When Everett firefighters work details at the Encore Boston Harbor resort from Thursdays to Sundays, they said they often feel like they’re alone on an island, and this week their union is calling for revamped detail operations at the casino.
Union President Craig Hardy said they have had concerns for quite some time – even prior to the opening of the resort last year – but now they are speaking publicly after a State Trooper two weekends ago was seriously injured at Encore.
One of their biggest concerns, he said, is that firefighters working details are there by themselves – only one firefighter per shift. Currently, Encore has Fire Details on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday at different times. Each of the firefighters are deployed there on a shift by themselves.
“The big concern is we only have one person Thursday to Sunday,” he said. “Our work is all about never leaving a man alone. There are a lot of medical aid calls there and service calls that need two people. It all comes back to the mayor and his dealing with Encore. He’s negotiating public safety. I’m not comfortable about having my men down there by themselves. Look at what happened to the State Police. They are a great company and no one is in danger. The problem is the standard of care isn’t being followed.”
Encore said it has negotiated the Fire Details with the City and have come to the current staffing levels.
“Our Fire Fighting coverage and details have been extensively discussed with and agreed to by Fire Chief and the Mayor’s Office,” said Eric Kraus of Encore Boston Harbor.
The Mayor’s Office said in a statement they are continuously looking at Fire Detail levels and adjust them accordingly to calls for service.
“We are continuously monitoring the activities at the Encore resort and the calls for service,” read the statement. “We’ve been addressing the need for details on site specifications Thursday through Sunday. In the event of increasing calls for service, we will adjust accordingly.”
Hardy said the Department did have 24/7 Fire Details at the resort when it opened. That was ended in October, and the new Thursday to Sunday schedule began.
Hardy said they union has found that calls for service overall in 2019 were up substantially. He said there were 5,659 calls in 2018, and 6,581 in 2019. He said there were 487 incidents at Encore from the June 23 opening to Oct. 9, and details in the casino handled the incident. He said the closest responding fire company, Ladder 1, has seen an increase of 200 calls in the last year.
“The call volumes are up 20 percent since opening,” he said. “The year over year figures represent only six months of Encore being open. Our members are handling it even though they are upset at being there by themselves. Public Safety and my firefighters’ safety is being negotiated, and it’s not cool.”
He said other casinos in the state, such as MGM and Plainridge Park, do have details, and MGM has a mobile station at the casino. In Everett, he said they “haven’t even gotten a roll of hose.”
“We don’t have anything bad to say about Encore and we believe they are doing to do great things for the city,” he said. “It’s just a big issue we’re dealing with and we’ve been quiet about it. However, with the State Police injury incident, we decided we needed to speak up.”