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Wilton Fire Department Can't Cut Any Deeper

WILTON, Conn. – If the current rate of low budget increases continues, the Wilton Fire Department said it will not be able do its job to the best of its ability.

The department “can get by” with a 1.6 percent increase in its 2012-13 budget, Fire Chief Paul Milositz told the Board of Selectmen on Wednesday night. That would bring the spending plan to just less than $4.62 million. This is the third consecutive year the department has asked for a minimal increase, he said.

“But we will not be able to continue on this course without severely and negatively impacting service in future years. With this budget, any bump in the road or emergency or event will result in an over-budget condition,” Milositz said.

And if the selectmen can't approve the 1.6 percent increase, Milositz and Deputy Fire Chief Mark Amatrudo explained what the department would have to cut to make it a flat budget.

Some of the largest cuts, Amatrudo said, would be in training, eliminating storm coverage, cutting fire prevention materials from the schools and postponing the replacement of protective equipment.

“We’ve ran out of fat to cut, and I’m concerned we might be starting to cut into muscle,” Amatrudo said.

Selectman Ted Hoffstatter expressed concern about the lack of new protective equipment. “I wouldn’t want you guys to cut protective equipment from the gentlemen that show up to a house burning or a burning building,” Hoffstatter said.

The budget increase is largely because of the cost of fuel: There is a nearly $10,000 increase in the cost for fuel for the vehicles. Milositz said there was a 7 percent increase in the price of diesel for the trucks.

First Selectman Bill Brennan asked whether the department could look into hybrid vehicles as a way to reduce fuel costs. Hybrids had been considered, but Amatrudo told the selectmen that they were not in the department's price range.

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