A message from Fire Chief MacLean:
The Sudbury Fire Department will begin closing Station 3 on North Road at night on the first occasion of overtime beginning September 1, 2009. This preemptive step is necessary to stay within the overtime budget for FY10 and is similar to action taken this time last year. By acting early we maintain flexibility for later in the year, conserving our resources to meet our future challenges.
While the Department’s budget was reduced for FY10, in fact it is staffing issues driving this move. Presently there are two Fire Department members on long term sick leave, two vacancies, one leave of absence, and one recent hire attending the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy. Filling each absence will exhaust the overtime budget prior to fiscal year end, so some overtime slots must be left vacant.
Overtime reduction means fewer people on duty; reducing the number of personnel on duty requires repositioning to best meet our needs. Because Station 3 has the fewest in-district calls of our three stations, its periodic closure and reassignment of personnel creates the least degradation of service. Review of night call volume suggests this period to be the least disruptive to our response. I regret having to make this decision, but I have only so much to work with. On the plus side, the second firefighter from Station 3 will be used to backfill absences and bolster capabilities at Headquarters and Station 2. Remember, too, that the ambulance dispatches from HQ and will not be affected by this change.
We are all working diligently to solve the challenges that give rise to this problem. I have applied for grant funds through the Massachusetts Fire Service Staffing program to fill our two vacancies. The hiring process is underway to fill the leave of absence slot. Our member in the Academy will return in twelve weeks. And we all hope for speedy resolution and recovery for our sick members.