UConn Health Needs Own Firefighters

The “UConn Health To End Fire Service” headline [news story, Feb. 17] grabbed my attention. Although I appreciate the fiscal constraints that Connecticut is addressing, this move appears to be very shortsighted and somewhat irresponsible when the public’s safety is at stake.

In an emergency, first responders’ familiarity with the physical intricacies of the Farmington campus and various research facilities on the grounds should not be underestimated. While I recognize the fine and dedicated service of the Farmington Fire Department, one cannot reasonably expect it to have such intimate awareness of this complex facility of 2 million square feet.

Furthermore, in addition to routine firefighter skills, the UConn Health firefighters devote a substantial amount of time becoming familiar with the significant and ever-changing variety of hazards and hazardous materials at the UConn Health Center.

The skills and knowledge of the UConn Health Center firefighters are highly specialized. In the field of public safety, where every response second counts, it seems prudent that the Heath Center administration would be committed to providing the safest environment possible for the many employees, patients and visitors that pass through the buildings and grounds each day.

Kathleen Flanagan Beal, Middletown

The writer was president of the Protective Services Employees Coalition from 1984 to 2000. It is now the Connecticut Police & Fire Union.

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