, Gloucester, MA


July 1, 2013

Editorial: City can no longer gamble with safety through closed stations

Thankfully, Lanesville resident Robert Jobe is safely recovering from the heart attack he suffered the night of Sunday, June 23.

But it’s understandable that it was “one scary night,” as Barbara Jobe put it, for both her and her husband, not only in dealing at the time with his condition, which grew more serious with each passing minute, but in waiting out what must have seemed an eternity for the Gloucester Fire Department’s ambulance to arrive.

It wasn’t an eternity, of course; it was 12 minutes. And that response time — twice the 6-minute time the city claims it can reach more than 75 percent of the time — was hardly the fault of the Fire Department’s paramedics and crew.

It was prompted instead by a very conscious roll of the dice by Mayor Carolyn Kirk and approved by the City Council — the decision to fund the Fire Department in the fiscal 2014 budget in a way that fails to provide for the consistent operation of the Bay View Fire Station, which sits roughly a mile from the Jobes’ home.

While the station was open earlier that day, it was closed for the night shift, as it often remained through the final few weeks of the 2013 fiscal year that ended yesterday. While a new city contract with its firefighters is in place, the scheduling provisions that will finally address this six-year problem do not take effect until a year from today. And the Jobes’ case spotlights just how unacceptable that has become.

Thankfully, City Councilors, Bruce Tobey, Greg Verga, Melissa Cox and Council President Jackie Hardy and likely some others recognize that. They’re set to hold a Tuesday meeting to revisit the Fire Department funding situation, with an eye toward directing more money to secure at least the 24/7 opening of Bay View, and perhaps of the Magnolia station as well.

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