Fire calls down as battle for EFD staffing continues

Everett Fire Department Ladder 2 responds to a call on. (Photo by Jim Mahoney)

Mayor, chief making case that stats say call numbers do not support increase


By JOSH RESNEK

The mayor and Fire Chief Anthony Carli are using statistics to downplay the need for an additional 20 firefighters or more to keep the city safe.

The mayor and Carli are trying to make the case that the fire department will likely shrink in numbers if fire suppression calls continue going down.

The mayor and Carli also agree that the EFD needs to be more of a medical response team as the future unfolds repeating a fact that has been the case for several generations.

Firefighters in Everett respond to every call for medical aid.

The relegation of fire suppression to a second class division of the EFD because of declining statistics is a ruse used in many cities and towns to underfund fire departments.

However, it has been shown over the years that fatal fires or multi-call fires, no matter how few of them there might be, remain the single greatest reason for keeping the fire department at full employment and ready to respond.

The mayor and Carli are calling for a transition from firefighting to medical aid. This has caused serious consternation between the leadership of the EFD and its union, which has questioned the city’s dedication to fire safety.

With fire department morale at an all-time low, the release of EFD response calls revealed that there were 1,000 fewer calls that were answered in 2020 than the year before.

With retirements and in- juries, the Everett Fire Department is at a near all-time modern low for firefighters (about 80) while the mayor’s promise to hire 20 new firefighters still hangs in the balance.

EFD fire engines at a scene in January. (Photo by Jim Mahoney)

Carli has said they will be brought on in April.

Councilor Fred Capone has been the only voice on the city council calling attention to the understaffing and underfunding of the EFD.

He is asking the administration to explain itself.

The EFD statistics are apparently being used to power the mayor’s belief, which is shared by Carli, that the additional 20 firefighters might not be necessary because of declining calls for service.

Declining calls for fire services and an increase in medical calls should be viewed as co-equal no matter the disparity but the discussion about manpower requirements due to lower fire calls raises questions about the EFD’s public safety responsibilities and the ability of the EFD to respond to fires.

Medical calls have jumped.

They remain significant.

The statistics in general point to an evolving fire service responsibility in this city and nearly every city in Massachusetts.

Fires are down. In 2020 there 130 fire suppression calls.

By comparison, there were 3,711 medical aid calls.

The mayor has been promising to hire 20 firefighters and to start a City of Everett emergency services response team for more than a year.

The EFD union claims fire calls and medical aid calls require full staffing, and more than 20 firefighters in addition to the regular firefighter compliment.

EFD 2020 statistics revealed that there were 130 fires in Everett last year – a considerable and dangerous indication that home and building fires remain a persistent problem despite the advancement of fire safety requirements and adherence to them in the local community at large.

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