The Stamford Volunteer Fire Department, the central entity created by Mayor Michael Pavia's fire service plan proposal, are already active in drills while awaiting for an approval on that will allow them to move forward.
"We're very much in favor of the Mayor's fire plan. We think that it'll be good for the people we protect, and we think it'll be good for the fire service in Stamford," Stamford Volunteer Fire Department head Ray Whitbread told Patch.
Whitbread, a long-time Stamford firefighter, stated that the would be ready to begin operations pending an Board of Representatives approval of Mayor Pavia's fire service plan, which has been a subject of debate between several fire departments and Mayor Pavia for over two years.
As a result, the Stamford Professional Firefighters Association assisted in the drafting of an alternative fire proposal. The alternative proposal attempts to eliminate some of the costs that are to come with Pavia's fire plan.
"I think there's a certain amount of misunderstanding about the [alternative] fire plan. I also don't think that some of the opponents have a full picture of the alternative plan, or aren't addressing the downside of the alternative plan, which is actually very significant," Whitbread said.
"Frankly, in comparison to the Mayor's plan, I don't see any added benefit in the alternative plan. The downside is that the downtown fire area, presently covered by Stamford Fire and Rescue, is going to lose 20% of their present fire company coverage. They're going to lose two of the companies that currently cover the downtown area...that's a huge downside. I don't think the alternative fire plan can be done at no-cost," Whitbread said.
According to Whitbread, Stamford residents will "lose" if the alternative plan goes into effect. "...If they lose, we lose. They lose because they get less fire protection for their dollar, and they're actually going to be paying more in tax dollars...once this alternative plan goes into effect, the volunteers will be likened to a 'second string' team. They're no longer going to be the first responders, they're no longer going to be the first team out there," Whitbread said.
The staff of the Stamford Volunteer Fire Department are currently preparing for eventual operation. According to Whitbread, volunteers from four departments have already , but will not be officially recognized by the city unless the Board of Representatives passes Pavia's fire plan.
"Even if we don't get approval, we plan to operate as a consolidated force for as long as we can," Whitbread said.