The fire budget and staffing numbers have been in discussion for several months. Residents and firefighters spoke out at public meetings, showing support for the department.
Firefighter Bruce Hallowell told town councilors last month he worried about the fire department’s budget for fiscal year 2015 and said right now it’s almost bare bones when it comes to staffing levels.
“I believe the fire department is one organization that needs a little extra this year,” he said.
Right now, the department staffs each of the town’s three stations with 10 members, but if a shift is hit with someone taking vacation or sick time, those numbers can drop.
Calling others in to cover those vacant spaces adds to the overtime costs.
During town budget talks, O’Brien said having 14 firefighters on staff would be ideal.
“More firefighters will aid in making the overtime and replacement costs less, but it won’t go away,” O’Brien said.
He said it would take about $204,000 to fund overtime costs needed to fill any shift vacancies that come up due to staff being out for sickness, injury or vacation.
Town councilors did agree prior to the deliberative session to add $105,000 to the operating budget to help support the fire department.
The town and fire union were at an impasse in negotiations prior to the deliberative session, so no warrant article on a proposed new contract was included.