LETTER: Inaction on NW Fire Station is Wildly Irresponsible

Submitted by Joanna Swomley, Greenwich

Shame on First Selectman Fred Camillo. His recent editorial concerning “The future of the Round Hill Fire Station” (Camillo: Future of Round Hill Fire Station Feb 27, 2021) can best be distilled into two words: wildly irresponsible.

Mr. Camillo has chosen to willfully ignore the facts his predecessor, Peter Tesei, painstakingly documented, as well as those proffered by every fire professional to look at this issue. The response times to the NW part of Town are way too long and, as a result, the Town is one event away from catastrophe. (Tiger Woods’ recent car accident is also a reminder that fire response times are not just for fires.)

What is particularly disturbing is that Mr. Camillo has decided to ignore the fact that we have a roadmap, one the consultant the Town just paid $100,000 to just reiterated: put a professionally staffed engine company in the NW — now. There is no sound reason to continue inaction.

In his attempt to justify yet another delay in addressing this critical issue, the First Selectman hides behind three tired and discredited claims: 1) by moving forward with professionals we are somehow being disloyal to volunteers (we are not; they are fantastic but they cannot commit to shifts and no other part of Greenwich relies on them 100%); 2) we supposedly need to see if volunteers and GFD can address the issue first without adding professionals (they can’t and Matrix, the Town’s hired consultant, put the last nail in that coffin), and 3) we don’t want to make decisions based on emotions and biases and we should be “measured and methodical” before we do anything — politician-speak for “delay, delay, delay…we don’t want to spend the money so suck it up and move on.”

This is an election year. Wake up Greenwich. This is a ticking time bomb and we must elect people who recognize that and will make the NW fire station happen. Anything less is unacceptable. Kicking the can down the road, as we have done with our schools and other needed infrastructure, is a prescription for disaster. Not only do we run the risk of a serious incident with lives at stake but even if we continue to be fortunate in avoiding such an incident further delay makes no economic sense. It is penny wise and pound foolish because the NW fire station will only end up costing all of us more in the long run. Bluntly, stalling further is not fiscally responsible and it is certainly not leadership. We need, and deserve, better.