Here We Go Again, Another Fire At Former Rubber Plant, Emergency Demo Ordered

AGI fire
Another fire at former rubber plant. CT Post photo Christian Abraham.

Update: City orders emergency demolition. See here. “Due to the fire and safety hazards that currently exist because of the most recent fire (Wednesday), an emergency order for demolition was issued by the Building Department in collaboration with the Bridgeport Fire Department,” according to city spokeswoman Rowena White. A demo crew was on site Friday morning.

Original story: In the thick of the campaign season in 2015, following a series of fires, then Mayor Bill Finch announced a $200,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to help clean up the blighted mess of the former AGI Rubber plant along Stratford Avenue close to the development progress at Steelpointe Harbor featuring Bass Pro Shops as the anchor tenant. Wednesday afternoon city firefighters battled another blaze at the location.

This is a significant waterfront piece to resolve because doing so helps create a clean path from Downtown to Steelpointe Harbor on the East Side. CT Post account of fire here. Environmental cleanups can cost a fortune. It begs the question, how/when/if was the $200k implemented? How much more is needed? What was the follow-up to avoid another fire?

What follows is video and news release from mayor’s office in 2015 when Finch was mayor.

Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch joined officials from the Environmental Protection Agency in announcing a $200,000 grant from the federal agency to clean up the run-down property at 141 Stratford Avenue. The site formerly housed the company AGI Rubber, but has been run-down for decades (click here for video, click here for photos, and click here for a map pinpointing the location of 141 Stratford Avenue). In response, Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch made the following statement:
“This is great news. With these funds, we’ll soon begin knocking down a run-down property that has plagued a central location in our city for decades. Doing so will make the property more attractive to job creators and investors, allowing us to continue developing the waterfront. Thanks to the Environmental Protection Agency and our federal delegation for working with us to make Bridgeport better every day.”



      1. City of Bridgeport is listed as owner at 141 Stratford Ave on the Grand List of October 2016. It is coded as Commercial rather than industrial and one value of $225,330 is listed. It is most likely that 90% or more of that value is attributed to land value, despite any serious complications with contaminants that cause potential risk (and serious expense) to people and then the City and its taxpayers.
        Who is responsible? Have we run out of money to manage risks? Why not announce that to the public? Multiple fires have put the City on notice of the hazard they own it would seem. Who will acknowledge this? Where are the Council persons at this time? Time will tell.

  1. This is so sad! 200,000.00 gone building still standing, 400,000.00 given to a developer for a Driveway. We need people on the city council that will speak Truth To Power This is WHY I am Running for City Council 139th District so we can STOP being a RUBBER Stamp for The MAYOR!

  2. We had the money to take it down. This is the second fire in 2 years. Time to take it down and make it available for development. Highrise housing sounds like a good idea to me. The sooner the better.

  3. This is another example why there should be an oversite committee to make sure money slated for projects like this are not filtered somewhere else.

    Who was in charge of the money?

    Who has to answer why it was not used for what is was intended?

    Where is the State on this now that this has come to light?

    Is the State going to launch an investigation?

    How long is the property going to remain the eyesore that it is?

    Pathetic ,another example of the malfeasance of the city government and no accountability.

  4. The 200k was for round one of the demolition derby. This site was constructed like a jigsaw puzzle. It also has severe brownfield issues. 200k hardly scratches the surface. Bill Finch fast tracked and half assed this demolition for curb appeal purposes.

    If you want to speak to the truth, then you neeed to know the truth.

  5. This is what’s missing from this story about the
    burning of rubber and plastics. They can release dioxins. Dioxins are unintentionally but unavoidably produced during the manufacture of materials containing chlorine, including PVC and other chlorinated plastic feed-stocks. Dioxin is a known human carcinogen and the most potent synthetic carcinogen ever tested in the laboratory animals.

    Dioxin is a toxic organic chemical that contains chlorine and it is produced when chlorine and hydrocarbons are heated at high temperatures. To inhale dioxin or to be exposed to its fumes can cause many deadly results.

    Dioxins are the most toxic to the human organisms. They are a hormone disruptor and persistent, and they accumulate in our body and thus the mothers give it directly to their babies via the placenta. Dioxins also settle on the crops and in our waterways where they wind up in our food. They accumulate in our bodies and they are passed on to our children.

  6. Ron you are 1005 right. the problem is the politicians and the people that can get things done just don’t give a shit. They think nothing is happening to them when in fact it is.
    Hundreds upon Hundreds of cops and firefighters and volunteers that worked on the remains of the world trade center are and have been suffering from all kinds of illnesses from working on the pile/ Christie Todd Whitman was the government official that stated there were no carcinogens in the rubble may that bitch suffer the same fate as the workers/

    1. Andy, that’s why I get piss when David Walker started talking about firefighters pension and health care. Unfortunately firefighters don’t talk about what they do and what they have to deal with in performing their duties for the residents of Bridgeport. We have been into so many fires inhaling toxic and poisonous gas for years and we are not tested or exam to check the level of toxicity in our system that will keep getting worse in our body. Yes, we wear a air pac but smoke still gets in plus after the fire is out we are still there overhauling the foreground without our air pac and we are inhaling those gases.

