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The Fractured Norwich, Ct fire Service

61 posts in this topic

Here's an interesting point to consider.


For an automatic fire alarm activation within a fairly large condo complex, that Norwich Fire Dept has "NO PROBLEM" calling for TWO of the local volunteer departments as part of an Automatic Aid response. Yet, how is it that for some reason, even for a Working Fire, some local volunteer departments totally refuse to have them (Norwich Career On Duty Firefighters) respond. Even though they are manned and much closer than the outside volunteer departments who were requested to respond.


 The reason I mention the fire alarm at this condo complex is that it just happened. I've tried to think about this but I'm just totally lost as how one place has no problem calling for the other. Yet on the other side, it is just the opposite. No matter what is burning or what kind of help somebody needs, even being closer, "they just don't call them".


If there is anybody out there that can make any sense of this, "please let us know".



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Part of my latest email to Norwich City Officials. I titled it: "Totally Unacceptable by ANY Standards". I will QUOTE the majority of it to you.


 "As you may know, I work a part time job as a security guard at SMHA (Southeastern Mental Health Association).  I happened to be working the 4-12 pm shift, on Saturday August 27, 2016. My job is what they refer to as a Rover. I basically drive around the campus and assist in anyway that I might be needed at the various buildings on that site.


  At 7:07 pm I was driving by what is called "the Brief Care Building" and I noticed about 20 people standing outside in a group. In that Brief Care Building, there are people and patients being treated for various mental or social issues, under the care of a supervised staff. Some are sent there under court order. As I went to investigate, I was informed by my partner security guard over the radio that there is an active fire alarm coming from that Brief Care Building. I went to check to make sure everyone was out and the Brief Care staff informed us by radio that everyone was out and accounted for. My job then was just to make sure that no one reenters that building.


  Then we all waited for the Fire Department to arrive. As the clock was ticking, I thought of the Norwich Fire Department Headquarters only 1.8 miles up the road. Staffed with 9 Firefighters and 1 Battalion Chief. They could be here in no time.


  Then according to the official time on my cell phone, the next thing I notice is an individual show up at 7:12 pm.

  We are ALREADY Five Minutes into this incident. This individual gets out of his pick up truck, wearing shorts and a tee shirt, and no fire gear at all. He was only carrying a portable radio. By this time, I would assure you, had that Norwich Fire Dept been allowed to respond, there would have been nine firefighters, all fully equipped in full gear, and ready to go to work. In addition, there would be a battalion chief and I can assure you "he would NOT be wearing only a tee shirt and shorts, carrying a portable radio.


  Then much latter, at 7:19 pm (now 12 minutes into the incident), I notice EGP (Volunteer FD) Ladder 55 show up.

  Then later at 7:23 pm, EGP Engine 52 shows up.

  Now even if upon investigation they were told by radio to proceed with the flow of traffic, it still wouldn't take the Norwich Fire Dept that long to respond. I once joked saying; Those Norwich Firefighters could almost walk there and make it quicker.


  As it turned out, it was a defective smoke detector in Room 377. In that room were two beds with cloths piled on them. I will submit a video for you to view at the end of this email, to show you how quickly a fire could spread under similar conditions. Only THIS building having several more occupants, most with serious social issues.


  This is NOT at all meant to put down ALL volunteer firefighters. Just recently, a very well respected member of the Norwich Fire Dept returned to work after a full recovery from a very serious accident. When he returned back to work, I went to Norwich Fire Headquarters to visit him. One of the FIRST things he told me was how THANKFUL he was to the Volunteer Firefighters who helped to keep him alive during the very initial stages of his emergency care (Note - he is one of four captains within the dept). He had also told me that he had planned to visit those volunteer firefighters and personally thank them for what they did. I believe he was referring to the Volunteer Firefighters of the very small Town of Voluntown (CT). My point is, the Norwich Firefighters are NOT "Anti" or "Against" Volunteer Firefighters, as some might like to have you believe.


  (In the next two or three paragraphs which I excluded here, I went on to talk about the competition and required 18 week recruit school that any new Norwich Firefighter must undergo. Then a one year probation period under the watchful eye of his commanding officer BEFORE he can consider himself/herself OFFICIALLY a Norwich Firefighter. I also talked of the competition  among the best to become a Lt., Capt., or B/C often taking years of study etc). Then I added:


  I make that comparison to the Five Volunteer Chiefs we have here in Norwich. They DID NOT go through any of that. Yet we allow them to have total control over the citizens safety and show up in tee shirts and shorts to fire alarms in occupied buildings. They were ELECTED by their own friends to these positions. And with that comes the POWER to have total control over an entire city and break any rule they choose regarding the safety of so many lives. As well as the lack of concern for the property within their own response area.


  Someone needs to tell these Five Chiefs; "This is the way it is going to be". "Your duties will be clearly spelled out in writing". "Either you accept this change and send these Norwich Firefighters or you leave". "If not, we will find someone who is really concerned with the publics safety and put them in charge".

 What gives these people the right to dictate to an entire city ?

 Why are people so afraid to stand up to them ?

 There are many documented cases in which the decisions they have made are totally wrong by any standards. If nothing changes soon, I can assure you they will one day be held accountable for their actions or lack there of. Don't let these individuals drag you through the mud with them. Because I fear that could very well happen. Our Previous City Officials were all aware of this as well, yet they allowed this to continue.


  This marks the "Eighth Incident" since I began documenting cases starting in February, 2015. ALL of which the Norwich Fire Department SHOULD HAVE RESPONDED. But, THEY WERE NOT ALLOWED TO RESPOND. And being totally honest with you, these incidents are only the ones that "I" am aware of. There could very well be more.


  In closing, it is now up to you and I ask that you please consider the RIGHT thing to do for the benefit of ALL the citizens. The lives of our citizens, your friends, their children, are all at stake here. Most have no idea of exactly what is going on here. Unless these Fire Commanders are willing to make these changes now, "tell them to pack their bags". "Their services are NO Longer required". You as our city officials owe that to the people of this city.


  Now for that video. This is what can happen if a bedroom fire is not attacked in the very early stages. This could very well have been the case Saturday night August 27, 2016 at the Brief Care Building, Room 377, at the Uncas on the Thames Campus.


