Long Island Fire Districts Spending out of Control
Posted in the Massapequa Forum
#2 Mar 19, 2011
MYFOXNY.COM - Fire Districts on Long Island are under scrutiny as communities as diverse as Dix Hills and Gordon Heights question how money is spent.
Volunteer firefighters -- 20,000 of them -- form the backbone of Long Island's fire and emergency rescue system, and it might seem as though costs are low.
But Nassau and Suffolk have 180 separate fire departments with budgets in the millions. And most are almost right next door to each other. Dix Hills, with a $3.9 million budget, is 3 miles away from Commack, which spends $3.8 million, and 7 miles from Huntington Manor, which spends $4.7 million.
Taxpayers foot the bill.
"Volunteer fire fighters deserve all the praise you can give them. They come out at all hours of the night," said Lawrence Levy, executive dean of Hofstra University's National Suburban Institute. "There still has to be a balance between cost and showing them respect and providing services that are efficient and effective."
Many fire departments pay dispatchers, medics, EMS folks and business managers. Salaries add up and so do volunteer incentives like property tax breaks, some free college tuition, and pensions. Volunteers qualify for perks by responding to a percentage of calls per month. That's one reason why when the alarms sounds, many show up. So pension bills are high.
In Huntington Manor, for example, the district spends $375,000 a year on benefits for 125 volunteers.
Vehicles are expensive too. Each house has its own fleet. Long Island has about 1,792 fire and EMS vehicles, according to the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency. The FDNY has 792. At least 90 Long Island fire departments have heavy-duty rescue trucks that carry "the jaws of life" and cost about $800,000. The FDNY has 5, although every ladder company has "the jaws of life."
"I don't think you can make a case that we need as many fire trucks as many firehouses that we have in most communities," Hofstra's Levy said.
"You can't possibly believe that having all these little fiefdoms on Long Island is an efficient way to function," said former FDNY Commissioner Thomas Von Essen. "It's not."
Volunteers and elected commission resist change. They enjoy perks like big club rooms and bars in some
#3 Apr 9, 2011
I always like the fact Fire District Volunteers say they "do it for free" while in fact they get a 25% reduction in property taxes, free college, retirement and a pension from the Fire districts, plus they all get a one week paid vacation for FREE?
Plus all the perks of using Fire equipment at home, use of Kitchens and over the top catering Halls and clubs in these Fire houses.
These over the top Fire houses have got to stop on Long island they are putting us in a financial crisis with too much equipment thatís never used and the over the top fire houses less then 1 mile from one another.Massapequa is a know abuser, unnecessary renovations , purchasing unneeded equipment, SUV Fire Dept issued more out of town then in town, when in town you see them in the BARS.
These Volunteer Fire Districts need to Merge, stop buying, stop building, and stop renovating and stop buying SUV every 3 years, CUT BACKS.
#5 Apr 12, 2011
I agree spending out of control at these LI Fire Districts, this has got to stop NOW.
#6 Jun 5, 2011
OK, Lets be honest here. These Volunteer Fire Districts on Long Island have got way out of control with spending. The fire houses are getting bigger and bigger, way over the top. To much unused equipment, and they get so many perks it's not considered Volunteer anymore.
Volunteerís het 35% reduction in property taxes
1 week free vacation
Free vehicles to drive, SUV with free gas and they are everywhere except in the towns that pay for them.
Pension retirement plans
Insurance and death benefits.
plus the use of member only catering halls they have.
Lets hire a full time paid dept, it will be cheaper and we will get a faster response time, and be able to close the overabundance of fire houses in each town.
#7 Aug 15, 2011
Fire Districts are a big problem, over the top fire houses, way to much equipment thats never used and too many members. They get too many incintives for volley service.
#9 Sep 5, 2011
Volunteers are a mess on Long island. Not properly trained they are all wanna-bee FDNY that could not pass the exam or physical.
#11 Oct 18, 2011
districts largely are keeping spending to a minimum next year, according to recently released proposed budgets.
About 70 percent are pitching budgets with less than a 2 percent increase, and 30 percent are proposing spending plans that are flat or lower than the current year, according to 119 of the 127 fire districts whose budgets were made available either through public websites or filings with towns.
All fire districts are required to hold public hearings Tuesday to present proposed budgets. After the hearings, the budgets must be adopted by the boards of commissioners by Nov. 4.
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