The current Litchfield Fire Station is nearly 60 years old and was built by volunteer firefighters while the facility has been maintained by the townspeople over the years, it has seen no major improvements in nearly 40 years. In a Feasibility Study commissioned by the town in 2016, it was concluded that building an addition and performing renovations at the current station would be very difficult and cost prohibitive.
Fire Station History
How has Litchfield changed since the station was built in 1959?
The town’s population is now twelve (12) times what it was when the current station was built and annual calls have gone up over eighteen (18) times.
|Number of Schools||1||1||5|
|Number of Students||25||350||1890|
|Number of Trucks/Equipment||5||7||11|
*Population from 1960 US Census
The Litchfield Fire Department was established in 1946, during which time, most of the fire equipment was stored at individual firefighters’ homes strategically located at three separate sites along Charles Bancroft Highway. It wasn’t until 1959, after two years of construction by volunteers who used donated materials and monies from fundraisers held around town, that the current fire station located at 257 Charles Bancroft Highway was opened. The building was intended to house a couple of fire trucks and associated equipment. Two additions were later built in the 1960s and 1970s to try and accommodate more equipment. No major work has been done to the existing fire station since 1979.
Previous Attempts to Build
In 1986, the Litchfield Fire Department hired its first two full-time firefighters, (one of whom is current Litchfield Fire Chief Frank Fraitzl) and sought to build a small 2-bay substation in the south end of town, which was placed on the town ballot in 1987. The Fire Chief, who requested this station, cited the added growth of new streets and developments in the geographic center of town largely to improve response times. The south end of town accounted for approximately 70% of the department’s total call volume. Response times were generally encouraged to be in the four-minute range in accordance with industry standards, but were routinely checking in between nine and twelve minutes. The warrant article for the building failed by eight votes.
In 1989, a small 2-bay fire substation was once again on the town ballot and received support from the selectmen and budget committee, however town residents voted the project down. While the need for a new substation did not go away and was discussed multiple times, it did not appear on the town ballot again for 15 years.
In 2004, plans and a warrant article were presented to the taxpayer for a second south end fire station and while it received more than 50% support, it fell shy of the 2/3 majority it needed to pass. The community then turned their focus to one large centrally-located fire station that could service the entire community, rather than having multiple stations. Plans were updated in 2008, but the project was not approved by Litchfield residents during the Town vote. Those plans from 2008 have been updated to the standards of 2017 and serve as the basis of the current project.