New fire district head says there are no plans to consolidate with Groton

Groton - The recently installed president of the Poquonnock Bridge Fire District said his administration has no plans to consolidate the district's fire department into the town operations.

Christopher Clark, who was elected in May but took office July 1, said former president Alan Ackley pitched the idea without a board vote during a lame-duck period in his tenure.

In a June 5 letter that Ackley read to the Town Council, he said the Poquonnock Bridge Board of Directors wanted to fold the department into town operations, effectively converting the Poquonnock Bridge Department into what would become the town fire department. There currently is no Groton Town fire department.

Poquonnock Bridge and the City of Groton are the only paid municipal departments in Groton. Both paid departments support volunteer departments within each borough, including but not limited to Center Groton, Noank, Groton Long Point and Old Mystic.

Ackley contended that the Poquonnock Bridge Fire Department, with two locations along Route 1, spends a substantial amount of Poquonnock Bridge tax dollars to support other boroughs where the volunteer departments don't respond as quickly or respond with less manpower and firefighting equipment.

He also said the multitude of departments creates an unnecessary duplication of equipment that costs all residents more money than necessary.

"In accordance with the Town's charter and the Connecticut State Statutes, in the not too distant future, our district board of directors has decided to consolidate with the town of Groton in order for the council to exert a much needed role in controlling emergency costs from a macro standpoint," Ackley told the council at a meeting last month.

According to minutes of PBFD meetings between March and June, there has been no discussion of, or votes taken by, the Board of Directors to pursue the action Ackley proposed.

"As of right now we have no plan for consolidation," Clark, the new board president said in a phone interview Thursday. "He did that after the annual election, after he was voted out of office. I just took office Sunday. I'm still meeting with the chief getting a handle on the budget. As president, I plan to work to improve the district and make it a better department."


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