  Thank you for your concern and I will work with you in any way I can to help make our city a safer place".   End Quote



Edited by nfd2004
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Sorry, for those members who were NOT able to view that video (Bedroom fire - above), the video has been corrected. The problem was as simple as a comma placed instead of a decimal point. Even hard to see with the super special lens on the bifocals I have on.


 So for you to view that example of a bedroom fire and how quickly it could spread if not attacked in the very early stages, just click on it above.


 Also, it was this same campus where there was a working fire in an occupied 2 1/2 story frame building, just about one year ago from this date. That is one of the eight incidents that I had been referring to. Also in that fire were several other occupants for treatment of some type of social issues under the care of a trained staff. That building had to be closed down for a period of two weeks while repairs were made. Resulting in the relocation of these clients and the staff members.


  Interesting to note, that while the same number of career firefighters (9) and a battalion chief were located only that 1.8 miles away, this building fire got the response of one volunteer fire dept as it's normal response area (actually farther away than that career station within the same city), plus they requested the assistance of another local volunteer fire dept, 5 miles away (they actually rode right by NFD Hqs while they were outside training), plus another volunteer dept from an entirely different town - 8 miles away.


  Now, you be the judge and tell me if that makes any sense at all.  If it does, please give us the reasons why.


 Thanks for your interest.

Edited by nfd2004
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Here is the latest local newspaper story on "The Fractured Norwich, Ct Fire Service". Some say they REFUSE to turn over their members training records for the latest ISO (Insurance Services Office) report in an attempt to improve the city's rating from a grade of 4 out of a possible 10.  As a department that takes city funded tax dollars, I say "those training records are public information and should be shown at request." Didn't the taxpayers pay for much of that required training as well ?


  I also feel that any fire department that trains its firefighters, should be very proud of their accomplishments. So why would you object to showing this.


 From the New London Day Newspaper, October 1, 2016. I hope the link works. You may need to click on "News", then "Local", to view it.



Edited by nfd2004
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I was involved in a similar effort here in Stamford. We had our training records all on paper and they were based on each drill. So it would have been very difficult to look up any individual members training for a given period. However we had already started computerizing training records for that year. So I had the joy of doing the data entry for several years of drills and getting them into the computer. This was all done using the same software we were already using for NFIRS reports. Through this I found we could actually log meetings and other non firefighting activity. It allowed us the ability of managing these records for multiple projects. We could keep track of voting status, we could keep track of total activity (to see who the slackers really were).


I saw the ability to look up an individual members record as a bonus, although from what I remember all ISO wanted was total training hours. I don't remember even giving them a department average. I know this helped out 2 members who were members elsewhere and were missing some training from the other department. I was able to work with the training officer in the other department and show participation in enough drills in key subjects to let them remain active in both departments. Computerizing the drill reports also made them much more secure, as our old method was a note book in the watch desk with paper reports. In theory (I have heard stories) a member could open the book and circle their name on past drills to fake attendance.


One thing I found odd was that Norwich is being rated as a city. If I remember correctly, in Stamford we all got our own ratings per department. I remember going through an appeal and going from a 5 to a 4. I seem to remember one department going from a 4 to a 3 but it has been a while. I know one department missed an upgrade due to a funding issue with a tanker, which lead to even more local bad blood.

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Reading some of the comments posted, it appears to me that the "citizens" are NOT too pleased with the fact that those records were NOT offered. This most recent newspaper article seems to have really hurt the Volunteer Depts. The members of the Five Volunteer departments owe it all to their leaders for representing them in this way. A few comments:

  1) "What are they trying to hide"

  2) "This is a disgrace"


  The talking has been going on for years. About 40 years as far as I can tell you. The numerous meetings with city officials, the Norwich Firefighter Union Officials, each of the many Volunteer Chiefs who have served - the hand shakes - the promises, ALL have been a COMPLETE waste of time.


  I think the simplest way to describe what is going on here is just go to the Stamford thread and every place you see the word "Stamford", just replace it with the word "Norwich". That would give the readers a pretty good picture of just what is going on here.

Edited by nfd2004
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Recently, I received an email stating that my message has been heard. Here is a part of that email:


 " The leaders of this city are now focused on some of the many problems you brought to light, and they are addressing these issues in a carefully constructed plan. This plan is not to eliminate or hurt anyone or organization but rather to address the fundamental issues that you have raised. I know you have probably heard all this before and waited in vain for results, and, for far too long they were not substantive enough to effect meaningful change".


   In addition he wrote:

   I write to you now, to ask that you give us the space we need to actually accomplish some things that we are in the wings of change. Your continued efforts are no longer necessary as they have heard you, seen it for themselves, and agree that things need to change. I am asking you to let us take it from here.

  Nothing says that if this fails like so many other efforts in the past that you are prohibited from doing the heavy lifting again.


  The ABOVE is a portion of that email I received from a high ranking city official who has been involved with this since DAY ONE starting in February, 2015. Since that time, he as well as other officials were sent over a dozen emails citing serious incidents that needed to be addressed regarding the fire service of Norwich, Ct.  It is my intention to respect that wish and to refrain from sending any additional emails concerning this matter. I have sent my last email to city officials explaining to them, the next step is to seek legal counsel for the victim(s) suffering a loss due to the lack of any action on the city's part. Should that happen to a victim tomorrow, my heavy lifting will go into affect should those Norwich Firefighters NOT respond.


 Until the time that actual changes take place, the city and it's fire commanders are willing to continue rolling the dice. I have suggested that if these current fire commanders are NOT willing to accept this change, someone in city office needs to tell them, "It's time to pack your bags, we can find someone to replace you".



Edited by nfd2004
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Downtown building recovering after Three Alarm Fire.




After reading of this story, I wrote these comments.



"I am very happy to read of the good news. This is the result of the local fire departments all working together. It proves to all of us how things CAN and Should be done".


"Whether it's a fire in the response of the city's paid fire department on Franklin St, an apartment house fire in the Occum section, a hazardous materials leak on Otrabando Ave in Yantic, a serious building fire at the Uncas on the Thames Campus in the East Great Plains area, a serious car accident with a victim pinned in a car in the Laurel Hill area, or even the preplanning of a large converted mill in the Taftville area, "When all of the local fire departments work together, that's when everything works out the best".


 "Over the years, I was involved in many incidents in which about a dozen firefighters were able to save entire city blocks from burning down ONLY because of a group of volunteer firefighters responding to our call for help. Yet I have watched serious incidents go on as other fire trucks from farther away drove right by our firehouse".


