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Union Pushing For Merger of Stamford's Career, Volunteer Firefighters

The proposal to merge the volunteer and career departments is one of nine suggested charter changes that will appear on Stamford ballots on Election Day.

Will a proposal to merge Stamford's volunteer and career firefighters under a single fire chief help boost its volunteer ranks or ultimately cause the city to hire more paid firefighters?

During an informational meeting at the city's fire training facility on Magee Avenue on Sunday, unionized firefighters touted the controversial proposal before city legislators, according to a report in the Stamford Advocate.

Stamford Fire Capt. Paul Newman said the proposal could result in greater recruitment of volunteers, while former Turn of River Fire Department chief Ray Whitbread said it would likely force the City to hire more career firefighters, thus increasing taxes, according to the report.

Whitbread said if the career department's role is expanded to cover the entire city, the union will use that to justify the hiring of additional firefighters, according to the report. He estimated that the proposal would lead to the hiring of "at least 100 firefighters" over the next few years.

Newman, however, pointed out that the plan requires the city to "promote volunteerism" in the department. He said the plan will result in improved and more standardized training for all volunteers, and noted that some of these volunteers will likely go on to become career firefighters.

The proposal to merge the volunteer and career departments is one of nine suggested charter changes that will appear on Stamford ballots on Election Day.

Currently Stamford has six fire districts — five volunteer and one professional — with the latter serving primarily the downtown but often assisting the volunteer houses.

Under the controversial proposal the fire chief would be aided by two assistant chiefs, one each to oversee the career and volunteer ranks.

For more, check out the Stamford Advocate report.

stamford citizen October 15, 2012 at 07:12 PM
Bottom line...hiring of more paid guys = higher taxes. Newman said it himself, "...some of these volunteers will likely go on to become career firefighters." The volunteers are doing a great job and the paid guys are doing a great job. Why the change??? Better question: why did Malloy change the charter in the first place???
Samuel October 15, 2012 at 09:11 PM
The charter was never changed they are trying to change it now and the volunteers are putting up a good fight so far but the vote is nov 6th if your a Stamford resident you can vote on it
Samuel October 15, 2012 at 09:12 PM
Stamford fire rescue is also putting up a good fight it's a tough call but whatever is safer for the city is obviously better
FIRE MIKE November 03, 2012 at 09:31 PM
VOTE YES NOV 6th YOU WILL BE A SAFER RESIDENT IN THE CITY OF STAMFORD AND YOUR TAXES WILL NOT BE GOING UP EVEN IF THEY ARE TO GO UP WHO CARES WE WILL ALL HAVE A BETTER SLEEP AT NIGHT KNOWING IT WILL BE ONE FIRE DEPARTMENT AND ONE CHIEF AND ALL WILL BE SAFE AND THE VOLUNTEERS WILL STILL BE AROUND SO DONT LET THEM MISLEAD THE TRUTH JUST RESEARCH THE FACTS YOUSELF TO HAVE A BETTER UNDERSTANDING AND REMEMBER THE PAID PERSONEL HAVE BEEN NOTHING BUT HONEST THE VOLUNTEERS ARE MISLEADING INFORMATION TO THE STAMFORD RESIDENTS IT'S ABOUT TIME WE ACT MORE LIKE A CITY AND NOT ALITTLE TOWN ANYMORE VOTE YES AND THE CITY AND CITY FIRE DEPARTMENT WON'T LET YOU DOWN!!

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