HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – Holyoke firefighters and residents protested outside City Hall Tuesday, asking Mayor Alex Morse to provide more funding to the fire department.
The protest comes more than a week after a New Year’s Day apartment fire in Holyoke that killed three people and forced 50 others from their homes.
Holyoke Firefighters Union Local 1693 says that they are understaffed, underfunded, and that Engine 2 was not in service that New Year’s morning. The union says that Engine 2 is located on High Street, and has been out of service for almost two years because of a lack of funding and staffing due to a “brownout.” They say that it could have provided three more firefighters that fateful day.
Morse and Fire Chief John Pond have stated that the presence of Engine 2 would not have made a difference in the response.
Brittany Robert organized the protest. She says that she has a unique perspective on the debate, being the daughter and sister of firefighters in Holyoke.
“It’s risking lives of our firefighters, who already have a dangerous job as it is, who are short on manpower and trucks and engines, and it’s risking their lives and risking the lives of all Holyoke citizens,” Robert said.
The president of the union says that the fire department currently has 78 firefighters, but would need 10 more to be fully staffed.