The Ridgefield Fire Department was born out of the ashes of the Great Main Street Fire, a conflagration that destroyed most of the Town’s business district on Sunday, December 8, 1885. In April of 1896 the Town established a Fire District in the central village area and residents volunteered to be on call in the event of a fire.
The Ridgefield Fire Department became an official entity on February 10, 1897 when its volunteer members organized. Soon afterwards the department was officially recognized by the elected officials within the community for the purpose of extinguishing fires pursuant to the statutory provisions of that time. In the years since its creation, the Ridgefield Fire Department has evolved into a multi-discipline, all-hazards response agency providing emergency services to the residents and visitors of Ridgefield.
In accordance with the Town of Ridgefield Charter, the entity of the Ridgefield Fire Department is responsible for the protection of life and property from fire and for the enforcement of all laws, ordinances and regulations relating to fire prevention and fire safety. In addition to suppression services, the department provides emergency medical services, hazardous materials response, advanced rescue techniques, and public assistance services.
The mission of the Ridgefield Fire Department is to provide the public safety services necessary to minimize the loss of life and/or property, and to protect the environment, threatened by the hazards of fire, explosions, medical, chemical, and rescue related emergencies, through fire suppression, code enforcement, and conscientious prevention and education.
The focus of the department mission along with strategic planning efforts shall be used to determine what services and the level of service delivery that the department shall provide as a minimum to its constituents. The potential services cover a wide range of hazards and delivery parameters. They include the following services:
Fire suppression operations are organized to effectively combat the types of fires that are likely to occur within the community. The priority goals of suppression activities are as follows; 1) life safety, 2) limit the spread of fire, 3) extinguish the fire, 4) minimize the property damage from fire-related hazards, 5) protect the environment from the hazards associated with fire suppression.
Firefighters are trained and equipped to perform interior assault on structure fires as situations warrant in order to accomplish the goals. Fires in structures present the highest probable risk to life and property in our department. This includes fires involving occupancies such as single and multi-family dwellings, senior housing complexes including assisted living facilities and skilled nursing facilities, educational facilities, motels and inns, retail properties, office complexes, warehouses, and various other types of industries. All five types of building construction are found within the protection area; Type I – fire resistive, Type II – noncombustible, Type III – ordinary, Type IV – heavy timber, and Type V – wood frame. Of particular concern is wood frame construction utilizing engineered lumber which has been the predominant building material for residential construction since 1990. Also of great concern is the average square footage of residential homes built between 1990 and 2010; 10,000 to 15,000 square foot, single family residential structures are not uncommon in the Town of Ridgefield.
The department experiences a risk of fire in non-structure location and facilities. Outside fires involving brush, woods, propane and natural gas, and electrical equipment are not uncommon. The department is also responsible for the protection of a number of state highways and a railway line. These transportation networks present the additional risk of fire in the respective vehicles and cargo.
Emergency Medical Services
The Ridgefield Fire Department maintains a full-service EMS system which includes; first responder at both the basic and advanced life support levels, paramedic services, and transport services. The system includes the use of Emergency Medical Dispatching, (EMD), as mandated by the State of Connecticut and incorporates a priority dispatch system to medical calls for service.
Ambulances are dispatched to all medical calls for service and fire department apparatus provide closest unit and/or supplemental assistance to transport units. All career staff members are trained as medical care providers ranging in certification from EMT-B to licensure as paramedics. Examples of the functions performed by EMS providers include but are not limited to; patient assessment; airway management and oxygen therapy; full cardiac care management including defibrillation, cardioversion, and cardiac pacing; stabilization of spinal, musculo-skeletal, soft tissue, and shock injuries; stabilization of bleeding; stabilization and intervention for sudden illness, poisoning, and heat/cold injuries; and childbirth.
Multi-discipline rescue services are provided to cover a number of technical situations. These types of rescues include, but are not limited to; vehicle extrication, water emergencies, cold water/ice rescue, confined space rescue, high and low angle rescue, and structural collapse.
Ridgefield Fire Department personnel operate at the Hazardous Materials Operational level in accordance with the Town of Ridgefield Emergency Plan. A defensive strategy is stressed for dealing with hazardous materials incidents. The mitigation of such incidents involves an eight-step process; site management, product identification, risk assessment, personal protective equipment, information/resource coordination, product control, decontamination, and termination. Details on the steps are elaborated in department General Operating Guidelines. Technician level mitigation is provided by other regional and state agencies. Prevention of hazardous material emergencies is attempted through code enforcement and application of standard safety practices.
Fire Marshal Services
Fire Prevention - Fire Prevention activities provided by the department are part of the comprehensive plan to protect life and property from fire and other hazards. Code enforcement, pre-construction plan review, public education, and fire investigation are the major components of the fire prevention plan.
Code Enforcement & Plan Review - The Ridgefield Fire Department has a responsibility to enforce many sections of Chapter 541 of the Connecticut General Statutes including numerous codes imposed by the statutes. Annual inspections of buildings and plan review of proposed buildings for compliance with State statutes and regulations are conducted to rectify conditions which may cause fires or situations that may allow a fire to spread uncontrolled. The primary goal of these inspections is to ensure the safe egress of occupants who may be endangered by fire or its products of combustion. The Fire Marshal, and Inspectors, as certified to do so, carry out these inspections as assigned.
Fire Investigation – An investigation of all fires is conducted to determine the origin and cause of the ignition. This information is required in order to prevent the occurrence of future fires or at the very least reduce the severity. If the fire is determined to be incendiary, a thorough investigation is intended to prosecute the guilty party. In this case, the investigation becomes a deterrent to the crime of arson. The investigations are performed by department personnel in conjunction with law enforcement agencies, (local and/state). The data obtained is useful in targeting the areas of the community, demographics, and occupancies, which are more likely to have fires. This information is then utilized in the strategic planning process to more effectively serve the community.
Public Education – Fire safety awareness programs focus primarily on known target groups of populations known to be most affected by fire; children under the age of five years and seniors over the age of 65 years. These programs focus on early childhood education and self-preservation methods. These programs entail the delivery of fire safety education to the kindergarten through third grade levels and to seniors over the age of 65 years. Age appropriate programs are also delivered to other groups throughout the community on a regular basis. Community wide fire safety issues are incorporated into the department’s participation in town activities in order to address acute and ongoing fire safety needs.