Fire Up This Survey

Most of us have never needed the Fire Department to race to our homes or business.

But nearly all of us have had some interaction with Westport firefighters. They help out during medical emergencies, weather emergencies, even routine inspections.

Now the Fire Department wants to know: How are we doing?

fire-departmentThe town’s Strategic Planning Steering Committee has designed a community survey. Just a few minutes long, it will identify current areas of strength, and help plan for the future.

The second part is important. Westport has changed substantially since our fire stations were built.

(Case in point: The “new” firehouse across from 5 Guys replaced a much smaller station on Church Lane. It was repurposed in 1978 as the YMCA fitness center. That building long outlived its usefulness, and is now being incorporated into Bedford Square.)

Our firefighters are no longer volunteers; they’re full professionals. Their vehicles, equipment and methods have all evolved.

The Saugatuck fire station, in its long-time location on Riverside Avenue.

The Saugatuck fire station, in its long-time location on Riverside Avenue.

The size of residential houses — and construction materials used — continues to grow. So do our office buildings.

Also increasing: the number of calls the Fire Department answers on I-95 and the Merritt Parkway.

The survey is part of a broader study. Town officials must answer questions like: Are our fire stations located in the right places? How should we think about new technologies like drones and robotics?

Your input can help. Please click here for the survey. It runs through October 9.

The Vigilant Firehouse on Wilton Road, circa 1977. It now houses the Neat coffeehouse and and wine bar.

The Vigilant Firehouse on Wilton Road, circa 1977. It now houses the Neat coffeehouse and and wine bar.


4 responses to “Fire Up This Survey

  1. Marcy Anson Fralick Staples Class of 1970

    Back in 1966, December 30th, my mom died suddenly of a heart attack. It was 4:00 a.m., and my dad was hysterical, so I, at age 15, had to be the calm one. I immediately called the fire department, and our family doctor, David Beck. The fire department got to our house at 9 Hickory Drive, off Morningside between the Post Road and Long Lots Road in what seemed like seconds. They were professional, and for the times, had very advanced equipment. They worked on her for over an hour, even knowing they couldn’t bring her back. My dad was forever grateful to them for their perseverance all the while knowing it would be fruitless. Only when Dr. Beck came in, did they finally call it,
    Fast forward 20 years, almost to the day, and my husband, myself and three of four (one hadn’t been born yet) kids were living in a tiny town of 400 people, called Divide, in the very rural mountains an hour west of Colorado Springs. Divide wasn’t incorporated, so there were no professional services. Our fire department was a group of volunteer guys, a makeshift station, and one very old pumper truck. No ambulance. One of our kids hit their head on a tree while sledding, so we called 911 and the fire department showed up in their personal vehicles. While a paramedic bandaged my son’s head, we got to talking to the firemen. One asked my name, and I said Marcy. He said, “I only knew one Marcy. She lived in Westport, Connecticut. Her mom died of a heart attack right around Christmas and we couldn’t do anything for her. But, I’ll always remember how mature that little girl was when her father was falling apart. As he was telling the story, my mouth was dropping open and my husband was smiling. He said, “This is the same Marcy.” Initial shock of coincidence over, we talked, and talked about Westport, and he said he got the best training on the Westport team, and was now working with the very rural Cripple Creek, CO volunteer fire department. He’d come to Colorado to retire and he and his wife had fallen in love with the Pikes Peak area. We commented on how it was a small world, and he had nothing but warm and deep praise for the Westport Volunteer Fire Department from and so did I. He went on to make the Cripple Creek and Divide VFD’s one of the best VFD’s in Colorado. He brought the attitude and professionalism of Westport’s VFD to our rural VFD and made a huge difference for all of Teller County. The Westport Fire Department’s standard of excellence stretched all the way to Colorado’s mountains. Congratulations!

  2. As Marcy noted above, she praised the Westport VOLUNTEER Fire Department. Too bad they have been squashed into history instead of embraced to help with the perceived lack of man power due to budget constraints. Many surrounding towns with similar demographics still are able to maintain an exceptional level of public safety with very well trained PROFESSIONAL volunteers. The title of professional means a trained individual which includes volunteers. Branford, CT has a similar call volume and relies on volunteers to provide professional services at a cost savings to the town as mentioned in the article below.

    Towns like, Darien, Shelton, Orange, Trumbull, and Weston are all similar towns but with 100% volunteer coverage.

    I am not saying Westport does not need paid staff to adequately cover the town, I am just advocating the inclusion of volunteers to the ranks to help supplement the staff already in service to help ensure the residence in town receive the best bang for their buck and can help maintain the great emergency service this town already provides. Westport EMS has been able to succeed and continue to provide the town with a great EMS system staffed mostly by volunteers at almost no cost to the taxpayers. I wish the Fire Department will follow suit.

  3. This is a great summary of the study Dan. As President of the Greens Farms Association, and a brother to a former firefighter (retired assistant chief) in Norwalk, I am glad to be a participant supporting this study. Please everyone take the time, it won’t take long, to fill this out and provide us with valuable community feedback. Our firefighters do a great job, so let’s find out where they can do even better. Let’s get the best information possible to help shape the future of firefighting in Westport.