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| New firefighters wont be hired until report arrives |
| GUILFORD The hiring of six new paid firefighters cross-trained as emergency medical personnel has been put on hold, until an independent report on the state of the Fire Department is officially presented to officials. |
The Board of Finance on Monday overruled a Fire Commission decision to begin the hiring until MMA Consulting Group of Boston presents its report to the boards of selectmen and finance and the Fire Commission.
The finance board budgeted $303,740 in contingency funds to cover the cost of the six new positions, to be released with the completion of the study.
But disagreements between the consultants and the Fire Commission over some of the studys recommendations and the scope of the study have held up the final report. The commission received a preliminary draft in December but withheld it from the public until April, when it was released to the selectmen and finance board.
Fire Commissioner Fred Trotta told the boards the final report is expected by the end of this week and is expected to look much like the 56-page draft.
The commission said the draft was deficient in 60 items. The commission asked MMA Consulting for a series of clarifications and revisions, but the company has refused.
As an addendum to the report, the commission submitted its own strategic plan for the departments future, including the need for more paid personnel.
A shortage of paid firefighter/paramedics has put "public safety at risk," a situation "that needs to be addressed immediately," said Chris Gode, president of Local 4177, the union that represents the paid members of the department, who also provide ambulance service to the town.
"We desperately need help," said Assistant Chief David Moffat, a volunteer firefighter.
In two recent incidents, the town had to call for aid from other communities because Guilford ambulances were out of town, Moffat said.
The department averages about 8.2 calls a day and calls are expected to increase when the Yale-New Haven Shoreline Medical Center opens, expected for June, the firefighters said.
"Were in a race against time," said Trotta, "because firefighters hired today will not be on the job for four months" as a result of the hiring process.
Peggy Schenk can be reached at email@example.com (860) 664-4118.
| ©New Haven Register 2004 |