A Torrington volunteer fire department already grappling with budget and staffing issues is now facing criticism after responding to a fire without water.
According to Torrington Fire Chief Gary Brunoli, the Torringford Volunteer Department came to a call unprepared.
“We had an open burning call in the volunteer district and they brought their small vehicle that should have had water in it,” said Brunoli. “We asked them to pull their hose off and we would use their truck and when they couldn’t get water off they realized there was no water in it.”
The situation, on top of budget concerns and staffing shortfalls, has Brunoli calling for funding cuts to the Torringford Department.
“It hurts,” said Gary DelMonte, Commissioner for the Torringford Volunteer Department. “We’ve been around for so long.”
DelMonte tells NBC Connecticut the volunteers are in a “rebuilding phase” and the staffing situation is partly because members are moving into paid city department positions.
“We lost four to five guys in the last three years to downtown,” DelMonte said.
As for the water problem, DelMonte feels it is being blown out of proportion. He told NBC Connecticut crews have made several runs to the this location for resident burning wood pallets in his backyard. They took one of their smaller trucks to assist the city, a truck he says they were told to keep empty during the cold weather months.
“Downtown firefighters, a couple of them, recommended no water in it for the winter so it wouldn’t freeze,” said DelMonte.
While the fire did not present a threat to people or property, Brunoli says in their profession situations can quickly spiral.
“I have to make sure the people of the city have fire protection,” he said.
“If it was a house fire, we would have our large Truck 17 which always has water,” said DelMonte.
Brunoli plans to retire at the end of April, but says he would be pushing for these cuts even if he stayed. If the money is not made up somewhere he runs the risk of having to let a paid city firefighter go onto of the service issues.
“We are paying for something we are not getting,” he said.
“I feel we do a good service for the city,” said DelMonte. “We should receive the money.”