Norwalker reports flying saucer over Norwalk firehouse


NORWALK, Conn. – Look, up in the sky! It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a – Norwalk Fire Department drone?

A woman called the mayor’s office and several council members on Thursday to report a flying saucer over the new Norwalk firehouse, a source said.
This was confirmed by Councilman Glenn Iannacone (R-At Large), who said he had a voicemail from the woman. “She said she saw a flying saucer over the firehouse,” he said. “She called the mayor’s office, reported a flying saucer. Later on, she was informed by friends that it was a drone. Maybe it’s a new type of a rescue thing.”

Chief Denis McCarthy said that’s what it was.

“We have been experimenting with a drone through the fire marshal’s office. We have a number of technology innovations that we are exploring to be more efficient,” he said in an email. “… Some early uses of the drone have been to inspect exterior and roof top hood and duct systems associated with commercial cooking operations. This is safer than using a ladder and more efficient than using a fire engine to provide access to the roof. We have shared our findings with other departments and once we have basic capabilities we will provide a demonstration for them.”
Mayor Harry Rilling did not answer a request for comment on the report to the mayor’s office.

Councilman David Watts (D-District A) expressed surprise that the report made its way to the press.

“She called me, she didn’t want to give her name,” he said. “She thought she saw something flying, then someone explained it was part of a kid’s game.

Good thing to follow the “If you see something, say something” recommendation that’s out there, he said.
“She doesn’t live in the district,” he said. “They were serious, but then we started laughing.”


21 responses to “Norwalker reports flying saucer over Norwalk firehouse”

  1. L.S.

    Its great to know our fire department is keeping up with the latest technologies. Often big city fire chiefs and ermency managers pull in feeds at the command center from hovering news helicopters during an active emergency to get a birds eye view. Many larger police departments are also experimenting with these capabilities for certain situations such as crowd control, security and many others uses but no, rest assure, for the paranoid, they don’t want to peek in your window. However, if you have hot cars in the back yard or a poppy plantation, maybe its time to rethink the business plan.

    Why couldn’t NFD utilize this technology to say, secure a live feed to the responding units stuck in traffic for accidents, especially involving hazmats or mass casualties on 95 or the Merritt, where there currently are no cams at all, or at fires, equipped with different livestreaming camera capabilities, (yes livestream in real time) to assist in rescue/recovery and even attack strategies and post event documentation? How about before and after storm assessments? There is even possible uses for distressed mariners. We all can sleep well at night knowing our fire department is a top notch crew that really are at the top of their profession.

    Now, if we can just get a minor policy change, no, not a tool loaner program, although that is not a bad idea on community projects, albeit, not personal ones. No, something that is sort of a conflict of interest policy. A simple, rational, efficient policy change to reduce fuel and maintenance costs, that can be better used elsewhere, say in equipment, and than there is unnecessary firemen fatigue, not to mention increased risks of accidents responding to non emergencies, can we explore a more efficient data dispatching policy for calls that do not require a fire truck or the extra manpower to respond? We know the playbook is to bump the annual responses to secure budget needs and projections but certainly there must be a better, more carbon friendly, more cost efficient, safer and budgetarily sound solution, in this high tech world we are living in. Yes, indeed there is, its data analysis. JQP drunk needs a ride to the ER, ok data says JQP is non violent regular, send one wagon and two officers. Four can lift JQP’s strecther. In fact data shows JQP has always been able to jump in the wagon, on his own, well maybe with a guiding hand on occasion when JQP’s gait is too, unsteady.

    A normal response, to say, a known inebriated individual, say at the shelter or any regular call, sends out a fire truck with three firemen, an ambulance with two on board, three if Darien volunteers respond doing mutual aid because of budgetary scheduling challenges at the Hospital all two or three wagons are on runs, and at least two police officers. That is a minimum of count em, 7 first responders operating 4 vehicles, to handle, (one), frequent flyer.

    Seems, no, there is, a vast communications void that the new system tried to address however, hardware is only as good as its software and the data input and usage.

    Speaking about communications break downs, here is a question for NPD and Chief Kulhawik to address. What happened to shift briefings? Does any patrol man actually read the chat? How is it defensible, when shifts change that bolos never get passed along? Hmmm? This has been and continues to be an issue and a vulnerability.

    The most recent incident, of far too too many, involved a disturbed and possible suicidal individual. Shifts changed and no one knew to look for the individual in distress until a family member out searching in the middle of the night stopped a prowl car on the street to ask if any officers had located the emotional distraught individual. The officer out on patrol had no knowledge of the bolo from the previous shift. That’s a gap that needs to be filled before a claim, not after, a huge settlement or something worse like a disturbed individual hurts himself or others, even unaware patrol officers. Right Chief?

