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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Panel Named to Study Fire Department Operations

Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe announced today the formation of a Fire Department Strategic Planning Steering Committee which he said would identify resources “to deliver high quality firefighting and rescue services in the 21st century.”

The committee will work with a contracted outside consultant to be hired following a competitive bidding process, an announcement said.

The reason for the committee, Marpe said, is that the nature of firefighting has changed since the town’s existing four fire stations were built.

As examples, he said the department has gone from volunteer to a mostly professional staff and the size of homes has grown substantially, changing the intensity and challenges of house fires.

“The nature of the job has also shifted with a greater demand for rescue services related to vehicular accidents on I-95 and the Merritt Parkway,” Marpe said.

“The committee will examine these changes and future projections and recommend the best path for the future needs and direction of the department.” 

It is the first effort to formally review town firefighting operations since former First Selectman Diane Farrell proposed closing the Greens Farms fire station in 2002 as a cost-saving measure. The proposal was never adopted.

The town currently has four engine companies—fire headquarters, Greens Farms, Coleytown, and Saugatuck. Saugatuck and fire headquarters each has three assigned firefighters to an engine company while the other two have two.

Additional firefighters at headquarters are assigned to the ladder truck or rescue vehicle.

Marpe named Bob Galan, a former Representative Town Meeting (RTM) member, to serve as committee chairman. The committee will include members of the RTM Public Protection and Long-Range Planning committees, and Fire Chief Andrew Kingsbury, Assistant Fire Chief Michael Kronick, and Operations Director Dewey Loselle, ex-officio, who “will provide staff leadership,” according to Marpe.

“I am grateful to all the representatives of the areas of Westport who will give of their time and expertise to put forward the best recommendations,” Marpe said.

“I am confident that with their leadership, our first-class fire department will maintain its high level of capability, but with appropriate plans for the future.”

In addition to Galan, committee members include: Michael Devine, Jim Hines, Peter Jordan, Trey Lang, Lee Papageorge, Ron Vigars as well as Jimmy Izzo, chair of the RTM Public Protection Committee, and Lyn Hogan, of the RTM Long-Range Planning Committee.

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Posted 10/29/15 at 10:51 AM  Permalink



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