Senator Danté Bartolomeo joined members of Middletown’s South Fire District to testify in favor of a bill that aims to alleviate the financial and tax burden on the fire district. South Fire has absorbed additional costs since 2011 when the state eliminated the Connecticut Valley Hospital (CVH) Fire Department. South Fire officials have stated that their call volume has increased significantly since absorbing CVH into their official territory.
“The demand for the services of the South Fire District has grown substantially since the department began providing services to the region previously served by the CVH Fire Department,” said Senator Bartolomeo. “The CVH fire region included almost 90 buildings, including juvenile detention facilities, a community college, and several abandoned buildings. This expanded coverage has placed an unreasonable burden on the men and women working at South Fire, and the district residents who support it. This legislation seeks to achieve a fair and reasonable arrangement between South Fire and the State of Connecticut. An agreement like the one laid out in this bill is necessary to maintaining the high level of life-saving service provided by the South Fire District.”
“The fire department went from responding to 218 calls at CVH in 2010 to 451 calls in 2014. That is an approximate 100 percent increase,” testified Mary Bartolotta, Commissioner of the South Fire District. “South Fire District has been an outstanding partner to CVH, but what we need now, more than ever, is for the State of Connecticut to be partners back and start financially supporting the district so that our residents can continue to reside in the South Fire District and be confident that their fire, rescue, and EMS services will continue in the manner that they are accustomed to, and have a need and a right to expect.”
The campuses within the CVH region contain almost 90 buildings with various usages, including psychiatric and medical care centers, a community college, juvenile detention, a maximum security care facility, and buildings for storage and vehicle repair. There are also a number of abandoned structures that are in extremely poor condition and that would present their own unique safety concerns for first responders.
Bartolomeo and the South Fire District testified before the Planning and Development Committee on SB 799, An Act Concerning the South Fire District of Middletown. This bill would allow the State of Connecticut to enter into an agreement with the South Fire District, allowing the District to subcontract for fire services. This would allow the state to provide financial assistance to the South Fire District for any work done in and around Connecticut Valley Hospital, including Whiting Forensic, the Albert J. Solnit Psychiatric Center, South Campus, and the Connecticut Juvenile Training Center.