  2. Benthere Donethat

    Correction!!! It wasn’t a drone. It was one of Count Dracula’s vampires that had escaped. What a monstrosity that building is. It belongs on a mountaintop in Transylvania.

  3. Anonymous

    @L.S. Some good points, but also some misinformation. The F.D. doesnt respond to drunks that need a ride to the hospital. They do if the call meets certain criteria which could create a life threatening emergency (chest pain for example). Oftentimes the P.D. will transport if possible.

  4. L.S.

    Anon, apparently you haven’t met Mr. Morton. There are some calls where dispatch discretion is used agreed but there is also substantial room for improvement. The inebriated individual was just an obvious example but there are many other calls that do not require the response of an engine and crew. Some other examples are repeated false alarm calls to, known, defective alarms. How many calls did NFD respond to when NCC was adding space with that defective alarm systen that went off oftentimes several times a day, month after month? How about Virgin’s broken pipes? Did NFD charge and receive reimbursement from Mr. Branson for all that diesel burned responding over and over to a flooded building with broken sprinklers and an absconded property owner? Than there are the numerous daily senior home calls. Its not a huge issue to raise hell about, as opposed to say, NPD’s complete fail on communications or Norwalk Hospitals fail on ambulance response times and availability, (recall the teen on rte 7 struck by a car, right in front of Norwalk hospital and yet the teen bled out on the pavement while it took over 45 mins for a wagon to finally show up after numerous pleas from on scene officers) just a couple examples of, oftentimes life threatening, management and/or policy lapses that can be improved. Just a management efficiency improvement suggestions that can be easily implemented and accomplished with benefits to response times and costs savings. Perhaps Anon or another involved person can post the data breakdown for calls say for 2013. If that’s to recent, pick a year any year and lets all take a look see for ourselves what the call break downs are. The Hour did post them for a time but no one has published anything in recent memory on the NFD’s call breakdowns.

  5. Anonymous

    @L.S. The shelton fire dept responded to an automatic alarm on Jan 6. They found nothing. The alarm came in again a short time later and 30 people were rescued and 4 alarms struck. (You can google it.). A broken water pipe with the power on is an emergency. A home or business can be destroyed as easily from water as from fire (hence the term water damage). Those who have a problem and need help call the FD. Regardless of the problem, the FD will have a solution or get somebody on scene that will. It’s what the residents expect as that’s why they pay taxes. If Mr. Morton calls 911 20 times and says he’s having a heart attack each time, he’s getting an FD response. Regardless of how much fuel is used or where he lives. Are there needs for improvement- yes. Start with responses to medical facilities for ems calls. Broken pipes and repeated alarms are not the major problems you think they are. I agree. Some action can be done to improve.

  6. Casey Smith

    Just a few comments: I seem to remember Hal Alvord talking about having live traffic cam feeds of the major intersections in his office.
    Secondly, I believe there is an Alarm Appeals Board that actually levies fines against frequent false alarms. Some time ago, there was construction going on near where we live and the alarms were going off two and three times a night. Sometimes we just pulled the pillows over our heads. Then we started call them in and the responding officer told us that there was a $75.00 fine for each false alarm. We let the neighbors know and all of us became very vigilant about calling in the alarms particularly after 11 p.m. at night.
    I can’t speak to the flooded building issues or other things you mentioned. However, I will say that there have been numerous stories in the media about people calling 9-1-1 for ridiculous things (fast food place runs out of chicken nuggets, child disobeying parent, young children playing with cell phones or requesting that cigarettes be delivered to the residence – these were all real calls to the emergency services among others. Search the phrase “ridiculous 911 calls”). Unfortunately, there will always be people who call 9-1-1 for minor cuts, bruises and various other things. This is how people act these days.

  7. Benthere Donethat

    This firehouse looks like the Utopia building on steroids which is about a half block away. Does it also have a “SMOKE SHOP”? It’s hideous appearance certainly detracts from any admirable work being done by it’s personnel inside. I’m disgusted my tax dollars helped pay for this eyesore.

  8. The Deal

    Once a long standing joke, it’s now happened, McCarthy’s taking the NFD to the skies. What’s the liability involved of a city controlled drone striking a vehicle causing an accident and injuries or hitting someone’s house or business?………at least it’ll be first on the scene! Idiots!

  9. Seattle

    @ The Deal. What’s the liability of a fire truck hitting a business, home, or vehicle? Which has a higher probability of causing more damage? Based on your reasoning, we should go back to horses and buckets.

