Norwalk and its fire department have many questions to answer, both internally and to the public, about a proposed project to build a new fire station. However, the one thing that cannot be questioned is the need.
Norwalk Fire Chief Doug Coletta makes a litany of valid points when arguing the city needs a new station.
First of all, it's far too small to house standard fire equipment. The city must purchase shorter, more compact trucks and equipment which are also more expensive because they will actually fit in the station.
Second, if the city ever had a female firefighter, the department would find it "very difficult to accommodate her." Coletta said the city would be "more than willing" to hire a woman but because the station has just one shower and one bunk room the department would have to craft a brand new set of rules, regulations, not to mention extra locks.
Though the city has never had a woman firefighter, several have taken the test. And, while the department might indeed be able to accommodate a woman, even the chance it could not, or the perceived "difficulty," could leave the city open to a discrimination suit.
Along with the ancient dorm setup, the station is simply not user friendly or accessible to the public it serves. There is no central "public" entrance to the station and the chief's office is located upstairs.
In addition to the very practical reasons to justify spending upwards of $3.8 million on a new fire station, our safety forces simply deserve the best we can provide. We ask our firefighters to be willing to risk their lives at a moment's notice the least we can do is provide them adequate space in which to work.