RUMFORD — The Fire Department will be reducing the number emergency firefighters for as many as 20 percent of future shifts at the Central Station beginning next week.

“It is unfortunate, that due to budgetary constraints we will need to reduce our on-hand firefighters at the station from three to two whenever we have someone go on vacation,” Robert Chase, chief of the Rumford Fire Department, said.

“This means that 20 percent of the coming year, or 66 days, we will have this reduction in force,” Chase said.

“The important consequences of this staffing change means that if there is a structure fire,” Chase said, “when there were three on duty we could immediately respond with two pieces of equipment. Now, with only two at the station, during shortened staff shifts, we can only respond with one piece of equipment.”

Also, there is a coordination and response dynamic that is changed between firefighters with  ever-changing personnel and equipment availabilities due to periodic reductions in emergency response, Chase said.

In addition to how the periodic personnel reduction affects firefighters’ responses to emergencies, Chase said the change will alter the fire department’s service such as requests for burn permits.

“We may not have the staff available to be responsive as we have in the past with such requests,” Chase said.

The Rumford Fire Department, at 151 Congress St., was founded in 1895. Fire Chief Robert Chase took command of the department on Aug. 13, 2009.

The department serves the largest town in Oxford County and responds to emergencies in surrounding communities through a mutual aid agreement.

In other fire department news: The Hazmat Technician Refresher Course will be held in August and sponsored by NewPage, Chase said.

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