  10. Seattle

    And for those like the disgruntled (ex) employee (The Deal), this is the future. Ask the military, you know, those who developed and perfected the use of drones which has saved thousands of lives. Their use will become more widespread in the police and fire service as time goes on. Luckily we have a dept and an administration that can see the possibilities and not base their decisions on what those with no knowledge of the fire service think or “think they know.”

  11. LS

    Anon, obviously you haven’t met Scott, he does not have a cell and rarely, if ever, has he called 911 himself, its usually folks concerned about his welfare. Noting, that he is not suffering a physical medical condition, besides his disability, folks are concerned about his mental health and well being. Most that do call are unaware that currently, no help is available for folks like Scott in our non existent mental health system and the corrections facilities, where we warehouse the mentally ill and addicts are ill equipped to care for individuals with severe disabilities like Scott’s. But that’s another discussion and perhaps Scott was not an optimum choice to make the point. Far as, “Regardless of the problem, the FD will have a solution or get somebody on scene that will.” Well ask McCarthy. What do they do when they have an abandon property. Yes its policy to levy fines and I reiterate the question, did NFD collect any reimbursements from Billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin Corp, the apparent owner of the property, when NFD responded over and over for broken water pipes, in an empty abandon building? If NFD couldn’t find an owner or any property manager responsible than who gets the fines? Is the city attaching liens? And as for NCC, who gets the bill, NCC? The contractor? NCC is a taxpayer subsidized state school. What about the ongoing routine burglar alarms on Highland avenue, for years and years? Does the city bill the BOE for the rats tripping the sensors on a weekly if not nightly basis? Send the bill to Rivera? Hint, no you and me the taxpayers ends up in the end footing these costs. But more importantly, there is a real time cost in response times to real emergencies and/or crimes. And yes Casey those cams being installed at intersections are supposed to be in real time and should be available to feeds in first responders Hqs which some apparently are and in first responders vehicles which, they are not. Ask McCarthy how many times a month do they respond to calls on 95 taking locations from motorists oftentimes that do not know where the incident is. And while your at it, ask McCarthy why dispatchers, never, never ever check the monitors to direct the responders to the actual location to save precious minutes as responders race up and down 95 looking for the emergency. Another hint, NEVER. NFD can be responding to a wreck right behind them and jump on NB 95 instead of SB 95 where the emergency is. Why is that? Seriuosly, why is that continuing to occur? All a dispatcher has to do is glance at the 95 feeds, available to the public on the DOT site and guide responders to the location of the wreck? But they don’t. Why not? It is unclear how our DPW chief has time to monitor traffic. Any takers on a bet, he doesn’t? The technology is available with minimal costs to give these important tools to first responders so they can perhaps save our livse or the life of a loved one someday. And some may try to explain away why an engine and crew must respond to retirement facilities for an elderly person with an upset stomach, or cant get up off the can, mind you, at private facilities that are supposed to have staff to handle all these non emergency calls but choose to keep overhead low by not hiring properly trained staff at sufficient staffing levels but choose to use the taxpayers as a subsidy to keep the profit margins up. But we may be missing the point that was trying to be made. Technology must be embraced, it just might save your life someday. Stand on the points made even though the examples obviously have missed the mark to illustrate. Bottom line is, do you want your first responders tied up on nonsense when you or a loved one is in cardiac arrest or your child is choking or your kitchen just caught on fire? Ask yourself, how many times did I hear sirens today, than follow up and check the reports on how many homes caught fire, or how many wrecks there were, babies born, heart attacks. Safe to say that 90-95% of the time, those sirens are not responding to an event that requires the manpower being dispatched. Think about that next time that heavy fire engine goes screaming through the intersection in front of you and your family. In all fairness, Norwalk does much better than some neighbors. Stamford dispatches an entire brigade screaming and roaring through intersections all day and night long for routine calls such as folks with indigestion. It’s a wonder how those boys in Stamford actually know what to do in an actual emergency. They are too preoccupied playing Mario Andretti in a duece with lights and sirens wailing, darting through traffic, heavy traffic. That policy will change the instant one of those trucks kill someone at an intersection. Again in fairness, Stamford does dispatch a jump car. Although the jump car is usually only a couple of seconds ahead of the parade, thus a useless solution. Some other depts wait for a jump car to confirm before sending out a screaming convoy. And there are pros and cons to that policy also. Lets go to the St Louis tape, shall we, for perhaps a better illustration of the point, about communications and the application of technology to solve issues and improve services, that was trying to be made. For more illustrations, feel free to scroll through the side bar. https://www.youtube.co/watch?v=uFr0aNWZy8s

