UConn Health has decided to close its fire department and paramedic services at the University of Connecticut Farmington Campus.
“After thoughtful consideration, UConn Health has decided to no longer operate a standalone fire department and its associated paramedic services on our Farmington campus,” Lauren Woods, the UConn Health Information Officer, said.
Woods said that the decision is the direct result of ongoing financial pressures.
“UConn Health is budgeted to end the year with a $15.9 million deficit, the same place we ended last year,” Woods said.
Woods said that UConn health will move to a more standard model for its fire department and paramedic services.
“We are moving from this model, which has a long history and proud tradition, to a more standard model in which fire services are provided by surrounding municipalities and some retained personnel,” Woods said.
Sixteen men and women who work for the fire department will be affected by the change, which goes into effect June 1, 2017.
“No one likes to hear that they’re going to lose their job, especially when you have firefighters who are dedicated to a campus,” Glen Terlecki, Connecticut Police & Fire Union president, said to NBC Connecticut.
Lori Pelletier, President of the Connecticut American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, told WTNH that the Southbury training school is also being closed.
“This is unacceptable and shortsighted. These workers provide a vital service to UConn and the Southbury Training School and to simply eliminate their jobs will put both facilities at risk,” Pelletier said to WTNH, “Simply put, budgets should not be balanced on the backs of firefighters and other public service workers.”
Dr. Andrew Agwunobi, the UConn Health CEO, said that the decision was a difficult one.
“UConn Health has to make such hard choices to protect its core mission of research, teaching and patient care while dealing with the reality of financial pressures,” Agwunobi said.
Kathleen Eagen, the Farmington Town Manager said that Farmington will work to help ease the transition.
“The town of Farmington understands the fiscal challenges facing UConn Health and the State of Connecticut,” Eagen said.
Eagan said that the Farmington Fire Department will ensure that it provides quality services for the UConn community under its new jurisdiction.
“The town of Farmington Fire Department is committed to providing the same high level of service to UConn Health that it does throughout the rest of the town,” Eagan said.
Agwunobi said that he appreciates everything the UConn Health Fire Department has done.
“The UConn Health fire department has been a point of pride for this organization and we salute the men and women who have served with the strength, compassion and service ethic that has made us proud,” Agwunobi said.