Firetrucks sit out Groton's July 4th parade

Groton - Two Poquonnock Bridge firetrucks are usually part of the Fourth of July parade but this year the parade passed by one of their stations without them.

That's because the department is unable to spend money on anything but necessities.

Jerry Lokken, manager of recreation services for Groton, said he cannot recall a time when the parade did not include trucks from Groton's largest fire district. Lokken said they're typically toward the front of the parade and at the end, in case they need to respond to an emergency call.

He said it's hard to measure the value of one group's participation in the annual event.

"Were they missed? Probably. I'm sure somebody missed them," Lokken said. He said firefighters from the Long Hill Station still helped, providing ice for the reviewing stand.

Fire Chief Todd Paige said he canceled the department's participation because he doesn't have a budget approved by the fire district board yet.

Paige said he issued an order that nothing be spent on items other than those essential for public safety.

"We're not ordering supplies. We're not repairing anything unless it's a piece of emergency equipment," Paige said.

Voters approved a $3.5 million budget for the fiscal year that began July 1 but that isn't enough to even cover payroll. Taxpayers have also elected three new board members and the new board meets for the first time Thursday to decide what to do about the budget.

"I don't know what to spend money on because we're not going to be able to survive past March," Paige said.

The July 4 parade took its traditional route through the heart of the fire district, starting at Poquonnock Plains Park and traveling down Route 1, past the Fort Hill Station to the Groton Shopping Center.

"Hopefully, they'll join us in the next one," Lokken said of the fire district. "We'll certainly invite them."

d.straszheim@theday.com

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