UConn Health Center plans to disband its longtime fire department and paramedic services in Farmington as of June 1. At that point, Farmington firefighters will be called upon for help.
Currently, the department has 16 members who said they were stunned by Thursday's announcement.
"No one likes to hear that they’re going to lose their job, especially when you have firefighters who are dedicated to a campus. This is a small city, for the most part," Glen Terlecki, Connecticut Police & Fire Union president, said.
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UConn Health blames "fiscal pressures" for closing the station, which was founded in 1971. Staff respond to about 4,350 calls a year.
In a statement, UConn Health CEO Dr. Andrew Agwunobi, wrote in part:
“Given the long and proud tradition associated with the UConn Health fire department, this was not an easy decision. However 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."
The plan going forward is for the town of Farmington’s fire department to handle calls, while some staff would remain on the campus for non-emergency calls.
UConn Health would not provide additional details, including how much money this move will save.
In the current fiscal year, the fire union says UConn Health spent about $3.9 million on the department, which responds to more than 4,300 calls per year.
Firefighters fear the switch will increase response times and that other responders do not know the facilities and procedures as well as they do.