Warren Fire Department hit twice by budget cuts

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rescue3The biggest financial loser in this year’s budget cuts could be the Warren Fire Department, which will have to make do without $470,000 worth of items officials wanted.

Warren budget cuts: A closer look at the numbers

As part of their cost-cutting measures, town council members last week eliminated a $225,000 request by the department which would have provided “paramedic services” to the Town of Warren. Officials this year — but before last week’s broad cost-cutting moves — also declined to put the purchase of a new $245,000 rescue truck in the department’s capital budget.

“We knew going in that it was going to be tough,” Fire Chief Al Galinelli said of this year’s budget deliberations.

Chief Galinelli has asked for the paramedic services money three times over the past year, and each time has been turned down. The money would have been used to pay professional paramedics to help augment Warren’s rescue staff during the day.

“When the budget’s got to be cut, that’s what they cut first,” he said. “I understand that. We were just looking to see if we could enhance our services. If I had to go for either (of the items cut), I’d ask for a new truck.”

While he said he can live without the additional paramedic help, he is more troubled at not being approved for a new rescue truck, which as a capital item would have been funded by bonds. The department currently has two rescue trucks, and both are getting on in years and miles.

It’s been a busy, tough year for the department’s main line ambulance, Rescue 2. Since the beginning of the year the town has spent close to $3,000 on the vehicle. It’s needed rear brakes, suspension work and other repairs. In addition, it has high miles though it was only purchased a few years ago.

Chief Galinelli said the department’s trucks are still reliable, but maintaining them will continue to become more extensive every year.

Meanwhile, he said, it’s in the town’s financial interest to make sure the department has adequate trucks, as with third party insurance billing “they’re money makers for the town.”

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4 Comments

  1. Marc Capaldi said:

    “Moneymakers” & “Town” should never mix. Just an fyi. My two cents as a tax paying citizen. So people who are in dire straights and need a fast life saving lift to the hospital are profit centers? Hmm just leaves a foul taste in my mouth.

  2. Whitey38 said:

    Marc, just an fyi….what the Chief was saying, was that with third party billing, Emergency Medical Services basically pay for themselves. I don’t live in Warren, but I would guess that the Rescue probably brings in $300k a year. Most likely, that money goes into the General Fund for your town of Warren and gets used on other things. And, “people in dire straits” don’t get billed if they’re town residents. Their insurance company gets billed. All in all, it’s a great situation for the town but Fire/EMS need reliable and adequate equipment. Hope this clears up the foul taste in your mouth.

  3. John Tats said:

    One of the issues that could use some refining is the way the third party billing goes directly to the general fund. That money is generated by the Fire Dept. Rescue and yet when the Department needs a rescue or equipment they always have to ask or bond out for it.
    While the Chief may have used a poor choice of words, he isn’t entirely wrong, it’s the largest generator of funds after taxes, with that being said each call that Warren doesn’t make on their own, those funds go to the Mutual aid truck that makes the call in it’s place. That could be Barrington, Bristol or Swansea that enjoy the fruits of responding to Warren to assist in the absence of having our truck.

    The Chief was asked by past councils to make cuts, back when Warren was running three trucks the call volume was much less than it is now, he cut back to two trucks, well like “Murphy’s Law” the call volume increased to upward of 2600+ calls annually most of them being EMS in nature. Now Warren could really use that third truck again without question. The biggest issue is should the rules be changed so that the third party billing goes directly to the Fire Dept. That is probably highly unlikely but it is food for thought. Problem is Warren does not have any other source of equal equity to fill the void should those funds be averted to the Fire Dept. directly. Warren would need a influx in the tax base such as some new companies or businesses coming into town to offset the shift in funds.

    Next issues is the SCBA systems or whats known as “Scott Packs” are due to be replaced due to age and time of use, this is mandated they must be replaced after a certain date which is coming up in the very near future. This equipment isn’t cheap, I can’t imagine a Fire Dept. operating with outdated Scott packs, it just isn’t gonna happen. The Towns insurance carrier is not going to be pleased if the purchase can’t be made within the mandated time frame. This is just another of the many issues Warren is faced with due to a poor agreement forcing school budget mandates to be paid before life safety issues get addressed. No taxpayer, resident, parent, property owner should ever be faced with a choice of whether a person whom volunteers to protect your community, family and property might not be properly equipped because the school system gets their money first. Our children are very important in every way, they can receive an education in various ways and there are many options for education. In most cases after school is over they will always return home. First Responders get very few options to return home if they are not properly equipped during an emergency and something goes wrong. This is food for thought when the upcoming budget meetings take place and certain folk insist that the schools be over funded again! Over paying for schools at the expense of volunteers that protect us is wrong on many levels and should never happen “Ever”!

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