      1. Hello Ron, looking at the photos and videos of the fire, I could not imagine the people in the area being able to breathe, and I have no idea,how firefighters muster the courage to go into that toxic cloud. So what has Walker said about firefighters pensions and healthcare, keep and honor the promised benefits to you, and your fellow retirees and those covered under the current plan. Going forward, restructure benefit packages. Also, he brother is a retired firefighter, so he has an earful from one of your brothers in arms, and has first hand experience with his family member regarding health hazards and benefits. More than a few states have recognized the need to restructure public union benefit packages for new hires, in order to meet the promised benefits to you, the retired employees. It’s going to happen, it’s starting to happen, wouldn’t you rather have it negotiated by someone with a history of both experience in reaching financially fair and equitable agreements and family members (grandfathers and brother) as public union members? When Walker was the head of the GOA, his department declined to unionize, he remained neutral and said he supported what his employees wanted.

        1. Jennifer, restructure benefit packages does absolutely NOTHING for new firefighters health, they will still going into those same fires and inhaling toxic and poisonous gas for years and they still are won’t tested or exam to check the level of toxicity in our system that will keep getting worse in our body.

          1. I understand your point, perhaps the healthcare coverage will actually improve. Change does not always equal worse.

          2. The current firefighters have union representation, I believe. Retired firefighters are alone in advancing their interest in receiving what they have been promised, I also believe.
            As a resident and taxpayer when confronted with a fire such as reported on property allegedly owned by the City(?) shouldn’t our attention be directed to the City Attorney office and risk management advisers to the City? What do they have to say about conditions previous to the fire and what the timetable is currently? Time will tell.

          3. Ron,
            Isn’t that a concern that can be represented fairly and fully with union assistance? It is generous of you to be so concerned as a retiree about the working conditions of current firefighters. But isn’t the most direct action for them to take at contract time? With union representation? What am I missing, if I am? Walker’s name is introduced by you regularly as the devil himself because of his words about restructuring of obligations. Aren’t these two different issues? Time will tell.

    1. Andy, my concern is about the health and welfare of firefighters who risk their health and their life every day in order tp protect those they serve and to have someone like Dave Walker who moves to Bridgeport and starts his political career by talking about changing the health benefits and pension of Bridgeport firefighters, as Jennifer said, to restructure their health benefits and pension.

      Andy, as you know firefighters have the same health danger in fighting house fires and any enclosed structure that’s on fire because the average house fire burns at a temperature of about 1,100 degrees Fahrenheit. These structures have inside of them the
      burning of rubber and plastics and they can release dioxins but unlike the former AGI Rubber plant fire, firefighters are on the inside of these structures where those toxic gases trapped. Vehicle fires provide the same danger plus the driving column are made of magnesium and they can explode if water is used to put out the fire. These are just a few dangers but where is the concern about the health and welfare by politicians and especially Dave Walker who wants to change their health coverage?

  7. Jennifer, what does it mean to restructure? The Senate is now working on to restructure the ACA into a another health care plan that will give 22,000,000, that’s right twenty two million Americans will lose their health care from restructuring.

    1. It means options regarding policy choice, it means covering costs of choices, it means possibly having all citizens purchasing plans through the ACA, or whatever healthcare plan is left standing, if it’s less costly with equal or better coverage than the current group policy offered. It means studying the policies in place, the claims filed, the costs involved and provider options. Have you ever played Jenga? Stack all the wooden sticks into a tower, and start removing individual sticks without collapsing the tower. Government programs are all like that, it takes skill and detailed planning to know what to change or remove or keep in place so the structure doesn’t collapse. That’s what detailed analysis of budgets and benefits “should” look like.
      Walker is on the record supporting single payer healthcare. He’s advocated for it. Apparently Americans aren’t so good at math, or everyone would be on board.

  8. Ron our health care benefits were won in contract negotiations and in some cases binding arbitration. we are dying off almost on a daily basis almost everyone I served with during my probation period is DEAD. One thing that JML & Walker never mention is that since 1993 Firefighters and cops have paid for portions of their healthcare benefits and the percentages they pay go up on a regular basis. You know Ron based on responses on OIB only a few people care about our benefits. JML & Walker think this is a hot topic well its not. You guys are chasing rainbows. How about the genocide happening in all of out cities. How about placing the responsibility for Americas problems in the laps of the PD.
    Where has the noise come from that would put a jail sentence of 5 or 10 years for carrying an illegal weapon. There is none, these 2 are silent. This shit is getting tiresome if you want my pension come and get it yes that’s a challenge. I did your dirty work for years I bag the people who died in fires, I spent a lot of time in the hospital getting repaired from fire injuries. Here is one for you and the rest of the financial giants. Try letting an ER doctor peel paint that dripped from a ceiling onto your neck and hands then talk to me about my pension In the mean time kiss my ass

  9. Ron neither of these 2 have mentioned the bpt police sgt who retired from our police department on disability 662/3 % tax freee and then was hired by Meriden as a police officer. That is a fraud. Nothing said by the pension champions. How many more are on disability and working in police work elsewhere?

