point out some ways to improve the recruitment and retention of members;
make recommendations for improving individual department's drills and training and expanding on the town wide training and drills that already exist;
and evaluate response time information and suggest ways to improve.
While municipalities in other areas have typically led the efforts for this type of study, the Shared Services committee took the reigns to prevent the study from becoming "fodder for political campaigns."
"We have seen what comes back when a political entity seeks such a study, [namely] consolidation (bigger is better) and some number of paid firefighters," Merriam said. "Our committee thought it best if we established the parameters for the study and stress that the underlying thrust should be that we continue to provide fire services to the town within the 'volunteer' system with the departments that exist today."
While the committee wants to keep politics out of the study, as "party politics and matters of public safety do not mix," Lysander officials have been included in discussions.
"All involved want an end product that we can make use of, not just something to throw on a shelf somewhere that's proof that 'Yes, we had a study done,'" Merriam said.
After receiving and considering four proposals, the committee selected Michael P. Dallessandro & Associates from Grand Island (at a cost of $27,500) to perform the study. Five of the seven departments (Baldwinsville, Belgium Cold Springs, Cody, Phoenix and Plainville districts/companies) will fund the study, according to Merriam.
"The Lysander and Seneca River districts are not in a financial position that allows them to contribute at this time, but will be included in the study," he said, adding the Town of Lysander and Onondaga County "are also potential sources for partial funding."
The study is already underway with consultants requesting data from the fire districts and departments. They will schedule visits to each department beginning June 18.