North Wilmington Fire Substation In The Plans; More Police & Fire Needed “In Very Near Future”

WILMINGTON, MA — A fire substation in North Wilmington is inching closer to reality.

Town leaders have included the creation of a fire substation in Wilmington’s new five-year capital improvement plan.  The town has tentatively slated construction for Fiscal Year 2023 (July 2022 to June 2023), with an estimated price tag of $8 million.

The construction is predicated, however, on a favorable Fire Substation Survey.

At this year’s Annual Town Meeting, residents will be asked to fund a $45,000 study to determine if building a Fire Substation in North Wilmington is warranted.

“With the increase in calls for service and possibility of large scale development in North Wilmington, the Town needs to invest in a study to determine if there is a need for a Fire Substation and where to locate it,” said Town Manager Jeff Hull during his recent budget presentation.

“North Wilmington continues to be a growing area that needs to be properly protected for both EMS and fire emergencies. There is a high probability for further development in North Wilmington due to the amount of open land and proximity to Route 93,” according to retired Fire Chief Rick McClellan.  “The ability to provide response times consistent with NFPA standards is a goal we should be achieving. Other factors such as weather, traffic, railroad crossings, and overall distance are some of the challegns we currently face.”

Police & Fire Staffing Levels To Increase Soon

The Town is not seeking to add any new police officers or firefighters this year, but that may change next year.

“While there are no requests in the budget for additional police or fire personnel, the Police Chief and Fire Chief both continue to express concerns over the ability to meet the demands of service,” said Hull. “This is an area I’ll be working with the two chiefs on and expect, in the very near future, to be looking at staffing increases on the police & fire sides.”

Fiscal Year 2008 was the last time personnel were added to each department. In 2007, the Fire Department responded to 1,799 medical calls.  In 2017, the Fire Department responded to 2,521 medical calls. In 2007, the Police Department received 24,200 complaints or requests for service. In 2017, the Police received 26,006 such calls.

“Not only is call volume increasing, but the complexity of calls has increased, as the departments deal with the Opioid crisis and many mental health-related calls for service,” said Hull.

Hull is not waiting, however, to propose that a part-time clerical position in the Police Department be increased to full-time in Fiscal Year 2019.  The Department currently has just two full-time clerks and one part-time clerk.

The Town Manager points to last year’s change in the state’s public records law for creating a spike in requests (1,105 in 2015 to 2,531 in 2017), coupled with an anticipated increase in firearm licensure requests in 2019 with 621 licenses up for renewal.

“With these demands, the administrative staff struggles to address its records retention and management responsibilities,” acknowledged Hull.

The increase in hours of the part-time position to a full-time position will add $27,251 to the clerical salary budget.

Also Of Note…

There will also be an article on the Annual Town Meeting’s warrant to fund the replacement of five frontline police cruisers for $270,000.

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