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Public Safety Plan: Montville Needs Municipal Police and Fire Departments

The 147-page report praises the efforts of four volunteer fire departments, emergency dispatchers and police, but makes strong recommendations for major overhaul.

 

The 147-page Public Safety Plan report prepared for the town by a Florida-based firm makes no bones about it: Montville has its work cut out for it.

Among the 144 recommendations, the vast majority of which need to be implemented within three to six months and are designated as being high priority, is a complete restructuring of the way the town handles public safety – from fire and police services to ambulance and dispatch.

Municipal fire and police departments on the horizon?

The two big takeaways have got to be that the town needs to, one, create a town fire department and hire a non-resident as a professional fire administrator to oversee the fire department with its four houses, the fire marshal, dispatch, fire prevention and emergency management within six-plus months, and two, transition from the resident state trooper program to a municipal police department managed by a professional police administrator within three years.

“There is without question proof that the service requirements in the town have outgrown the current delivery models in both fire and police,” the report presented by Almont Associates, concluded.

Almont said that the town needs to create the Town of Montville Fire Department “as recognized in the Town Charter.” And while it praises the volunteer fire departments (Mohegan, Montville, Oakdale, Chesterfield), the consulting firm – which interviewed fire chiefs, firefighters, police officers and town officials among others -- concluded that among other issues, staffing is problematic. For example, Almont says, “none of the fire departments were able to provide accurate data to support what their available staffing was of qualified interior firefighters (the only firefighters qualified to go inside a burning building).”

In reference to the police force, Almont says Montville has outgrown the Resident State Trooper program, which was created for towns without police forces, which Montville has. The town paid almost $144, 000 for the resident state trooper in 2011 and the consultant suggests the town would be better served with a professional police chief. Almont shares its “concern” about the elected mayor being not only in charge of human resources and the town’s chief contract negotiator, but being its chief of police as well. Almont strongly recommends the town transition to a municipal police department managed by a professional police administrator.

The consultant praises the fire marshal but says in no uncertain terms that there’s far too much being taken on by one individual. It also urges the town to create a comprehensive fire sprinkler ordinance – and soon. And there's myriad suggestions for how to see police, fire and emergency calls dispatched with an eye on the town's goal to house a regional dispatch. In this area, the town has its work cut out for it starting with the need for a solid plan. 

High priority recommendations (this list is not all inclusive):

Fire

  • Immediately remove firefighter personal protective equipment from living spaces. This practice is unsafe (“byproducts of fire left on gear is unhealthy to firefighters.”) and is strongly discouraged by national fire safety regulations.
  • Establish monthly chief meetings immediately.
  • Create two full-time ambulance companies with career firefighters within three months.
  • Establish contracts with the four volunteer fire departments for fire and medical services within six months.
  • Conduct an audit of technical rescue training of all firefighters within three months.

Police

  • Establish a plan of action to inform the public on the importance of creating a municipal police department.
  • Create a municipal police department.
  • Establish and follow a chain of command.
  • Increase training budget for firearms
  • Work toward accreditation.
  • ID training associated with an organized police department.
  • Purchase a training database program to track reports.
  • Develop a five-year police department capital plan and staffing plan.
  • Focus on animal control including uniforms, training, pay increases, and budget line items for equipment.

Emergency Management

  • Reduce fire marshal workload to fire marshal/emergency management only.
  • Establish contracts with disaster-related vendors.
  • Create emergency management exercise calendar.
  • Expand fire website, increase public information/education.

Dispatch

  • Immediately eliminate the ability of dispatchers to mute-out police radio.
  • Immediately have fire dispatchers input police call information into system.
  • Require a radio plan within three months.
  • Consider the “current service and perception” of Montville dispatching.
  • Require a five-year regional consolidation plan.
  • A regional dispatch feasibility study within three months.
  • Create a dispatch consolidation foundation document with regional partners within six months.
  • Create an inventory of all dispatch equipment within six months.

 

And finally, within a year, establish a town-wide funding plan for fire and ambulance service, a town-wide tax relief and pension plan for firefighters and an IRS audit of each fire department.

The report is now in the hands of the Public Safety Commission and the Town Council for action. 