 "I have taken a hard stand AGAINST this type of activity. It is my hope that positive changes can be made for ALL the citizens of Norwich".

 End of Quote.


 I told one individual on there who had commented earlier about the lack of cooperation - "I am fighting for you and everyone else".


Also note that when I referred to incidents of the past in the quoted second paragraph, they were actual incidents in which the Norwich FD was NOT allowed to respond, even though they were staffed and much closer.



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Perhaps an Update or Progress Report is due.


Despite No Progress being made on the Fractured Fire Service in Norwich, there has been No shortage of the Career Fire Department calling for the closest volunteer departments, unlike their surrounding departments have done. Instead of calling for another OUTSIDE Department, the Fire Commanders in this case called for the closet and put their services to work. As you recall from many earlier post here, that has NOT always been the case when additional help was requested. In one case two volunteer departments were requested from 5 and 8 miles away, despite a firehouse with nine fulltime firefighters and a battalion chief only 1.8 miles up the road.


 But in the cases below that I am about to list, in ALL OF THESE INCIDENTS, the CLOSEST LOCAL VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPTS WERE REQUESTED. These were serious fires in which occurred from October 16, to Oct 30th.


 1) October 16 - Former Newspaper Building at 66 Franklin St being converted into restaurant. Two story brick with fire in the cockloft.

 2) October 23 - Large vacant mill building at 132 Franklin St with fire on the second floor

 3) October 24 - Two and three story vacant former YMCA Building at 337 Main St. Fire on the second floor of former residents area

 4) October 28 - Fire in an occupied 2 1/2 frame dwelling, making 11 occupants homeless

 5) October 30 - Fire in a one story commercial car sales and service building


In addition to the above, only a week or so before this, there was a fire in an occupied 4 story brick building at 321 Main St. I just don't have the exact date.


In ALL of these fires, they required at least one hand line operating. In some cases multiple lines had to be stretched.


The point is, in each one of these incidents a response was requested of the surrounding volunteer departments. This type of mutual aid plan shows the priorities of these departments. One department shows how important in is to call the closest department and quickest to respond. While others have a track record of calling much farther away departments regardless of how much more property burns or whose lives they might be affecting.


 Which department would you feel is doing the right thing for the people they serve.


 I would just like to pass on a recent newspaper article regarding some of the fires. The Norwich arson Task Force is back in action. They have an excellent track record as I know many of them personally, both fire and police. Most also bring years of experience with them. Our biggest problem here I see is NOT catching the arsonist BUT in getting rid of some fire commanders that should have been put out of business years ago.


http://www.theday.com/policefirecourts/20161102/norwich-arson-task-force-is-back-in-action     (I hope it works)

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Here is an interesting newspaper article that was published on October 22, 2016. Although it may NOT be directly related to the "Fractured Fire Service of Norwich", it does involve at least two key players in that issue.


One is the head of the Public Utilities Company with provides both gas and electric to the homes and businesses throughout the city. That leader is Mr John Bilda.  Mr Bilda was Acting City Manager, as well as the head of this utility company at the time I made my first visit to city hall and discuss the serious issue involving our Fire Service within the city.  I met with Mr Bilda sometime in February/March, 2015. I asked him to consider making some much needed changes that he would be able to accomplish. With ONLY four days left in that public office as Acting City Manager, Mr Bilda advised me that there would be NO CHANGES MADE WITHIN THE FIRE SERVICE OF NORWICH. He would return to his regular position as Director of the Norwich Public Utilities (NPU).


 What I didn't know was that he would invite his friend, Chief of the Yantic Volunteer FD, Chief Blanchard to a LAVISH WEEKEND RETREAT to the Kentucky Derby as one of his many invited guest. That weekend retreat would take place in April, 2015, very shortly after my meeting with the then Acting City Manager. The cost to invite EACH INDIVIDUAL at roughly $7,000 per person. It should be noted that this Fire Chief has seemed to be the most outspoken AGAINST those Norwich Career Firefighters. Very frequently referring to the cost of these career firefighters. But did those same taxpayers pay for his $7,000 weekend retreat through their public utility bills ??


  Here is the story about this lavish weekend featuring one of the Star Players, NPU Director, former Acting City Manager Mr John Bilda, as well as in the 2015 trip, the Yantic Fire Chief Frank Blanchard.


     After you absorb this article, I will post an additional article that came out just November 11, 2016 shortly titled;

  "FBI or Government making inquiries into GMEEC, NPU, and Jewett City Utilities".


 But First, here is the First article in which many people in this area are NOT TO HAPPY ABOUT. This was published on October 22, 2016 with many others related later in front page headlines of TWO Local Newspapers.


  Sorry, I couldn't get the article shown. I'll try later. But I can assure you that the man at the spotlight of both these lavish trips as well as the individual who was a key player in the Fire Service issue may be in some hot water. Now it is reported that the FBI or other government organization is also involved.





Edited by nfd2004

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In almost two years, NOTHING HAS CHANGED for the Fire Service of Norwich, Ct.


After a series of at least a dozen emails to city officials.

After an Unsuccessful face to face meeting with the then Acting City Manager (currently involved in Code of Ethics violations, as well as a possible investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation).

After a front page story in a local newspaper on July 2, 2016 called "Norwich's fire service more fractured than ever, officials say".

After a most recent letter written to the editor of that newspaper called; "Turf wars trump fire rescue in Norwich".


 STILL NOTHING HAS CHANGED. After almost TWO YEARS since this concern was begun over four or five serious incidents, it appears to me that EVERYONE involved is afraid and under the control of these Five VOLUNTEER Fire Commanders. There is another planned face to face meeting coming up with the current city manager next month. We will try again but he has already been presented with the facts and still we see no changes.


 There are NO CHOICES. If no changes are made and there is any serious property damage, injuries, or death, it will be my duty to seek legal action on my own part. (Any winning from legal action will be donated to charity). This has gone on too long and it can NOT continue. My friends, their families, and co workers, along with their own firefighters as well, are ALL being put at unnecessary risk. All because some fire commanders think it is okay to call their friends from other depts. rather than a group of trained, on duty firefighters much closer.


 The questions are;

  1) Why hasn't there been changes made by now

  2) Is the city willing to accept responsibility for the actions of these fire commanders.


