Bridgeport FD budget requests money for Narcan, training
BRIDGEPORT — The city’s fire department has proposed a budget that would allow it to devote more money to replenish the department’s Narcan stock, train incoming firefighters and cover costs for computer services.
In a budget meeting Tuesday night, the city’s Emergency Operations Center and police and fire departments laid out their budget requests and fielded questions by the budget committee.
Fire Chief Richard Thode presented the department’s $29.9 million budget request alongside Ronald Rolfe and Lance Edwards, the department’s deputy fire chiefs.
Rolfe said the department’s medical services has been funded at $13,000 since 2017. The increase to the requested $25,000 is to replace the department’s supply of Narcan — a brand name of naloxone, used to revive victims of certain drug overdoses.
“We go through about one per day,” Thode said of Narcan.
Thode said the department initially received a donation of a full year’s supply, about 400 doses. Now, the department is looking to restock.
The chief said he expects his department will see some retirements in 2020 between April and mid-June. He said there are at least 11 members eligible for retirement.
The department is currently in the middle of a massive recruitment push in an effort to make sure the department reflects the community it serves, Thode said. Thode said he hopes to see an increase in racial diversity and women in the department.
To train the new recruits, Thode said his department needs $258,000 for the 2020 fiscal year, up from $77,000 budgeted in 2019.
Rolfe said the increase in funds also supports internal training for the department’s members.
The Bridgeport Fire Department currently has about 300 firefighters. Thode said an estimated 150 of those have more than 25 years on job.
Thode also said the department hopes to increase its computer services budget from $50,000 in 2019 to $70,000 in 2020.
“This year we are working on a project to increase abilities of our code enforcement division with a software product that will streamline their work flow,” Rolfe said.
Along with the police department and medics, the fire department uses the NexGen system when responding to calls. That system went live citywide last May to ensure the three agencies were able to share information efficiently.
More computer money will also help the department buy more tablets to use the NexGen system on.
It will also help on a citywide project currently under way: the installation of Intergov, a tracking system where agencies can access building permits, work flow, fire and electrical inspections and more. Thode said the system is expected to increase efficiency. He said property owners will be able to access the information as well.
Beyond its budgetary requests, the fire department provided some short- and long-term goals, among them training with police and adjustments to the Bridgeport fire training facilities.
The department currently has two small training facilities. The budget indicated that in the next one to five years, the department hopes to combine the two facilities and then expand.
One of the department’s more immediate goals within the next year is to start training with Bridgeport police on how to care for victims in “active assailant incidents,” the budget said.
The proposed goal says, “Training within the fire department in conjunction with Bridgeport police is a priority.”