Recent Investments in the Nantucket Fire Department


September 30, 2023

The Fire Department recently acquired three new vehicles (ambulance, pickup truck, UTV) to be used for emergency service response. The ambulance is equipped with all of the latest safety equipment and will be used as an Advanced Life Support vehicle. The pickup truck will be used for emergency calls, and in situations of inclement weather, will plow the way for ambulances. The UTV is a small “All-Terrain Vehicle” that will be used to assist on emergency calls on the beach and in the areas of the island that are not accessible to standard emergency vehicles.

August 16, 2023

The issues surrounding the staffing of Town of Nantucket departments and municipal operations is not a new revelation, especially as the island continues to struggle with a housing crisis that is magnified by its remote location and high cost of living. 

Public safety is of paramount importance to Town and Fire Department leadership, and there is an unwavering commitment to meet the staffing needs of the Nantucket Fire Department.

There is significant progress being made toward this goal, including: 

  1. Ten new firefighters have been hired since January 2023, with 2 actively working at NFD and scheduled to attend academy. 7 new hires are in the onboarding process, with anticipated employment start dates of September 2023. In addition to the Fire Academy, new hires will obtain their paramedic or advanced EMT certification as a condition of their employment. Newly funded positions are also in the recruitment process, and those include 4 Firefighter Lieutenant positions and a Deputy Chief of Training and EMS.
  2. Of the 10 new firefighters offered conditions of employment with the Town, two were off-island residents and the majority were current residents of Nantucket. Extensive recruitment efforts have been made to recruit both on-island and off-island candidates. Efforts include the expansion of the fire call force, which resulted in 3 Call Firefighters being offer full time employment. In the most recent Firefighter/Paramedic job posting the Town received 14 applications.
  3. Completion of a successful collective bargaining agreement with the Nantucket Fire Department union, with a focus on providing competitive compensation for employee retention and new hires.  The bargaining process was cooperative and completed before the expiration of the current contract
  4. Expanded efforts to strengthen the island’s call firefighting force resulted in increasing the call force to 21 individuals, 3 of which have since been offered full time employment opportunities with the Department.
  5. Development of innovative programs to provide attainable housing options for municipal employees.

The Town of Nantucket has also invested nearly $30 million in people, equipment and facilities for the Nantucket Fire Department since 2018. These expenditures include:

  1. $18,700,000 for a state-of-the-art 22,000-square-foot fire station, with apparatus bays, dispatch and communications, offices and dormitory space for on-call firefighters
  2. $10,500,000 for new vehicles, rescue and advanced lifesaving equipment and training
  3. $162,000 for lower PFAS turn-out gear

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October 2022

People are our most important asset, and we continue to invest annually.  Since 2018, the operating budget, which primarily supports salaries, has increased ~2.5% on average over the period. During the same period the department added 4 firefighters, an EMS Officer and bolstered administrative support.

Supporting our firefighters with high quality facilities has also been a deliberate strategy.  To that end, in November 2019, the Town completed construction of a state-of-the-art fire station.  The 22,000 SF facility houses apparatus bays, dispatch and communications, offices, and dormitory space for on-duty firefighters and was constructed at a cost of $18,700,000.

We have also demonstrated our commitment to ensuring our firefighters are equipped with some of the newest equipment.  In addition to the $4,426,420 invested since in vehicles and equipment since fiscal year 2018, an additional $1,295,000 is in the Fire Department capital plan for FY24.  The total investment over the 7-year period will likely be more than $5,700,000. 

FY24 (capital planning)
ValueStatus
Rescue Equipment
Engine 1
Fire Department Staff Vehicle F-5429
375,000
840,000
80,000
1,295,000
Pending/Prior Year
Pending/New
Pending/New
FY23325,000
Purchase Self-contained Breathing Apparatus
Costs Associated with Firefighting Foam-Disposal and replacement
Purchase Portable radios
Replace Ambulance 3
Replace Utility Vehicle
Purchase Utility Terrain Vehicle
Active Shooter Response Training and Gear
Purchase Advanced Life Support Equipment
Purchase Rescue Equipment
105,000
110,000
94,945
370,000
75,000
50,000
75,000
60,000
325,000
939,945
Approved
Approved
Approved
Approved
Approved
Approved
Approved
Approved

Deferred
FY22

Purchase Advanced Life Support Equipment
Purchase Self-contained Breathing Apparatus
Replace Engine #4
Purchase Rescue Equipment
50,000
101,160
705,000
300,000
856,160
Approved
Approved
Approved

Deferred
FY21 (essential articles only due to COVID)
101,160
Purchase Advanced Life Support Equipment
Purchase Self-contained Breathing Apparatus
100,000
101,160
100,000
Approved
Deferred

FY20

Purchase Self-contained Breathing Apparatus
Replace Engine #7
Purchase New Ambulance
92,534
450,000
325,000
867,534
Approved
Approved
Approved
FY19

Purchase Self-contained Breathing Apparatus
Purchase of Ambulance-related Equipment
90,720
606,210
696,930
Approved
Approved
FY18

Purchase of Ambulance
Purchase of Ambulance-related Equipment


Total

279,000
706,851
985,851

5,741,420

Approved
Approved

The Fire Department has a well-articulated 10-year capital improvement plan which is provided to the Capital Program Committee each year.  The plan identifies vehicles and equipment that are expected to need replacement and it is updated each year to reflect any new information about the condition of vehicles and equipment.  This process ensures the department always has current equipment as older equipment becomes obsolete.  Notably, only one capital request (Rescue Equipment) is pending from a prior year and that request is part of the FY24 capital planning process. 

Finally, in addition to the above-demonstrated commitment to ensuring our firefighters are properly equipped, the Town expeditiously funded $161,668 in FY22 for turn-out gear when PFAS concerns were identified.  Turn-out gear is a mandatory subject of bargaining per Massachusetts Public Employee Collective Bargaining Law that could have been held until the final contract was negotiated. However, the Town felt that purchasing lower PFAS turn-out gear was a priority for firefighter safety.