Fairhaven Firefighters Speak Out Against Low Staffing Amid Negotiations
FAIRHAVEN — As Fairhaven's firefighters union negotiates a new contract with the town, the association is speaking out against what it says are unsafe staffing levels.
Since late last month, the Fairhaven Firefighters Association has posted at least five times on their Facebook page about low staffing levels at the town's fire stations.
The association claims there are just five full-time firefighters on any given shift in Fairhaven — not enough to deal with multiple emergencies, or one serious fire, according to the group.
"It’s a shame that it seems a tragedy will need to happen in order for our Town to wake up and staff the fire department correctly," read a Facebook post from the Association dated Aug. 30.
According to the Fairhaven Fire Department website, the 27 career firefighters are also supplemented by 20 call firefighters, who come to assist in emergencies as necessary.
But in a recent post on Sept. 12, the association cited National Fire Protection Association standards recommending at least 14 firefighters to effectively tackle one fire in a two-story single family home.
Although the standards are not requirements, they represent best practices that are designed to minimize risk and effects of fires, according to the NFPA website.
Fairhaven Fire Chief Todd Correia declined to comment due to the ongoing negotiations between the union and the town, although he did note that there are "always two sides to every story."
The town's fire department also provides emergency medical services to Fairhaven residents.
In the Sept. 12 post from the firefighters association, multiple emergencies take place in town about 44% of the time, which would leave remaining staff with "extremely taxing" duties in case of a fire.
"Currently our practices are to roll 1 single firefighter in an apparatus and then HOPE we have more people meet us on scene," the association wrote in the post.
In a previous post dated Sept. 8, the group wrote that in August, firefighters asked 55 times for station coverage or for personnel to meet them at an active scene "due to being understaffed."
Town Administrator Angie Lopes Ellison was not available for a comment.