 Below is the most recent letter written in the local newspaper. This letter appeared on December 15, 2016.





Edited by nfd2004

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Is the safety issue for the residents of Norwich ct the fact that they're fire department isn't  called for mutual aid?  Or is it that they're department isn't adequately trained of staffed?

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2 hours ago, TimesUp said:

Is the safety issue for the residents of Norwich ct the fact that they're fire department isn't  called for mutual aid?  Or is it that they're department isn't adequately trained of staffed?

It's my understanding that......


1) Fire service within the City of Norwich is provided by a multi-station career department and 5 independent volunteer departments.  All have their own primary response area within the city and all have control of who responds to incidents within those individual districts. 


2) None of the volunteer departments utilize the career department units with any sort of regularity.


3) When the volunteer departments need help with an incident, they routinely request mutual aid units from outside of the city even though career staffed units within the city are closer and available to respond.


4) It's possible that there may be a training issue within the volunteer departments, but I'm not positive that is the case.


5) The career department utilizes the city's volunteer departments when needed.


6) The safety issue for the residents and for that matter, the other firefighters is that it is common practice in some parts of the city to not utilize units that are staffed, trained and CLOSER to incidents in favor of other units that are not staffed and further away.


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2 hours ago, TimesUp said:

Is the safety issue for the residents of Norwich ct the fact that they're fire department isn't  called for mutual aid?  Or is it that they're department isn't adequately trained of staffed?


The Norwich Fire Department consist of 12 on duty firefighters, plus a battalion chief. The firefighters man 3 engines and one truck out of two centrally located firehouses. Surrounding that are Five - totally separate volunteer fire districts. The city of about 40,000 people is divided in half with a separate fire tax paid for by the property owners within that career fire district.


 Over MANY years, there has been a dividing wall put up between the career department and the volunteer departments. As the late President Reagan once said; "Tear down this wall". Referring to the Berlin Wall that divided East from West Germany. That wall was torn down and no longer exist. Norwich, Ct needs to tear down it's wall.


 At times fire apparatus has rode right by the career firehouse responding to other incidents.


  One example occurred last year at a working fire in an occupied group home of people with social issues. While the career department is actually the closest, being only 1.8 miles away, two local volunteer departments responded from within the city being much farther away. One volunteer department rode right by the staffed career fire headquarters, while those members were in the parking lot with training evolutions. Add to this, another volunteer fire department was requested at this working fire from outside the city limits, 8 miles away. Meantime a group of 9 firefighters, plus a battalion chief are only 1.8 miles away.


 Another example was an ammonia leak from a food storage warehouse. The Volunteer department responding to this incident requested the services of a Haz Mat team from the U.S. Sub Base Fire Dept in Groton, some 15 plus miles away. All while the much closer career fire department within the same city is 4 miles away. They are always staffed with a team of at least FOUR Haz Mat certified and equipped firefighters, right within the same town.


  These are just two of the kinds of examples that have occurred within the last year or so. However, this kind of activity is nothing new. It has been going on for a very, very long time. But after going to visit a close friend at a local nursing home where there was a grease fire, with many volunteer fire depts on the scene but no closer career firefighters, I felt it was time to try and do something about it. The elderly person I was going to visit, I was the primary contact person for their care. I also had many elderly friends there, some who were confined to wheel chairs or beds. In addition, two ladies that rent apartments from me, one who was pregnant at the time, work there and still work there.


 However, when a serious incident occurs within that career fire district, those local volunteer districts are ALWAYS requested.


 It just can not continue to go on like this. People, within that city, no matter what fire district can NOT be put at risk, while a group of closer on duty firefighters are NOT ALLOWED to respond. All based on a feud and a political system that should have ended decades ago.  


 "Firemedic", that is it EXACTLY.

Edited by nfd2004

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Nfd2004 - I completely agree that the closest, properly trained fire station(s) should respond to the original call or a call for assistance (mutual aid) be it a career, volunteer, private industry, or military department. 


With that being said, I have a question which will help me to better understand the situation. What is the legal designation of the city fire department and the volunteer depatments? What I mean by that is who is the ultimate authority and has taxing power. Does the city oversee all these individual departments and pays each department to operate? Is the city fire department under the control of the mayor and their budget is part of the city's budget? Are the 5 volunteer departments actually fire districts, created by a legislative act and hence have a voted on Board of Fire Commissioners that are voted in by the residents in each district?


If the volunteer departments answer to the mayor and get their budget from the city, then the city will have a lot of say over what goes on. If they are fire districts, then the Board of Fire Commissioners set the tax rate for their district and are the overall governing body. Each fire district answers only to its voters in their district. The city government has no control over the fire districts. In essence it is their (the voters) own little town. New England is well known for local control and not wanting big brother involved. I'm not saying that's right or wrong. But no matter how you slice it, I agree that a citywide approach should be taken when deciding what is the best service and response to emergency calls. If Fire District A's station is closer than Fire District B's station to a fire which is located in Fire District B, then both departments should respond. If additional help is needed and the next closest station is a city firehouse then they should respond.


ADDED: I just went online looking for some of the answers and I found out about the CCD & TCD (City Consolidated District & Town CD). It's not clear as to whether the TCD is a board made up of people voted in from the voters of the TCD or is it run by the City? Please elaborate.

Edited by LayTheLine

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"LayTheLine", actually it is pretty hard to explain. The Five Volunteer Districts all pay the same rate in taxes, while the City District residents pay extra for the salaries and benefits of those on duty firefighters.


 All equipment, including apparatus, gear, etc comes out of what is called the general fund. Half the cost for the Career Chief and the Fire Marshalls also comes from this fund. All of the taxpayers within the five volunteer districts pay the same tax rate while the area covered by the career dept pays the extra cost. Each volunteer fire district also presents it's own separate budget. I believe two of the volunteer firehouses are actually owned by those fire districts. However, the city pays to heat and maintain them from that general fund. This mess will also need to be straightened out at some point.


 There is no Fire Commissioner etc. The volunteer chiefs and officers are elected by their own membership. But the reality is that no one, no matter which side of the street they live on should be stuck in a building on fire trying to breath some fresh air, while waiting for some fire dept to show up because of a fire commander who thinks nothing of calling anybody but the closer on duty staff of firefighters. If I were a member of one of these departments, "I would be ashamed to be associated with them". Let alone the fact that these fire commanders don't even seem to care about their own members safety.


