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South Fire Station Is Set To Re-open ... Sort Of

Concerns regarding budget and staffing will limit the operation of the station house for the foreseeable future.

will be open again soon. However, it won't be open with nearly as much frequency as South Tewksbury residents would like.

The station, one of three in the town, has been closed since mid-March due to budget constraints. At the time,

With the six-month mark just around the corner, said the station will re-open in the coming weeks but not on a full-time basis.

"Due to fiscal restraints we will be opening the South Station on a staffing availability basis," said Hazel. "In other words, if we have enough members on duty on a given day or night shift we will open the station.

"If we do not  have enough members on duty due to contractually obligated or other time off reasons we will close the South Station and not expend money from our coverage account."

In the Fiscal Year 2012 Budget The Fire Department's operating budget was cut by $52,099, from $287,480 to $235,044. The total FY '12 budget for the department, including salaries, is $4,285,697.

Hazel said all three stations would also be open in cases of emergency and natural disasters.

The made clear that he is neither content, nor happy with the current situation but that his department must do the best it can with the resources available.

"I truly believe the community needs three fully functional fire stations, unfortunately, funding is not currently available to make that happen for our department," he said. "We are working to provide the best possible service to the residents of Tewksbury given our present funding situation."

South Station be opened on a limited basis as soon as three newly hired firefighters are trained and ready to take on shifts.

During the times that South Station is closed, South Tewksbury will continue to be covered by units from the Central and North Stations. Hazel said his coverage account is present about 50 percent of what is needed to fully staff the three stations. He said that despite limited resources, he will do whatever is needed to maintain the safety of residents.

"Should our staffing fall below a predetermined safe level we will hire firefighters as needed to provide a minimum level of protection for firefighter and community safety," he said.

When all three stations are open, there are 12 firefighters on per shift. With three new hires, there are 51 employees in the department, including the chief and the department secretary. This is down from a high of 59 employees in the 1990s.

Though the operating budget has been trimmed, the department has been able to make necessary upgrades to its vehicle fleet recently. In 2010, voters approved a new engine (replacing a 26-year-old vehicle) and this year, approved replacing one of the town's two ambulances.

