Wilton Fire Department budget increases by 25 percent

WILTON – The proposed 2014 budget for the Wilton Fire Department is up about 25 percent over this year, but that figure includes Fire Chief Ray Dick’s “best guesses” at the costs of heating the new addition to the station, plus a Budget Committee suggestion that the annual separate warrant article for needed equipment be included in the operating budget.

The increase also includes a 10 percent increase in reimbursements for the firefighters, a raise they haven’t had in a number of years.

Dick met with the selectmen on Dec. 30 to discuss his proposals. He said the new fire station will be heated with propane rather than the combination of electricity and oil and he has received estimates.

“We are trying to be reasonable,” Dick said.

Most of the operating budget is basically the same as this year, with changes mainly due to rising costs.

But, Dick said, “One major fire will devastate this budget.”

If such a fire, for instance, one of the old mills or an apartment building, that requires “12 or 14 hours, in terms of gas and equipment.”

Dick also noted the department’s new rescue truck, for which the town has been putting money into a capital reserve fund for several years, will finally be purchased.

“We had to hold up on it,” he said, “since we had no place to put it.”

The truck – to cost about $425,000 – will have a spot in the new fire station.

Selectman Chairman Dan Donovan noted the service that is provided to the town is from a group of dedicated volunteer men and women, what they give up to serve and the work they do by putting their lives on the line.

“I think $126,000 is one heck of a bargain,” he said about the proposed budget.

In 2012, the department answered 155 calls, 37 of them motor vehicle accidents.

The 2013 budget was $100,876, with an additional $10,262 for equipment in a separate article. That equipment included new hoses, turn-out gear and pagers.