Playing with fire

In rural parts of America, and in smaller towns without much population or industry, volunteer fire departments are a necessity as these smaller places do not have the financial resources or the need to support a full-time fire department.

In many places throughout the nation which fit the pro forma of what is outlined in the above paragraph, there are no fires sometimes during a decade, let alone a year.

Ambulance response in such places is also limited by the lack of resources and frankly by the limited number of such calls that are received throughout the year.

About 60,000 or more people live in Everett.

This is a major small city with dozens of businesses and industries, thousands of two and three-family homes, and hundreds of smaller apartment houses, and some monster housing projects with 200-600 units and more being proposed all the time in the current building climate pushed by low-interest rates and a demand for housing near to Boston.

Despite the dearth of fire science technology that goes into creating safer housing today, fire remains an unstoppable force of nature.

Last year, alone, the Everett Fire Department put out 130 fires, including a half dozen major house fires in which several required trapped residents to be taken down ladders to safety by Everett firefighters.

Fire is a harsh reality of living in a city where so much of the housing stock is older and built of wood and located on crowded streets.

It is also a danger to take seriously at the Encore Hotel, which is sprinklered, at the casino, at the city’s largest newer apartment houses like the Pioneer with 360 units on the Parkway as well as at many older, larger brick and wooden multi-unit buildings throughout the city.

Everett cannot afford to have a part-time or second-rate volunteer fire department.

What will the mayor say if residents are burned and some die if a fire breaks out at the Encore Hotel and there aren’t enough responding firefighters or equipment to rescue trapped guests?

Does the mayor tell the parents and loved ones of the victims that fires were down in 2020 so the fire department was allowed to shrink?

Does the mayor tell the victim’s loved ones that the city has a wonderful ambulance service, knowing well that all the ambulances in the world arriving at the scene of a rag- ing fire are useless when it comes to fire suppression and rescue?

How about sending five ambulances to the Pioneer if there is a fire there and 50 apartments are burning and residents there are going to have to leap to the ground unless the EFD responds with enough firefighters and emergency equipment to get them out and to then put out the fire?

Fires don’t happen when you want them to.

They are all near-disasters when they happen – and there is no way to know when they will occur.

We know from experience in this city that fires occur and that often they are deadly.

Residents must be protected from fire and disaster by trained professionals paid for by the city.

No expense should be spared maintaining a quality fire department such as the city needs.

Let the mayor skimp when it comes to their private lives.

When it comes to the Everett Fire Department, no efforts should be made to turn it into a smaller less effective team of professional firefighters by paying more attention to and financing a fleet of ambulances.

That’s playing with fire – and when you play with fire, you get burned.

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