  12. RU4REAL

    I’m all for technology but this seems a bit silly. A drone would be more suited to the police department than fire department. Unless this drone can get up close and personal (can it?) to the hood and duct system you still need someone on the roof of the commercial property to do an inspection thoroughly anyway.
    Wasn’t Ianacone fire marshal? What does he think about a drone inspection? What do the companies that service these hood systems daily say about this type of inspection, do they use it currently?
    So let me see if I have it straight, bring a drone with you to do a rooftop inspection of a commercial hood system?
    How many drones will we need? Will there be a drone inspection specialist?
    How long to set up, deploy and get the inspection done? If you see a problem you still have to physically go to the roof! The way these inspections are done now, putting up a ladder or using interior access to the roof seems to sound pretty efficient.
    What brought about the need for a drone, have there been problems missed with inspections being done now?
    Why not throw a mini camera on a stick and run it up the hood from inside the establishment (like sewer/storm drain pipe inspections), it would be easier to reveal any problems that could lead to fires, if that is the concern.
    These cameras have become less expensive and you can find a stick long enough in the woods(near Oak Hills)some duct tape(dollar store)and you save our taxpayers a couple of bucks.
    How much will our new drone cost? Is there a problem with the way our department is inspecting these hood systems now? When was the last time a ladder truck was used to gain access to a roof top hood system for a routine inspection by the fire department?
    Are members of the inspection team afraid of heights?
    I’m sure there may be practical use for a drone but I think this is a stretch, tax dollars can be used for better things.
    There are too many questions and so far, not enough sensible answers, hopefully the mayor or council will ask before spending our money.
    Last questions, If the drone craps out in the middle of an inspection will we need a ladder truck to rescue it?
    Can our children come play with the drone on weekends?
    It appears that a drone is a want, not a need but who cares how taxpayer money is foolishly spent by the chief.
    We gave the department a new 12 million dollar toy, let them play with that awhile before they get any new toys!

  13. Anonymous

    A broken water pipe that sets off the fire alarm gets an FD response regardless of how many times. It’s why you pay taxes. $100,000 of water damage is the same as $100,000 of fire damage.

    Most calls on 95 are relayed through the CSP. Depending on location, responders might have to travel in one direction and turn around to access it in the opposite direction. Very, very rarely do they “race all over” searching for an accident. DOT cams do not cover every inch of the roadway.

    McCarthy is not in charge of dispatch. NPD is. You have a problem with dispatch, call the police chief.

    FD does not respond to upset stomachs or somebody on “the can.” They will if the call meets certain requirements: chest pain, difficulty breathing, etc., If they did respond, as other dept’s do, their call volume would be over 12,000 vs 6,000.

    The crash at the intersection is avoidable. As I’m sure you’re aware, the FD is suppose to stop at red lights and confirm the traffic is stopped and communicate to other apparatus when approaching common intersections.

    The FD does not send a full compliment of vehicles to alarms, unless they meet certain criteria (see/smell smoke, fire, its a school, etc..).

  14. Seattle

    @The Deal. I believe the article stated the department was looking into its uses and seeing how it could benefit the department. Which was what they were doing. Examining hoods was only one example. They never stated they were buying them. However, it would be negligent of them not to look into every possibility to provide a better service to the taxpayers. As I’m sure you’re aware, there will be a day when they will be part of every dept.

    The last person I’m asking about new technology is Glen Iannacone. As somebody who’s worked with him, you’d have to agree.

  15. RU4REAL

    I agree Seattle, after all we are giving Ipads to some council members, that may benefit the taxpayers too. I also agree to provide a better service to taxpayers they should look into all possibilities, more fire dept.manpower would be good,and say a firehouse in Cranbury, staffed with that manpower? This would be practical and help department response times to that area. They are considering renovations on the Westport Avenue firehouse, at the same time we haven’t built a school since 1971, priorities seem to be a bit off. There was indeed a need for the new firehouse but where does the spending spree end? All depts. have their wish list that we pay for, all I’m saying is to be practical in decision making.
    Our Ipad carrying council members will have to drop them off at the new firehouse on weekends, so my children can play with the Ipads and Drone!

  16. Seattle

    Didn’t BMHS just have a multi-million dollar renovation? I’m sure the FD would love to have a several million dollar firehouse in Cranberry along with 16 additional firefighters at an additional 2-3 million per year?? How many calls would they do? Again, I think it’s been looked into and actually resisted by those residents? But it makes sense.. I agree with you about St 4. Why put money into Westport ave and give the residents better fire/ems protection and provide for firefighter safety? After all, wasn’t the department told there will be no station 6? Doesn’t station 4 need renovations regardless? Lets face it. You’re not looking to do what’s best for the public. You’re looking to go against McCarthy and whatever he says, regardless of if its right. You don’t think everybody realizes this? Oh, and Glenn’s not fooling anybody either. Right, “brother?”

