West Falmouth Village Association
WFVA Home About the WFVA Join the WFVA WFVA Newsletter West Falmouth Calendar West Falmouth Links WFVA Board WFVA Bylaws Contact WFVA

West Falmouth Fire Station Closure Announced 

In a public meeting on October 17, 2019, residents gathered at West Falmouth Library to hear the results of a Town-sponsored study on the proposed location for a proposed Combined North-West Fire Station.

Attendees were surprised to learn that the West Falmouth Fire Station would be closed permanently on July 1, 2020.

West Falmouth Fire Station


West Falmouth Village Association Urges Voters to Support Question 1

West Falmouth Fire Station

Passage of this ballot question is the ONLY chance to keep West Falmouth Fire Station open after July 1, 2020 and equally importantly maintain acceptable emergency response times in West Falmouth. Station 4 also provides invaluable back-up as second responder to emergencies on the west side of town- which is critical to public safety.
 
Text of QUESTION 1: Shall the Town of Falmouth be allowed to assess an additional $971,507 in real estate and personal property taxes for the purpose of funding the salaries and benefits of eight (8) firefighters for the Fiscal Year beginning July 1, 2020?

Read the Falmouth Enterprise article on Question 1 >


Four letters regarding this issue:

1. Letter from West Falmouth Residents Jay Austin and Paul Sellers:

“A number of us are concerned with the implications of Article 9 in the upcoming town meeting and the impact it would have on EMS coverage in Falmouth. While the article addresses the need to identify and propose a new fire station to replace the aging West and North Falmouth locations, the Chief has used this opportunity to announce the closing of the West Falmouth Station in July 2020, three to five years before a new facility can be built to properly serve the northwest section of town. This premature closure is leaving residents exposed and dramatically increases EMS response times.

When an alarm is sounded in Falmouth, it is not just the local station that responds, but also the adjacent stations. Because of this procedure, the West Falmouth Fire Station is one of the most active of the five stations in town, responding to calls in every district. Without an active station in West Falmouth, North Falmouth would then respond to those calls in the other parts of town, leaving the entire northwest section of town exposed in the event of additional calls.

When you think about heart attacks, strokes, overdoses and drowning, time is of the essence. Timely response can save lives. All lives in Falmouth are valuable; districts should not be pitted against one another. To close a station without a plan or replacement is a dereliction of duty. Public safety should be at the top of the pyramid without regard to cost. As the demographics throughout Falmouth shift to an older more mature population having dependable reliable emergency response time only gets more important and valuable for everyone. Dealing with certainty is always better than facing uncertainty.

The Chief's decision is not in the interest of public safety, but rather based on personnel considerations. Therefore, we would like to propose an amendment to Article 9 that would add funding for four additional firefighters, enabling adequate coverage at all five stations. We would also direct the Board of Selectmen to incorporate into the 2021 - 2022 budget these additional positions. This is within the scope of the article as it directly addresses the concerns that the Chief and the consultants presented at the community meeting outlined in the explanation of the article.
We would appreciate it if you could review this amendment and consider supporting it on the floor of Town Meeting. Please feel free to reach out with any questions.”

- Jay Austin and Paul Sellers


2. Letter to Falmouth Enterprise from Amy Sellers

“As a lifelong resident of West Falmouth, I am upset about the closing of the West Falmouth fire station. Particularly concerning is the cavalier attitude displayed by a number of our senior Town of Falmouth officials. I object to this, particularly when it comes to the safety of Falmouth residents.

I am well aware of the town’s longstanding plan to close the West Falmouth station, but feel that West Falmouth residents have been misled regarding the timing of the closure and the replacement station. Three years ago my village was told the station would close only after the new station was built. The proposed location was Route 151 or Thomas Landers Road. However, at a recent meeting, the town’s consultant presented Sandwich Road as the new site. When questioned on estimated response times during the peak summer season, there were no answers.

It was painfully obvious at the meeting on October 17 that Fire Chief Small and several other officials already had their plan in place. The meeting was not a “community meeting.” There was no public input, no flow or exchange of ideas and make no mistake this “plan” will affect the entire town in the long run.

Perhaps the most egregious oversight is that our senior Town of Falmouth officials and Fire Chief [Michael] Small entered into union negotiations knowing the vulnerability of the West Falmouth station. They negotiated with the local union without a safeguard in place that will protect West Falmouth residents. The fire chief unabashedly states, “It’s not in the budget” and “There’s no going back.”

I challenge Chief Small and Town Manager Julian Suso to go back to the books and figure it out! How about getting creative and not being so inflexible? Here are a few suggestions:

•  Privatize transport and nonemergency calls to area nursing homes, et cetera.
•  Have only an ambulance at the West Falmouth station for local emergencies within a five- to six-mile radius.
•  Build out to the north of the West Falmouth fire station parcel, allowing the ability to house both a fire truck and ambulance.
•   Create an open floor plan/studio sleeping arrangement for the firefighters stationed in West Falmouth. It could be similar to those many of our senior citizens currently live in, or how about bunkbeds?

