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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Pelham receives recommendations for public safety

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By PHYLLIS LEHRER Staff Writer
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Wednesday, November 12, 2003 -- ( PELHAM ) A public safety department combining the police and fire operations and a student call force are two recommendations in a new report by consultants.
Donald Jacobs, of Bennett Associates of Norwell, made the recommendation based on a review of the department that included staffing, training and operations.

However, the Board of Selectmen said it wants another option since such a change could be costly. The board and officials will meet with consultants this week to develop such a plan. The final report will be discussed at a public in meeting in December.

This is second study of a town department the board has commissioned. The police department had its turn last year and the highway department will be next. The study cost $5,000.

Jacobs said a public safety department would build on the strength of the existing relationship between the police and fire departments that are both housed in the Community Center.

Such a unified department would have one head, with a police officer and a fire officer handling day-to-day details of their respective departments.

''People are dedicated committed and do a very good job. But you need regular ongoing leadership. That can't be done by paying someone $5,000,'' said Jacobs.

Fire Chief Ken Gay earns $4,700. The total annual budget for the 12-member volunteer force is $38,700.

The report cited several issues that need to be improved. For example, there is no ongoing firefighter recruitment and retention program. This could address a major issue, which is the lack of adequate personnel on weekdays. More than half the firefighters work out of town. Calls are usually answered by other towns under mutual aid agreements.

Pelham police have been authorized to answer fire calls and are generally the first to respond since there are three full-time officers on duty.

Creating a student call force in conjunction with the Amherst Fire Department and the University of Massachusetts student program would also help with staffing. Jacobs said there is space in the station to house two student firefighters and that would provide overnight protection.

According to the report, the operating guidelines need to be updated, training needs to be better organized and communication with selectmen is currently ineffective.

''Oftentimes rumors, innuendoes and ... disgruntled personnel appear to be a normal occurrence,'' the report said.

Jacobs said fees need to reflect the cost of service for permits and inspections.

''This is a tremendous opportunity for Pelham to gain revenue,'' Jacobs said. The added funding could pay for additional personnel. For example, Jacobs said a clerk would be needed to assist with paper work in a public safety department. The report said that technology isn't used effectively.

Phyllis Lehrer can be reached at [email protected].
 

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a fire and police department merged into one. I know of one city in California that does this Sunnyvale city about 15 miles from San Jose. I dont know if this would work in New England. I know in Massachusetts from a union perspective it would probably never be accepted. The legal question I guess is can someone serve as Police Chief and Fire Chief or would the law have to changed to accomodate it.
 

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I would love to see a "Public Safety" dept. in Mass. Although it would not be suitable for all cities/towns it would provide extra personnel in times of need. Since all would be both PO's and FF's that would add to times of emergencies when more PO's are needed or when more FF's are needed. In essence it would double both staffs for Police and Fire with their current levels.
 

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The Town of Arlington tried, unsuccessfully to create a Public Safety Officer position in the mid-80's. It was planned that the positions were to be part police officer, part firefighter and part EMT. Union problems and supervisory issues, as well as a court case, squashed the deal. The town had been preparing for the new positions for some time. In the late 70's the police, fire mechanics, and traffic signal group all became grouped under the newly created Community Safety department. A position for a Community Safety 'chief' was established but to this date it still has not been filled. The police and fire are still each headed by a 'Director' instead of a chief.

Little FYI for us all.
 

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There's another town in FL that has a public safety department as well. From what my friend tells me (he's lived there for a few years) the town is about the size of Avon MA w/ fewer people and it seems to work fine. The employees are trained fire-ems / police. Anything "big" police wise is farmed out to the sheriffs dept or state police. This includes MVA w/ death, murders or violent crime etc. I think for a small community w/ limited funds it might make sense.
 

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I'm not sure if or how this applies, but it seems like something they'd at least have to work around. :?:

MGL Ch-41 Sec-97F:
Section 97F. No city or town shall require a member of its police department, or other employee with police powers, to perform the duties of a firefighter during his tour of duty; provided, however, that nothing in this section shall prohibit any such member from serving as a call or volunteer firefighter, or from responding to an emergency in the normal course of his duties. No police officer, or other employee with police powers, shall, in connection with any industrial or labor dispute, perform the duties of a firefighter or any duties other than those regularly assigned to him.
 

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There is already enough conflict within each department. Combining them would just create a disaster. Police=Police Station, Firemen=Firestation, Doctor=Hospital, Priest=Prison....(oops).....I say leave it all alone and focus attention and matters on other priorities....for instance....better equipment, cruisers, more personnel.....etc.
 

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Two things stand out;

1. Pelham is so SMALL that Steven Hawking could take it with a remote- launched boomerang. It appears they have no full-time cops or firefighters. I doubt CIVIL CIRCUS applies there either.

