Tag Archives: Westport Fire Department

Remembering Turk Aksoy

The Westport Uniformed Firefighters Association Local 1081 announces with great sorrow the death of Westport firefighter Turk Aksoy. 

The 13-year Westport Fire Department veteran succumbed to an occupational cancer yesterday. He was 46 years old.

Before joining the Westport Fire Department, Turk worked for many years as a paramedic.

His wife Denise died this past January. They leave behind 2 children.

Turk Aksoy and his wife Denise.

Turk will be memorialized by Local 1081 and the Westport Fire Department. Details of services are still pending.

Local 1081 adds: “Please keep Turk’s children, his family, friends and fellow firefighters in your thoughts for strength and healing in this difficult time. Click here to make a donation in Turk’s memory, and in support of his children.”

In 2016, Turk testified before the Connecticut House Labor Committee, in support of presumptive cancer legislation. He said:

You know, it’s not easy. Every morning you wake up and you got to put your feet on the floor because you have a family looking after you and hopefully, you know, I’ll go back to work tonight actually, and then tomorrow I’m back in New York City starting chemo again. That’ll wipe me out for three days until I have to go back to work again. It’s tough on my kids, it’s tough on my wife…

Local 1081 says, “Occupational cancer has proven to be the new epidemic we face in the fire service. Far too many members of the fire service have been lost to this relentless illness.

“Rest in peace, Turk. You have served your community with tremendous honor, and will be greatly missed.”

Town Sends Out A Trick-Or-Treat Message

A press release from Westport’s police, fire and selectman’s office says:

Members of the town’s emergency management team and the first selectman have discussed the weather forecast for Halloween, and the effect it may have on trick-or-treating in Westport. The team also discussed requests the town has received to consider changing trick-or-treating night to Friday or Saturday, and the logistics involved in making such a change.

Because trick-or-treating is not a town-sponsored event, the team agreed that it is best to leave the decision up to families and individual neighborhoods to change the night within their own neighborhood.

According to the National Weather Service, current models show a chance for a brief window of drying between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Halloween. Heavy rains and wind will occur after 9 p.m.

In all circumstances, the emergency management team recommends close supervision of all trick-or-treaters. Door-to-door trick-or-treating close to home in familiar areas is advisable.

The Police Department offers the following safety tips for trick-or-treating:

  • Motorists are urged to drive with extreme care and allow extra time to reach destinations, as trick-or-treaters will surely be out on Thursday evening, October 31. Please use the utmost caution when exiting driveways. Please don’t drink and drive.
  • Parents or other responsible adults should accompany all elementary school-age children. Younger children should complete their rounds by 6 p.m., older ones by 8 p.m. Agree on a specific time when older youths are due home, and plan a route with them in advance.
  • Costumes should be easily visible and marked with reflector tape, and/or flashlights should be carried at all times. When choosing a costume, stay away from long trailing fabric that could create a fall hazard. Opt for face paint instead of a mask. If your child wears a mask, make sure the eye holes are large enough so they can see out.
  • Travel in small groups to increase safety.  Encourage children to stay in their own neighborhoods where they are known.
  • Children should only go to the houses where outside lights are on. A darkened house is not prepared to receive them. The police department receives complaints annually regarding doorbells being rung, even though the lights are out.

Trick or treat!

 

Another Sewer Leak. Another Beach Closure.

This morning, Westport Fire Department personnel were notified that sewage was coming up from a manhole in front of Saugatuck Elementary School.

Public Works was called, and a representative responded. The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, Parks & Recreation Department, Conservation Department, Marine Police and businesses abutting the Saugatuck River were notified too.

The Sewer Department is working to mitigate the problem. This sewer is separate from — and the discharge “significantly smaller than” — last week’s sewer leakage event downriver, the Fire Department says.

In an abundance of caution, the Westport Weston Health District closed all beaches for swimming until further testing can be done. They advised suspending river activities too.

The good news: It’s not a Saturday.

The other good news: Based on traffic around town, it’s that mid-August time of year when nearly everyone is away. Roads, stores and restaurants are empty. Enjoy!

Sewage coming out of a manhole cover. This is NOT the Riverside avenue scene, but it is the first thing that popped up on a Google Images search.

Sewage Spill: Monday Update

The Westport Fire Department has just issued this press release, regarding Saturday’s sewage spill in the Saugatuck River:

The town has continued to work closely with the Department of Public Health and state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

The Westport Weston Health District took multiple samples this morning from various beaches. They were sent to the state lab for testing. This test typically takes 24 hours, as it requires culturing the bacterial samples. Westport has requested that the state lab expedite the return of the results.

The WWHD made great efforts to ensure the safety of residents. They checked for private wells in the area of, and downstream from, the spill. They were unable to find any private wells in the area, and believe the properties to be on the public water supply.

Quick action on Saturday helped prevent a more dire situation.

