South End Residents Take Their Protest to City Hall
NEW BEDFORD — South End residents have been rallying for weeks against the decommissioning of Engine 11 on Brock Avenue. On Friday, they took their message to City Hall.
"What's it going to take Mr. Mayor, somebody in the South End to die before you realize you should keep Engine 11 open?" asked Pete Wilde, one of the organizers of Friday's rally. He spoke to about 25 people outside City Hall.
Mayor Jon Mitchell was not in the office at the time of the rally. A receptionist in the office said he was not expected to return.
Mayoral spokesman Jon Carvalho told WBSM News the mayor continues to agree with Fire Chief Paul Coderre's recommendation to decommission Engine 11 on March 1 as a way to end the controversial rolling blackout policy in the city.
Carvalho said apparatus from Station 6 at Purchase and Potomska Streets will respond to South End calls. He says Station 6 is located less than a mile from Engine 11.
City officials say it would cost $2.7 million to keep Engine 11 up and running, money the city doesn't have.
Councilor-at-Large Ian Abreu attended the rally to show his support for city firefighters. Abreu told WBSM News he and other councilors hate the idea of rolling blackouts, where fire stations are closed on a rotating basis around the city.
But Abreu said rotating blackouts are a better solution than shutting down an entire engine company on the peninsula.
"The budget is the budget. Maybe we discuss going back to the rolling blackouts until we can figure out something for sure," Abreu said, noting he would make the suggestion to the Mayor.
Mayor Mitchell has said he supports the Chief's recommendation as a way to end "rolling blackouts" of fire stations, saying "It represents the appropriate approach to managing Fire Department operations in light of the City’s available resources.”