“This represents a major step forward.” -Mayor David Martin
The first step in putting to rest a drawn out dispute between Stamford’s career and volunteer fire departments. An agreement signed Wednesday finally unites the City-run Fire Department with one of Stamford’s five volunteer companies, Turn of River Fire Department.
“It’s an historic moment that shows tremendous progress in a battle and disputes that had been going on for 20 years,” says Stamford Mayor David Martin.
In 2012, residents voted in favor of a city charter revision to consolidate career and volunteer fire services in Stamford. Turn of River challenged the revision in court, a long with two other volunteer companies. But after months of negotiation, a truce was reached with Turn of River.
”It permits the TOR volunteer fire company to continue operating as a legally, separate, not-for-profit corporate entity while at the same time consolidating TOR’s firefighting and emergency operations as part of a unified service,” says Mayor Martin. “It acknowledges TOR as being an integral component of the Stamford Fire Department where both career and volunteer firefighters will be treated separately, and fairly, and equally.
“Our goal is to have equal protection for all citizens of this city from border to border, from the Sound up to New York, and this is a key step in doing that,” says Stamford Fire Chief Peter Brown.
Now, the career and volunteer firefighters can respond to calls together, receive equal training, and coordinate operations as a team. It also allows career firefighters to be integrated into the Turn Of River Department, with the consent of the volunteers.
“Career firefighters operate in a certain way, volunteer firefighter operate in a different way, and it’s bringing those differences together and forming the family that we really want to have,” says Turn of River Fire Chief Frank Jacobellis.
The city is still in a legal battle with the Springdale and Long Ride Fire Departments, the two other volunteer companies to challenge the revision.