Former state fire marshal Stephen Coan spoke forcefully in favor of a new rule that calls for a minimum of two firefighters to man fire apparatuses. Having one person on a call is very unsafe and should have been eliminated years ago, he said.

The strength of his argument is difficult to challenge.

Yet manning stations with one firefighter has been the practice in Falmouth for a long time. Too long, maybe, but a long time nonetheless.

So it is understandable that residents of West Falmouth are unhappy with the decision to close the West Falmouth fire station in July. After all this time, why do it now?

Staffing and equipment needs in the emergency response business are difficult to gauge; everything is fine—until it isn’t. And then it’s very bad.

One-person staffing works until something goes wrong and a firefighter is injured, or worse. There is no way to know if and when that will happen.

Similarly, closing the West Falmouth fire station may not result in any disasters. One cannot know for sure, but the testaments of several who attended Tuesday’s forum suggest that there is risk to closing the station.

The selectmen appear willing to find a way to keep the West Falmouth station open. There are no guarantees about anything here, but keeping the station open seems to be the wise thing to do.

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