Litchfield News

Morris panel to get started on fire department issues (01-10-18)

The Morris Volunteer Fire Department's ambulance is being used by Litchfield Volunteer Ambulance because of the Morris department's decision last year to relinquish its responsibility for providing emergency medical services. The matter is one of the issues a new advisory committee in Morris will take on. BZ photo
A new effort to resolve an impasse over various issues involving the Morris Volunteer Fire Department will commence Thursday at 7 p.m. at Town Hall.
First Selectman Thomas Weik, Fire Chief Joel Skilton and six others will sit down and address matters such as revenue from ambulance calls, the fire department’s decision last year to surrender responsibility for providing emergency medical services, lack of volunteer manpower, and the fate of an expensive power lift stretcher the fire department removed from its ambulance last spring.
Weik and Skilton each appointed three people to serve on an advisory committee that was proposed in December by former selectman and fire department member Edward Dorsett. Weik’s choices were Planning and Zoning Commission Chairman Robert McIntosh, planning and zoning member Robert Paradis, and Board of Finance member Christopher Parkhurst.
Skilton picked Watertown Fire Department Chief Larry Black, former Kent Volunteer Fire Department Chief Eric Epstein, and former Washington, Conn., Volunteer Fire Department Chief Mark Showalter.
Weik’s appointees are experienced business owners, which he believes will allow them to provide valuable input into the new committee’s discussion. Skilton’s choices have a combined 104 years in volunteer fire service. Skilton brings 31 years of volunteer fire service to the table.
The goal of the committee is to address the issues and recommend potential resolutions to the Board of Selectmen and the fire department.
A focus of the committee’s discussion will be the estimated $60,000 in ambulance revenue the fire department has been holding for nearly two years and a new agreement between the fire department and the selectmen that would allow the money to be returned to the town.
The last revenue return agreement expired two years ago and the town and fire department have been unable to reach a new one.
Helping the fire department regain its responsibility for providing emergency medical services is another task the committee will take on. The department needs approves from the state Office of Emergency Medical Services to resume ambulance coverage.
Emergency medical service in town has been provided by Litchfield Volunteer Ambulance and the Bantam Fire Co. since May 1, 2017.