2. A combined "Public Safety" Department is an oddity that has not clearly proven itself over time.

This has the potential to turn into one of those controversial things like sheriffs/constables YIKES!
:L: :shock:
 

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There are departments in this state that are called "Public Safety". They are called campus police departments. That is the term the college administrators and Directors of "Public Safety" use to disguise their Campus POLICE Department, make it a nicer, kinder, more gentler term. The word Police sounds to harsh.

I'm not bashing Campus Police, I used to work as one. We were the Campus Police but the Director of Public Safety (AKA Chief) hated to use the word Police Department. He always tried to refer to us as Public Safety and not Police. :) I hated when people refered to us as Public Safety. When they called on the phone and we answered "Campus Police" they would say "Hi, I'm looking for Public Safety" we would tell them that you've reached the Police Department, you can contact the director of Public Safety between the hours of 8-5 :)
 

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Alot of small municipalities in Florida are Public Safety agencies. All the officers are dual certified as Police Officer and Fire Fighter. It works well and saves money for the town/city. I highly doubt that it would ever fly in Mass though.
 
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I thought the only "Dual Agency" such as this in Massachusetts was the Worcester Airport Police who are trained in Fire Rescue as well. "No sense in you watching a plane burn, jump out of those blues and put on some boots boy! You are goin' to work!!"

Check out their Police patch as well. Looks similar to Worcester PD but it has some symbol on it or it says "FIRE RESCUE" I believe.

Lots of Fire-Police in Pennsylvania & New York as well with some of the smaller towns.
 

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Police Officer and Firefighters are two highly specialized and different jobs. There is basically no similarities in how they perform their functions; firefighters sit around a fire stations waiting to put out fires and police officer patrol the streets daily, enforcing laws. As a certified EMT and Trooper I find very little opportunity to practice medical side of my training, because doing the police side takes up all my time. If I try to attend to victims at a MVA another car gets hit, or my cruiser gets creamed becaue I haven't bothered to set up a flare line. Trying to combine the two professions sounds like a poor solution to a crappy problem. Rather than two excellent departments with good police officers and firefighters you're going to end up with medicocre firefighters and poor police officers. A fire chief as a police chief? I wouldn't want that in my community. Police Chiefs are supposed to be experienced police officers with perhaps a masters degree in CJ, law or some other relevant field (no snickering). And what would a experienced law enforcement officer know about putting out fires? Especially in unusual engineering situations or with hazmat chemicals? Zilch. Zip. Nada. To try to combine fields is to cheapen both. In effect its saying that: "your job is so easy, we politicians decided you needed more work." If a community needs part-time police officers; so be it; hire them. If it can't afford them; let the State Police do the job. Let the volunteer firefighters do their job without having to be mired in law enforcement functions. And vice-versa. Any firefighters out there want a cop telling them what to do? How many cops out there want a sparky telling us what to do? Bad, bad idea!
This omits all of the union and legal issues that I'm sure that would arise from such an unholy hybrid.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Fire Police

The Fire Police in other states like PA NY and CT are actually people working for the fire dept that handle traffic control during fires and other fire dept calls.

I find it hard to believe that any community would have a person working as both a police officer and a firefighter. What happens when there is a fire and the only person on duty responds to it then he gets a call for a domestic in progress. Does he leave the fire or waite until others show up?
 

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MCOA41, The way some Public Safety Departments are set up in other states is a rotation of duties, i.e. 1 week or month on P.D. then one on F.D.. Officers assigned to PD would respond to the domestic calls. Some are set-up where they are double dutied (Police and Fire at the same time) and when they get busy or tied up the call state or county for assistance. That would really require good dispatching policies to ensure proper coverage... and to minimize calling for aid. Ideally not every PSO responds to a Fire call unless its a multi-alarm fire, then they would have State or County called and already roaming town for calls.

Killjoy, you made some correct statements about how some FF's wouldn't want to be mired with police functions...likewise with PO's and Fire functions. But there are also plenty of people out there that would love to have the dual duty.

If done properly, communities would benefit strongly with a program like this. Imagine a PO with Fire Academy Training, or Police being able to call the FD to assist in a large disturbance because they are trained...rather than wait several minutes for mutual aid to arrive. Just my 2 cents...
 

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Just my $.02 but I think Fire and Police are two seperate things and should stay that way. I dont know much about firefighting nor do i want to.
 

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Public Safety

Granted, the situation is somewhat different than a municipality, but the San Diego Harbor Police have all of their Police Officers trained and certified as FireFighters, in fact, all PO's are issued full turnout gear, and they carry it in their vehicles next to their shotguns, and riot gear. They fight any fires on the harbor, or on lands owned by the unified port district, as well as back up San Diego PD, and FD when needed. Like I said, this example is different then a municipality, but it is still interesting how they can combine the two duties.
 

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Well in Lynnfield MA the Chief of Police is the Fire Chief too... some of the officers are EMT's and operate the bulances' but none of them (that I am aware of) are firefighters too.. now, isn't it illegal to have 2 civ serv appointments?

Maybe this is a grandfather case?
 
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