Usually the end of the year report is something that we look forward to and enjoy looking back at a successful year as we move forward. That being said, 2012 proved to be a very challenging year for New London Fire Fighters and although there were many successes, a great deal was lost.
The year began with a number of notable fires in the city, many reaching 2nd alarm level. While the members were busy doing what they do best, it was announced that Chief Ron Samul would retire in 2013 and that Battalion Chief Henry Kydd would be promoted to Deputy Chief, a position that had been vacant since 2004. These announcements gave the members of Local 1522 an idea of what to expect of the New London Fire Department in the future. However, following the promotion of DC Kydd, the City of New London announced that it would layoff 25 members of the fire department in order to balance the budget. As one would expect, this has had a lasting negative effect on the members of Local 1522. We saw young and talented members leave the NLFD for “greener pastures” while a negative light was cast on NLFF’s from many different directions. We were seen by some as a burden to the taxpayers, despite a lack of factual information to substantiate the claims that were being made. The firefighter layoffs were ranked #5 out of the Top 10 New London Patch stories of the year. On a positive note, many of our true friends came out and supported us when we needed it the most, and we truly appreciate their support to this day. We also used this opportunity to educate the public about our value and the services that we provide to New Londoners. In short, it is going to take progress, vision and goodwill to improve the future for our members and our department. We are very hopeful that this will happen sooner than later.
2012 ended up being the busiest year for the NLFD on record. Our members responded to 6,988 incidents over the course of the year and it is safe to say that our members handled all of these incidents with pride, dedication and professionalism. Included in these incidents were over 120 responses related to Superstorm Sandy. All of us saw the impacts of this storm on New London, and although some areas of our city experienced some significant damage, we were fortunate not to receive the devastation that was felt in New York and New Jersey. Aside from our “normal” workload, NLFF’s also awarded tens of thousands of dollars in scholarships, raised funds through payroll deduction for a new burn unit at Bridgeport Hospital, took part in the annual 9/11 Juliana Valentine McCourt Softball Game and collected hundreds of toys for New London families. Our members in the Fire Marshal’s Office provided and installed hundreds of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors this year as well. It has always been our mission to help the citizens of New London before, during and after an emergency.
We continue to work with the same commitment and excellence despite the challenges that we seem to face on a regular basis. However, doing more with less has taken its toll on the level of services provided. New London received mutual aid 106 times in 2012, while the NLFD provided mutual aid only 20 times over the same period. Our members are hopeful that the positive impacts of Electric Boat, the development of Fort Trumbull and other prospective projects in New London raise the city up to its full potential. Not only will positive developments advance the city, but also our Fire Department will continue to improve the level of services residents have come to expect and deserve. As always, thank you for your support and have a Happy New Year!