Firefighting volunteers in Greenwich are getting a helping hand from Greenwich Bank and Trust.
The bank has agreed to provide bridge loans to volunteers to help pay for the $1,500 tuition charged for basic firefighting training. The volunteers are reimbursed by the town upon completion of the course, but given the lag time for reimbursement, there is a financial burden for some, acccording to Joe Kaliko, who is the man behind the loan idea.
Kaliko, long-involved with the Cos Cob Volunteer Fire Co., is familiar with the constraints placed upon smaller departments such as Cos Cob. He said the small treasuries of Cos Cob and the Byram Volunteer Fire Department already are strapped to pay for insurance and gear, making it difficult to give interim finances to the training volunteers.
So Kaliko enlisted the aide of state Rep. Fred Camillo (R-151), who also is an associate member of the fire company. With Camillo's intervention, Greenwich Bank and Trust president Richard Muskus agreed to establish a $10,000 interest-free line of credit that will provide loans to the volunteers don't have the money to pay for the course work up front, Kaliko said.
" Often the candidates are young men and women in their 20s or 30s who do not have the $1,500 to lay out for course work," Kaliko said.
Once they complete their coursework and earn their 'entry tags' — which means they are qualified to enter burning buildings, the reimbursement they would receive from the town will be paid to the bank. In the Cos Cob corps , there are at least four firefighter trainees who would qualify for the bridge loans.
According to Kaliko, the arrangement should be finalized shortly, which he said will help the town's volunteer recruiter and retention coordinator Brian Kelly.
(If you're interested in joining the ranks of more than 120 volunteer firefighters and fire police, Kelly can be reached at 203-618-8877.)