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Shopey: Fire department in crisis

WINSTED — Due to mechanical breakdowns and wear and tear, the Winsted Fire Department is facing severe financial hardships and is lacking proper equipment to protect the town, according to fire department Chief Robert Shopey.Shopey spoke during the public comments portion of the Board of Selectmen’s meeting on Monday, Oct. 3.“Two weeks ago our ladder truck went out to have repairs on it because of electrical problems,” Shopey told the selectmen. “We were advised what the problems are and right now we are looking at $20,362 in repairs. Also, Tower One is now out of service because both rear springs on the rear axle are broken and have to be replaced. We are looking at almost $25,000 in repairs for everything combined.”Shopey said that the department does not have the funds in this year’s budget to pay for the repairs.“Right now, [the department] has $23,636.07 in available funds,” Shopey said. “But as we have talked about at numerous budget hearings, most of that money is already earmarked for mandated items that have to be completed throughout the year.”Shopey then went through a list of tests and repairs to equipment that he said is mandated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which includes pump testing, ladder testing and a repair in Engine 2 to the pump gearbox.“The total of [the tests and repairs] is $13,400, which leaves [the department] under $10,000 for the year if anything else happens,” Shopey said. “Now, I can probably cover the rear springs with $10,000, but there is no way my budget can survive $21,000 in repairs. So I am looking for some guidance from [the selectmen] for where to look for funds.”Shopey said that public safety is at risk due to the equipment being out for repair.“It is imperative that Tower One be repaired because we have too many buildings that are too tall for our ladders in town,” Shopey said. “We have one apparatus that has a 35-foot-tall ladder while the other ones have 24-foot-tall ladders. So if we have anyone that is trapped on the third floor [of a building] anywhere in the city, when [the department] tries to get to the roof, it’s not going to happen.”Shopey said the closest fire departments with tower trucks that provide mutual aid for Winsted are North Canaan, Torrington and Canton.Both Mayor Candy Perez and Selectman Karen Beadle recommended that Shopey speak to Town Manager Dale Martin and Finance Director Henry Centrella to come up with a solution.

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