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Will Trustees Vote to Eliminate Staffing at Satellite Fire Stations?

ICMA report recommendation #6 is up for adoption, according to the Dec. 20 village board meeting agenda.

Station No. 2. (Credit: Suzie Alvey)
Station No. 2. (Credit: Suzie Alvey)
At the final village board meeting of 2012, a meeting historically low in attendance, trustees may or may not decide to eliminate staffing at satellite fire stations in the village, recommendation #6 of the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) report.

The board commissioned the report, which analyzed the Garden City Fire Department's overall performance, at a cost of $36,000 in late 2011.

Fourteen recommendations are included in the report; two have caused the most controversy: "change dispatch to Firecom to improve dispatch/turnout time and allow continued achievement of response time performance" and "eliminate staffing at satellite stations during night hours and review the necessity for daytime staffing at the satellite stations following the recommended change in dispatching."

The board of trustees has the power to implement all, some or none of the recommendations.

Recommendation #6 was at the center of such controversy in August when Patch obtained information that confirmed trustees had directed village staff to have recommendations #6 and #8 (all dispatching duties turned over to Firecom) implemented immediately.

When asked if any of the recommendations were in fact implemented immediately, Schoelle responded "no" and did not offer any further explanation.

Headquarters Company Lt. Peter Clancy, president of Local 1588, which represents Garden City’s professional firefighters, maintains the belief that the 85-page report is inaccurate. He even suggested forming a committee to thoroughly review the data in the report.

To date, no such committee has been formed and no meeting with career staff has been held.

Back in August, Judy Courtney, president of the Eastern Property Owners' Association, asked the board for a timeline so residents could have an idea of when trustees would be ready to discuss the report. "Firehouses are always a big issue," she said. "I don't think people want to feel it's something they've missed."

Trustee Nick Episcopia told Patch in August that when the board decides on a course of action, he thought it should be presented to the public with a clear explanation of the board's reasoning. "Whether this will be in a public meeting or through Village Facts and press releases has not yet been decided," he said. "I believe my colleagues on the BOT will certainly agree with this approach. No firm decisions have been made yet."

To date, there has been no public discussion of the report. However, trustee Dennis Donnelly told Patch Wednesday that a full public discussion will take place at Thursday's meeting before any possible adoption of the item, which is listed fifth on the consent calendar.

The board meeting begins at 8 p.m. Thursday in the board room at village hall. Residents are encouraged to attend.
Robert Bolebruch December 20, 2012 at 09:57 AM
This is not the place to save money. Yes it is true that there are very few calls at night, but this is the time when everyone is home with their families. There is a balance between saving money and effecting the safety that all of us have come to enjoy in Garden City. I do not agree with having these firehouses empty at night.
LJ December 21, 2012 at 09:11 AM
A fire department is an absolute necessity. But before cuts are made the board should publish the statistics on how many alarms were responded to, who many of those were false alarms,and how many were actual fires requiring firefighting equipment. How many calls were during the day, how many at night? You can't make a judgement about how to allot a budget without understanding how often the service is actually needed.
kent penney December 22, 2012 at 08:05 AM
Totally agree. Lets move to an all volunteer corps. This a good step in the right direction.
TheHockeydude39 December 22, 2012 at 12:49 PM
All Vol would slow down response times, we would need a fire horn, which would disturb residents. Career and Vol is a great idea.
Reed Marcus January 23, 2013 at 03:26 AM
Sorry for my two cents, but I think I heard that the new notification system alerts all fire fighting personnel simultaneously (paid and volunteer) and that this new system, currently in use, reduced response time, meaning that the firefighters arrived faster at the fire. Isn't that what was improved?

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