Norwich Budget: Not Enough Money To Replace Aging Fire Trucks

Norwich’s fire departments are looking to replace their aging fleet of trucks, but the city says there’s not enough money in the budget.

The city's fire departments consists of Norwich, Yantic, East Great Plain, Laurel Hill, Taftville and Occum. Fire officials there have been fighting to fund the purchase of equipment, such as new pumpers and tanker trucks, but city manager John Salmone said the approximate $3 million dollars needed, is too expensive for this year’s budget.

About $120 million is what the city of Norwich will have to work with in the coming fiscal year. $8 million of that goes to the city’s fire deparments. Those funds are used to pay salaries and cover every day expenses.

Yantic Fire Chief Frank Blanchard said his department needs a new pumper truck at a cost of about $650,000. The truck is 39 years old.

“It is our most problematic truck in this department. It spends the most time in fleet maintenance. It’s old, significant rust, mechanical failures that have taken the truck out of service for at some point well over a week,” said Chief Blanchard.

Other departments’ requests include replacements of rescue, tanker and engine trucks more than 25 years old. The equipment could cost anywhere between $300,000 and $700,000 dollars a piece.

The city cannot afford the additional $3 million dollars worth of equipment requested, but Norwich officials say that could change in the coming months as the public safety committee creates a more comprehensive plan to fund the fire departments.

“A system where we allocate the resources that are pretty scarce to each department in a meaningful way and try to take them all as a unit and say ok which is the next one that needs to be replaced based on a replacement schedule,” said city manager John Salamone.

The public safety committee hopes to create that funding plan within the next 6 months. Until then, Fire officials will have to work with what they have.

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