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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Long-Term Needs the Buzz at Fire Commission Meeting

Long-Term Needs the Buzz at Fire Commission Meeting
(Appeared on New Canaan 11/17
By Mike Lauterborn
© 2010. All Rights Reserved.

New Canaan – Long-term goals and needs were the terms that kept popping up at the monthly Fire Commission meeting and have certainly been a focus for residents town-wide. 

Commissioners Roger Williams, Sven Englund and Jack Horner as well as Chief Ed Karl, Fire Marshal Fred Baker and Assistant Chiefs Russell Kimes and Jack Hennessy met Tues Nov. 16 at the New Canaan Firehouse to cover an agenda that had long-range goals at its heart.

With regard to fire department equipment needs for the long-term, Hennessey presented a “wish list” of capital projects that is being tweaked for submission to the town the first week of January 2011. At the top of the list is a request for a Jaws of Life replacement, budgeted at $97K.

Said Williams, “Our current equipment is over 20 years old. Replacement is a necessity with a more advanced or higher tech version, due to the new construction of autos today. The metal technology and safety structure in new cars is both stronger, and roll cages are much more difficult to cut.”

Karl echoed Williams’ urgency, noting, “It takes an excessively long time to cut through some of the new cars. Audi’s and BMWs in particular. GM and other domestic auto manufacturers are now using the higher strength steel, too.”

Williams noted that a new Jaws of Life solution will be “two to three times more powerful than what we have” and that the equipment is particularly important as New Canaan is the primary responder for the Merritt Parkway, which he said is “all auto accidents.”

Another high priority on the capital projects list is a regional/mobile data system, pegged at $15K. Williams explained that the system consists of color display computer units that would be installed in the firetrucks and allow crews to access critical data about a structure as they arrive on the scene. Hennessey said the data would include building plans, water source locations, aerial photos, and gas and sewer line locations.

This mobile data system request is timely as Horner had reported attending a recent meeting of area first selectmen and fire chiefs to discuss long-term regional cooperation between small town fire departments. The ability for the NCFD to have this mobile technology can only enhance its ability to respond to situations and better help when called on by other towns.

Said Williams, “If the duty crew can access info more quickly, it can respond to challenges more quickly. It will have this at a push of a button.”

An additional budget priority is a new firetruck. Kimes is currently revising the economic underpinnings for the request, which is slotted at $610K – “as expensive as some building structures,” said Williams.

Engine #1 is 14 years old and Engine #4 is 10 years old. “When trucks start getting to 15 years, we start looking at replacing,” said Williams. He added, “A truck has been in the budget every year, and turned down every year. We did some fleet management changes this year to lengthen the service of the trucks in the fleet, but sooner or later, we will have to replace them. Even after budget approval, it would take approximately 18 months to two years to receive delivery.”

Williams summed up, “As the town is looking at long-range planning, so too are we. Localized resources and better hardware will provide a better level of fire safety to the residents of New Canaan.”

Hypnotist Helps Support Great American Smokeout

Hypnotist Helps Support Great American Smokeout:
Nov. 18 Event Encourages Smokers to Quit or Reduce Usage
By Mike Lauterborn
© 2010. All Rights Reserved.

Stamford, CT – According to the American Cancer Society, there are 44 million people who still smoke in the United States. Fortunately, there are various providers and organizations available to help.

In support of the Great American Smokeout Thursday, November 18, one provider, Stamford-based hypnotist Meg Tocantins, is offering a half-price program for smokers who decide to quit.

Since 1975, the American Cancer Society has devoted to the cause the third Thursday in November. On this day, smokers are encouraged to abstain from smoking all day or at least reduce their daily cigarette usage. Every year, millions of Americans participate in the activity, which often helps lead to permanent cessation of smoking.

To qualify for Tocantins’ half-price offer, smokers must contact her on Nov. 18 to schedule an appointment in the Nov. 19 to Dec. 31 window. To set an appointment, smokers can visit her website at and click on “Contact Us” for specific instructions and guidelines, or call 917-292-8115.

Tocantins looks forward to the Great American Smokeout every year. “It’s a time when smokers are more aware of their habit.”

She has helped hundreds of people, who had tried other methods before and failed, quit smoking. She hopes her offer will give smokers more incentive to try to quit smoking, but to also consider hypnosis as a cessation solution.

“I give each smoker the tools they need to quit smoking forever. Most walk out of my office after the first session as non-smokers – they throw away their cigarettes. Later they tell me that quitting this time, using hypnosis, was easier than trying other methods,” she said.

The American Cancer Society has a dedicated website for the Smokeout event:  It is designed to give smokers guidance, tools, information and resources to help them understand the cons of smoking and benefits of quitting. This includes tips and tools to help smokers quit for good, a Stop Smoking Quiz to help a smoker understand his/her smoking patterns and develop a personal quit plan, and downloadable tools to help plan a quit day.

The site also provides a Cigarette Cost Calculator so a smoker can see how much money is being wasted on cigarettes. For instance, a person that smokes one pack per day (or 20 cigarettes per day) for each of 365 days consumes 7,300 cigarettes. At an average of $9 per pack, that calculates to $3,285.

“When they come to me, most people have tried to quit a few times before, either with the nicotine patch, cold turkey or medications. It didn’t stick,” said Tocantins. “What hypnosis does is create an immediate cessation without the challenge other methods present like figuring out what do after quitting. What do you do while drinking coffee? Having a cocktail? These are real challenges. Smoking is a really nasty habit and ingrained in so many peoples’ lives.”

About the stigmas around hypnosis, Tocantins added, “Some people are hesitant about it and afraid that I’ll have them cluck like a chicken. I say to them, ‘I can’t get your ATM password. You’re always in control.’ The state that you’re in when hypnotized is a state all people can be in, though you will need to want to be hypnotized.”

Tocantins regularly monitors smoking trend reports released by both the American Cancer Society and American Lung Association, and said, “Smoking trends are always getting a little higher with youth, who think they’re going to live forever. In general, though, cigarette usage is gradually decreasing… which is great.”

“Women are not quitting as often as men, which I’m concerned about,” added Tocantins. “The high price of cigarettes is helping drive down usage.”