I close in reminding Chief Small that at a recently completed CPR course at the Falmouth fire station I was told the most important thing to remember is, it takes one person to make a difference in an emergency.”

- Amy C. Sellers, Old Dock Road, West Falmouth


3. Letter read at Selectmen’s meeting 11/25/19 by Martha H. Gilbert

I understand the West Falmouth Fire Station is to be closed permanently July 1, 2020.

I am here tonight to strongly request the West Falmouth Fire Station stay open with improvements. If this is not possible then it should stay open and staffed at least until a new fire station is operational.

With this closure, I am concerned with the increase of emergency response time from virtually a few minutes to almost 10 minutes at best, as presented by the town at the West Falmouth Library on October 17th. Unfortunately, the response time and call volume data were collected in May and not during our busy summer season. A 10-minute response time is well above the nationally recommended 6-minutes. I am fearful that 10 minutes will be dramatically increased in July and August.

Like many of my neighbors, I have chosen to live in West Falmouth partly because of the close proximity to a fire station. In my 23 years of living in West Falmouth, I have witnessed critical rescues performed by our local station. I value the safety and peace of mind our dedicated rescue workers provide out of Station #4.

However, this is not exclusively a West Falmouth problem. At the meeting stated above, I was told other areas of town would suffer and be left unstaffed when emergency help is required in West Falmouth. I am deeply concerned with the consequences this decision will have on all of Falmouth.

- Martha H. Gilbert


4. Letter to Falmouth Enterprise from Oliver W. Egleston

The lights will be on, but there may not be anyone home. That would be a reasonable conclusion to be drawn from the front-page article on February 21 quoting Mr. Suso on the future of the West Falmouth fire station. It is hair-splitting to claim that there are no plans to close the station after presenting a staffing plan for the fire department that does not include anyone assigned to West Falmouth after July 1. If there is no staff there, it cannot respond to calls. So, in what way will it not be closed, planned or not?

I do not doubt either the sincerity of the administration or its efforts to staff the station using voluntary overtime. But it looks like wishful thinking when, as reported, using voluntary overtime for one position in Woods Hole has been successful 80 percent of the time. For two positions in West Falmouth, the same success rate would provide staff only 40 percent of the time. In the summer, when vacations in the department require overtime to cover the new staffing plan in other stations, it is even less likely that additional firefighters will be available and willing to volunteer to staff West Falmouth. But summer is also when our population peaks. Having no plan to close the station, as Mr. Suso says, is little comfort when there is obviously no plan to keep it open.

As a friend said, we should not be running a fire department on volunteers and the whim of a firefighter who may, or may not, want an overtime shift. The plan to reassign personnel to headquarters and East Falmouth on July 1 should be delayed until sufficient staffing is hired and trained to allow this redeployment to be implemented without compromising fire protection in West Falmouth.

- Oliver W. Egleston, Katelyn Hills Drive, West Falmouth




Proposed Amendment to Town Meeting Warrant Article #9

Proposed amendment text is highlighted:

ARTICLE 9: To see if the Town will vote to authorize the Board of Selectmen to acquire an Option to Purchase a parcel of land in the northwest section of the Town suitable for the construction of a new Northwest Fire Station, add an additional 4 firefighter positions to provide adequate coverage for the towns 5 fire stations, to appropriate a sum of money for this purpose, to determine how the same shall be raised and by whom expended. On do or take any other action on the matter. On request of the Board of Selectmen.

RECOMMENDATION (Finance Committee): That the Town vote to transfer $400,000 from Certified Free Cash for the purposes of this Article. To be expended under the jurisdiction of the Town Manager.

EXPLANATION: The Town has engaged a consultant to identify the general locations that would best serve both West Falmouth and North Falmouth. Prior to this Town Meeting, we will have held a community meeting to present preliminary findings and solicit community input. We anticipate completing the location study in the coming months and will then be prepared to identify specific parcels of land that might be purchased for construction of a new station. This article would provide funds for an option to purchase which essentially reserves the property for a potential future sale subject to negotiation of final terms. This article is intended to accelerate the land acquisition process but a second Town Meeting vote would be required to appropriate funds for a specific parcel of land before the Town is able to finalize any purchase of property. Funding will ensure that all 5 stations will remain open until a new station is built to replace the aging structures in the Northwest segment of Falmouth. The four firefighter positions will be incorporated into future annual town budgets.



Notice of Formation of Citizens Advisory Committee on Fire Stations

Town of Falmouth
Citizens Advisory Committee – Future Fire Station(s)

A Citizens Advisory Committee shall be appointed by the Board of Selectmen in accordance with relevant provisions of the Falmouth Home Rule Charter and Town bylaws. The Committee shall consist of nine (9) members who shall serve until the Committee is dissolved. The Board seeks representation from individuals residing in a broad geographic area within the Town.

