Dec 20, 2011 Erin Wisneski Uncategorized
Lysander fire officials are on the right track, according to an independent study recently released by independent consultant Michael P. Dallessandro.
Commissioned by the fire districts and departments serving the town of Lysander in order to provide a snap shot of current operations and obtain an external review of services, the report provides recommendations on buildings and facilities, apparatus fleets, management practices, shared service possibilities and long range planning. Dallessandro also highlights areas of excellence in the report.
“The Lysander Public Safety Committee/C.O.D.E.S. really must be credited for some progressive work on behalf of their area fire departments,” Dallessandro said in his report. “It is not believed that a group as dedicated and active in promoting the positives of the fire service exists anywhere in our state. Clearly this group gets their hands dirty and has done great things for the fire service.”
Dallessandro noted the LPSC’s extensive work on public education and fire prevention, recruitment and retention and interaction with area schools to connect with a future generation of firefighters in addition to filling a true training need by conducting NYS firefighter training courses and classes under the watchful eye of NYS Certified Fire Instructors who are from Lysander area fire departments.
“These training efforts have resulted in volunteer firefighters receiving county and state level classes much faster than they ever would have if they had waited for the annual state calendar to come around,” he said noting a shortage of state courses primarily due to budgetary constraints. “[This] group has found a way to bridge that gap in a very positive way.”
Paid for by a majority of the fire protection entities serving the town with additional funding provided by the Town of Lysander and Onondaga County through grants, the assessment was conducted on the following districts/departments: Baldwinsville Volunteer Fire Company, Belgium Cold Springs Fire District, Cody Fire District, Enterprise Fire Company (Phoenix), Lysander Fire District, Plainville Fire District, and the Seneca River Fire District. LPSC Chairman Tom Perkins complimented the participating departments “for having the courage to take a good look in the mirror to assure they are doing right by the district taxpayers and the people they protect.”
Specific findings, highlights
According to the report, facilities and apparatus reflect basic necessity. The fire station facilities, for the most part, have very basic quarters and some even lack the basics of modern day firehouses such as bunk-in rooms, lockers, showers, training rooms and meeting areas. In regards to apparatus, the majority of districts/departments have a sufficient fleet with the exception of the Plainville Fire District, which is operating with three vehicles dating pre-1991 that have outlived their useful service life; however, voters in the district approved a replacement vehicle for the department earlier this year. In addition, the Baldwinsville and Belgium Cold Springs departments both have a pre-1991 pumper in which replacement is eventually recommended. None of the vehicles reviewed represented top of the line apparatus.
The report also states the sharing of services already exists and there is little, if any, redundancy of specialized equipment, vehicles or tools, or extra resources that could be shared. Dallesandro commended the joint operation of Station No. 2 by the Baldwinsville Fire Company and Lakeside Fire Department.
“I believe that the joint station shared by Lakeside and Baldwinsville is a win-win for all parties involved including the general public and the local governments served by these two organizations and could potentially be duplicated between Plainville and Baldwinsville in the future,” he said. “This arrangement is fiscally responsible, provides improved and more stable service in the two areas covered by the station, provides optimum use of available manpower and results in cross training and cross department camaraderie for participating members.”
Dallesandro also highlighted the Engine 91 program, which is a joint effort between Lysander fire departments to ensure full coverage day and night with members from multiple departments.
“The Engine 91 program is another excellent program aimed at providing dependable service through shared services that deserves statewide recognition as a model for camaraderie, developing a working understanding of individual firefighter skills from different departments and a way to work with and possibly manage manpower shortages,” he said.
After interviewing a variety of stakeholders, Dallessandro found an opportunity through the LPSC to discuss a more formal relationship between certain departments, specifically the Baldwinsville, Plainville and Lysander organizations and the Belgium Cold Springs and Seneca River organizations noting the individual fire establishments could continue to exist as their own organizations under the umbrella of a larger, merged fire district.
The review was considered a positive and pro-active “first step” in evaluating each organization including recognizing the positives, identifying issues requiring immediate and future attention, and to begin to explore what the fire departments or fire service in the Town of Lysander may look like in the future. The Lysander Public Safety Committee plans to use the document to improve services and work more efficiently together. According to officials, some of the short-comings pointed out are already being addressed.