  17. The Deal

    My apologies to everyone for my judgmental comment earlier. And thank you “Seattle” especially. The esoteric superiority of your knowledge on the military, police departments and fire departments is an enlightenment to those of us who know nothing about any of those subjects. Now I’m going to skip and sing through the rest of my wonderful day! Love you all!

  18. RU4REAL

    @Seattle, McCarthy has done some goods things for residents and no one is against something that’s good for Norwalk, no matter who came up with the idea.
    Of course I’m looking for what’s best for the public because I’m part of that public.
    I don’t know if station four needs renovations but I do know schools, if taken care of will encourage young family’s to move to Norwalk.
    All I’m saying is be practical in the decision making process and make sure there is some oversight as to priorities.

  19. AxeMan

    @4real Just a little tidbit the Westport Ave project will allow four extra firefighters on scene minutes earlier to 7 public schools at least 3 private schools and 3 or 4 nursing (senior) homes. Not to mention shaving off five to seven minutes for the extra firefighters to get to the cranbury section of the city. All of this is in the “first Due” response area. All of this with little to no effect for the rest of the city do you know anything about response times, do you know anything about fire dynamics? If you’re a concern citizen I would think that public safety and the safety of the children and all residents and tax payers in the district should be the highest priority. If you’re a “brother” you should want this project to go through for firefighter safety the sooner the extra help get on scene the better results and less risk for the first due companies. The cost of this project is minimal to the benefits that it will have, if Mr. Hamilton already approved this money it can’t be to risky he knows more about the condition of this city,its buildings,and financial state of Norwalk. So tell us RU4REAL are you against public safety, firefighter safety or just against McCarthy?

  20. Eye in the sky

    Here is drone footage immediately after a tornado struck Mayflower Arkansas earlier tonight. Helicopters were still grounded. The drone was able to assist in assessment and where possible survivors may be. Discussion over. Drone technology is an important tool in first responders tool box. Mayflower Arkansas Sunday April 27 over I40. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c7s2lzDtjew

  21. RU4REAL

    “All of this with little to no effect to the rest of the city” WHAT!!! Are you sure your information is correct and do you live in Norwalk, if you do ask some of the firefighters you know what they think, the one’s that live here though.
    Don’t just believe everything you hear, for instance you state that the move would shave off five to seven minutes! Fact is because of the Route seven connector, station one on New Canaan Ave can arrive on scene before station four in some instances in Cranberry.
    If you look at current response times in Cranberry your numbers appear fudged, the response times will be the same, they’re still leaving from the same place, but the number of personnel arriving on scene will change, where did you get these numbers on response times?
    Lets talk firefighter safety, in South Norwalk there are numerous multi family homes, tenement buildings (7 housing projects), multiple rooming houses and more illegal basement/attic apartments than Cranberry for sure, the homes are closer to each other and on smaller streets (Lexington Ave/Lincoln Ave/Woodward Ave come to mind) which would warrant faster response times and more manpower initially in an emergency, including flooding issues in that part of town. Additionally in this scenario more people have the possibility of needing rescue in the event of an emergency, more manpower and sprinklers AXE is the issue when it comes to firefighter safety. If you are a brother or have intimate knowledge of the fire service you should know this. So lets renovate station five which is has 7 schools and many industrial sites that use hazardous materials daily, plus a lumber yard, within five minutes of the Meadow Street station.
    So you have target hazard sites in Cranberry and you have them in South Norwalk, it’s a stalemate.
    Because I live in Norwalk I’ve spoken to Norwalk fire personnel that agree with my analysis and I’ve spoken to ones who disagree with it. What is noticeable is that many of the ones who want Cranberry renovated aren’t living in Norwalk!
    @Eye in Sky, I didn’t say not to use drones, nice tornado video but isn’t Arkansas more prone to tornadoes than Norwalk, if a drone is the answer how could it have been used in Hurricane Sandy for instance. I say again, make sure using them in Norwalk is a need not a want, that is all I’m saying, I’m NOT against the use of drones.
    Forgot fire dynamics Axe, how many of the hazards you speak of are sprinkled buildings, this would also be important in making determinations, we can name hazards all day but sprinklers make a difference when seconds count.
    One more time, if McCarthy comes up with something good for the city I’m on board, is that clear enough for you.

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