As stated in yesterday’s update, there has been no further evidence of an additional leak since the evening of the break. It appears that the efforts by the Department of Public Works to mitigate and eliminate the spill were successful.

It is not possible to quantify the spill due to the number of variables that contribute to the dynamic flow volume. We believe that quick action by the DPW to shut down the pumps, isolate the area by closing valves, and immediately using vacuum trucks, followed by larger trailer-mounted pumps, was a contributing factor to minimizing the spill.

We will wait for results of the water test to come back. The town will confer with the state DPH and review the results. Residents and visitors should be assured that their health and well-being is paramount. The WWHD will not clear the water for swimming until it is deemed safe by them, as well as by state health officials. Officials remain optimistic that should the tests come back with a clean bill of health, the beaches could be reopened for swimming as soon as tomorrow afternoon.

Right now, this is as close as anyone should get to the water. (Photos/Mark Alex Maidique)

The new permanent pumps were on schedule to be completed in 2 weeks. Westport DPW is working to expedite this completion. In the meantime, the temporary solution is adequate, and will remain in place until the new pumps are operational.

Town officials certainly understand the impact that closing the waters has had on residents and businesses. We felt it necessary to do everything within our power to observe an abundance of caution to protect the health and well-being of everyone in the impacted area, and are doing everything possible to ensure that the waters are restored to their normal state.

We thank the residents and businesses for their understanding and cooperation through this process.

Sewage Leak Stemmed; Beaches Still Closed

According to the Westport Fire Department, the sewage leak in the Saugatuck River was completely stopped as of 8:30 last night.

Temporary pumps will remain in place until permanent pumps are installed next month.

According to the Fire Department, town officials have been in close communication with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, and the Westport Weston Health District. 

Water quality testing will be performed tomorrow (Monday), in an effort to reopen beaches. Swimming at all Westport beaches — including Sherwood Island State Park — remains off limits today, “in an abundance of caution.”

First Selectman Jim Marpe thanked town and state departments for their prompt response.  He added, “We appreciate the cooperation of our residents and visitors not using the beaches for swimming until we receive the all-clear from the Health District and DEEP.”

The sewage leak yesterday, on the Saugatuck River.. (Photo/Michael Cammeyer)

Sewage Leak: What Happened; What Happens Next

This press release was just issued by the Westport Fire Department:

At approximately 1:30 p.m. today, the Westport Fire Department Marine Unit was preparing for training on the river. Fire department personnel were notified by a person in the area of a reported sewage leak in the Saugatuck River. This leak was in the area of the I-95 overpass.

Engine 4 responded and found what appeared to be sewage flowing up from under the river to the surface. The Public Works Department was immediately notified, and a representative responded. This set into motion other activities aimed at minimizing the impact of the spill and erring on the side of caution.

As is standard practice, the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection was notified. Also notified was the U.S. Coast Guard.

Additional fire department personnel responded to the scene. A joint effort was made between the Westport Fire, Police, Sewer Department, Health Department, Conservation, Selectman’s Office as well as the State Health Department and DEEP to determine a plan of action.

The Sewer Department immediately ensured that the pumps were shut down, and called in multiple vacuum trucks to manually haul the sewage across the river to the treatment plant. Under consultation with the Health Department and Selectman’s Office, it was decided that the beaches would be closed for swimming.

A public advisory was broadcast via the town’s emergency notification system, and the state was advised of the precautions that Westport was taking. The State agreed with the proactive efforts and followed suit. Westport Police and Westport Parks and Recreation notified swimmers to exit the water and remain onshore. Westport Police also made the proper notifications to ensure that no shell fishing occurred. Sherwood Island was closed to swimmers by DEEP personnel.

As of approximately 6:30 p.m. there was still a controlled leak, with additional pumping vehicles on their way. It was determined that town and Sherwood Island beaches would remain closed for swimming until testing verifies the water is safe to swim in. The Health Department advised that testing will generally be performed approximately 24 hours after the spill. Testing is currently scheduled for Monday. Aquarion Water was contacted and they advised town officials that there was no cause for concern regarding contamination of the public wells.

Westport officials identified the need to replace the aging pipe, and took measures to address the issue before it became a problem. First Selectman James Marpe said, “We identified the need to replace the current sewer pipe 3 years ago and were very close to completion. My thanks go out to the town and state departments in their prompt and appropriate response to the incident.”

A new pipe has already been run under the riverbed and pumps were in the process of being installed to handle the increased capacity. According to the Public Works director, the new pipe was scheduled to be put into service within the next 2 weeks. This process will be expedited in light of today’s events. The Sewer Department will continue to work with DEEP as well as state and local health departments to ensure that the safety and health of residents and guests remain paramount.

Fire Department Says: Keep Cool!

