Southington Needs Volunteer Firefighters: Fire Chief

The Southington Fire Department is making a push to recruit volunteer firefighters as the number continues to dwindle, according to the town’s fire chief.

“For every 10 members we take in, we’re losing 13,” Chief Richard Butler explained. “In the last 10 years, I’ve lost 121 volunteer firefighters here. In 10 years. At that rate, I’m not going to be able to sustain the organization.”

Greg Porzycki is one of the volunteer firefighters on staff. He said a sense of duty compelled him to sign up more than 10 years ago.

“It’s not me driving the truck because I like to. It’s me driving the truck because someone else needs my help.”

Chief Butler said they are down to 81 volunteer firefighters, a staggering drop that mirrors a national trend.

The president of the town’s firefighter union agrees with the fire chief, adding that the town hasn’t significantly added to the number of career firefighters, which stands at 32, since 2000.

In a statement Glenn Dube said: “Southington is a rapidly growing community. The FD has struggled to match the town’s growth. We have not significantly added to on duty career FF staff in nearly 20 years…”

Both say training requirements, personal time constraints and an increase in call volume over the years have contributed to the strain. While fire officials say resident safety isn’t a concern at this point, they want to ensure it stays that way.

“I need interior firefighters that when we respond to a fire I have people who can go in the building to rescue, that make the rescue, advance the hose line,” Chief Butler said. “To get them where they need to be, sometimes it can almost take a year in time.”

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