Fire study group seeking residents' opinions at Monday meeting

Fire study group seeking residents' opinions at Monday meeting

CUMBERLAND - Got an opinion about the future of Cumberland's consolidated fire district?

The eight-member committee that's working on consolidation issues in advance of November's merger wants to hear now about citizens' ideas and concerns.

All Cumberland residents are invited next Monday, Feb. 24, to a focus group style of meeting to share ideas that will shape the way the Cumberland Fire Consolidation subcommittee proceeds over the next several months.

The session will begin at 7:45 p.m. in the Hayden meeting wing of the Cumberland Public Library.

Consolidation chairman Michael Spaziani said the committee is anxious to hear what residents are thinking about the fire service now that the long process of actually merging the four departments is nearing its end.

"The information that comes out, the thoughts and comments, will give us an idea of what information" needs to be shared with residents, he said.

Chief Brian Jackvony noted that Monday's session "isn't to solve problems but to identify problems that need to be addressed."

Feedback from next Monday's session might include taxes and budget, station locations, or the new safety complex, for example.

The current consolidation board is made up of two representatives from each of the four fire districts and meets regularly to discuss and plan for a myriad of issues such as budget, equipment, employee contracts, insurance policies and more.

The members' goal, Spanziani has said, is to put together recommendations for the Fire Committee elected by residents in November. These recommendations won't be binding but are expected to serve as a jumping off point for the elected board.

Spaziani and Chief Jackvony, who heads up the Valley Falls and North Cumberland districts, also noted the committee plans to take the ideas expressed next Monday and use them as the basis for a survey designed to reach all residents in town.

Jackvony said the ultimate survey will "allow everyone to weigh in."

The committee has previously gathered elected officials and employees for separate focus groups and plans surveys to those constituencies, too.

The results of the surveys will be made public.

Paying close attention to the survey results may be candidates for the Fire Committee who will be filing paperwork to campaign just as School Committee and Town Council candidates will in June.

Like those two boards, the Fire Committee will have seven members with one from each of five council districts and two at-large. And like the school board, it will be non-partisan.

The Breeze will cover this campaign as it does the council and school board candidates.