With the hottest temperatures of the year predicted for this weekend — and heat indexes well over 100 degrees — the Westport Fire Department sends this alert:

The Town of Westport reminds residents of health and safety measures to protect against heat-related illnesses, and to take special care of young children, seniors and other at-risk populations:

  • Find air conditioning, if possible
  • Check on family members and neighbors
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Avoid strenuous activities
  • Watch for heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke
  • Never leave people or pets in a closed car
  • Watch for heat illness
  • Wear light clothing.

The following cooling centers are open to the public this weekend:

  • The Senior Center, 21 Imperial Avenue (Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.)
  • Westport Library, 20 Jesup Road (Friday 9 a.m. to 6 6 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, 1 to 5 p.m.
  • Westport Weston Family Y, 14 Allen Raymond Lane, lobby open to public (Friday 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday 7 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.; Sunday 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.).

The Fire Department will update their Facebook page with new openings and/or changes.

Click here for a link to the 2-1-1 “Extreme Heat Protocols” website.

One other way to keep cool: Elvira Mae’s ice cream window. (Photo/Robin Tauck)

Unsung Hero #105

Last weekend’s double whammy — a wild, tree-limb-downing, power-outage- causing storm Saturday night; then an even more intense, violent and dangerous one just 18 hours later — stretched our resources to the limit.

On Sunday, the Fire Department responded to 80 calls in an hour. Police were everywhere. Emergency responders raced to deal with downed wires, trees on houses and in roads, even carbon monoxide issues.

For the rest of the day, and throughout Monday, the guys (and gals) whose business it is to handle emergencies like this did just that.

Quickly, efficiently — and often thanklessly — they restored electricity, cut trees, removed limbs, replaced wires, directed traffic, and got Westport back to normal.

A familiar scene. This is Greens Farms Road, at Rustic Lane. (Photo/Seth Schachter)

If you helped, you’re our Unsung Heroes of the Week. Without our firefighters, police, EMTs, traffic agents, Public Works crews, town engineers, utility workers. private contractors — and everyone who supports them — this town would be a mess.

You’re always there when we need you. Hopefully we won’t need you again for quite a while.

But somehow, I doubt it.

Storm Sequel: Police Report Road Closures

As cleanup and repairs continue after yesterday’s storm, the Westport Police Department urges residents to stay home. They say: “If you must be on the road, please drive with caution. Do not attempt to go around police tape and/or barricades.

“Please be considerate of these conditions during your morning commute. Allow for extra time, as damage has been extensive.”

These roads are still closed:

  • Long Lots Lane
  • 1 Long Lots Road
  • 30 Long Lots Road
  • Long Lots Road at Morningside Drive North
  • 30 Morningside Drive South
  • Spicer Court at Spicer Road
  • 6 Clapboard Hill Road
  • 235 Greens Farms Road
  • 245 Greens Farms Road
  • 23 Hillandale Road

The WPD also reminds Westporteres to treat every downed wire as if it were live, even if it does not appear to be energized.

Power outage reports, general outage questions, or non-emergency issues associated with electrical repairs should be directed to Eversource: 800-286-2000.

This Colony Road home sustained a direct hit from a tree during yesterday’s storm. One resident sustained minor injuries. The house was declared uninhabitable. (Photo/Westport Fire Department)

Take Time To Help Turk

Westport’s firefighters are always there for us.

Now it’s time for us to help one of them.

Turk Aksoy

Turk Aksoy has been a Westport firefighter since 2006, when he was the top-ranked candidate for appointment. Before fulfilling his long-time dream job, Turk had been a paramedic.

He raises funds for veterans’ organizations by racing in triathlons, and competing in Tough Mudder events.

In 2014 — just 41 years old — Turk was diagnosed with Stage 4 metastatic colon cancer. Doctors told him there is a 5-year survival rate of 14%. He was given 3 years to live.

Five years later, Turk is still fighting. He continued to work — scheduling treatment around his department shifts. His fellow firefighters were awed by his strong, resilient and brave attitude.

In December — when the cancer spread to his liver and lungs — Turk’s condition and his aggressive medical treatments made it impossible to continue to work.

But that’s not all he’s facing.On January 30 — his 46th birthday — Turk’s beautiful wife and source of constant support, Denise, died unexpectedly.

The emotional toll on Turk and his children, Tess and Tyson, has been devastating.

Turk Aksoy and his family.

The kids are as remarkable as their parents. Tess, 14, just finished her freshman year at Nonnewaug High School. She is president of Pony Pals 4H Club, and a member of Future Farmers of America. She hopes for a career in equine science.

Tyson, 12, is energetic and athletic. He loves lacrosse, outdoor exploration and photography.

His brothers and sisters in the Westport Fire Department are rallying around Turk, Tess and Tyson.

But they can’t do it alone. They’ve set up a GoFundMe page, to help Turk “as he fights his illness with dignity and confidence.”

Donations will help Tess and Tyson achieve their educational goals and dreams.

Click here — and give as generously as Turk, and his colleagues, have always given to us.

(Hat tips: Dave Wilson and Trissie Rost)