Wilton Ambulance and Fire Department mull sharing space

  • The Wilton Ambulance Service Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Wilton Ambulance Service Staff photo by Ben Conant

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 5/19/2021 3:49:44 PM

Wilton’s ambulance and fire departments are exploring the idea of merging their physical locations, with the Wilton Ambulance potentially moving into the larger fire house.

Wilton Ambulance Director Sherry Miller, who has been on the job less than a year, said she became interested in a possible integration after learning the ambulance bay is leased, not owned, by the town.

She said she was interested in separating the ambulance bay’s bunk room, to provide separation for COVID-19 social distancing reasons. However, she was informed that the building wasn’t owned by the town.

Miller said she it was then that she approached Fire Chief Don Nourse about the prospect of merging the ambulance and fire bays.

The fire department underwent a major renovation several years ago, expanding the space significantly.

While Nourse is a full-time member of the department, the chief’s position is the only full-time position on the department, only approved last year by voters. The rest of the department is on-call.

Miller said there is sufficient room for both the Wilton Ambulance vehicles, with minor adjustments, and a small renovation could accommodate an additional office for Miller. Meeting and training spaces could be shared.

Miller said the current proposal, as put forth before the Budget Committee and Select Board, is not to fully merge the departments.

Administratively, they would continue to be separate entities, with separate budgets and chains of command. They would share certain costs affiliated with the building, such as heat, electricity and internet costs, resulting in savings for both departments, as well as being able to divest the cost of the current Forest Road ambulance bay.

If it were to occur, the move would not require approval at Town Meeting, just by the Select Board. Miller said the process would also likely require time to receive input from Greenfield and Lyndeborough, which receive services from the Wilton Ambulance.

Miller said while the move is about 2 miles from the current ambulance bay, the response time increase would be minimal for Lyndeborough, which lies in the opposite direction of the move. It would add about 2 minutes and 30 seconds of response time in the worst case scenario, and there are points in Wilton where the response time would be likewise decreased.

Miller and Nourse have presented the concept to both the town’s Budget Committee and Select Board, and have at this point, received the blessing of both boards to continue exploring the concept of sharing space, but Miller said the it is still “very much conceptual” at this point. However, she said, she hopes the plan can move forward in short order, perhaps as early as this summer.

“For me, the sooner the better. The sooner we can walk away from our current building, the sooner we can start saving,” Miller said.


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