AMESBURY — The Fire Department will receive a staffing review after the City Council unanimously approved a measure to appropriate $30,000 to do so Tuesday night.
Although he did not directly address the issue of a former fire lieutenant who faces criminal charges, Mayor Ken Gray told the City Council “we have had an overtime issue at the Fire Department over the past year” and the city needs to take a closer look at the department’s staffing.
“This is kind of a postmortem, what happened? Where were the problems with our system?” Gray said. “Are there measures that we have taken to fix these issues and are they adequate? That sort of administrative review.”
In January, the Essex County District Attorney’s Office charged former fire Lt. Scott Cloutier with larceny over $250 and filing a false claim to a government agency.
Cloutier was involved in a two-year scheme to receive roughly $30,000 in overtime that he did not earn and is due for a pretrial conference May 8, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
On Tuesday night, Gray said, “There has been a lot of talk about staffing levels” at the Fire Department
“I can’t find a metric to use to determine how many firefighters we should have,” he said. “So I am asking them to go off and develop some metrics for us.”
Gray also said he’s not simply looking for a comparative review of similar fire departments but wants to look deeper.
“I want to dig into the wheres and the whys, and the operations that we offer, the characteristics of our community, the demographics,” he said. “Let’s see if we can come up with some logical way to use numbers to justify what our staffing levels are.”
Firefighter/EMT Rob Serino told the council his department’s executive team “is in full support” of funding the study.
“In the end, what we would really like is just that the study gets conducted, finished, announced publicly and put into a public forum,” Serino said. “Not only do we want to make sure that the taxpayers are getting what they are paying for, but also that the people can understand where we are truly at.”
Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.