, Newburyport, MA


May 13, 2014

A three-ring circus over fire board appointments

To the editor:

Regarding the recent appointments to the West Newbury Board of Fire Engineers. Why do we have to have a three-ring circus every April?

This has been going on for the past 20 years and there is absolutely no need for it. The Fire Department is the best bang the taxpayers get for their tax money. This town has always supported the fire department, whether it be for new trucks, turnout gear or breathing apparatus. We have no full-time employees. They are all call and they show up no matter the time of day or night, hot, cold, rain or snow.

Selectman Joe Anderson attended a meeting of our board at which we explained what we have done and what we wanted to accomplish in the future. He apparently chose to ignore what he learned. I have talked to some of the members of the department and they all feel that things have been steadily improving in the past six to eight months.

Better turnout at calls, more members at the fire company meetings, people stepping up to do different things that need to be done. They too can’t understand why this is happening. I cannot understand why two members of the Board of Selectman feel they have to destroy all that has been accomplished in that period of time.

The selectman should be more concerned with Mary-Ann Fowler’s participation on the BOFE and not her — or anyone else’s — attendance at drills and calls. This is not up to the selectman; that belongs exclusively with the fire chief and BOFE. For Mr. Anderson to look at only a three-month slice of payroll when a full year is available tells me he wasn’t looking for the truth; he only wanted to muddy the water.

To former Selectman Bert Knowles’ statement that the law makes me a “fire ward,” he’s is absolutely correct. Just because the law allows it does not mean that I have to do it. In the past year since I was appointed an engineer, we have had over 300 calls. I have only been on scene for one, and that was four hours after the fire was out!

Bob Janes

West Newbury

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