth. But summer is also when our population peaks. Having no plan to close the station, as Mr. Suso says, is little comfort when there is obviously no plan to keep it open.
As a friend said, we should not be running a fire department on volunteers and the whim of a firefighter who may, or may not, want an overtime shift. The plan to reassign personnel to headquarters and East Falmouth on July 1 should be delayed until sufficient staffing is hired and trained to allow this redeployment to be implemented without compromising fire protection in West Falmouth.
Oliver W. Egleston
Katelyn Hills Drive