 The Fire Department is supposed to serve it's citizens, not the citizens serving the fire department. This city seems more concerned about serving a select group within these fire districts, rather than the people they are assigned to protect.

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That's a different set-up than I've ever seen. Very confusing to say the least. It sounds like a lot of parties have their fingers in the pie.

I applaud your tenacity in trying to correct a problem which could have deadly consequences.

From what I know of the Connecticut fire service, I would guess that the members of all 6 fire departments are adequately trained and give it their all. Unfortunately it just isn't a joint effort to organize things in a more efficient way.

I guess it ultimately comes down to the voters to stand-up and make it a priority and make their voices heard. But to get that much support for anything (new school, new library, etc.) is difficult at best.

Good luck in your efforts to at least try to coordinate a very complex situation!

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Simply put, the taxpayers of this city really have no idea what has been going on. All they've been told was that those career firefighters will cost you more money.


In August, 2008, the career fire chief, who had earlier been selected through a nationwide search, presented a very workable plan to provide a combination career/volunteer fire service to cover the entire city. There were many hours of research put into that 8 page report on how EVERYONE could benefit from this. That report was never to be seen or heard of again. Of course I was lucky enough to get a copy of it.


For years the local politicians have been bought and paid for by the the members of these volunteer departments. But with the concern of these fire commanders now being challenged by a taxpayer with some very basic knowledge of the fire service, and the possibility of some legal action taking, "if I were an elected official not willing to change things, I might be a little concerned about this".


The simple solution is very easy and I learned it a long time ago as a firefighter/dispatcher. "When in doubt - Send them out". A response requiring two departments within that city (high hazard, Haz mat, structure fire etc), send the two closest departments, and in most cases, that would include the Career Department. 


Simply do that and we can all move on. Sounds easy enough but for some, it just can't be done.

Edited by nfd2004

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Early this AM, December 31, 2016, a working fire occurred in a building located at 598 West Main St. That is considered to be in the East Great Plains Volunteer Fire District of the city. I am HAPPY TO REPORT that in this case, the Fire Commander (Car 5), DID request the services of the Norwich Career Fire Department, which was the next closest department. Plus they are staffed.


Responding from the Norwich FD was Engine 3, Truck 1, and Battalion 1 (five firefighters, one Lt, and a B/C). In addition, both the Yantic and Taftville Depts responded and I believe, the Laurel Hill Volunteer Departments as well.


Was the Norwich FD requested because it was the right thing to do ?

Were they requested for fear of a legal action to be taken against this fire commander if not requested ?

Or were they requested because of some of the social media critics these fire commanders were facing in the past ? Only a few short weeks ago, a fire occurred at a 99 Restaurant less than two blocks away. With NO Norwich FD response. To quote from that social media:

  First Poster - "It's amazing to me that they don't call out the career guys on these assignments automatically"

  Response by Second Poster - "It all goes by run cards"

  First Poster - "Oh I know. Just makes no sense not to have a fully staffed career department in the same city, on every single one of these runs".

  Response from A THIRD Poster - "It's all internal politics. Career vs Volunteer, vs Serving the public...makes sense to send any and all resources that get the job done for the residents".


 So at this point, whatever it takes, this incident proves it can be done.


  It was a fire at an occupied group home a while back, located at 401 West Thames St, the East Great Plains District, in which things were totally different. There, the Career department being only 1.8 miles away was NEVER called. While one volunteer dept rode right by the career firehouse and another volunteer dept was requested from 8 miles away.


 Is this story over now ? By no means.

 However, this fire commander has made the right decision and perhaps has saved himself the very good possibility of a legal court battle. With the upcoming meeting with the Norwich City Manager, this will be the FIRST STEP taken in the RIGHT DIRECTION. However, it is NOT over at all. This MUST become the written policy of ALL the volunteer departments involved. With failing to do so resulting in immediate removal of the fire commander position on the city's part. As well as the very good possibility of legal action taken on by this Topic Author (NFD2004).


 Also, please feel free to share my thoughts with anyone you feel may be involved with this. Thank you.


 NFD2004, aka Willy D.



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Still the same in Port Chester Willy , just spent two weeks in my home town before heading south and can't believe  what's left of a once great dept.

Edited by PCFD ENG58

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Do the Citizens that pay to have a career fire department want to pay to supplement they're neighbors who don't want to pay for a career department?  Does this fit into the equation anywhere?

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Apparently SOMEONE IS LISTENING. Interesting that early Saturday morning (Dec 31) there was a working fire in the East Great Plains Vol Fire District of the city. The first help they requested was from the Career Norwich Fire Dept. That has not happened very often over the last couple of decades.


There is a new chief within that dept (EGP FD) and perhaps he realizes that he is not about to be the first guy to be held accountable for not calling the staffed, closer Norwich Firefighters. I commend this chief for making the right choice. That might not have gone over too well with those other chiefs, but I'm sure in time, they too, will get their chance to make the decision of whether to call those guys or an UNSTAFFED dept farther away. They will have their chance to show how tough they really are. as long as they are willing to present a very good case for not calling them.


 With no political support on this after two years, it is now time to take this a step further should the need arise.


 "TimesUp", I guess the best answer I can give you is that it basically is a form of mutual aid within the same city. The volunteer units come into the career area and it's supposed to be those guys go out to help them also.


 Here is the article from the local newspaper regarding the fire. www.theday.com/policefirecourts/20161231/early-morning-fire-badly-damages-norwich-office-complex-on-route-82

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I had my meeting with the Norwich City Manager yesterday (Dec 4, 2016). When I reached city hall, the Norwich Career Fire Chief was also there. Apparently, this city manager had requested that chief to be there in attendance as well. I had no problem with that at all. In fact, I was glad to see him there. I never worked under this chief as a firefighter. I had retired before he got the job. But he was the FIRST Fire Chief hired from outside the city (from North Providence, RI). Of course, throughout this entire event, during almost a two year period since I started this campaign, he has always been advised of my plans and we DON'T always agree. But he is a friend and I have a great amount of respect for him.


 I think the meeting went very well. Much better than the previous meeting with the former Acting City Manager (who currently is under a Code of Ethics charge in an unrelated matter, and a possible FBI investigation). I later learned that former city manager was also a member of one of the volunteer fire departments involved, which seemed to me to be "a conflict of interest" in this matter.


