Another Volley Fired In Stamford

Another volley has been fired in the ongoing battle between the city of Stamford, Connecticut and its volunteer fire companies as the city struggles to consolidate six firefighting entities into one.

In January three of Stamford’s five volunteer fire companies, Springdale, Turn of River and Long Ridge Volunteer Fire Departments, filed suit against the city in an effort to challenge the validity of recent changes to the city charter. The changes were enacted by the voters last November.

This week the city came out swinging, filing a suit of its own that names the same three volunteer fire departments, and asks the state Superior Court to order the departments to comply with Fire Chief Antonio Conte’s directives.

Listed as plaintiffs in the suit are Chief Conte, Public Safety Director Ted Jankowski and Fire Marshal Barry Callahan. Named as defendants are the three fire companies, their respective chiefs, Turn of River Fire Marshal Peter Bernstein, and Long Ridge Fire Marshal Antonio Olive.

Besides claiming the defendants are refusing to comply with standard operating procedures, requests for rosters, and training records, the suit also alleges that the Turn of River Fire Department failed to properly investigate several fires within its district. This is taken from the Stamford Advocate:

The city's lawsuit further alleged Bernstein, the Turn of River fire marshal, failed to respond to and investigate three fires in his district since November. Turn of River fire fighters also attempted to block city fire marshals from investigating two recent fires, "pos(ing) a serious threat to public welfare, because effective prosecution of crimes requires that the cause and origin of fires be quickly and professionally investigated," the suit said.

Standing quietly on the sidelines of the battle are the city’s other two volunteer fire companies, Belltown and Glenbrook, along with the city’s career department.

More on the story.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
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