Winsted Fire Department logo
Winsted Fire Department logo

WINSTED — The Winsted Fire Department is trying to find ways to recruit more volunteer firefighters, according to Chief James Lagassie.
Lagassie gave a presentation about the department’s operations to the Board of Selectmen at their regular meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 16.
At the meeting, Lagassie said that the department is currently down to 30 volunteer members.
According to the last filed annual town report on the town’s website, in 2014 the department had 150 members.
Annual reports for subsequent years are not available on the town’s website.
According to the town’s charter, under Section Five, Section 509, annual reports are supposed to be filed after the end of every fiscal year.
“We need to do more to retain volunteers and encourage new volunteers,” Lagassie said. “As we all know, the volunteer fire service has been diminishing. Personnel is not the way it used to be and we are trying to hold on to the members that we do have. I believe in retention, and recruitment goes along with that.”
Lagassie said that the department has taken to social media to recruit new volunteer firefighters.
“In these times, it’s difficult to get volunteers, not just for the fire department, but also for the ambulance service and church groups,” Lagassie said.
“Is it the requirements for certification that takes so much time, which makes potential volunteers not able to serve?” Mayor Candy Perez asked Lagassie.
“Some of it is a time commitment problem because to be a firefighter it takes 200 hours of training,” Lagassie said. “I think that’s part of it, but I also think that people are so busy right now. When I was a kid my father worked and my mother stayed at home. Now we need two incomes to support a family, so that’s a big part of it. The younger people are also much more into electronics. They’re not enthusiastic about going out and dragging a hose down the road at two in the morning.”
“But if you don’t have any firefighters, you won’t have anyone dragging any hoses,” Mayor Perez said. “And the other thing for all of us is that our insurance ratings are impacted by fire department capabilities.”
Concerning the department’s capabilities, Lagassie said that the department is putting together a truck committee to investigate the replacement of two of the department’s engines.
“Engine Four was made in 1984 and needs to be taken out of service,” Lagassie said. “Engine One has significant frame rot. A few years ago we spent about $4,000 to prolong its life, but now it needs to be replaced.”
Lagassie said that the department will be requesting the town to fund a new engine in its capital budget requests.
He said that in 2020 the department responded to 607 emergency calls.