well keep talking and save us millions, volunteer now
Herkimer Firefighter and EMT Tim Hartman prepares to check the gauges on a pumper. Herkimer was one of six area fire departments that took part in a consolidation study that determined the departments would function more efficiently and effectively if they consolidated into one department. Posted Nov. 3, 2013 @ 5:38 pm
HERKIMER — The six area fire departments that participated in a recent study would function more efficiently and effectively if they consolidated into one department, according to a consulting firm.
Summit Lake Consulting came to this conclusion after reviewing and analyzing data from the Herkimer, Ilion, Mohawk and Little Falls career fire departments and the Mohawk, Frankfort and East Herkimer volunteer departments, and meeting with fire chiefs and others to discuss the various departments’ needs and expectations.
“We found the departments are functional, but not as effective as they could be. Most alarms are answered within a reasonable time span, but not always within the current national standards,” according to the study.“There is a tendency to have a ‘do the best with what we have’ attitude that can be dangerous to the operational effectiveness of the departments.”
The consultants outlined three possible options for a consolidated fire district and stated,“The consolidation of fire service deliveries will lead to more efficient use of public money.”
The outcome of those findings is now in the hands of local fire chiefs and elected officials.
“There’s no time frame. The chiefs are going to sit down and see what each is willing to accomplish,” said Robert Vandawalker, director of Herkimer County Emergency Services. He said some departments might pull out of the study.“We may use none of the options listed, but it may give us some good ideas. At least it will open up the line of communications.
“Something does need to be done,” he added.“We’ve seen response time increase, especially in the volunteer departments where manpower is down. That’s a good indication we need to reverse that trend somehow.”
As a department loses manpower, he said, the ratio of responders to citizens increases.“People don’t get the individual attention they should or it could be delayed unless you have a good warning what is coming and we didn’t,” said Vandawalker.
On June 27, he said,“We had a watch for minor flooding; that’s culverts and puddles. While we did look at the situation, we went to bed pretty confident that the storm would miss us, but it tracked a different way.”
The study shows a duplication of apparatus and vehicles, said Vandawalker.
“We could look at sharing more on that end,” he said.
He added,“We’re also trying to break a huge culture and tradition — unfortunately, tradition doesn’t mean progress. Whatever comes out of it should be an improvement.”
Ilion Fire Chief James Trevett didn’t know how the village board in Ilion would respond to the study.
“The chiefs will still meet and hopefully come up with something we could present to all the boards,” he said.“Whether they agree or disagree, my hope is that the six chiefs will still meet together. These weren’t the perfect suggestions for us, but my hope is that we will keep moving forward. There are a lot of things in there that might not work for us, but there may be some things that would give us an idea of something that might work.”
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