 As I stated I think the meeting went very well with this city manager. The meeting was focused on IMPROVING the Fire Service of Norwich (Ct), NOT on any kind of take over. We talked about how this city needs the volunteer firefighters and I agreed. It has NEVER been my plan to eliminate any volunteer firefighters within the city. But to certainly create a better working relationship and to "PUT THE PUBLIC FIRST".


 We talked of the most recent fire (as posted above) and how I commended that volunteer fire chief of the East Great Plains Fire Dept in calling the Norwich Firefighters to the scene. That was the FIRST Dept he called to the scene. The Norwich firehouse is only ONE mile away from that fire scene, with one straight ride out West Main St (Route 82). I also told the city manager that had the Fire Chief NOT requested those Norwich Firefighters, things would be very different at this meeting. This was a commercial building that was NOT occupied at the time of the fire - 03:30 hours. I said but what if that was a residential building with people at the time inside there. And what if that chief did NOT call those Norwich firefighters. So who is responsible if someone gets hurt or trapped in there. I think the city manager and the fire commander is. A lawyer would decide that no matter what any department policy or by laws state. I assume public safety would prevail over any such case.


 The above mentioned fire was called in by an ON DUTY police officer over the radio. I told the city manager that when an on duty police officer calls in a building fire over the radio, "they are NOT lying". Then the ON DUTY 911 dispatchers SHOULD have the leeway to automatically send a second due company without waiting for a request from the chief. I also told him that those 911 dispatchers know when there is a serious incident going on. Most likely if they are getting several calls or a caller is in a building chocking on the smoke, "Those dispatchers should have the right to start additional help at the very beginning". Something that isn't done here.


 I also made it very clear to him that within 4-6 minutes death will occur if the brain does not get enough oxygen. Prior to death, the brain begins to die and there is less chance of escape. Any firefighter who has been around has seen the results of that.


  I told him very often the people die from the smoke, before the heat and fire ever gets to them. 


  I told him how todays plastics burn producing think black smoke. Making it impossible to find your escape. I said it would be like being in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and trying to find your way back.


 The city manager lives in the East Great Plains Fire District. The city fire chief lives in the Yantic Fire District. I mentioned to both of them, "if there is a fire in your home and your family members are inside that building, SHOULD THOSE ON DUTY NORWICH FIREFIGHTERS RESPOND before calling a farther away, unstaffed volunteer fire dept.


 In the above article about the fire, there were one or two comments posted claiming that I am considered a "HATER" of the volunteer firefighters. I mentioned that to the city manager and he saw it also. I then told him that a few years ago, through a fairly popular Connecticut Fire Dept web site, I offered to give FREE classes to ANYBODY who was interested in becoming a career firefighter. That was open to Norwich Volunteer firefighters as well. in fact one member from the Yantic FD got the job as a career firefighter in Norwich. He thanked me for the help he received. Would that be considered as being a "Hater" ?


  I told the city manager, of those who attended that class, most were volunteer firefighters and most ended up getting a career firefighters job somewhere.


 The city manager explained to me how the volunteer fire departments have a strong pride in their departments. Of course I understood that and I told him this is NOT about doing away with any volunteer firefighters. I too appreciate what they do for all of us. I told him how I have many friends throughout Connecticut who are volunteer firefighters. I also have volunteer firefighter friends in Westchester and Orange County, NY, as well as Virginia, even Tennessee.


 The city manager has asked me to talk to him before I pursue this issue through other means (the legal system). I told him, if he is the guy that has the final say then he must act NOW. We can not roll the dice anymore. The game is over. But I did inform him that out of respect for him, as well as the Norwich Fire Chief, that I WOULD DO THAT before going ahead with my plans. But this is NOT about to go on for another two years.


 This may NOT be over, but it is my own feeling that the city manager will do his best to rectify this very serious issue that exist within this city.  I found this city manager to be very intelligent and very easy to work with. I appreciate the time he gave me. What I also learned about him is that his father was a member of the NYPD. I told him how I had a great amount of respect for the members of the NYPD, as well as the FDNY, and I think he was impressed when he told me his father worked on Mott St. My response was, "I know where that is, it's in lower Manhattan". I don't think he ever expected some "hick" from Connecticut to know that.


 I also would like to take a minute to thank this web site for allowing me to tell my entire side of the story. The readers here probably know more about what's going on, than the individuals directly involved themselves.



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It's been a few months since the last time anybody following this story was updated and what has been going on.


This issue has been the same for years. It is our political system and the leadership within the fire departments, that refuse to correct this problem. As of this date, NO CITY OFFICIAL has even "suggested" taking a hard stand to do what is right for the safety of the citizens of this city.


Therefore, "I intend to hold the next Fire Commander accountable if he refuses to call those Norwich Firefighters to the scene of a serious incident, but instead calls volunteer firefighters from a distance farther away". That policy goes against every rule in the book.


And should one of these Fire Commanders drag a few city officials and city council members through the mud with them, then that's something they should have thought about a long time ago. They allowed this to continue to go on. Right now these city officials are in no position to take on more problems than they already have.


 In addition, there is also PROOF of 911 legal documents that seem to have been altered as well. That would most likely result in a totally separate investigation with devastating results.


 We also have Mr John B####, who was Acting City Manager, when I first had a meeting with him in March, 2015 as this began. Today, he is the subject of an FBI investigation in an unrelated matter.


 They all need to understand that "everyday that goes by - is one day closer to this nightmare approaching".


 I will seek legal counsel at my own expense from an attorney well outside the area, with no local ties at all. Should we prevail and any amount awarded to us, I would only ask for my own funds to be reimbursed and the rest donated to a charity, such as the firefighters cancer fund - FFCancer.org, As well as a portion go to the local IAFF for their patience and tolerance.


 If there is any member of this site who would be interested in reading "The How and Why" it all began, please send me a pm with your email address (your name is NOT necessary if you wish). And I will get that email off to you. I would prefer to delete the names mentioned in there as well.



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A new policy has been established by the Career Department in Norwich. Perhaps this policy should have been established a long time ago.


In order to assure a faster response to an incident, if a second source is received or there are numerous calls reporting a fire within a building, the dispatchers are to now automatically dispatch the volunteer fire depts. assigned on the second alarm and they are to stage one block from the incident. If I have it correct, this response is usually made up of one engine from one volunteer dept, another engine co from another volunteer dept., plus one ladder from another volunteer dept, within the city.


