Springfield’s Fire Department expanded by one this week.
The Department welcomed new fire fighter Jason Ropelski to the department on Wednesday, June 15. The Township was able to afford the hire because of decreased overtime pay. Public safety officials believe the hire will improve emergency response and free up resources in the department.
Previously, Springfield’s Fire Department operated on four tours, with five people on one tour and four on two others. The new hire would allow for three tours staffed with five fire fighters.
Springfield Public Safety Director Richard Rosell told Springfield’s Township Committee members that overtime had dropped this year to 60 percent below his projections.
“It’s clear we’re able to afford this [hire] and then some,” Rosell said.
The larger tours free up resources in the department that were strained by manpower shortages. Most prominently, the department’s fire inspector David Maas will be freed up to perform more inspections.
Speaking with Patch, Rosell said that part of the drop in overtime was due to reprioritizing the calls Springfield fire responds to. Under the new system, the fire department prioritizes fire calls first, then inspections, then emergency medical service calls. Previously, EMS calls were prioritized. Rosell said he changed the order in light of the abilities of Springfield’s First Aid Squad.
“We have a viable ambulance crew here,” Rosell said.