Jade September 12, 2011 at 11:54 AM
Beautiful building! Let's hope it doesn't become abandoned like many have in Tewksbury.
Dave September 12, 2011 at 03:35 PM
Seems to me the Chief is dangling the carrot and then taking it away using this as a tool for an over ride. I say close the station, layoff four fighters and sell the building. See if Verizon or sprint will buy it.. Ideal location right next to sneak it in the middle of the night cell tower
Jade September 12, 2011 at 03:45 PM
A few years ago I attend a meeting at the Trahan School in favor of putting a Verizon antenna on the existing cell tower. Sounded like it was really going to happen, but like everything else, it was a big let down. I wasted my time and efforts attending the meeting. At this point I don't believe anything they say when it comes to the politics in this town. You go to a meeting and they have their minds already made up on what they want to do, not what you suggest happen.
Kathleen Brothers September 12, 2011 at 04:20 PM
It's a darn shame for the people of South Tewksbury! Many years ago we had a horrifc fire down here, with loss of life, image if that happend again? I feel bad for the people who lobbied for this Fire Station many years ago. Joan Dunlevy comes to mind. Lets hope and pray that an emergency doesn't happen down here and the Fire Department can't make it down in time. I agree, Bonnie it is a beautiful building, but it needs landscaping done, just mowing the lawn would make a big difference.
denise September 12, 2011 at 04:24 PM
Bonnie...i felt the same way with the re districting of the schools... that the decision has already been made.
Melissa Gleaton September 12, 2011 at 04:45 PM
Bonnie, just wait until a 9 person panel gets to make all the decisions for Tewksbury.
Jade September 12, 2011 at 05:56 PM
Hi Melissa! That was exactly the point I was trying to get across. I am fully against this 9 person panel making our decisions for us I guewss the committee that is working on this new panel has lived in this town long enough to see how many broken promises have been broken. And Kathleen, why should the Fire Department look any worse then the roadway down Route 38 heading towards the Wilmington line. It looks like a jungle and a bug breeding paradise. Even the area around the monument of the Firefighter is not being taken care. It is a disgrace!
Jade September 12, 2011 at 05:57 PM
whoops--I guess that the committee that is working on this new panel have not lived in this town long enough to see how many broken promises have been broken.
Ronald September 12, 2011 at 08:36 PM
To residents of south tewksbury: response time to emergencies in your area are horrific! Good luck
Jade September 12, 2011 at 08:48 PM
Ronald, thanks for your reassurance. It depressed me even more!
Karyn September 12, 2011 at 10:19 PM
On the contrary, Bonnie, with the exception of one or two the majority are long time residents. They 'know the score.'
Jade September 12, 2011 at 11:57 PM
Southie, thanks for the info. I wonder when some town official will notice how poorly the State is taking care of Route 38? If the firefighter muster was supposed to be maintained by the parks department, when is a town official going to notice how poorly that is kept? I know that want new businesses to open up in Tewksbury, but if the State doesn't clean up Main Street, (Route 38) and the other town doesn't take care of what it is assigned to do, then forget about anyone wanting to opening up a business here in Tewksbury.
Kathy Carlin September 13, 2011 at 03:55 PM
Being a resident of South Tewksbury of course I am disappointed and concerned about the fire station being closed. But I am also disgusted by the fact that the American flag is on the pole out there left in all types of weather and I thought that a flag left out at night needed to be lit up. It is one thing to not show respect to residents down here, but at least show some respect to the flag that is left there unattended.
Amy W September 13, 2011 at 07:24 PM
I understand that the economy is really hurting towns like Tewksbury. The problem I have with this issue is that somehow the Town determined that it was important that the North Station stay open full-time year round but it was okay that the South Station be closed for much of the year and then the rest of the year only open part-time. The message sent to S. Tewksbury residents is essentially that they do not matter as much as the N. Tewkbury residents. S. Tewksbury is not looking for preferential treatment, just equitable treatment. We are one town, not two and when talking about emergency response, all residents should have equal access.
Karyn September 13, 2011 at 11:00 PM
I do not want to get into the whole silly North Vs. South issue as I agree we are all one community/town....but the difference between/reasoning behind the decision in keeping the North Station open is the fact that the north sector of Town is bisected by the Guilford Railroad Line freight tracks by the soccer fields at North St., Livingston St. and beyond... cutting off most of that end of town area from the Central Fire Station should a fire occur while a train is in progress/transit. There is no way to get around the tracks to the opposite side and those trains run more often than you might think and can be 80 freight cars long. I live in close proximity to a crossing so I know this to be true.
Amy W September 14, 2011 at 12:19 PM
Thank you Karyn for that information because that is helpful to know. As relatively new to town I did not even know there was a "silly North vs. South" issue? I guess my point is with that railroad where it is then there should be a North station but then why not have South Station open full-time with the Center part-time? I'm just concerned it gives the residents of S. Tewksbury a bad impression that their emergency services access is negotiable.
RESIDENT OF SOUTH TEWKSBURY September 15, 2011 at 04:46 PM
I am disguted with how things work in this town! Tewksbury needs these fire stations OPEN ALL YEAR LONG. I understand the train tracks and the image of having the Central fire station open because it sits with town hall but everyone knows that its a good 20 minutes or longer to go from South Tewksbury to North Tewksbury especially with the bridge on Brown St being closed for so long (OH THAT IS A WHOLE NOTHER STORY NO ONE WANTS TO TALK ABOUT). What is it going to take the Town of Tewksbury to get this right a death of someones loved ones. And how does the town continue to find money for this or that and who decides where it should go.. one year we found money and it went to the schools if i recall how about someone start digging again and I bet there is more money to be found and get that fire station open and that bridge...
Dave September 15, 2011 at 06:00 PM
For a stationary flag displayed on a building, pole or staff, it is customary to fly it from sunrise to sunset. You are only permitted to display your flag at night if it is properly illuminated. This means that you must have a light dedicated to "spotlighting" your flag. The Flag Code describes the flag as a living thing, and it should be treated as such.
Dave September 15, 2011 at 06:05 PM
Amy get used to it, I have been here 20yrs and I can attest that there has always been lack of or virtually no town services down this end of Tewksbury, traditionally it's been the north typically the area of RT 133. Your right the town could care less about what happens down the south part of town...
ahecht December 13, 2012 at 02:44 AM
Sprint already has a cell tower hidden in the station's flagpole.

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