WESTPORT— $1.6 million in high-priority improvements are needed for Westport’s fire departments in the next three years, according to a consultant hired by the town.

High priority items include a building addition and quint — a fire truck that provides pump, water tank, fire hose, aerial device, and ground ladders — for the Saugatuck station said Robert Finn, Senior Manager at Matrix Consulting Group at Monday’s Fire Department Strategic Planning Steering Committee meeting.

Board of Finance Chairman and member of the committee Brian Stern clearly had the upcoming budget season in mind in saying, “my major personal concern has to be prioritizing investments that impact public safety.”

Finn did state that relocating fire departments to improve response times will not be necessary.

“Relocating stations will not improve service to areas with longer response times,” Finn said.

However, he added the Fire Department’s average response time of six minutes and 30 seconds (6:30) for 90 percent of its calls is below what he called the five-minute “gold-standard” response time.

The “gold-standard,” is feasible only in urban areas, Finn assured the Committee, composed of members of the Board of Finance (BOF), Chairs of the Representative Town Committee (RTM) Long Range Planning Committee, and Finance and Public Safety Committees, and said Westport’s response time is normal for suburban areas.

Finn also said the two person staffing at Green Farms Station 5 on Center Street and Coleytown Station 6 on Easton Road is not sufficient to mitigate risks in the response areas.

Fire Chief Robert Yost called on the committee to consider adding additional staff to the department and said, “Since the 90’s we’ve pretty much been cutting edge on everything but staffing.”

svaughan@hearstmediact.com; @SophieCVaughan1