Warren Fire Department hit twice by budget cuts
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.”