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A light weekend for Groton firefighters

By Deborah Straszheim

Publication: The Day

Published July 28. 2014 4:00AM
Layoffs take effect at Poquonnock Bridge department

Groton -The Poquonnock Bridge Fire Department called for mutual aid three times and provided it once during the first weekend since layoffs took effect, firefighters said Sunday.

Groton's largest fire district laid off nine firefighters on July 25, meaning some shifts will be covered by just three firefighters. The layoffs, combined with four vacancies that will not be filled, cut the department force by nearly 42 percent. The district went from two engines to one.

The department received eight calls, which is lighter than usual, said firefighter Jason Cioci, acting captain on Sunday. On July 18-20, the department handled 18 calls, he said.

Poquonnock Bridge responds to about 2,000 calls per year, about 1,200 to 1,300 of which are medical calls, Chief Todd Paige said.

On Friday, Poquonnock Bridge called for mutual aid from the Naval Submarine Base Fire Department for an outside fire on Route 12 near Interstate 95, Cioci said.

On Saturday, the department provided mutual aid to Groton City, after a call came in about a fire outside the Super 8 Motel on Route 12. Someone using fireworks had caught shrubs by the building on fire, Cioci said.

On Sunday, two calls came in at once. Poquonnock Bridge was dispatched to a cardiac arrest at the Groton Regency Center, and as the truck pulled into the drive, a car accident was reported on Fitch Avenue. The accident turned out to be minor; Naval Submarine Base Fire Department responded to the accident.

"Say the accident was not minor," Poquonnock Bridge firefighter Ted Kunsa said. "Say someone was hurt and then you have a cardiac arrest and it's reversed. I think it's pretty lucky that the right call came in, in the right order, five minutes before the car accident."

Also on Sunday, Poquonnock Bridge and Groton City responded jointly to a rollover accident on Route 12, just under the Route 184 overpass. The city fire truck left, then had to be called back to help clean a fluid spill after the car was rolled onto its right side. Poquonnock Bridge did not have enough material to handle the spill.

The Poquonnock Bridge Fire Fighters Union filed a complaint on July 8 in New London Superior Court seeking an injunction to rescind the layoffs, saying they would endanger firefighter and public safety. A hearing is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on Aug. 11.

"We can only hope it doesn't last, for the taxpayers safety, for our safety, even the daily people that just drive through the district," Cioci said.

d.straszheim@theday.com

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