STAMFORD — City Representatives could make calling 911 in specific emergencies a Stamford requirement.
A Board of Representatives subcommittee last week floated the idea of creating a penalty for businesses that do not call 911 during a crisis. Their proposal, discussed informally before the Public Safety Committee, comes less than a month after board members learned that a city developer did not immediately alert emergency services after part of an outdoor terrace caved into a parking garage.
Though Stamford developer Building and Land Technology failed to call 911 to its waterfront high-rise Allure, the company did alert its engineers. Stamford Fire Department officials later that day learned of damage to Allure’s parking garage after receiving a complaint from a resident’s mother.
Members of Mayor Caroline Simmons’s administration and the elected board criticized BLT’s decision to bypass city emergency services. Head city lawyer Doug Dalena Thursday told representatives that “it was completely unacceptable that 911 wasn’t called a lot sooner,” something he claimed that the mayor emphasized to the developer.
However, a company spokesperson told The Stamford Advocate last month that “the site was secured and made safe (by its) team, as well as contractors and engineers.” Fire officials agreed that, by the time they arrived, Allure was stable.
Nonetheless, there is no general legal requirement to call emergency services like the police or fire department in any situation. Some states mandate that bystanders provide reasonable assistance in some criminal circumstances but no such requirement exists in Connecticut.
Committee Chair Rep. Jeffrey Stella specifically singled out building employees — like property managers, superintendents, security personnel and door attendants — while describing who a potential rule could target. But beyond defining the who, Stamford has narrow enforcement powers.
“The city has no power to impose criminal penalties,” Dalena said.
But it can impose civil penalties, he said. There are a lot of city ordinances that levy a fine when there’s a violation, he said Thursday.
The maximum penalty that Stamford could impose is $250. With the Law Department’s help, Representatives must ultimately decide whether individuals or their employers are on the hook for that fine, he said.
If the Board moves forward with an ordinance, board members must also determine what would trigger the requirement. Stella listed “common sense” situations like “a stabbing, a shooting,” or someone fainting or collapsing as examples.
However, Rep. Mary Fedeli, R-17, urged caution as the city explores any potential rule.
She argued that drafting the most precise standards possible, potentially with the help of a working group, would make future enforcement less open to debate.
“I think you really do want to codify it correctly and put it in place correctly so that it’s as cut-and-dry as it can be because you want it to be enforceable, and you want the incident to be easily identified,” she said.
In the end, Stella said that the goal of a potential enforcement ordinance would not be “to punish anyone.” Instead, he wants it to serve as a warning.
“My goal is that this is never used because, honestly, everyone (will know) the rules… and this will never happen again,” he said.