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Is a joint fire district in the town of Manlius' future?

The fate of the recommended joint fire district in the town of Manlius may rest in the hands of a community-driven Implementation Advisory Committee.

For the second time in two weeks, the public had the opportunity April 14 to listen to a consultant provide a "stepping stone" toward combining the fire departments in the villages of Fayetteville, Manlius and Minoa, the Kirkville Fire District and northern Pompey.

A day earlier, the Manlius Town Board resolved to move forward with the second phase of the management and operations study that includes the formation of the advisory committee. The 113-page report, which is available online at each municipality's website, was completed March 31 and conducted by RFG Fire Rescue Consulting of Canton, Ga. Principal consultant Ron Graner first met the community March 31. Laura Rolnick of Fayetteville represented RFG Thursday night. The forum was held at Wellwood Middle School in Fayetteville.

While the goal of the study outlines strategic recommendations to improve the effectiveness and efficiency in the utilization of resources with the fire departments, many residents were not convinced the dissolution of the current structure was the answer.

"Why isn't it possible for the current structures to simply work in a closer relationship to achieve the same economic savings?" asked resident Tom Schepp. "Why are you so convinced that one district is needed over the cooperation amongst the existing districts?"

Manlius Town Supervisor Ed Theobald said the study is simply intended to provide a starting point to kick-start the next phase.

"We will be open-minded," Theobald said. "The study doesn't say that in the very end we have to consolidate."

He added, "Who knows what will happen when we're done knocking this down and putting it together again."

Others voiced concerns over equipment, personnel, insurance ratings and potential cost-saving measures.

Fayetteville Mayor Mark Olson, Manlius Mayor Mark-Paul Serafin and Minoa Mayor Dick Donovan were present and have agreed to work together.

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