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January 23, 2021
PFFM & Local 1693 Press Release
Posted On: Jan 04, 2017

Holyoke Firefighters & PFFM Sound Alarm on Mayor’s Claim E2 being "Browned Out" did not affect the outcome of Sunday's Fire

January 3, 2017 at 12:58pm

(Boston – January 3, 2017) -- Today Holyoke Firefighters Local 1693 and the Professional Firefighters of Massachusetts are responding to Holyoke Mayor Morse’s claim that a fire engine not in service due to budget cuts played no role in Sunday’s deadly fire that left three people dead with still others unaccounted for, and approximately 50 people displaced from their homes.

“First and foremost, our hearts go out to the victims and their families and the residents of that building,” said Chad Cunningham, president of the local union. “People jumped in and helped save lives, showing incredible courage. The residents of this city came together and it will be their resiliency that helps all of us move forward in these dark days.”

“However, the fact that Mayor Morse and Chief Pond have said that if Engine 2 was in service it would not have altered the outcome of Sunday’s fire is false. Engine 2 – out of service for most of the last two years - is located at 600 High Street, along with Engine 1 and Truck 1, and its personnel would have had a significant impact on this fire. This is a dangerous statement to make,” Cunningham said.

“Engine 2 would have arrived with Engine 1 and Truck 1, and provided significant aide in those crucial first few moments. Unfortunately, we’ll never know the fate of the three innocent victims lost had Engine 2 been in service. But that is also not a situation any of us should be in.

“Our number one priority is the safety of the people of Holyoke who reside and do business here. We need to be fully staffed as a fire department to protect them. Each year, Chief Pond submits a budget that provides for full staffing and equipment, and each year the mayor reduces the budget. Our staff is down from 88 to 78 firefighters. On June 1, the chief said that ‘every time you have a brown out you roll the dice.’ (a brown out refers to putting a piece of fire apparatus out of service)

“Mayor Morse, don’t gamble with the safety of the residents of Holyoke. It’s time for you to do what is right for the 40,000+ residents in Holyoke and properly staff this department,” Cunningham concluded.

“When a fire happens, seconds not minutes can be the difference between life and death,” Rich MacKinnon, Jr., president of the Professional Firefighters of MA said. “We never know what we’ll encounter when the bell rings and that is why it is crucial that our fire stations are adequately staffed with firefighters and equipment. The 12,000 members of the Professional Firefighters of MA stand with our brothers and sisters in Holyoke in grieving with the families of the three victims. We call on Mayor Morse to reinstate Engine 2 immediately.”

For Immediate Release: January 3, 2017

Contact: Melissa Hurley, Professional Firefighters of MA, 781-799-4406

Contact: Mayor Alex Morse, Holyoke, Massachusetts, 413-322-5510

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