Norwich, Ct Automatic Aid Policy

Jun 22, 2007
Norwich, Ct is a small city, of about 40,000 people and is ranked the 25th largest city in Connecticut, covering about 29 square miles.
The CITY Fire District, called the "City Consolidated Fire District" (CCD), is protected by a fully paid department career fire department of about 60 firefighter/officers, including 4 battalion chiefs, four fire marshals, and a training/safety battalion.
Plus the Chief of Department.
Residents of this "CCD" pay a separate fire tax to cover those firefighter/officer salaries, while the four fire marshals, the training/safety officer, and chief of departments salary and benefits come out of the city's general fund.

Meanwhile, within the entire city of Norwich there are Five Totally Separate Volunteer Fire Districts as well.
They are:
1) The Yantic Volunteer Fire Department
2) The East Great Plains Volunteer Fire Department
3) The Taftville Volunteer Fire Department
4) The Occum Volunteer Fire Department
5) The Laurel Hill Volunteer Fire Department

Each of those Five Volunteer Fire Departments have their own Fire Chief and Officers, along with their own separate budgets.
The citizens within those Five Volunteer Fire Departments do NOT pay any separate fire tax for fire fighter salaries, except for the 4 fire marshals, the training/safety officer, and I believe the Norwich Career Fire Chief.
Their budgets come from the city's General Fund.
All fire apparatus purchases and repairs also come from that General Fund.

Confused yet ?
I can certainly understand that.

But what I would like to tell you about is what began on November 1, 2022, as a Six Month Trial Basis, an "Automatic Aid Policy" which put together the nearest City Career (CCD) Engine Co, the Ladder Truck, and the on Duty Battalion Chief, along with additional "AUTOMATIC AID" from some of the volunteer fire companies.
Just as AUTOMATIC AID from the Volunteer fire districts now go into the City Fire District.

With the words; "AUTOMATIC AID" changing a long over due policy of getting enough help on the scene of a working fire to Save Lives and Property, including both Our Career and Volunteer Firefighter LIVES.
But this newly adopted "Automatic Aid Policy" has NOT been very easy for this city.

The story has been covered in such National Fire Department Web Sites and Magazines as:
Fire Engineering -
Firehouse -
Firefighter Nation -

I hope to tell you the final success story of a troubled city with it's six different fire departments, being able to bring about a Very Positive Result because of the efforts done by TWO VOLUNTEER FIRE CHIEFS, the CITY CAREER FIRE CHIEF, and One City Alderman - who stood strong to help make ALL of this city's Citizens and Firefighters SAFER.
While a mayor worked very hard to eliminate it.

I hope to tell you more in this topic, about the difficult road our firefighters, as well as its citizens and taxpayers traveled since the beginning.

The end result being "TEAM WORK MAKES THE DREAM WORK".
I hope you will tune in.
Jun 22, 2007
Between 1970 and 1975, I was very fortunate to be a Volunteer Firefighter in a very progressive, combination career and volunteer fire department
That Fire Department being the Fairfield, CT Fire Department consisting of Five Firehouses within the entire city.
Both Station 3 and Station 4 had the most active volunteer members
I was a member of Station 3 at the time which consisted of TWO Career Firefighters on Engine 3, plus a large group of Volunteer Firefighters who manned a Rescue Truck called Rescue 15.
Generally speaking the volunteers would be able to fully staff Rescue 15 and then extra guys would ride on Engine 3 with the two career firefighters
For the volunteers there was Training every Wednesday evening given to us by a career fire captain named Joe Elias, a highly respected member of the department
The Fairfield Regional Training Area in the Southwestern part of the state was renamed in his honor after he passed away.

It was also a time when nearby FDNY was in the middle of the "FDNY WAR YEARS", and many of us were FDNY buffs, taking time out once in awhile to chase the numerous working fires there, sometimes within a few blocks of each other.
That was certainly an education in itself as the stories are told on this site in the "History Section" titled; "My Younger Buff Years"

We also buffed the fires of nearby Bridgeport, Ct., as that city was starting to catch its own share of work.

It was a time when the TV Show "Emergency" was also on TV and we (volunteers) considered it part of our mandatory training as well.
Of course the two career firefighters watched it too.
Based on that that show, the Fairfield FD became one of the first fire departments in the area to respond on medical calls.
Everybody was encouraged to become a EMT, a term new to all of us.

Then in May of 1975, my "wanna be" dream of becoming a career firefighter comes true.
A volunteer firefighter friend of mine tells me that Norwich is giving a test for firefighter.
I remember saying to him; "Were the hell is Norwich".
I check it out on a map, pass all the test and get the job as a fulltime career firefighter.

The day I go to the doctors for my medical exam there had been a multiple alarm fire in a four story brick building a few blocks away.
After my medical I walk up there and as I am standing there watching, the Chief of Department sees me and calls me over to him.
He takes the time to explain to me about it and that several members were taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation.
It is a time before the mandatory face mask/air pack usage.

Then on May 25th, 1975, with NO Recruit Academy or Probie School, I walk into the old Norwich Fire Headquarters at # 24 Chestnut St at 07;00 hours.
My Wanna Be Dream comes true.
It's NOT where I wanted to be - BUT sometimes when they open that door, "you got to walk in".
So that's what I did with NO regrets ever since.

Coming up next:
"You Entered A War Zone".
Last edited:
Jun 22, 2007

Thank you "EMSR2" for posting that story.
That is exactly what I was planning to talk about.

A Special Election that was brought about by a mayor who went out getting signatures telling people that if this policy goes through, it Will INCREASE their Taxes and ELIMINATE their Volunteer Firefighters.
Neither was TRUE.
There had been NO SUCH DISCUSSION when this AUTOMATIC AID POLICY went into affect on November 1, 2022.

Because of that Special Election, it divided this city between it's residents, as well as both our volunteer and career firefighters.

At this point, let me add.
After this Unnecessary and Costly Special Election, the "NO Votes" won.
But in the long run, EVERYBODY WON, Thanks to TWO Volunteer Fire Chiefs, the Norwich Career Fire Chief, and one City Alderman, who pushed this AUTOMATIC AID POLICY through, despite a very difficult time of criticism.

Because of what those THREE Fire Chiefs and that City Alderman, there were NO LOOSERS.

What happened was that since that Automatic Aid Policy started on November 1st, '22, it had a PROVEN TRACK Record of Saving Lives, including Firefighter Lives and Property, during some serious building fires, some of them posted here by "EMSR2".

I will follow up in my next post as promised with;
"You Entered A War Zone".
It wasn't similar to what was called "The FDNY War Years", responding to numerous building fires.
Like what "Lt Q" had experienced (reply # 3) during his years on some very busy FDNY Companies
It was something I was NOT ready for at all.

Thanks again "EMSR2" for all you do for us on this site
I'm sure that I may need the assistance of another member, "Signal 73", to help me along the way here.
You guys do a great job here when it comes to reporting many of the fires within the State of Connecticut.