Saturday, September 20, 2008

Fire district cost study to be proposed

An ordinance to study the structure, costs and duties of all three fire districts which provide fire and emergency services in Middletown will be offered for debate and vote at the next meeting of Middletown's Common Council.

The ordinance, if passed, will generate a report, written by a Citywide Fire Services Cost Committee which will provide the Council:

... a comprehensive assessment of all costs now and projected over the next five (5) years related to providing for fire safety related services including but not limited to personnel, equipment, department maintenance, the cost per run, the cost of mutual and automatic aid and bonding indebtedness for the next five years; and any recommendations it may suggest regarding controlling such costs; and

At least one councilor, David Bauer, feels that if the Council adopts this ordinance that it will be overstepping its bounds.

According to an email sent to The Eye when asked for comment, Bauer wrote:

It would be great to know the information that the proposed resolution asks for, but neither the Common Council nor the Public Safety Committee can strong-arm our two independent Fire Districts in Middletown. The South Fire and Westfield Fire Districts get their mandate from State Statutes and the Common Council should respect their independence.

The financial challenges for any Fire Department are becoming increasingly difficult. The Fire Department is the First Responder for all 911 Medical calls in Middletown and these calls constitute about 2/3’s of Fire Service calls. With diesel fuel projected to cost $5, the cost of dispatching a 350-450 thousand dollar vehicle for a Medical call may become too expensive. We need to find a balance between answering a great number of EMS calls and having the manpower and equipment we need to fight a smaller number of fires and motor vehicle accidents.

I believe a better approach for the Common Council would be to lead by example and show that we are performing the type of financial cost study on the City functions that are completely under the purview of the Council. As a first step, I intend to introduce a resolution at the next Council meeting that charges the whole Common Council to review the makeup and scope of all Council Committees and Commissions to insure that they effectively carry out the Council’s duties mandated by City Charter. The organization of these Committees and Commissions has not changed for a generation while the technology and process of delivering City Services has changed dramatically in many instances.

The proposed ordinance is scheduled for discussion at the next Council meeting, Monday October 6.


Lieutponz said...

I completely agree with Mr. Bauer - that the South Fire and Westfield Fire Districts are fully independent agencies and that this study implies that the state statues under which both were created are largely being ignored in the process. I will also say that both South and Westfield Fire Districts and the Departments which they support do a world-class job in providing emergency services to the city and their mutual aid partners.

As for cost, which this study is intended to investigate, one very quick and no-cost way to understand the issue would be to look at the mill rate charged by each district. Simply go to

where you will see that the Central District charges 5.00 mills (a relative bargain), the South District charges 3.381 mills (even better, but lets remember that Central responds to more calls per year, covers a larger population and a more varied infrastructure), and the Westfield District charges 0.998 mills (virtually free, and also a terrific bargain).

I'd be interested in the cost of this study....

FirePlus said...

What is not broke does not need to be fixed or looked at. The City never looks before it leaps!! It would take an act of god to do what they are wasteing time and money to study!!

Anonymous said...

humm i would have to agree that a study should be done at this point .. money is being wasted on un needed staff in westfield IE an administor...who is as rumor has it only hired to get rid of the full time staff.. perhaps if the chief were managing his department correctly and without causing liablilty in areas of basic managment the cost would be even less for them to run this department..perhaps major oversight from the city is needed to eliminate such issues hence keeping cost down and even/ equal training for all involved including but not limited to the mayor having the ability to oversee districts which fall under the middletown boundaries. at this point the mayor is unable to do anything within those 2 districts should a conflict arise... and it does not seem that the commissioners appointed are able nor willing to correct the pblms from within.. they should have to answer to someone and it should not be a struggle for a westfield or a south district tax payer to have conflict resolution without having to go beyound the mayor to the state level. it is a waste of not only middletown tax payers money but a duplication of serve, a disricts tax payers waste of money and the people of the state of connecicut suffer from wasted time and hours at the state level dealing with issues that a mayor can handle since it is HIS city not a fire commissioners these charters are OLD and out dated for the departments. what goes on in the meetings is generally behind closed doors and the public can not get access to the minutes since The town clerk, city attorney , tax office, mayors office westfields tax office and their own administor can not tell you WHO the commissioners are nor were copies of the mins are kept .. this raises some red flags ..What are they doing with the tax dollars ??? Are they spending it on the BIG Sept picnic.. perhaps their banquet in april..OR is it going into approp. training..managment training for all officers.. well its a good idea to look at everything .. hey you might get a night when all the volunteers are out at a social function a unable to respond safely.. maybe you get one person .. and maybe they are not Fire trained or its a medical emergency and they are a firefighter but not medically does happen..

Anonymous said...

When was the last time the Westfield Dept couldn't get a properly trained crew out on a call? The Chief does a great job making sure there is enough manpower available at all times even during a social event.

Anonymous said...

WFD is never without proper coverage. Chief Lockwood goes to great lenghts to insure this!

Lieutponz said...

To the "anonomous" person who didn't have enough courage to display his/her name, but was more than willing to spew forth a series of misconseptions and lies:

1. The WFD always reponds with highly trained, qualified firefighters. That a fire department has paid personnel does not necessarily mean they are any more trained than volunteers. This is not to disparage the MFD or SFD, both of which run with highly trained and qualified firefighters.

2. That the Westfied Fire District hired an administrator is their business and is in no way a reflection of the job the Chief does. The Administrator was hired to manage District business - the chief has never been responsible for District affairs. Likewise, the Adminstrator is not responsible for Department affairs. The District hired the administrator without increasing the mill rate, so while "anonomous" may view it as fiscally irresponsible, he/she cannot blame the Chief for the supposed need to hire for such a position.

3. Department activities such as the "BIG" picnic or annual banquet are fire department activities - and are fully supported through volunteer efforts. The cost to tax payers is immaterial relative to the Department's or the District's budget, and is an extremely small price to pay for the amount of services that are provided in return for FREE.