Fire & Rescue
“Failure to address the important issues related to
Winchester’s Fire & Rescue department lies solely with our Mayor/President and former City Manager who set the City Council’s agenda on a bi-weekly basis.”
The Winchester Fire and Rescue Department (WFRD) is a combined career and volunteer fire department.
The City of Winchester does not own the four fire stations across the city - Friendship, Rouss, South End, and Shawnee. The fire stations and much of the equipment used by them are owned by the individual, non-profit volunteer fire companies.
In general, the city provides the personnel to staff the stations on a 24/7 basis, while the volunteer fire departments own and maintain the equipment. When they are available, fire companies also provide volunteer personnel that works alongside the city's paid staff.
Much has been said over the past several months about the current state of Public Safety in Winchester, particularly regarding the Winchester Fire and Rescue Department. Having been on the council since 2014, I believe we need to look at and understand the issues in three distinct parts. They are each unique and present separate challenges and opportunities.
1. Operational agreements between City Hall and Volunteer Fire Department's
2. Effective leadership and communication by all parties - City Staff, Volunteer Fire Departments and City Council. This includes bringing back the Public Safety Committee
3. Pay, benefits, scheduling and related issues for city-paid firefighters.
With the recent completion of the long-awaited Fire Study, we can now begin the process of reviewing and implementing the necessary changes to build a stronger department. With the hiring of a new City Manager and Fire Chief taking place over the next few months, it should give us an opportunity to
re-calibrate and focus on building a brighter future.
Certain changes noted in the Fire Study can be and should be implemented immediately, while other more complex issues will take longer to resolve and implement.
While there is still work to do, it should be noted that City Hall has supported both our volunteer fire organizations and paid firefighters in many ways over the past several years, and we will continue to do so as we work together to build a stronger, more stable organization for the citizens of Winchester.
Overall spending on Fire & Rescue has increased by 57.7% since 2011-12
2011-12 - $4.5 Million
2012-13 - $4.8 Million
2013-14 - $5.1 Million
2014-15 - $5.4 Million
2016-17 - $5.7 Million
2017-18 - $6.0 Million
2018-19 - $7.2 Million
2019-20 - $7.1 Million
Other ways we have continued to support our local fire service are as follows;