Reserve list still a concern in Somerville

Many feel that a new fire station is needed in the Assembly Square area to ensure a faster response to the fires occurring there.

By Kyle Dante

Due to Somerville’s financial year, the police and fire committees are facing difficulties. Departments are of similar value. Police officers and firefighters are subject to the same training and examinations. Think of it the same way a sports athlete would. Officers and firefighters are also discussed on their respective roles.

The current issues within ministries are their reserve lists. However, there is currently no formal decision on the treatment of the lists. It acts like a hiring puzzle. Regardless of the decision, the size of the list remains problematic. It takes a while to put a firefighter or an officer on the reserve list, sometimes up to eight to ten months.

As a result, there are several concerns among City Council and department staff. Namely, the plan, its control and consistency for future hires.

On April 5, a hypothetical timeline was proposed at the Somerville City Council Legislative Affairs Committee meeting. The concern relates to the staffing of the opening of Assembly Square station. Because police and fire departments share identical training and background checks, the process applies to each service. By June 2022, HR will request an eligible list and begin orientation. By October 2022, it is hoped that interviews will be completed.

From January 2023, selected candidates will begin examinations, February-March appointing members. It is due to a delay of eight to ten months to receive designated personnel. The phased process will end in February 2025 with adequate staff.

The Commission rejected the proposed configuration due to the length of the process. The fire department has had this discussion since 2021. Additionally, it has remained a topic of discussion since the January 2022 legislative meeting. Not only does it disregard the fiscal year, but also who is ready to serve.

As regards the reserve list, it requires internal control. Say, for example, the tenant is on a reserve. Time will pass, and they will not serve.

Separated from finances, what about those who are ready to serve? It’s not just the oldest reserve to join the fray. It is a timely process. At that time, members of the reserve are unfit for work. Alternatively, they no longer want to serve Somerville or a city.

Unless the departments provide new information on how to remedy the situation, this is dead advice. It needs to be reworked. With the imminent opening of Assembly Station Square, an adjustment has to take place. Not only for the taxpayers, but for the people hired. A waste of money can occur by paying more than necessary. More importantly, it is doing a disservice to those who want to help the city when a tenured employee retires. A change is needed, not hypothetically, but an actual plan.

Go here to see the graphic depicting Assembly Square station staffing scenarios.

Jessica C. Bell