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B'ville fire departments prepare for public hearing on merger

— The manner in which fire protection services are provided to many greater Baldwinsville residents may soon change.

For the past few years, the Baldwinsville Volunteer Fire Company and Lysander Fire District have been in discussions to merge, a move that started when Lysander was suffering from a shortage of people and Baldwinsville was exploring the possibility of becoming a fire district, said Tom Perkins, president of the BVFC.

“A meeting was held between Baldwinsville, Lysander and Plainville to explore future plans,” Perkins said, adding that Plainville eventually opted out of the discussion.

Since that time, a study (paid for primarily by the town of Lysander fire departments with a grant from county government and the town of Lysander) was conducted to study fire protection in the area. The results of the study suggested that Baldwinsville, Lysander and Plainville consider forming a joint fire district in the future with Baldwinsville as the lead agency, among other finds.

According to Perkins, there are three types of fire departments, each answering to a municipal entity: village or city fire departments, which answer to a village or city council; fire districts, which answer to an elected board of fire commissioners; and fire protection districts, which answer to a board of directors and ultimately a town board.

“There may be several variations to these, but that is basically how they operate,” Perkins said. “Lysander is a fire district and Baldwinsville is a fire protection district.”

The Smokey Hollow Fire Protection District and the Northern Fire Protection District currently receive services from the BVFC. The Lysander Fire District protects the northwestern corner of Lysander. Should the merger be approved, the BVFC and the Lysander Fire District would become one entity, which would be called the North West Fire District.

“The idea of consolidation is to first improve fire protection within the town and secondly bring the cost of fire protection more evenly distributed,” Perkins said, adding that the first few years of the consolidation will cause an increase in some areas, specifically the Smokey Hollow and Northern fire protection districts, but the costs should level out eventually.

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