 It remains to be seen if the volunteer depts. will do the same. With very few exceptions, it is the Career dept that is usually the closest and certainly can get there the fastest throughout most of the city. Will "they" be likewise dispatched based on a second source or numerous calls ? I guess we'll find out when the time comes.

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Time for another Progress Report. I must say that things have GREATLY IMPROVED since New Years Eve, 2017. I had another meeting with the Norwich City Manager on Wednesday August 16th. Here is an email that I sent out to individuals on how that meeting went, including two members of the Yantic FD.



  On Wednesday afternoon, August 16, 2017, I met for the second time since January with the Norwich City Manager, Mr John Salomone. Of course this was in regards to my campaign to take on the issue of the Norwich Fire Dept responding to the Town area known as the TCD. I would like to share with you and the members of the Yantic FD, some of the highlights of that meeting. I am also sending a copy of this to City Manager John Salamone, City Council member/Safety Committee - Bill Nash, and City Council member Jerry Martin for taking a special interest in hearing my side of the story. They do a very difficult and thankless job. I've told them many times, "They never have to worry about me wanting to take it over". I would like them to know that there has been much progress made, so their efforts have not been in vain. THANK YOU.


 1) Both the City Manager and I AGREED that there has been much improvement since the beginning of the year starting with a fire on New Years Eve in the East Great Plains Fire District. Since that time, there have been a total of six incidents throughout the TCD area which required additional resources beyond the first due response area. Of the six, five brought out the Norwich Fire Dept.

    1a) Three involved the East Great Plains area

    2a) One involved the Taftville area.

  The other two involved the Yantic Fire District area.

    3a) In one case I am told the Norwich FD only responded because the Mohegan Sun Tribal Dept (FAST CO) was busy elsewhere.

    4a) The other, The Norwich FD did NOT respond. But instead the EGP and Colchester FDs responded. I learned that the fact that Colchester FD was requested from "14 miles away", Yantic Fire Commanders have come under criticism by city officials and even citizens with no ties to the fire service.


  We both agree that the focus seems to be mainly on some of the leadership within the Yantic FD. Those leaders are burying themselves within their own peers throughout the city. Even those outside the city are asking questions about it. I am being told by several individuals , including a few council members, that even some of the younger members of the Yantic FD want to work more closely with the Norwich FD.


 2) The city manager read an email to me he received regarding a joint drill that apparently was organized by one of the younger Lts within the Yantic FD. The email was written to the city manager by Norwich Fire Chief Scandariato, expressing his appreciation to this younger member for helping to set up this joint drill involving the Yantic FD and the Norwich FD. Of course some of the older Yantic leaders boycotted that drill.


 3) With the Yantic issue in mind, I presented the case of a very recent structure fire on Orchard St in the Norwich FD district. In that case , NFD requested the Taftville FD and Mohegan Tribe FD as the FAST CO. What if the Fire Commander of that incident had requested perhaps the Bozrah FD or Colchester FD (14 miles away) instead. Would that be acceptable ?


 4) I also presented the "What if" case of a passerby reporting smoke coming from a house in the Yantic FD district. Yantic request EGP and Taftville. They then realize that there is a serious fire condition in that house. Additional help is requested from Bozrah and Colchester. As the fire is knocked down, it now becomes known that there is not one, BUT, FIVE members of a family that perished. This becomes a National News story with the major TV channels covering this. Those reporters now learn that there were TWO staffed firehouses much closer that never responded. What does the city officials or fire commanders tell the news media then ?


  In the PREVIOUS year there were at least SIX incidents throughout the city which required the  response of an additional department in the TCD area. Even though the Norwich Fire Dept was staffed and closer, NOT ONCE did they respond.


 For the last 2 1/2 years, I have taken on this job at my own free will. It hasn't been easy at all. But I am in the perfect position to try and do something about it. I have talked with people, text. called, and emailed. I have come under fire through face book slander by some. I have even come under fire by some of my own peers. In the long run, I certainly think it's been worth it. I think there is no doubt an improvement. It's not over yet. But I'm seeing and hearing that some of the leadership within the Yantic FD is being laughed at by their own peers throughout the area. Either those types of leaders change or their days are most likely numbered.

  END of Quote.


 I also shared this with two members of the Yantic FD and I understand it was read at one of their meetings.


 I also sent an earlier email to them as well based on a few very interesting facts that perhaps some did not know. Soon I'll post that as well.

Edited by nfd2004
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I sent this email to TWO members of the Yantic FD on August 7, 2017. They had contacted me earlier through my email address regarding this issue. I don't personally know these two individuals.

This is part 1 of 2 - although the entire mail was originally sent as ONE.



To: Yantic FD member - Brian K.

      Yantic FD member - Chris C.


I kept your email addresses and I would like to pass on a few thoughts that I'm hoping you will pass onto the members on the Yantic FD. Especially to the officers and the Chief. Just a couple of thoughts that I think the guys might be interested in.


 1) I am told that when one member of the Yantic FD needed transportation to his doctors appointments or medical treatments and he wasn't able to get there, "it was a member of the Norwich Fire Dept that took him there".


 2) I am also told that recently a former Fire Chief from another department apologized to the Norwich Fire Dept for the way he acted AGAINST those Norwich Firefighters during his time as chief.


 3) About four or five years ago, I organized a FREE Class to help anyone interested in becoming a career firefighter. How to prepare for the written, the oral, and the CPAT agility etc. I was able to get use of the Jorden Firehouse in Waterford to use the night of that class. I was also joined by another Norwich Firefighter, Retired B/C Stu C., as well as one career firefighter from New London, West Hartford, Hamden, and Stamford. Those guys didn't ask for ONE DIME. Not even gas money. In addition, the guys set up separate tutoring sessions to give more help to individuals living closer to their area.

  One guy who attended that class was Ryan F., who at the time was a member of the Yantic FD. As you know, he is now employed as a Norwich Firefighter. He credits that class and Norwich FD Retired B/C Paul S., for helping him to get that job.


 4) After some comments were made accusing the Norwich Fire Chief of putting his own firefighters at risk, I checked into that. NOT ONE NORWICH FIREFIGHTER EVER MADE SUCH A STATEMENT. That rumor is Totally FALSE. In fact, he is very much concerned with the safety of his members.


