STAMFORD, Conn., -- Stamford Mayor David Martin and senior fire officials hailed a long-sought agreement that will consolidate a volunteer fire department with the city’s fire department.
“It’s a historic moment that shows tremendous progress in a battle and a dispute that has been going on for 20 years,” Martin said at a noon press conference Wednesday in the Mayor’s Conference Room on the 10th floor of Stamford Government Center.
On Tuesday, Turn of River Fire Department members voted unanimously to consolidate their services with the Stamford Fire Department. It marked the end of a sometimes testy relationship.
The Turn of River firefighters, along with the Springdale Fire Company and the Long Ridge Fire Company, had filed a lawsuit against the city, claiming that the 2012 Charter amendments approved by voters to combine the city’s five volunteer departments with the Stamford Fire Department was unconstitutional.
In December, Stamford Judge Trial Referee David Tobin swept aside the constitutional arguments advocated by the volunteer firefighters.
Stamford Fire Department Chief Peter Brown was enthused about the agreement.
“It really puts the management of the fire services, and the will of the people which was under the Charter to consolidate the fire services into one true combination department,” Brown said.
"The agreement will see a good working relationship between volunteers and career firefighters,” he said. “It means that volunteer firefighters and career firefighters will work together they will be treated equally and they will have equal training, they will do everything in their power to work together to give us better protection."
Turn of River Fire Department Chief Frank Jacobellis also said the agreement will benefit everyone in the city and in the fire departments.
“We are all coming together as one, and it is a long time coming,” he said as he complimented Martin on his role in bringing a resolution to the issue since he was elected in November.
“When he came into office, it was literally a breath of fresh air,” Jacobellis said. The agreement is also a victory for the city’s taxpayers, he said.
The agreement means the volunteer firefighters will train with career fire fighters and enable them to ride on Stamford Fire Department equipment.
However, Brown said no career firefighting positions will be cut.
The agreement means Stamford Fire Department personnel and equipment will be allowed to go into Turn of River stations.
No agreement has been hammered out with Springdale or the Long Ridge departments, said Martin, although he said the city has working relationships with the departments and hope to come to a settlement.