Oak Bluffs EMTs and paramedics will now add firefighting work to their regular duties, following the approval of two new job descriptions at Tuesday’s selectmen’s meeting.

The change is part of an effort to consolidate the town’s firefighting and ambulance forces, which have recently come under unified leadership. Volunteer firefighters will continue to be called to assist in the event of a large fire or other accident, but they will no longer have to report to minor calls.

“We wanted to take some of the strain off the volunteer firefighter system in Oak Bluffs,” fire and ambulance chief John Rose said this week by telephone.

The town’s paid ambulance staff will now answer minor calls, like automatic fire alarms, minor oil spills and calls about smoke odors.

Lately, training requirements for firefighters demand more and more of the firefighter’s time away from family and work, Mr. Rose said. In addition, the Island population is growing, and calls for assistance are more frequent each year, he said. In the past, a volunteer firefighter might be called out of work once a week, but that’s increased to once a day on some busy summer days.

Selectman Michael Santoro spoke to the economic strain of the call system at Tuesday’s meeting.

“It’s getting harder and harder for the volunteers, especially now in this economy, people are working two or three jobs make ends meet,” Mr. Santoro said. Limiting these calls will take the strain off the relationship between the firefighter and the employer, Mr. Rose said. “I need the employer to be okay with them leaving when it’s something big,” he said.

He said Oak Bluffs is the first Island community to have full-time firefighters.

“We are trying to keep the volunteer system alive as long as we can and to make it easy on the volunteer firefighters to be able to continue to be volunteer firefighters,” he said. If the town were to lose the volunteer firefighting force, it would cost a lot to replace it with a professional force, Mr. Rose said, maybe $2 to $3 million.

“Nobody wants that,” he said. “We don’t want to see that kind of a burden on the taxpayers.”

Ambulance staff will see a modest pay raise of about a dollar per hour as a result of the change. About $30,000 has already been figured into this year’s budget to cover the extra costs, Mr. Santoro said.

But finance committee member Maura McGroarty said her board did not get enough of an opportunity to evaluate the short and long-term implications of the change. “I think it at least it would have been good for us to have been apprised of it before you acted on it,” she said.

The department already has seven hybrid employees, and several more are working to complete their credentials, Mr. Rose said.

In other business Tuesday, the town heard a preliminary presentation from consultant Andre Martecchini who is conducting a study of the impacts of climate change on the town’s infrastructure.

The project will produce maps of Oak Bluffs that identify at-risk areas, specifically giving information about the vulnerability of municipal structures and roads to sea level rise, flooding and major storms. The maps will be produced with advanced modeling that takes into account tides, currents, storms, and sea level data. The maps will represent the town in the years 2015, 2030 and 2070.

Voters appropriated $50,000 for the project last April.

Mr. Martecchini said a large portion of the project relies on community participation. Citizens know best which areas of town flood the most or endure the most damage during storm events, he explained.

“It is important for the public to see the results and basically critique them,” he said.

A public forum will be held next year. The final results are expected by May 2015.

In other town news, a groundbreaking event will be held Monday at 2 p.m. at the fire station to kick off a major reconstruction project there.