City burns EFD, delays fire hires

Everett Fire Department Ladder 2 on Broadway. (Photo by Jim Mahoney)

Promised 20 slots still vacant

By JOSH RESNEK

Last year, the mayor promised to hire 20 new firefighters to fill gaps caused by retirements, injuries, and needs.

No new hires have been made in five years.

Applicants for the promised positions were told they’d be put to work to satisfy staffing requirements intended to make Everett as safe as it can be when it comes to firefighter first responders.

Now the mayor appears to be hedging on his promise, this, in addition to the city reeling from the COVID-19 – which has put at least five firefighters out of service. Another four are out with injuries.

Not only are there not enough firefighters to complete the expected complement of about 100 men and women (presently staffing is at 83), but the city is pressed for funds.

Twenty additional firefighters would cost at least $2 million a year to start, and much more than this as the years go by.

The mayor has been either reluctant or unable to keep his promise.

It has firefighters concerned and the council as well, especially Councilor Fred Capone.

Fire Chief Anthony Carli, a strong supporter of the mayor, has not commented publicly on the furor created by the mayor’s broken promise and the staffing shortage.

“I think it’s a dangerous situation,” Capone said last week.

“From what I can tell (from the budget), we’re at a critical level in staffing,” he added.

The mayor used his Facebook page to answer Capone’s concerns.

The mayor explained that firefighting has changed. There are fewer fires, he seemed to say, requiring fewer firefighters.

“Times have changed, as have the needs of our community,” the mayor wrote. He added that numerics, focusing on thenumber of positions in the fire department, is the old way of determining the need for more positions.

The mayor said that the administration is strategically planning and studying how to meet the city’s public safety needs with the right number of firefighters.

“The Administration has thoroughly studied how to better serve our residents based on the type, frequency, and level of calls received by the Everett Fire Department over the past 5 years,” the mayor wrote.

This translates literally to this: fewer fires, fewer firefighters needed.

The mayor instead claims to be strategizing about creating a new force of Everett firefighters who will create a firefighter based Emergency Services Department able to transport residents to the hospital when needing medical attention requiring hospitalization.

To date, no one has been hired.

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