WILTON — The Board of Selectpersons agreed Tuesday to consider participating in a multitown meeting on fire coverage, but were concerned about not asking the chiefs of local fire departments to attend.

Joshua Bell, chairman of the Farmington Board of Selectmen, told Wilton selectpersons that he and another Farmington selectman have gone to seven other towns to suggest officials meet. The goal is for a couple of selectmen from each town and the town manager to discuss fire coverage in a smaller, private meeting, he said.

Two large meetings of county fire departments and town officials were held a couple years ago in Farmington but nothing came of it, he said.

For Farmington, the main issue is personnel.

It came to the point of hiring firefighters, Bell said. “I fought against it because of the costs to taxpayers, but it is what we needed to ensure public safety.”

All Franklin County towns have faced the same problem for years, Wilton Fire Chief Sonny Dunham said. Mutual aid has helped departments get by. “If that is not consolidation, I don’t know what it is,” he said.


Selectperson Ruth Cushman was concerned about participating in an in-depth conversation without the chief there to clarify information and ideas about the department. 

Bell said the meeting would be based on one selectman talking to another selectman. His uncle, Terry Bell, is fire chief in Farmington but supports the meeting, he said.

Farmington does not want to take on any more responsibility or to take control but wants to consider ideas for the future as aging volunteer departments struggle to find manpower, Joshua Bell said. 

“Our fire chief is our source of information for what is happening in our town,” Cushman said.

Dunham said the Wilton department’s volunteer base of 20-24 firefighters has not gone down, but daytime coverage is an issue for each department. Some volunteers work out of town or are not available. Ten firefighters may come out for a night call but only three at 6 a.m., he said.

Dunham said fire chiefs could be there to answer questions but not run the meeting.

The meeting will go on whether or not Wilton wants to participate, Bell said.

The board asked Bell to keep them informed about the meeting but said they want to consider who would represent them.

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