Mass. FFs hold rally to protest planned engine cut
New Bedford fire union officials say the engine set to be cut responds to the most densely populated area of the city
By Laura French
NEW BEDFORD, Mass. — Massachusetts firefighters held a rally Sunday to protest plans to take a fire engine out of service as part of pandemic-related budget cuts.
New Bedford Firefighters IAFF Local 841 protested at Station 8 and city hall to call on the mayor to keep Engine 8 in service, according to WJAR.
"It's a game he's playing and he's playing with all your safety and with ours," Local 841 President Billy Sylvia said during the rally, referring to Mayor Jon Mitchell.
Sylvia criticized Mitchell for implementing blackouts earlier this year, pointing out that there were two fire fatalities during the blackouts, one of which occurred five blocks from a blacked-out station. He also criticized the mayor for cutting another engine earlier this year to end the blackouts, saying "there's plenty of money there" through state and FEMA grants for COVID-19 relief, but "he doesn't want to use it."
New Bedford's public information officer told WJAR that cutting Engine 8 will help prevent layoffs and that it was the "least painful cut" and recommended by the fire chief.
Sylvia said Engine 8 serves the city's most densely-populated area and that no services should be cut from that area.
Several local officials attended the protest, including U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy III, who represents Massachusetts' fourth congressional district.
Posted by New Bedford Firefighters IAFF Local 841 on Monday, August 10, 2020
Live at Station 8 where a group is gathered to voice their concerns over the closure of engine 8 - Congressman Kennedy is also in attendance.Posted by New Bedford Guide on Sunday, August 9, 2020