New Bedford residents protest fire station brownouts

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) — Several people held a rally in New Bedford Thursday to let the city know they’re concerned for their safety.

New Bedford is now months into Mayor Jon Mitchell’s scheduled fire station brownouts, in which trucks and engines are temporarily shut down to save the city money.

“They’re blacking out the fire stations 24 hours at a time,” said Sarah Daniels, who organized the protest outside city hall. “Each fire station takes a turn.”

The city says the brownouts save about $58,000 a month and cuts firefighters’ overtime costs in half.

“We can’t have firefighters not available,” Daniels added. “What if something happens to somebody on a third floor and they need help carrying them out – and what if they’re late? What if it takes too long for them to get there?”

“Is the mayor’s office putting the city in danger by closing one of these stations every day? it’s definitely not helping,” said New Bedford Fire Union President Bill Cabral. “We’re basically gambling. We’re basically rolling the dice every day.”

The city says the brownouts will continue for at least the near future. It’s applied for a multi-million grant that would replenish the fire department’s finances.

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