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Waterford's Fire Services Says it Needs $250k, Soon

Waterford Fire Director Bruce Miller said he needs $250,000 to buy 44 new self-contained breathing apparatuses by August 13th or two town fire companies will be without the gear necessary to fight fires.

Fire Director Bruce Miller asked for $250,000. First Selectman Dan Steward gave him $1, at least for now.

On Tuesday, Miller asked the Board of Selectmen for $250,000 for the 2013-14 fiscal year to buy 44 self-contained breathing apparatuses for Jordan Fire Company and Oswegatchie Fire Company. Miller said he needs the appropriation to be approved to avoid having two of the town’s five companies without the gear firemen wear while they fight fires.

“We are in a dilemma right now with two stations,” he said. “I just want to make sure we got it in here somehow.”

The selectmen instead only budgeted $1 for the total, saying the proposal came in with no definite cost and without the necessary justification. Steward said he cannot support a project that isn’t fully explained.

“What concerns me is that I don’t have the information in the packet,” Steward said. “I don’t know what it is going to cost us, I would be misusing the taxpayer dollars because I just don’t know.”

However, the selectmen said it could be funded if Miller can get a set price and the necessary back-up. They told Miller to get a definite price with more justification and ask again.

The Full Story

A self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) is basically an air pack firefighters wear when they fight fires to ensure they are breathing fresh air and not smoke. A firefighter would not fight a fire without wearing one, Miller said.

Ten years ago, Waterford’s fire departments agreed they needed to upgrade their SCBAs. Instead of funding them with town dollars, the departments were told to get grants, and Goshen Fire Company, Cohanzie Fire Company and Quaker Hill Fire Company were successful in doing that, Miller said.

However, Oswegatchie Fire Company and Jordan Fire Company did not receive any grants, and now many of their SCBAs are 20 years old or older, Miller said. Just three weeks ago, firemen in other towns told Miller that companies would no longer test or repair SCBAs that old starting August 13th, he said.

Miller said he will not send a firefighter out with a SCBA that isn’t tested. That means that if the 44 SCBAs are not replaced in Waterford, those two fire companies will not have enough SCBAs to accommodate their firefighters, he said.

“I don’t think we are going to get to that point,” Miller said.

Miller said he talked with Shipman’s Fire Equipment, a Waterford company that services Waterford’s fire equipment, and was told that they would still service Oswegatchie’s and Jordan’s older SCBAs. However, he said he has been told by other towns that will not be the case after August 13th, and is asking Waterford to buy 44 new SCBAs.

The Price

Miller said he needs to replace 20 SCBAs at Jordan Fire Company and 24 SCBAs at Oswegatchie Fire Company. He said he got a rough price from Shipman’s at $6,200 each, meaning $272,800 overall, although said he expects the final number to be below that.

Miller said he believes he can take other SCBAs from other fire companies to allow him to buy less. Overall, he said he can get the cost below $250,000.

Steward said he didn’t think Miller’s “lack of planning” should be misinterpreted as an emergency. He said Miller should come back with the full justification needed, and then present his plan again for approval by the Board of Selectmen, Board of Finance and Representative Town Meeting.

Casey February 03, 2013 at 12:18 PM
Has anyone considered reducing the number of fire houses in town? Why couldn't we close either Jordan or Goshen?
Property Owner February 03, 2013 at 12:50 PM
Great idea. There is no need for 5 in this town. Easily 3 or 4 would do.
Casey February 03, 2013 at 01:53 PM
It would seem that our Chief Executive - Mr. Stewart must have considered this. I would like him to speak to this issue regarding his analysis for the need for so many fire houses - including what could be saved by closing 1 or 2.
Ron February 03, 2013 at 02:14 PM
Casey and and Property Owner: We do not to close or consolidate or close any firehouses or make any business analysis to justify our needs. All we have to do to get $ 250,000 is get 250 homeowners to pay another $ 1,000 each in property taxes and this is solved. This is the way we do it in CT. Molloy said all we have to do is make a request, then divide the costs among the taxpayers. Is there something you do not get here ? I am sure you had some 2nd grade math to see how neat this is and it always works...and believe me like gravity it ALWAYS works.
Ron February 03, 2013 at 11:56 PM
Firehouse needs in Waterford are following Molloy's example of budget logic (spend what you do not have) Molloy's 2 billion proposal for 260 new UCONN professors amounts to 1 million CT residents each paying another $ 2,000 in taxes. Of course to fund their retirements would amount to several times this figure over their lifetime, as many UCONN professors make over $ 250,000 a year now in annual retirement benefits. The billion that Malloy will eventually give to Jackson Labs before it goes bankrupt like Solyndra, amouints to 1 million CT taxpayers each giving an extra thousand in taxes. Currently the State is setting aside over $ 350,000,000 on the inital Jackson Lab development fund, even though several Florida cities rejected this same Jackson Lab proposal as unrealistic. How can CT facing a huge budget deficit of several billion dollars (the number cannot be defined and changes every hour), have one of the highest unfunded liabilities in the nation on a per capita basis, be ranked among all states as least business friendly, possess virtually no spending solutions other than the Union Suggestion Box, or have realistic revenue pathways except direct taxation expect it can continue this folly before it all collapses in a Ponzi scheme fashion ?

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