By Seth Daniel
Despite ongoing tensions between City Hall and the Firefighter’s Union, City Manager Tom Ambrosino said this week that he believe the Department does need more staffing.
And he’s putting the money behind that statement too, he said.
“My expectation in my Fiscal Year 2017 Budget will have at least one or two new firefighters proposed,” he said. “I’d like to really build that department up a lot in my tenure. If anything else,, it might cut back in overtime costs a bit. I do think they could use some more staffing.”
The Union has long railed that it needs more staffing, routinely citing that the staffing levels are the same as they were after receivership in the 1990s. The second piece of that argument is that since that time, Chelsea has grown significantly with new buildings and new high-rises as well.
In a letter to the Record last week, Union President Brian Capistran said the Department is understaffed because City Hall has failed to address the shortage in staffing.
“My members, on average, work 80-plus hours a week because of the department’s lack of adequate staffing levels. I have requested, multiple times in public forums, to increase the Fire Department staffing levels. The city has consistently ignored these requests and refuses to listen. What is most troubling is instead of working to correct the problem…The truth of the matter is that City government has failed the citizens of Chelsea by ignoring our continued requests for increased staffing. Staffing levels are currently the same as after the City went into Receivership in the early 1990s, all the while the population and development in the city continues to grow by tremendous levels.”
Ambrosino said he will likely present his budget to the City Council on May 1.