Sign the petition! Lawmakers put pressure on Lamont for Valley Fire Training School

January 14, 2020

Lawmakers put pressure on Lamont for Valley Fire Training School

By Jean Falbo-Sosnovich

Valley lawmakers are turning up the heat on Gov. Ned Lamont to fund a long-overdue fire training school by year’s end.

State Rep. Nicole Klarides-Ditria, R-Seymour, is one of those legislators leading the charge, and is asking the public to sign a petition to push Lamont to make it happen.

“The new Valley Fire Training School is important to providing our firefighters with the best possible training they can get and to ensure that they are safe when they are performing their jobs,” said Klarides-Ditria. “As a community, we need to start putting pressure on the governor and that is why I am asking you to sign my petition in support of funding the Valley Fire Training School.”

Klarides-Ditria said Lamont has been in office for more than a year, yet has failed to keep a campaign promise he made vowing the Valley would get its long-delayed fire school.

The fire school project has been life support for nearly two decades. The state approved $14 million in funding for the project some 15 years ago, and even purchased land for it on Lancaster Drive in Beacon Falls. However, those plans never came to fruition and the money remains in limbo. The site had been shovel-ready, but has since become overgrown with weeds.

State legislators said the sole responsibility lies with the governor to place the item on the state Bond Commission agenda in order to release the funds. To date, Lamont has failed to do that.

Lamont spokesman David Bednarz did not return an email seeking comment Monday.

The legislative bodies in the Valley towns have since passed resolutions voicing support for the release of the funds. Last October, dozens of local firefighters gathered at the site of the future fire school to advocate for its construction.

The Valley has been without a fire school since 2000, when the former facility located at O’Sullivan’s Island in Derby closed after the property was declared a Brownfield.

Without a home, Valley firefighters have been using various facilities across the Valley and in New Haven and Fairfield for training for the past 20 years.

“We need to set our priorities, and public safety is one of them,” Klarides-Ditria added. “We will continue to fight for the fire school because our firefighters and residents need it.”

Valley Fire School President Ken Mitchell Jr. was not available for comment, but had said the more support and advocacy the Valley can raise about the need for the fire school, the better.

State Rep. Kara Rochelle, D-Ansonia, said the facility is critical.

“Having grown up in the fire service, and with my father teaching at the fire school for more than two decades, I am keenly aware of the impact the Valley Fire School has on public safety,” Rochelle said. “Its construction is critically important for the safety of our firefighters as well as all of the communities in which they serve. I’m proud to have coordinated a letter with dozens of representatives and senators in support of the fire school, as well as letters from multiple cities and towns, all sent to the governor’s office. I support all advocacy for the Valley Fire School and hope the governor keeps his promise to build (it) and support public safety in our region.”

State Sen. George Logan, R-Ansonia, concurred.

“We’re asking Naugatuck Valley residents to sign the petition because this issue directly impacts public safety in Naugatuck Valley towns. The funding is supported by Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate. We are united in speaking out to the governor. He (Lamont) made a promise to the people of our region. He should keep his promise and support this regional asset. Yet, the funding remains withheld, month after month. Why? As lawmakers duly elected by the people of this region, we won’t stop fighting for these funds. Keep your promise, Governor Lamont. We urge taxpayers to sign the petition, get your neighbors to sign it, and also please call the governor at 860 566-4840 to ask him why this funding hasn’t been authorized.”

To sign the petition online go to