Winners of Lying Contest

We would like to tidy up a couple of bits of unfinished business. If you will recall, in October 2009 one of Stratford’s bravest, Assistant Chief Thomas Murray, spoke out supporting candidate Harkins. After Mayor Moron termed local 998’s support of Harkins a political payback and implied some sort of deal, Assistant Chief Murray wrote this letter to the editor of the CT Post at great risk to his professional career:

To the Editor:

I write this to shine a light through the political fog created concerning something I feel can be regarded as a fire and public safety message. That fog was created by the recent public comments by the incumbent Stratford mayoral candidate on why the Stratford Firefighters Union endorsed a different candidate for mayor.

The inspiration to express my opinion came by the way of another Stratford assistant fire chief who freely risked his own life to save a man from a certain death in a structure fire last Friday night.

This assistant fire chief was the first to arrive on scene, heard a man screaming then entered the burning building without the aid of his protective firefighting gear, because the situation was so dire he simply did not have the time to put it on. Less than a minute after he entered that superheated structure and pulled the victim outside to safety the room flashed over destroying everything inside.

How much money is risking your life worth? Ask yourself, would you really risk loosing everything you own, risk never seeing you family again, risk the rest of your life for a million dollars? For the men and women who enter and stay in this profession it is something they do many times in their career. They do it because it is a calling more than a job. Do we need money to take care of our family and ourselves, yes we do. But the most important thing to us about our “calling” has never been money. The most important thing to the Firefighters in this nation is public safety; a testament to this is when we put it all on the line for fellow man.

That being said, I believe the mayoral endorsement of the Stratford Firefighters (which stated that the endorsement was based entirely on reasons of public safety) speaks for itself.

I can not speak for the incumbent mayoral candidate, and he is certainly not qualified to speak for us. He has shown us through his past actions, lack of equipment support, deeds and campaign rhetoric that he knows very little about the firefighters in Stratford. I have no doubt that this endorsement may be an inconvenient truth for the incumbent, but the rare political endorsement of the Stratford Firefighters Union is never for sale. It is rarely used, but when it is, only for the direst and most honorable of reasons. That’s who Stratford firefighters are. In a year when Stratford leads Connecticut in fire deaths with a heartbreaking total of six, our primary concern is the safety of the citizens of Stratford, period.

Thomas S. Murray

Employed as assistant fire chief (for now)

Stratford Fire Department

To which Miron responded the next day by issuing a press release stating that the following equipment had been ordered:
100 eye shields
new radios and microphones
12 sets of turnout gear
62 air tanks
100 noise reduction earplugs
100 pairs of safety glasses
15 pairs of boots

(Still no boots, radios, microphones, etc)

And then Fire Chief Cavanaugh sent his own letter to the editor of the CT Post:

Chief rebuts Fire Department allegations
Updated: 10/28/2009 04:14:38 PM EDT

In response to the letter written by Stratford Assistant Fire Chief Tom Murray, I would like to set the record straight with the truth.

Mayor James Miron and his administration understand and appreciate the importance of securing and maintaining quality fire equipment for the protection of our community and our firefighters.

As fire chief for the Stratford Fire Department, I want to assure town residents that they are safe and protected. We have the finest and best-trained firefighters in the state operating with a system that puts them at the scene of an incident within minutes of every call. Our current apparatus is older, I would agree, but it is functional, safe and effective.

New fire equipment has been funded at the request of Mayor Miron. Protective eye gear, replacement turn out gear and 36 new portable radios have been ordered for the department. A replacement pumper was purchased and equipped for $197,000 in 2008 as well as funding secured for a rescue pumper. Unfortunately, after repeated requests by the mayor, the Town Council did not provide adequate funding to purchase the badly needed pumper.

The responsibility for department morale and performance lies with the former leadership of the Fire Department, not with Mayor Miron. They had a responsibility to advocate for the fire service, to set priorities and see that they were funded. However, lack of funding in the past for equipment such as turn out gear and protective eye gear was not an administrative failure but one of Town Council neglect.

Mayor Miron has restored pride to the fire service by choosing to serve the people of Stratford and the needs of our first responders, not the demands of the public safety unions.

