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Taxpayers Footing Bill For Salisbury Firefighters To Stand Guard At Restaurant

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WBZ-TV's Ken McLeod Ken MacLeod
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SALISBURY (CBS) – Firefighters are standing guard at a local restaurant and next door at a movie theater in case a fire breaks out.

The details have reportedly cost taxpayers upwards of $20,000 in three weeks.

But officials don’t seem to want to explain why.

The Sylvan Grille and the Vision Max Theater both have working smoke and fire detectors.

But that apparently isn’t the issue. Owner Bruce Arakelian installed sprinkler systems a couple of years ago. Sprinklers weren’t required, and he didn’t hook them into the town water line, planning to do that later as part of his ongoing renovation.

The building inspector at the time had approved the move, but the town now says the non-working sprinklers were essentially giving customers a false sense of security. They told Arakelian that the State Fire Marshal had ordered off-duty firefighters to stand watch to enhance safety.

However, the State Fire Marshal’s office denies issuing that order, telling WBZ-TV that the firefighter details were a “town decision.”

Despite visits and phone calls by WBZ-TV, Salisbury’s town manager, fire chief, and building inspector all declined to clarify.

Arakelian is now installing the water line hookup. It will take another two weeks.

Firefighters will continue to stand watch at the cost of taxpayers.

Arakelian says the only reason he was not asked to cover the costs of the off-duty firefighter details was because the town admitted their former building inspector signed off on the dry sprinklers.

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