Ridgefield may need a new fire station someday to replace the aging headquarters at 6 Catoonah St., and it may need a new police headquarters to replace the former mansion (now PD HQ) at 76 East Ridge Road.
"We've never really sat down and looked at our population trends," said First Selectman Rudy Marconi. who said that picture is complicated by changes in what a "fire department" does and what a police department does.
"If we're thinking ahead, how do we design those facilities for the actual needs Ridgefield will have in 2023?" Marconi asked. "Where do we go for the data?"
Fire Chief Heather Burford could not be reached for comment Wednesday (Sept. 11,) but Danbury Fire Chief Geoff Herald said he and Burford discuss these questions from time to time. They are questions all fire departments are now considering.
Ridgefield's Fire Department handled 3,349 calls for service in 2012, according to the town's website, and of those, 65 percent were medical calls.
"We can have a day with 10 calls and all 10 were medical," Herald said. "We're asking, 'Do we need big fire trucks or do we need smaller attack vehicles?'"
Marconi said there will always be a need for firefighters, but the need seems to be diminishing as homes are built with better building codes, with better fire supression, with smoke alarms and better fire safety education.
"We need to look at the type of service we provide today, and look at our staffing, and we need to look at what we will need in 20 or 30 years and start growing in that direction," Marconi said.
Chief Herald said in his experience, looking farther than five or six years into the future is "wag-ging" it, meaning making population projections and service projections for needs 20 or 30 years is really a "wild-ass guess."
"What you do is make your best guess, aim for the sweet spot, and hope it works out," Herald said. "It's very difficult to look beyond five years."