Tag Archives: Nick Marsan

Roundup: Fire Hero, Values, Flowers, Free Library, More


Nick Marsan is a dedicated member of the Westport Fire Department. The job he and his fellow firefighters do for us is phenomenal.

He’s a hero even off duty. At 6 p.m. Thursday, Nick and another off-duty firefighter — Jim Lyons from Norwalk — saw a 33-foot boat explode and catch fire in Norwalk Harbor, 100 yards off shore.

Nick and Jim swam out to assist the 6 boaters, who had jumped into the water. Nearby resident Tony Aitoro — of the appliance family — got in his boat and helped, with life rings and preservers.

I’m sure Nick was enjoying a day off, after many exhausting shifts during Tropical Storm Isaias. It was certainly not just “another day at the beach” — but heroically, Nick, Jim and Tony were there. (Hat tip: Sal Liccione)

Nick Marsan


Two different philosophies of life, spotted recently in Westport. This lawn sign:

(Photo/Bob Fox)

And this vehicle, parked near the Longshore tennis courts:

(Photo/Luke Garvey)


The Westport Garden Club missed last week’s #FridayFlowers project, thanks to Isaias.

They’re back this week though, with a gorgeous arrangement at the plaza between Saugatuck Sweets and The Whelk. Enjoy!

(Photo/Topsy Siderowf)


“06880” is a big fan of the Westport Library.

But we also love the tiny “free libraries” that pop up on front lawns here and there. The latest is at 105 Hillandale Road, near Morningside Drive South.

It’s simple: Take a book. Or leave a book.

That’s it. No library cards. No late fees. And they’re open 24/7. Read!

(Photo/Bob Weingarten)


Ellis Laifer and Eli Koskoff were musicians, friends, and fellow Class of 2015 Staples High School graduates.

At Bowdoin College Ellis met a singer from Brooklyn, Tobi Omola. They performed, collaborated, and did a themed thesis together. For their final event, Eli flew from the University of Southern California to Maine for a live concert with them.

The trio clicked. They released songs on Spotify. Now — playing a mixture of folk R&B, hip hop and indie music, and calling themselves Fortuno — they’re a streaming sensation.

Their recent single “Wait” is getting plenty of attention. Click here to listen; follow “FortunoMusic” on Instagram and Facebook.

Fortuno (from left): Ellis Laifer, Tobi Omola, Eli Koskoff.

And finally … let’s remember Helen Jones Woods. She played trombone with the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, an all-female, multiracial ensemble in the 1930’s and ’40s. She died last month from COVID-19 complications. She was 96 years old.

 

Town Throws Cold Water On Firefighters’ Negotiations

As politicians, taxpayers and other stakeholders debate next year’s town budget, much of the focus is on education. That’s no surprise: It comprises the bulk of our spending; it involves kids and buildings, and everyone has their own school experiences to draw on, good or bad.

But we pay for many other services. Most are less visible than education. Lots of those negotiations take place outside the public eye.

One of those involves firefighters’ benefits and pensions. The other day, Nick Marsan laid out their case. It’s got some surprising twists — like a proposal to take away death benefits for families of firefighters killed in the line of duty. There are also decreases in healthcare for firefighters and their families after retirement.

Nick Marsan (Photo/Laura Weiss for Hearst Connecticut Media)

The firefighters’ pension contract — which is different from the work contract — expired last summer. Marsan — president of the 64-member Westport Uniformed Firefighters Local 1081 — and his team met with town officials for a few negotiating sessions.

After what Marsan calls “a short process,” the town declared an impasse. The contract is now in the hands of state-appointed arbitrators.

The union president is disappointed. “We walked into negotiations expecting the town was not going to change anything for existing personnel,” Marsan says. “We thought we’d be talking about future hires only.” Instead, the town also included current firefighters in their pension proposals.

Marsan says the town “pulled the rug out from people who have been here 25, 30 years. They now might have to make hasty decisions to protect benefits they’ve worked all their careers to achieve. They could lose 6% of what they’d get if they retire now, and possibly cost-of-living benefits.”

The proposal to take away family benefits for a firefighter killed in action is particularly disheartening.

“I’m speaking for my brothers and sisters. I think we’re a class act,” Marsan says.

“We go above and beyond, to provide a service to the town. We do it with a smile. We’ll never not be there for residents. But I think this is an ideological attack on us.”

Marsan notes, “I have a master’s degree. I could be in the private sector. People don’t join the fire service to get rich. We come, we work hard, we sacrifice 30 years of our lives for the municipality.

“We leave with aches and pains. We’re 68% more susceptible to cancer than the general population. All we ask is continued support for our retirement, and the benefits we were promised.”

He knows that “pensions” is a political minefield these days. But, Marsan says, there are a number of misconceptions about firefighters’ benefits. He says that pensions are based on base salary only — not overtime. His members pay 10% of their salaries into the pension fund. Westport’s fund, he says, is “one of the best in the state.”

He continues: “I’m a big boy. I’ve been through a lot worse than this — I’ve been in combat overseas. But this is tough to watch, especially for guys who have been here a lot longer than I have, and will do anything for the town.”

He appreciates the “brand” of Westport, and recites its “jewels”: “incredible beaches, a beautiful library, great arts, a fantastic education system.”

But, he says, “people who buy homes here also know the fire and police services are top-notch.”

Marsan concludes, “This is a living, breathing town. We’re not looking to break the bank. We choose this profession, and we know we’ll spend a lot of time away from our families.

“I don’t live in a vacuum. I understand the town has responsibilities to taxpayers. But we are a human resource. We should be valued.

“We just want to be taken care of. If I die in the line of duty, I want to make sure my wife and kid are taken care of.”

An arbitration decision could be made by mid-May.