Bedford Village Fire District

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May 22, 2019
Why Not Split the Department?
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By Member Heather Feldman
April 27, 2019

In last week's paper a resident of Bedford Fire District suggested that instead of building a new firehouse, the department should instead add a second, smaller facility for our ambulances and split the department in two.

This option was explored and was rejected by both the District and the Department for two main reasons. First, in this scenario, the existing firehouse would still need to be substantially renovated, triggering NYS building codes which would require a complex, time-consuming, and costly project in the Historic District.

Were we to renovate the current building, we would have to build temporary headquarters for emergency services, and what about postal service? This is not a problem with a simple solution.

Even building out our entire lot and losing all rear parking for library staff, fire department members, and post office workers, we would still end up with a facility that would be inadequate for our (current and) future operational, administrative and training needs. Additionally, the department would still not be able to accommodate a water tanker, an essential element in a town with very few hydrants or easily accessible water sources. Were we to go with this option, more funds would then have to be spent on a second building just for the ambulances, and then we would be maintaining two buildings and two properties.

Having two locations in itself would present a serious operational problem. Bedford Village is a unique community, and our dual agency status helps us with recruitment and with creating a highly skilled membership. Many of our members are cross-trained, and many feel that the single department performing both sides of emergency service makes our agency more effective and more efficient. Bedford Fire is dependent on a small corps of dedicated volunteer firefighters, EMTs, drivers, and officers. Calls can quickly escalate from an EMS call to a car fire, HazMat situation or mass casualty incident, and the officer on scene needs to be able to deploy all necessary resources efficiently and quickly.

Sending members to a second location to fetch an ambulance will add precious minutes to a life-threatening call, fire or accident scene. This is unacceptable when every second counts, especially since we have the choice to keep the department intact. Splitting the department would end up being potentially more costly not only in terms of dollars spent, but in quality of service to the community.

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Bedford Village Fire District
P.O. Box 230
Bedford, New York 10506
Emergency Dial 911
Non-Emergency: 914-234-3133
Station Fax: 914-234-0625
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