The East Syracuse Fire Department is seeking the village's approval to become an independent fire district.
Photo by Amanda Seef.
East Syracuse An uneasy economy could be to blame for the restructuring of the East Syracuse Fire Department into an independent district.
Fire officials have been working with a Buffalo-based fire services attorney to look into the option of dissolving the village-owned department, as-is, and create an independent district run by an elected team of fire commissioners.
“The main reason is to secure the future of the fire department. With the way government operates now, we just feel village government isn’t going to be around forever,” said East Syracuse firefighter and past chief Michael Cramer. “If someday the village were to dissolve, the fire department would be left in limbo.”
The department voted 36-3 to look into the options available to the department. Their main focus, an independent district, would require the village to abolish the department and the town of DeWitt to contract with the newly-created district for fire protection services.
The fire department says preliminary numbers could show savings of $60.47 for a $75,000 home, or $80.63 on a $100,000 home if the department dissolved into an independent district.
“The fire department supplies a product. We offer the product to East Syracuse, then the village sells the product to DeWitt. Fire protection, being the product,” Cramer said. “All we’re doing is cutting out the middle man, which eliminates cost.”
But Mayor Danny Liedka says the fire department hasn’t completed necessary studies to determine the actual savings.
“Some of the numbers they turned over to the town left out a few variables,” Liedka said. “We’ll go out and get that information on our own and see if there’s a savings.”
Liedka says he’s been looking into some of the figures the fire department has provided in a preliminary budget. Some of those numbers, like insurance costs, show huge savings to the department — but Liedka is questioning the validity of those numbers. “I don’t take this at face value,” Liedka said. “I have to protect the taxpayer and I have to vet the numbers.”