 5) When some individuals falsely accused current members of the Norwich Fire Dept of "encouraging me" to begin this campaign roughly 2 1/2 years ago, requesting the nearest, quickest fire dept to respond to serious incidents within this city, that was totally WRONG as well. That has been all of my own "free will". In fact, for the first year or so, I was discouraged from taking such action by Norwich Fire Chief Scandariato and President Scott M., IAFF892. I was told at the time that a plan was in the works that would benefit EVERYONE.



 6) I am being told by some city officials that the Fire Chiefs of Taftville, East Great Plains, Laurel Hill, and Occum are ready and willing to agree to working more closely with the Norwich FD, for the benefit of ALL the citizens and their own members. We have seen proof of that since the first of the year by requesting the Norwich FD to the scene.

   a - December 31, 2016 (New Years Eve) - East Great Plains - Fire in an office building located at 598 West Main St.

   b - July 3, 2017 - Taftville - Fire in an apartment building at 3-7 South Second St (exactly one year after a front page headline story July 3, 2016 titled: "Norwich's Fire Service More Fractured Than Ever Officials Say").

   c- July 28, 2017 - East Great Plains - Structure fire in a large wood frame building (Cottage 6) at Uncas on the Thames Complex, 401 West Thames St.


 Just ONE YEAR PRIOR to that, Five serious incidents within the city had NO Norwich FD Response - despite the NFD being closer than any second due fire company. The list includes:

  a - Yantic - Norwichtown Rehab - 93 West Town St

  b - East Great Plains - 401 West Thames St. - 2 1/2 frame known as Cottage 8.

  c - Yantic - U.S. Foods - 222 Otrabando Ave - Dangerous Chemical Leak - Norwich Fire Dept Haz Mat Team responds at the request of U.S. Sub Base FD Officer responding from Groton 15 miles away.

  d - Yantic - 182 Vergason Ave - Structure fire with reported children trapped

  e - Occum - 17 Taftville Occum Rd - Structure fire.


 So clearly as you can see by the incidents described there has been some very good progress made throughout the city. The ONLY issue of concern is the Yantic Fire Dept. Why ?


 Why is it necessary to call a fire dept like Colchester - 14 miles away, to an incident in which TWO STAFFED fire stations are much closer. Norwich Fire Headquarters - 2.8 miles, and Engine 2 - 3.9 miles away.


 If the reason being that Colchester is listed on the next running assignment at Norwich Dispatch, that may NOT hold up should a very serious incident occur as a result of that action.


 In addition, few, if any firefighters themselves actually agree with this. They feel that goes AGAINST any logical, common sense rule on the fire ground. It could be a very tough one to prove otherwise.


7) I have been told by MORE than one individual that the younger members of the Yantic FD feel they should work more closely with the members of the Norwich FD. I've also been told that there is some pressure put on them by many of the more senior members to do otherwise. However, I'm sure that you know much more about that than I do.

  But here is an example from many years ago;

   When I was offered the job to become a Norwich Firefighter, the guy ahead of me on the hiring list was a member of the Yantic FD. When he was offered the job BEFORE ME, he turned it down and I was hired instead. The reason he turned it down.....because then, Yantic Fire Chief Walter K., told him not to take it.


 8) I also understand that the Yantic FD has it's own fireground radio frequency that might be put in use at the scene of an incident. Is this an FCC assigned frequency to be used solely by the Yantic FD without regard to any Incident Command System ? Do the officers realize how this can have a serious affect on the Yantic members and other firefighters operating on the scene. As well as civilians and members reporting fire conditions within an area. Creating a very dangerous situation to all who do not have these radios.


 9) There are also reports of city owned fire apparatus arriving on the scene, when in fact that is NOT the case. But actually a civilian owned, personnel vehicle rather than a piece of fire apparatus as a way of perhaps "padding response times". Below is a photo taken of what appears to be a personnel vehicle and NOT a piece of city owned fire apparatus. When this vehicle arrived the operator stated: "Squad 36 is on the scene". Is this Squad 36 ?

  * Note for the purpose of this web site - I was NOT able to show that picture of a maroon colored pick up truck - personnel vehicle *

  The problem today is we never know who's out there taking photos or videos of an incident. In this case as the civilian was being put into the ambulance (parked behind this vehicle) a small rescue truck was about to arrive. When that happened the incident was over and before that small rescue truck had arrived, the driver of the pick up truck said on a portable radio; "Squad 36 you can return".

  There are other reports of such activity as well.

  This could really go sour if something were to go wrong (accident etc) prior to the actual arrival of any piece of fire apparatus.


 I am very happy to see that so much progress has been gained over the past two years. It has certainly been a very tough journey. But it's well worth it. To get four out of five depts. to understand and cooperate is something that the Fire Chiefs of East Great Plains, Taftville, Occum, and Laurel Hill should be very proud of. They have taken a serious look at the priorities of their own members, as well as the civilians they are assigned to protect.

  But why not 100 %. What is the issue with the other 20 % ? Is everybody else wrong ?


   TO BE CONTINUED..........as part 2 of 2.




Edited by nfd2004
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Continuing with Part 2 of 2 (letter above)



  I sent an email to the City Manager, as well as a few of the Council Members, on July 25, 2017 stating the fact that it might be time for someone from outside the area to look into this matter. All because One out of Five Volunteer Fire Depts throughout this city just can't seem to accept that. I'm sure a copy of thsat can be obtained by the officers of the Yantic FD as well.


 Brian and Chris, I ask you to pass this on to your membership and fire officers.


 Below is the photo I wanted to include (Sorry I am NOT able to provide that photo on this site of a personnel private vehicle reporting Squad 36 is on the scene).


 I was once told by a New York City Firefighter that the heat and smoke is the same no matter where you fight fires. That's true whether you fight fires in the Bronx, NY or the fire districts of Norwich or Yantic. I also know that "Time and Manning" has the biggest impact at the scene of a fire. As firefighters within this city, you ALL owe that to the people you are assigned to protect and serve.


 Thank you

 Bill D, aka Willy D [End of Quote]


 NOTE - I would like to add that I understand the emails I sent to these TWO Yantic Members was read at their meetings by Chris C.

  I thank him for doing that for me.

Edited by nfd2004

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