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Town of Schodack talks fire service consolidation after a study is completed

May 02, 2019 11:15 PM

TOWN OF SCHODACK – Consolidating fire services in the Town of Schodack was the topic of a meeting Thursday night.

It comes as the final findings of a study were presented in front of several representatives from fire districts. The study was done as fire districts deal with increased costs of equipment, recruitment and retention. The study was done by a company based in Rochester called CGR.

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“We met with them, we did a survey of the members of the fire departments, we asked their opinions on how things are going and what the future looks like,” said Paul Bishop with CGR.

It is now up to the fire companies to decide if they want to keep running things as is, or consolidate with other companies. Fire companies included in the study were Castleton Fire Company, East Schodack Fire District, Nassau Joint Fire District, Schodack Landing Fire District, South Schodack Fire District and Schodack Valley Fire District.

While the study found that many companies reported stable finances and strong support from each other when needed, there are concerns.

“The real concern is for the future,” said Bishop. “A number of the volunteers are somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 percent are 50 years or older and it's only about 15 percent are 30 years or younger.”

A lack of volunteer firefighters is something that the East Schodack Fire District relates to.

“There's a lot of requirements that hinder people volunteering,” said Mike Buckbe, Chairman of the Board for the East Schodack Fire District. “It's not like when I got in 36 years ago and it was a lot simpler.”

Something else found in the study is that while overall response time is about 14 minutes 90 percent of the time, standards recommend that response time be about 10 minutes.

Some districts are saying consolidation isn’t in the cards now.

“I don't see where consolidating is going to change much and again I keep emphasizing at this time,” said Carl Wentworth who is on the Board of Commissioners for the Schodack Valley Fire District.

However, others are looking forward to discussing consolidation.

“We do a lot of joint work already and work very well together but there are issues and problems that potential consolidation could alleviate,” said Buckbe.

With the study complete, there’s no time limit on when companies have to decide if they want to consolidate.

“They have taxpayers they need to answer to, they have decisions they need to make, they need to start thinking for the future,” said Town of Schodack Supervisor David Harris.

It was also discussed that an option could be having a paid fire force, but that would cost the town a decent amount of money.

To view the study and options being put out there for the fire companies, click here.

Credits

Emily De Vito

Copyright 2019 WNYT-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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