Deputy Fire Chief
||19 New Street
Danbury, CT 06810
The Danbury Fire Department is an all hazard emergency response agency. Our core mission is to provide for the safety and security of citizens and visitors to Danbury. Each of our divisions has established a mission statement that directly supports the overall mission of the Department. Danbury comprises 44 square miles and our resident population is over 82,000 with over 100,000 commuters, students and shoppers in the city daily. On any given day, our members might respond to a structure fire, a hazardous material situation, assist a mother with unlocking her car or provide medical assistance at a motor vehicle accident. The primary focus of the Department is to provide the best possible customer service on every call.
When people call 911 and have an emergency they expect help immediately. We respond to medical calls, water leaks, flooding, odors, alarms, fallen trees, aircraft crashes, motor vehicle accidents and people trapped under ground, above ground, and just about anywhere in between. This past year, 2013, our 9-1-1 center answered over 44,000 calls. This resulted in 3,938 fire and service responses and an additional 4,771 “first responder” medical responses. Of special note is the very high rate of cell phone calls to our Public Safety Answering Point or 9-1-1. This percentage of calls to 9-1-1 originating from a cell phone has climbed steadily as more citizens use these as opposed to traditional land lines. The landline phones are rapidly disappearing.
The Danbury Fire Department is highly trained and educated. Firefighters go through a rigorous process to be appointed to the Department and then attend various educational forums throughout their career. This is critical to the fire service as the dynamic nature of emergency response evolves constantly. Though our mission to protect our citizens and visitors remains the same, completing the mission requires ever vigilant training and preparation.
Continuing formal education is encouraged and supported by the department. College courses through Naugatuck Valley Community College have been taught at our facility in headquarters. Members of the Department hold certificates from the National and State Fire Academies, the State of Connecticut and independent training groups. Many of our members hold advanced degrees ranging from Associates to Masters Degrees.
The Department Career Division currently comprises staffing of one hundred and twenty members. This allows the Department to staff five fire stations with five engine companies, a two vehicle rescue company, an aerial truck company and a command vehicle. These assignments are staffed twenty four hours a day. Our Community Risk Reduction Division, comprised of the Fire Marshal and Deputy Fire Marshals, investigates fires and explosions, reviews building and site plans and inspects buildings to ensure compliance with fire codes and safety requirements. In addition, administrative and command staff positions address various assignments such as training, communications, EMS, and apparatus repair.
A major component of the department is the Volunteer Division. These men and women serve the community of Danbury in various capacities as members of twelve volunteer companies. They serve as Firefighters, Fire Police and Apparatus Engineers. These 136 members undergo similar training as the career members and trained for thousands of hours this year. They are an integral and vital part of the Department. As volunteers, they give freely of their time to protect our citizens.
The Department is a keystone in Connecticut’s regional response plan with a number of resources of the State housed in Danbury. These resources will respond to the region or anywhere in the State staffed by Danbury firefighters. We provide staffing to operate and support a Hazardous Material Response Vehicle, Petrochemical Response Foam Trailer, a Mass Hazardous Material Decontamination Trailer and a Mass Casualty Trailer.
We have recently completed a yearlong project where we have converted to a new Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system. This system, called Nexgen, is now in place and operational. The system is still undergoing growing pains but it is proving its value. The capabilities are far superior to our previous system.
The Department continues to face the challenges of potential terrorism and large scale natural risks. These include the recent harsh winter. Fortunately, the toll on our citizens was a less serious one than the previous two winters. Though this winter seemed to go on forever, the Department and City persevered relatively unscathed.
This year we were successful in getting members of our staff into the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Maryland as well as the Maryland Fire Rescue Command Staff program. These members have received training in command and control, fire service statistics and analysis, arson investigation, Fire Marshal programs and other subjects. These prove very beneficial and the costs for the training, transportation and housing are borne by FEMA. Our total training for the career department in 2013 was over 26,000 hours of training. This includes the recruit training at the Connecticut Fire Academy and the training completed by our existing staff.
Our local efforts, supported by the City and coupled with those of the Department of Emergency Management Homeland Security (DEMHS) Region 5 Hazardous Material Response Team (HMRT) continue to increase the preparedness level of the Department and the region. As one of three battalions (Waterbury, Torrington and Danbury) of the HMRT, Danbury personnel have been called to respond and be utilized throughout Region 5 responding to Hazardous Material spills. We responded most recently to the Torrington Tire Warehouse fire.
Our public education outreach effort continues throughout the community with mock crash simulations in local high schools, Juvenile Fire Setter Intervention and public education programs. Our continuing education includes automatic defibrillator (AED) instruction and fire extinguisher use training for local businesses and citizens. These initiatives, combined with our inspection, education, prevention and suppression duties, contribute to making the City of Danbury one of the safest in the state.
This year we were again the recipient of a donation through the State Neighborhood Assistance Act program. This very generous donation, from Dr. Robert Bedoukian, has allowed us to create a state of the art facility here in Danbury. This will be used to build on and expand our training capabilities at our fire training facility with recently acquired propane training props. This will allow us to instruct in methods of fighting propane and other petro chemically fed fires.
Community Risk Reduction:
The Officers of Community Risk Reduction are charged with educating the citizens and business entities of the City in methods of reducing injuries due to fire, scalding and fire code compliance. These officers comprise the Fire Marshal and six Deputy Fire Marshals. Annual visits are made to each Danbury school to present Fire Safety Programs to our very diverse school population. The presentations were made to over 12,000 students this year. The students bring the information about smoke detectors, escape plans and other safety tips into their homes. This fire safety education is vital in creating a fire safe community in Danbury.
This office is also responsible for the enforcement of many sections found in Chapter 541 of the Connecticut General Statutes, as well as numerous codes promulgated under the provision of these statutes. In the last year there were over 4,000 code enforcement inspections completed by the Fire Marshal’s Office. They also investigate all citizen complaints, fires and explosions.
As the City and community evolve, the Fire Department will continue to train and educate our members to meet the demanding emergency response environment. The constant expanding use of our training facility by many regional departments is testimony of the successful efforts to work with these regional partners. Despite seemingly significant and constant fiscal pressures, we will maintain our current response model and we anticipate no reduction in service levels. The citizens of Danbury have a Fire Department that is equipped and prepared to fulfill our mission of preserving life and protecting property and the environment. Working together, the Mayor, City Council and the Department, Career and Volunteer, will meet the community’s demand for excellence in fire education, prevention, suppression and rescue services.