farm guy October 03, 2012 at 11:24 AM
Did the report say where we should get the money for this plan? Raise our taxes again and many people I know will look to move out of town (some of them intend to move their business as well).
Kieth October 03, 2012 at 11:58 AM
Farm guy, it does address funding. Most residence would be shocked to know each fire company makes a nice profit off the ambulance service that is staffed with paid guys from tax dollars. Some of the bussier companies make over $100k a year
J October 03, 2012 at 12:02 PM
It seems to me that the Day paper and The Patch have both missed a good point that this study made about the ambulances in this town. It seems to me that almost everything in this study could be paid for and implemented by the funds that the 5 ambulances in this town make. These are the same ambulances owned by the fire departments in this town but staffed by town employees and insured by town insurance and fueled by town fuel. But the town recieves no money in return from those ambulances which is upwards of 800,000 combined.
theinformant October 03, 2012 at 01:13 PM
In my opinion the report is right. This is what Montville needs to better protect its citizens, however don’t be fooled, 800,000 dollars is a drop in the bucket as to what it is going to cost to implement and then operate everything being proposed. The town just raised the mill rate 6 mills. The Mayor has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars for Lawyers’ fees and not to mention what all the Lawsuits are going to cost the Taxpayers after the Mayor is gone. We don’t even know the operating cost for the new Public Safety building until it’s been opened and operating for a year. What I believe the town needs is to start putting aside money for the next 3 years. This way the Taxpayers won’t take such a big hit if and when parts of the study are implemented. Also elect people who are interested in seeing the Town prosper and are not in office for their own personal agendas.
Sandra starrott October 03, 2012 at 01:27 PM
I have read this plan and found it to be well done and very informative. The recommendations are great for the town and will help us to provide great service. The only problem I see is in order to implement the plan you would need a mayor that can get the job done despite the opposition and we don't have that. In fact the mayor is cluse friends with paid firefighters so he will not want to ruffle any feathers.
Concerned Citizen October 03, 2012 at 02:10 PM
Clearly, from what I've seen over the past year, having a fire department with actual leadership, training, and equipment necessary to keep our residents safe is well overdue.
Concerned Citizen October 03, 2012 at 02:14 PM
Sandra - Perhaps the firefighters should be paid based on performance? If this were to happen, from the top down, these folks would certainly tighten their belts....
Jon October 03, 2012 at 02:18 PM
The towns problems are not with the police or firefighters. They all do a great job. The problem is with leadership or lack there of. The mayor is incapable of making any decision let alone a good one. Unless he quits we have 3 more years of status quo, poor moral and curruption.
Mike October 03, 2012 at 02:30 PM
Concerned citizen to which fire department are you referring to?
Mike October 03, 2012 at 02:40 PM
I know for a fact, because I was interested in joining, that the Mohegan Fire Dept has a training every Thursday that you have to attend. They also said I had to become fire certified or emt within my first year. They appear to be very busy and don't seem to have a problem. The only bad taste I had was when this "career" fireman came to my house to pick up my wife. He was very rude and seemed like we were interrupting him. When the volunteers showed up they were very caring and took wonderful care of her. The young mans name was steve and he was fantastic. The "career" man whose name is mike had no compassion or sympathy. I'll stick with our volunteers. They do it because they want to no because the have to.
jane October 03, 2012 at 03:07 PM
What problems does Montville have with the fire departments? I didn't realize there were issues. Nice report but I find it meaningless until someone works out the numbers. Let us know when that happens.
Julie Martin October 03, 2012 at 03:54 PM
Be nice to mike he is one of the mayors drinking buddy's. maybe he had a rough night before his shift started
Mike October 03, 2012 at 04:07 PM
Julie are you serious? The way this man, and I use the term loosely treated my family he should not be out the protecting our town. If its the same mike, arrogant and talks like Sylvester Stallone, it makes scence he is one of the mayors drinking buddies. That has to be how he keeps his job. My wife and I thought about filing a law suit against him and the town for the stress he put us through but we have to live in this town and fear repercussions.
shannon struthers October 03, 2012 at 04:47 PM
C'mon let's get the mayor and his drinking buddies out of office...who's with me????? If we have another 3 years of this crap montville will no longer be a town!!!!!!
farm guy October 03, 2012 at 05:19 PM
Thanks, Keith
Joe Calcan October 03, 2012 at 06:35 PM
How about Buebendorf saying on Jan 2012 in a Patch article, "Organizations get stuck in doing things the way they’ve always done them, she said, “and sometimes you need a fresh set of eyes.” Gosh Candy, the report doesn't seem to say anything different than what most people already know about Montville's public safety. Hey Democrats, why not reimburse the town $46,000.00 for the study that you insisted on having done. But then Buebendorf didn't have to reimburse the town for the attorney fees when that she used to get a persona opinion for herself. No wonder Buebendorf is Kevin Ryan's helper bee for his re-election. Maybe she can talk him into the benefits of another sex offender facility to rationalize why the town needs more public safety. So there maybe something to this study afterall.
J October 03, 2012 at 08:25 PM
I'm pretty sure at least 3 of you on here are completely off topic. The topic is the study that is done and completed for the public safety system in this town. Just for starters you have volunteer fire departments in this town that has so much duplicate equipment and more apparatus than most cities with no one to staff it. Then the police department is held back by falling under the state police. We pay over 120,000 a year and get nothing but a lock up and dispatch services. Many think that this is a waste of money but it should be looked at as an eye opener as to how much help the public safety system needs in this town.
Jon October 03, 2012 at 11:06 PM
I'm not sure how off topic we are. The report states the town is a mess when it comes to public safety. The mayor is the chief of police and the head of the town. It is him and no one else to blame for all the problem. It will ultimately be him who needs to implement the changes and I don't think he is capible of do that.
Jimmy Bonn October 11, 2012 at 06:34 PM
pretty funny how some of you residents think you have it so bad. the paid firemen in the town run a majority of the calls not the so called "volunteers". if anything you could use more paid firemen at the least 2 more per shift. And that is bare bones... wake up and know what youre talking about. Some paid guys do have piss poor attitudes but then again some nailed it on the head they are drinking buddies with the mayor... so nothing will be done and its not just the guy who talks like stallone
Jerry Roberts October 11, 2012 at 08:11 PM
This is really painful to read. Not only are some of you off track.(Like that never happens here) but the personal attacks on a paid firefighter and others in town are dispickable.Did you know that this firefighter also served this country in Iraq coming under enemy fire.He is a outstanding firefighter and like ALL of the paid staff they originated from a volunteer fire department. im so embarrassed by the comments that I read from day to day trashing our local government, or who is spending time with who and where - in their off hours they choose to spend it. Yes you have the right to say what's on your mind regarding it's "topic" but don't abuse the privilege and make it personal. It becomes embarrassing when people outside of Montville see how we react or deal with our issues. To all the volunteer and paid firefighters who work in the Town of Montville you all do a fantastic job. You have my support and respect. Keep up the good work.

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