Gloucester's firefighters union may ratify a new "memorandum agreement" for its contract tonight.
If that happens, there may well be sighs of relief and maybe even quiet celebration both in City Hall and at Central Fire Station. A new deal, after all, can help the city firm up budget projections, while firefighters should know where they stand with regard to pay, benefits, and working conditions — assuming there are no significant changes to the department's minimum manning provisions.
But while neither side would talk about any changes the contract contains, there may be little for taxpayers to celebrate.
Unless this memorandum includes specific changes to manning and time-off provisions that will keep the outlying fire stations open regularly, this memorandum will likely mean more of the same — and that will be a bad deal for public safety, especially for those living in Bay View, Annisquam and Lanesville. We can only hope any new deal doesn't unfairly bind the hands of a new permanent chief, who should be able to restructure this department as needed.