Right now, the New London City Council is deciding or accept a tentative agreement with the firefighters' union. If the 24 layoffs do take effect, meaning roughly a 40 percent reduction in manpower, it would have a devestating impact on New London, Mayor Daryl Finizio has said.
It is likely going to impact Waterford as well, First Selectman Dan Steward said Tuesday. Waterford's fire service regularly provides aid to New London, and if there are fewer men, there is a chance the need for mutual aid will increase dramatically, Steward said.
“We can’t be in there every week on a volunteer basis,” Steward said. “That’s not something we can necessarily do. We don’t have the manpower to go in and give all that support.”
New London is still deciding to lay off 24 firefighters or to accept a deal with the firefighter’s union that will result in some immediate savings but improve the firefighters’ pension plan. The layoffs were supposed to take effect Tuesday, but
Meanwhile, Waterford went on 135 fire calls and 320 ambulance calls for mutual aid last year, according to numbers provided by the Waterford First Selectmen’s office. With 40 percent of the firefighters possibly leaving, those numbers could increase, Steward said.
“We do mutual aid when they call us in, but that is the exception – not the rule,” he said.
Mutual aid is when towns provide fire or ambulance services to other towns in case of an emergency, and Waterford will go to other towns such as East Lyme, Montville and New London. Waterford goes on far more calls into New London than New London comes into Waterford, Steward said.
Steward said he can’t say what definite effect the layoffs would have on Waterford, and he said he hoped New London could work something out and avoid the layoffs all-together. But if New London does reduce its force, it is going to impact other towns, he said.
“What (one town or city) does effects everybody,” Steward said. “We are all dependent on each other.”