The mission of the Committee is to evaluate information regarding the location of fire stations provided by a consultant study, and input from the Fire Chief, Town Manager and other staff members, and from citizens. The Committee is directed to collect and review information and submit a recommendation to the Board of Selectmen regarding one/more potential location(s) for a new fire station(s). In formulating a recommendation regarding station locations, the Committee will need to develop a thorough understanding of staffing resources and deployment practices.

Applications must be received by 4:30 p.m. on Friday, December 27, 2019, in the Office of the Board of Selectmen. Applications are available in the Office of the Board of Selectmen, 59 Town Hall Square and on the Board of Selectmen’s page on the Town website at www.falmouthmass.us.

On Request of Chairman Megan English Braga
Publication Date: Friday, November 22, 2019 – Falmouth Enterprise, Account #: 2056



Community Action

Saving the W.F. Fire Station and Ensuring Rapid Emergency Response Times in West Falmouth ...and ALL of Falmouth.

"Citizens for Rapid Response" (CR2) A small group of West Falmouth residents including members of WFVA Board, former Fire-Fighter & EMTs, and Town Meeting & Town Board members are working on a plan to prevent the impending closure of West Falmouth Fire Station until such time that a new Fire Station serving the area is built.

Immediate Actions

•  Amend Town Meeting Article 9 *Pending review/approval by TM Moderator*
•  Contact Town Meeting Members and urge them to support rapid emergency response times in all parts of Falmouth.

Continuing Action

WFVA encourages residents to speak up and let town leadership know how important rapid emergency response is to Falmouth.



Join Our Email List
Email:  
For Email Marketing you can trust



COMMUNITY FORUM – PRESENT/FUTURE FIRE PROTECTION SERVICES

View Agenda file >

Read the Falmouth Enterprise article >

Informational handouts:

•  SAFER Grants
(Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response)

•  Fire Station Staffing - existing and proposed

•  Response time to emergencies in West Falmouth will increase dramatically with closure of Station #4

•  Finance Committee Questions With Responses from Town Administration regarding Fire/Rescue Department FY2021 Operating Budget and Article 14 - Hire Eight Additional Firefighters




Media coverage about the announced closure:

Committee Affirms At Least Five Fire Stations Needed In Falmouth
Falmouth Enterprise, by Brad Cole, Mar. 10, 2020

Falmouth Finance Committee Supports Proposition 2 1/2 Override
Falmouth Enterprise, by Brad Cole, Mar. 6, 2020

Overtime Approved For West Falmouth Station
Falmouth Enterprise, by Brad Cole, Feb. 25, 2020

Mr. Suso: No Plans To Close West Falmouth Fire Station
Falmouth Enterprise, by Brad Cole, Feb. 21, 2020

Hatchville A Problem Area, According To Fire Station Study
Falmouth Enterprise, by Brad Cole Feb. 14, 2020

Selectmen Appoint Nine To Falmouth Fire Station Advisory Committee
Falmouth Enterprise, by Brad Cole, Feb. 11, 2020

Falmouth FinCom Has Questions About Override
Falmouth Enterprise, by Brad Cole, Feb.7, 2020

Residents Speak Against Closing West Falmouth Fire Station
Falmouth Enterprise, by Brad Cole, Jan. 23, 2020

Staffing, Station Closure Hot Topics at Falmouth Forum
Cape Cod Times, by Jessica Hill, Jan. 22, 2020

Residents Express Fear, Anger Over Plan to Close West Falmouth Fire Station
WCAI, by Eve Zuckoff, Jan. 22, 2020

Video - Community Forum: Fire Protection/New Falmouth Station
FCTV, Jan. 21, 2020

West Falmouth Fire Station To Close In July

Falmouth Enterprise, by Steven Withrow, Oct. 24, 2019

Fire station in West Falmouth to close in July
Cape Cod Times, by Christine Legere, Oct. 18, 2019



View WFVA Newsletter About the Fire Station Closure Annoucement


Community Action

Saving the W.F. Fire Station and Ensuring Rapid Emergency Response Times in West Falmouth ...and ALL of Falmouth.

"Citizens for Rapid Response" (CR2) A small group of West Falmouth residents including members of WFVA Board, former Fire-Fighter & EMTs, and Town Meeting & Town Board members are working on a plan to prevent the impending closure of West Falmouth Fire Station until such time that a new Fire Station serving the area is built.

Immediate Actions

•  Amend Town Meeting Article 9 *Pending review/approval by TM Moderator*
•  Contact Town Meeting Members and urge them to support rapid emergency response times in all parts of Falmouth.

Continuing Action

WFVA encourages residents to speak up and let town leadership know how important rapid emergency response is to Falmouth.


 

Privacy Statement
If you do not wish the West Falmouth Village Association to publish or distribute your email address
for purposes outside the business of the Association, you must make this request in writing to: 
West Falmouth Village Association
P.O. Box 256, West Falmouth, MA 02574
info@westfalmouthvillage.org


West Falmouth Village Association   |   P.O. Box 256, West Falmouth, MA 02574   | info@westfalmouthvillage.org
Facebook icon
View our Privacy Statement  |   Website Development by Morningstar Design