New Bedford firefighters’ union rallies to save fire engine

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WLNE) — The New Bedford firefighters’ union and community members rallied Sunday against the mayor’s proposal to decommission the fire vehicle known as Engine 8.

Mayor Mitchell says that in putting together his budget, he was forced to make the difficult decision to shut down the fire engine due lack of funds. He also says he will not be filling the related vacant firefighter positions in order to save money.

But opponents say it would be a dangerous move, leaving residents vulnerable.

“I know the mayor’s in a hard spot, but he’s got to understand these people save lives,” said Daniel Rebelo, a lifelong resident of the New Bedford neighborhood near Station 8. “I mean, you’ve got to cut something, why cut the fire department, police department? Cut something else.”

“We are trying to speak up for the community, and speak against cuts that are again happening to our department and our city,” said fire union president Billy Silvia.

He adds that newly-available level funding and SAFER grants should reduce financial pressure on the city.

“We all have tough choices to make, but our safety should not be one of them,” said New Bedford City Councilwoman Maria Giesta.

Congressman Joe Kennedy stopped by the rally to thank some of his supporters.

Kennedy, who’s running for U.S. Senate, says Washington needs to provide more help to local communities.

“Every government entity is going to be wrestling with tough budget decisions, but the federal government has the ability to step up and actually alleviate those concerns, so that we can make sure that cities like New Bedford don’t have to compromise on public safety,” said Rep. Kennedy, (D) 4th District. “There’s a trillion dollars of aid to states and municipalities on the desk of Mitch McConnell that needs to be approved, so that it can get injected into communities like New Bedford.”

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