MILFORD — When an oil tanker truck caught fire last year on a busy stretch of Interstate 95 nearby in Bridgeport, Fire Chief Louis LaVecchia made himself a promise.

The chief stepped up his efforts to get standpipes installed along the highway in Milford in order to provide a source of water to fight fires.

"The chief has been asking about this for 10 years," House Speaker James A. Amann said Thursday. Amann said that he will seek $150,000 in state bond money to install 10 standpipes, leaving it to the chief and to the state Department of Transportation to determine their exact placement along I-95.

"It's a safety issue," LaVecchia said. "Those dry pipes will let us draw water from the hydrants on the city streets below to fight fires on the bridge."

A fire like the one that burned through a concrete bridge deck in Bridgeport, crippling area traffic for days takes a tremendous amount of water to extinguish, he said.

"Having a way to hook into a water source is more efficient," said Capt. Harold Streit, the department's training officer. "Otherwise we're shuttling trucks full of water onto the bridge, making the traffic even worse."

The High Street overpass is one location where the fire department wants a standpipe, Streit said. Another likely location is near the Westfield Shoppingtown Connecticut Post mall, he said.

There are some standpipes on the Moses Wheeler Bridge, above city hydrants at the boat launch on Naugatuck Avenue, fire officials said. They will eliminate the need to snake hoses across the bridge carrying I-95 over the Housatonic River, Streit said.

"We wouldn't use these to fight a basic car fire; we can handle that with the water from a pumper truck," the captain said. "But a large truck fire can use up 1,000 gallons a minute, and the supply you can bring up to the bridge, given the traffic, is iffy at best."

DOT spokesman Chris Cooper said the department welcomes Amann's offer of funding.

"We have these at many points along the highways, and they do reduce property loss and improve safety in the event of fire," Cooper said. "Standpipes do provide better access to water."

Frank Juliano, Milford bureau chief, can be reached at 878-2130.