The ideal PBFD candidate for chief

career suicide guaranteed
It’s important to understand before you apply for the open position of fire chief in the Poquonnock Bridge Fire District (Groton, Connecticut) that the district board will make all of your decisions, which is why no fire and ems leadership qualifications are needed or desired.

demonstrated political insanity required
For those of you applying from outside of Connecticut, you need to understand that PBFD is an independent taxing district that exists for the purpose of prtoviding fire prevention and protection and adjacent services.

PBFD is run by a nine-member board with a majority of votes held by people either related to or employed by the president of the district, Alan Ackley, who owns a package store and thinks that qualifies him for running a fire district. To date, Ackley has suceeded in running up massive legal bills, losing all educated (MD, MBA, EMT, engineer, career public servant) members of the board, alienating the union, and forcing the district to operate with a single engine company. PBFD is no longer a fire department. It is an engine company with a pickup truck used for medical runs. Thanks to Ackley, PBFD also operates without a deputy chief, a fire inspector, and is being kicked out of the original firehouse built and owned by the volunteer company that founded the district.

must avoid decision-making
At the same time, even though you’ll be given a shinny badge and a car with a siren to drive around, you must realize that you will have no respect from your peers in the other town fire districts, all of which once depended on PBFD for reliable mutual aid. Nor will you have any cooperation from the town government in a needed move toward unified, modern emergency services in Groton. Forget that.

So, please, when you arrive for the interview, don’t waste the board’s time discussing your education or your experience. Just tell the board that you understand they’re trying to save a buck for the poor taxpayers like the Ackley family and the Marriott family, who can’t afford to be safe. Tell them that you understand life has risks, so, well, people should be encourage to spend all that money Ackley has save them in tax dollars on home fire protection. Lots of extinguishers, and maybe a portable pump.

must work to create district with more directors than firefighters
Also tell the board that, yes, you understand why it takes nine people to govern a single engine company, although you really don’t know what an “engine company” means and agree that firefighters are overpaid and over dressed. They don’t need all that protective gear and those breathing masks and all that hose. After all, how often do fires occur? And Groton ambulance can handle of the medical and rescue calls, so it stands to reason that the fewer calls, the fewer firefighters needed.

must support continued destruction of PBFD
And whatever you do, say nothing to the board about all those federal tax dollars that support the Groton economy, tax dollars paid by all those poor people who need their surplus income to buy booze from Ackley. Never mention that General Dynamics and the Sub Base (which has a fully staffed paid fire department) pump millions of dollars into the Groton ecnomy each year, although you might suggest that PBFD grab some of those federal dollars to support fire prevention and protection. No wait. Don’t do that. The firefighter who wrote grants got laid off, and you’re not supposed to write any better than Ackley, who is functionally illiterate and a political dunce.

Apply today. Minimum wage, part-time, no benefits.

—Barry Roberts Greer, editor

Modern Connecticut firefiighting

Okay, the New London Day says the future is now and supports a charter revision in Norwich to even out tax payments between paid city and surround volunteer fire departments siting the facts we’ve brouight to your attention here many times. Firefighting is no longer firefighting. It’s a lot more and requires a lot more training. So Norwich is headed the way Stamford did with a charter revision that rationalized taxes and also mderinized command structure between the city ahd suburban fire distritcts.

Then The Day gets off track by drawing a parallel between Norwich and PBFD in Groton, suggesting that PBFD is the only Groton paid department, which leads to the same uneven taxation found in Norwich. But. Groton has a fully paid department at the Sub Base. Groton also has paid personnel at the airport, in the City of Groton, Noank, and the Mystics—the latter four both paid and volunteer combination departments. A better analog would be New London and the surrounding combination departments in Waterford.

So The Day almost understood the transition needed to modern fire service, but not quite. It’s not a local matter. It’s a countywide matter. It’s a matter of fundamental organizational flaws as well as weird taxation and district boundaries left over from olutdated and now misguided home rule statutes. Nor does The Day understand that the choice is not between paid or volunteer. Fully paid departments exist in New London, Norwich, and PBFD because IAFF thinking is also an antiquated dichotomy of either volunteer or paid, when combination departments work pretty good, also, especially in small cities with a smaller tax base. Countywide combination or call departments exist around the country to spread out the cost to a broader tax base, and modernize command and organization for coordinated response, the kind of coordination that already exists in Groton in spite of the crazy quilt of fire districts and the insanity ot Ackley leadership.

Next: Job posting for a new PBFD fire chief. No intelligence, experience, or education needed–or wanted.

—Barry Roberts Greer, editor

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