New guidelines in place as Poquonnock Bridge closes one fire station

Groton - The Poquonnock Bridge Fire District has moved its broken ladder truck to the town transfer station for storage, and Fire Chief Todd Paige issued new guidelines for emergency response after one of its two fire stations shuts down today.

The cash-strapped district board voted last month to vacate 13 Fort Hill Road and consolidate firefighters in the Long Hill Road station to save money. The district will continue to lease the Fort Hill Station and maintain the fire marshal's office there.

Poquonnock Bridge has two fire engines - one at each station - a pickup truck and a 48-foot ladder truck, which does not work properly. The ladder truck was moved Thursday to make room at Long Hill for both engines. District Board Member Ron Yuhas said the board spoke to the town manager's office and public works department about storing the ladder truck there until the district decides what to do with it.

The fire department will also now use the pickup truck to respond to some medical calls to save on fuel and repairs. Firefighters were told this week to make sure it has all necessary medical equipment.

Paige distributed a set of procedures Wednesday, outlining which vehicles would respond to which incidents.

The procedure included this directive: "All efforts shall be made to reduce apparatus and fuel usage …" and added that engines "should not be used for handling any personal business including going to the grocery store."

Under the policy, staffing would vary depending on how many firefighters are on duty, but at least three firefighters would be assigned to one engine and two firefighters to the other.

If a medical call came in and all staff were in the station, the two firefighters assigned to one engine would respond in the pickup instead of the engine.

An engine would be sent on a second medical call. Engines would also respond to motor vehicle accidents and fires.

The new procedures also reminded firefighters that Under Occupational Safety and Health Administration rules, they must have four on a scene before entering a building. This is required so firefighters go in with a partner and have two people outside in case they need to be rescued.

The chief's directive said that unless there's a viable rescue, firefighters may have to fight fires from outside a building until help arrives.

"Keep it a priority to operate safely with what resources you have," the new procedures said, adding, "With reduced resources arriving on the initial, after a sound risk assessment has been done and no viable rescue is evident, an emphasis on exterior operations may have to be the priority until sufficient resources arrive."

Paige said department captains were going over the procedures with firefighters on different shifts, and this was expected to continue through the weekend.


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