First Arriving Network
First Arriving Network

Morning Lineup – December 24

Saturday Morning – Let's Go Watch the Fire

There is no lack of towns that have incompetent politicians that run the treasury dry and then try to blame the city employees for their failures.  How they propose to bail out of their crises can become innovative and sometimes even comical.  Danbury, Connecticut, is the latest city council to don clown hats and big red noses while they toy with the citizens' public safety.

Earlier this month the fire chief announced that the department will be shutting down one of the city's busiest engine companies (Engine 21) during the day as "a crucial cost-saving measure."  In its stead, the firefighters will not be used to fill in vacant positions, oh no.  They are being kept in quarters and given an SUV to drive to fire calls in.  No water, no pump, no tools…. just a big uh-oh squad to comfort the taxpayer as they all gather to watch the house burn while waiting for the 2nd- and 3rd-due companies to arrive.  "Listen… do you hear the sirens?  They're coming!"

"Observer 21 responding…."  (Danbury Patch photo)

It seems that nobody but the fire chief understands how this will save money or maintain protection.  Local 801's president recently talked to the Danbury Patch:

"It's all smoke and mirrors," said Louis DeMici, president of Local 801. "We've asked them for documentation. We've yet to be provided it."

Both Mayor Mark Boughton and Fire Chief Geoff Herald have said the city is saving money on the SUV for many reasons. It is smaller, uses less gasoline, its maintenance costs are a fraction of that of a fire engine. They argue a fire engine isn't required on most calls, because most calls to the fire department are not fires.

DeMici said the city is claiming replacing Engine 21 with a smaller, red SUV is saving money, but really, when the SUV arrives at a fire, other fire departments in the city have to send an engine, so they're sending them farther, adding extra wear and tear. In those cases, the SUV is more expensive than if the SUV was still Engine 21.

"The union is opposed to this," DeMici said. "When Engine 21 is closed, another company has to respond. It's a longer distance."

According to the Local's WEBSITE, the unit serves the downtown area south of West Street to the Bethel Town line and the Long Ridge Road area, where the reduction in resources could be a big problem. The coverage area has several pockets of densely-populated neighborhoods, apartment buildings and schools.

Does this clown council qualify for listing in the "silly season" file?  I sure hope that you don't have bosses that think that way.

Let's get started on the equipment check now while I get the Bunn-O-Matic into high gear.  Watch out for all those last-minute shoppers and traffic jams today.  See you back in the day room in a little while.

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