Fire Chief Heather Burford is hoping people who may need special attention during a crisis, perhaps a person in a wheelchair or a person who needs electricity to run breathing apparatus, will let the department know.
It is confidential and designed to help people in an emergency, Burford said. The town's Special Needs Database is five years old, and to keep the information current, people must sign up every 18 months.
"We're trying to get people to think in advance, to have a plan," Burford said. That plan may be relying on family or friends, and not the fire department, which is fine. Burford is just hoping people have a plan. "This information would only be used in an emergency."
Burford said the Ridgefield Fire Department keeps the data base to make certain people get the help they need. If a neighborhood goes without power during a hurricane or blizzard, the department knows in advance who needs help in that neighborhood.
"In case we have an evacuation in their area, a storm that hits their area, we'll know," Burford said. Ridgefield evacuated a portion of downtown as recently as Aug. 1 for a natural gas leak. The evacuation included the Ridgefield Community Center.
Before a storm, the department might call and ask if the person has made emergency plans. "We sometimes call in advance. We call if a need arises, and sometimes we call afterward. It all depends on the circumstances," Burford said. In many cases, the person made other arrangements and doesn't need help.
She said the police have an E-911 system to help them keep track of people and to reach them in an emergency. She said CL&P also keeps track of people who have special electrical needs.
To receive a sign up form for the database, or for information about the program, call 203-431-2726.