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Mass. city councilors ask for high-rise firefighting plan

Quincy city councilors are asking FD officials to explain how the addition of several high-rise buildings to the city changes staffing


Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch and developers Joey Arcari and Sam Slater on Thursday announced three new large buildings on Hancock Street.

Mary Whitfill
The Patriot Ledger

QUINCY, Mass. — City councilors are asking fire department officials to come before them and explain how the addition of several high-rise buildings to the city changes staffing and other internal operations of the department.

Ward 4 City Councilor Brian Palmucci pointed out that a 15-story high rise was built recently in Quincy Center, a 16-story building in North Quincy has been approved by the zoning board, and FoxRock Properties has a 20-story proposal for downtown in front of the planning board.

“As the city gets higher and higher, I think it would be an appropriate time for the chief or his designee to come before us and talk about a staffing plan for high-rise fire protection,” he said. “It’s probably a good time for the city council to get up to speed on what it means to have these high rises in the city.”

Palmucci also asked to change the city’s municipal code to “mirror” pending state legislation because he wants the city to have all of the extra safety measures that are outlined in the legislation. He said he’s looking to improve firefighter safety by making sure developers in the city adhere to certain requirements while buildings are under construction.

“One of the pieces in here is to have a fire watch on a halfway-constructed building. If it’s not completed with sprinklers, there would need to be a fire watch when construction isn’t happening, so overnight,” he said. “I think that’s a great idea. I can’t imagine if it’s a windy day and that project up on Hospital Hill caught fire. The entire city would be vulnerable.”

Both proposals were moved to the ordinance and public safety committees, where they will be discussed further.

In other news at this week’s meeting, city councilors discussed the role the city will play in operating the Furnace Brook Golf Course. Palmucci and Councilor-at-large Anne Mahoney also asked the city to allot the council $60,000 to pay for outside legal counsel for the body.

“We have questions that come up and currently who we have to go to is the city solicitor, who is really wrapped up into the administration,” Mahoney said. “The city council does not always have insight into some of the things we’re asked to weigh in on. ... The city council could benefit from our own legal counsel.”

Palmucci said sometimes there can be conflicts of interest between the council’s role and the administration. He added that Mayor Thomas Koch is “of a very different opinion on this, and I don’t think it’s likely we will get funding for our own outside legal counsel.”

The council did have its own attorney, paid for by the city, but he recently retired. Chris Walker, the mayor’s chief of staff, told councilors the city would be willing to hire another lawyer for city councilors “when the time comes” that they need one.

“I think we need to have an independent legal resource that the body itself can go to for legal help occasionally, rather than say to the mayor, ‘We don’t like what you’re doing and we want a second opinion on if it’s legal,” Palmucci said.

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