    1. OK and what about the officer in the Police Department who left the force short of 10 years of service and returned to serve again within several years, far shorter than the Ganim body of years? Was he able to “bridge” his benefits? Who administers whatever rules there are on such a subject? What are the rules? Who is judge? Anyone? Time will tell.

      1. should not have happened civil service controls this and is run by Acting director Dave Dunn and the commission is chaired by a women from Trumbull

  10. When I served as property manager for the City we had a board up program I instituted: “Property Upkeep and Maintenance Program” (PUMP) that boarded up, secured and cleaned vacant properties, privately and publically owned. Fabrizi eliminated my position (out of budget concerns)
    There have been numerous toxic fires in the recent past: the perfume warehouse on Seaview Avenue, all the Remington fires, etc. The City owned former Dolans corner also burned, in other words not a very good track record on the part of the City. Don’t forget the Train Station and the Dewhirst arsons..a little further back but still out of the Bronx Playbook.
    So as Council member I had the City Budget earmarked to set aside funds to install intrusion and fire alarms in the vacant Palace and Majestic Theaters. The Cabaret Theater has been using the Majestic house as a warehouse for its stage props and if an arsonist got in there it would go up like a match box

  11. So.. guess what? Ricci’s Office has said they cannot locate the set aside money for securing and alarming the theaters and has instead put a hair net over the façade.
    The entire inside of the hotel had all its pedestal sinks and WCs broken apart by scrap metal thieves and the ornate balustrades from the Majestic balconey have been removed also.
    Got alarms?
    I was on the theater committee until I had the temerity to ask some questions, now they have shut me out.

    1. Bob,
      If memory serves me right you got the City Council to approve about $30,000 to perform some minimal protection of the status quo at the theaters. Who was responsible? Whether the funding was used at all? Or whether it sits in some fund balance, never used, that the public never gets to hear about, much less see, and the CC seems content to keep this type of info hidden? When Ganim came in,the City installed a “hairnet”, and I term a “tiara” around the top and a “bra” above the first story of netting to make the “old ladies” look better to the passing public and provide safety, perhaps? When work is not done with money supposedly earmarked, the money goes elsewhere, but with the form of reporting provided these days, the taxpayer is kept from understanding what his tax dollar is being spent on. Open, accountable, transparent and honest? Outrage? Time will tell.

      1. John it’s all documented in the Council minutes and the budget. They just never put an alarm in nor consolidated the Cabaret storage nor secured the 2nd floor light alley in the back that leaves the building accessible to vagrants. I also addressed the Council at the public speaking segment last august. The Council does not act or respond to such items

  12. And what you retired fire fighters are saying about health hazards are true, My dad was a fire fighter and was taken from us too soon from such health complications.
    Bad scene all around, this negligence from the City.

  13. When I served as property manager for the City we had a board up program I instituted: “Property Upkeep and Maintenance Program” (PUMP) that boarded up, secured and cleaned vacant properties, privately and publically owned. Fabrizi eliminated my position (out of budget concerns)

  14. Okay where did the $200 K go? how much is this demo move going to cost? Did this fire produce a bigger profit for those involved by reducing the number of lads of debris taken from the site. Of course it did

    Ron Mackey // Jul 15, 2017 at 11:30 am

    Bob, you said, “When I served as property manager for the City we had a board up program I instituted: “Property Upkeep and Maintenance Program” (PUMP) that boarded up, secured and cleaned vacant properties, privately and publically owned. Fabrizi eliminated my position (out of budget concerns).” Mayor Fabrizi, Mayor Finch and Mayor Ganim have all been negligent and irresponsible in disregarding the health and safety of Bridgeport firefighters by not protecting them. The City had placed a policy and system to help protect the life and health of firefighters and these mayors made a choice in using the “Property Upkeep and Maintenance Program” (PUMP). Firefighter union Local 834 IAFF needs to sue to the City of Bridgeport for failure to protect their health and safety. The Bridgeport Fire Chief needs to step up and demand the City to take action along with the Bridgeport City Council members in protecting firefighters with “Property Upkeep and Maintenance Program” or some other policy to give firefighters another form of protection.

  16. Ron the demolition scam goes back years and years. Companies bid on demolishing a business or residence based on the number of dumpsters it would take to remove a structure. Contracts are signed and the next thing you know the building in question has a major fire. Well the dumpster estimate may have been reduced by 10 because of the fire thus those 10 burnt up in the fire become additional profit.

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