The negative statements in Assistant Chief Tom Murray’s letter about the Stratford Fire Department are untrue and have cast the department in an awfully bad light. I appreciate the opportunity to set the record straight. It is a pleasure to serve the residents of Stratford and lead this department of dedicated fire professionals.

James J. Cavanaugh
Fire Chief

So what? Typical politics? Maybe. The gossip is that Fire Chief Cavanaugh has privately claimed that “Jimmy made me do it”. Really? That’s what you’re going with? The leader of Stratford’s bravest?

To date (four months) after calling Assistant Chief Murray a liar, Cavanaugh has yet to apologize to Assistant Chief Murray or the taxpayers. In the short letter Cavanaugh wrote there are four (count ’em, 4!) lies he told the public. We continue to call upon Chief Cavanaugh to publicly apologize to us and to Assistant Chief Murray. And while he is at it, get the equipment he promised to his own firefighters.


8 Responses to “Unapologetic”

  1. 1 jezebel282

    And as long as I am on a roll….

    Is it common for a Fire Chief to go home when the mayor closes Town Hall at 11 AM? In a snow emergency? What could possibly go wrong?

  2. 2 phineast

    The only honest thing in Cavanaugh’s letter was a half of a statement-“We have the finest, best trained firefighters in the state”
    Beyond that half of a statement, he needs to do some public apologizing and resume preparation.

    Maybe where he came from it was common practice to leave-but in Stratford if you are going to leave you better live in the town, response time depends on it. It is not like they don’t have beds and a kitchen in the fire headquarters….NO EXCUSE.

  3. 3 1george1

    I much prefer professional police, fire, and public works.

    I prefer honesty and competence in government,
    especially in department heads,

  4. 4 jezebel282


    “he needs to do some public apologizing and resume preparation.”

    You can’t underestimate the butt-kissing ability of Cavanaugh. This is a guy who thrived in the political sewer of Waterbury. I hear the training program for advancement in Waterbury is brutal. Just ask Riddenhour or McCarthy.

    Cavanaugh spends as much time up Harkins butt as he does in the firehouse. He will promise anyone anything if it benefits him.

  5. 5 phineast

    He thinks he is kissing Harkins butt-but I believe that Harkins is very aware of the lack of integrity and ability of this guy. I believe the situation will be resolved in due time-but the PD situation needs resolution first-which is being worked on diligently I have been assured. Time will tell.

  6. 6 rex525

    Jezebel said- “Cavanaugh spends as much time up Harkins butt as he does in the firehouse. He will promise anyone anything if it benefits him”.

    Phineast replied- “He thinks he is kissing Harkins butt-but I believe that Harkins is very aware of the lack of integrity and ability of this guy”.

    Then we hear that Miron appointee Cavanaugh recommends eliminating fire company 5 which I guess would equate to a 20% reduction in firefighting.

    Stratford Star
    Budget includes cuts
    Written by John Kovach
    Thursday, 18 March 2010 14:40

    “Cavanaugh said Engine 1 and Engine 5 both serve the same area. Engine 5 is used for rescues, so its equipment would have to be packed onto Engine 1”.

    “It would have a minimal impact on the service provided now,” Cavanaugh said.

    This probably wouldn’t be so troubling if it did not come from one of the winners of the Miron lying contest, but since it did, I would like to hear some of our town fire professionals chime in on the subject before I’m convinced. BTW, don’t we lead the state in fire deaths and did we not just spend almost one million dollars on fire trucks?

  7. 7 jezebel282


    Cavanaugh is already blaming the whole thing on Harkins. He has told firefighters that Harkins forced him to make the cuts and that there was nothing he could do.

  8. 8 jezebel282


    For the record, there is still no apology from Cavanaugh for lying to the public or defaming an assistant chief.

    It may not seem like a big deal to the Harkins administration, but this is the same guy that, on paper, is supposed to be in charge of EMS services.

    We already know that American Medical Response picked up a cool $600,000+ in Stratford last year due to EMS inefficiency.

    Point of consideration: The new soon-to-be-completed EMS headquarters will be NEXT DOOR to Fire Department headquarters. There are plenty of EMT’s and trained emergency personnel in the FD. Imagine that, due to the inability of the EMS Administrator to recruit and retain volunteers, the FD was able to pick up the slack and respond to calls instead of AMR.

    I know it’s a silly thought, but $600,000 in billing that goes back into the Town is not so silly.

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