Mayor Jon Mitchell confirms that New Bedford Fire Station 11 will close this month as planned rather than continue with the controversial rolling blackout system implemented some 10 years ago because of budget constraints.

The mayor seems to more fully support the closure now than he did last month when he offered somewhat less than a full-throated endorsement of the plan put forth by Fire Chief Paul Coderre, Jr. When I asked him in February about the decision to discontinue the blackouts in favor of closing Station 11, he told me Coderre felt it was the better of the two options.

The closing of Station 11 seems to be less popular than the blackouts with firefighters and some on the city council who have staged multiple demonstrations in protest of the decision. They say the move would make the South End less safe but so far their demonstrations have failed to attract large numbers of South End residents.

Mitchell told me during his weekly appearance on my program on Wednesday that the response time from the nearest open station, Station 6, was still better by far than the response time from any station in any of the surrounding towns that largely rely on volunteer firefighters.

Given the fact that there hasn't been much of a public outcry over the plan to close Station 11, there appears to be a true lack of consensus as to whether the rolling blackouts or the station closing is the best option while construction continues on the new Brock Avenue public safety center.

Because there has been no serious pushback from the community, I have to assume that most people are comfortable enough with Chief Coderre's plan for closing Station 11.

Either way, we don't have the $27 million we would need to keep Station 11 open full time and cease the rolling blackouts and so far no elected public officials have offered specific ideas.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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