Western Brighton Fire Department vs. Rochester Fire Department
Posted at: 07/26/2012 5:11 PM
| Updated at: 07/26/2012 7:28 PM
By: Ray Levato | WHEC.com
A tug of war continues between a suburban town and one of its fire departments. The Brighton Town Board voted Wednesday night to bring in the city of Rochester firefighters to man the Western Brighton Fire House.
This has been something of a power struggle between the West Brighton Fire Department and the town board, which has authority over the West Brighton Department. The town board cites a study that showed fire response times were inadequate. The West Brighton Fire Department disputes that study. But at least for now, the town board has approved a contract to have the Rochester City Fire Department staff the West Brighton Fire house 24/7 and be in charge there.
There are fewer than 2,000 registered voters among the residents of the West Brighton fire protection district and commercial properties outnumber residences.
The study questioning response times was done before the fire in June that destroyed Woody’s II sports bar, which is practically right across the street from the West Brighton Fire house.
Bill Moehle, Brighton Supervisor, said, “This is an opportunity to get better service and to save money for the taxpayers of West Brighton. That's a win-win.”
The supervisor says Brighton has contracted with the city fire department for the last eight years to have city firefighters respond to all structure fires in the West Brighton district.
Moehle said, “They've worked together side by side. It's been a good relationship, but based on our study, it's clear that we need the City of Rochester to be the lead agency.”
According to the department's website, the West Henrietta Road fire station is now manned during the day Monday through Friday with at least two career firefighters. The department's attorney says they made an offer to increase that to four.
Brad Pinsky, West Brighton Fire Department attorney, said, “The town wants to get rid of the West Brighton Fire Department and replace them with the City of Rochester. There's 85 years of tradition and we don't feel like going away.”
A confrontation is looming August 1 when the town's contract with West Brighton Fire Department is terminated and city firefighters are supposed to take over the fire house.
Pinsky said, “I will never let that happen over my dead body. This firehouse belongs to the West Brighton Fire Department Inc. They purchased it. It's their firehouse.”
Residents are on both sides of the issue.
Joe Houchins said, “I'm retired and sit around and when I hear the sirens going off at the fire house, they're right on the ball. The response time is fast.”
Anthony Gibbardo said, “Of course, they don't have the experience that the professionals do. That's what I'm thinking.”
Interim City Fire Chief Sal Mitrano says the city is ready to build on its longstanding relationship with West Brighton. He says city firefighters are willing to work with the volunteers.
The county fire coordinator says the cause of that Woody’s fire is still undetermined at this point.
On August 28, there’s a referendum being pushed by the Western Brighton Fire Department to dissolve the current fire protection district. That would pave the way for volunteers to create a new West Brighton Fire District with its own elected commissioners and taxing authority who won’t have to answer to the town board.