Leyden asks Greenfield to take over its firefighting

  • Area firefighters respond to a fire on Frizzell Hill road in Leyden last summer. File photo

Published: 2/21/2019 11:26:03 PM

For a potential cost of nearly $323,000 over 10 years, the town of Leyden may soon rely on the fire department of the city of Greenfield.

The neighboring municipalities are in discussions to share fire services for at least the next decade. A contract has been drafted and reviewed by Greenfield’s city attorney and sent to the town of Leyden.

The Leyden Selectboard will be meeting Monday and likely discuss the potential agreement to service the understaffed town fire department, which is increasingly finding it difficult to comply with mounting state regulations. Voters at Town Meeting will have to approve financing of the agreement.

Greenfield Mayor William Martin said he plans to bring the proposal to the City Council in March. At the same meeting, questions about a new library and zoning changes to the French King Highway are expected to take up a majority of the time.

The Leyden contract would be for firefighting and not emergency medical services.

Leyden

Since the fall, Leyden has not had a fire chief, and only two members of its volunteer fire department live in Leyden, said Municipal Assistant Michelle Giarusso, meaning that most of Leyden’s calls cannot be covered by its own fire department.

The decision to use Greenfield’s Fire Department is totally up to the Selectboard, Giarusso said, although a Town Meeting decision is necessary to appropriate money to pay Greenfield.

Greenfield

Greenfield Fire Chief Robert Strahan said Leyden reached out to Greenfield for help.

“Fire departments everywhere are looking for alternatives to provide the best protection at the most cost effective method,” Strahan said. “The requirements of outfitting and training and keeping fire departments up to a modern fire department have become a challenge.”

Strahan said the agreement will not alter the services Greenfield residents can rely on. The plan also should not dramatically change the city’s fire department budget, he said.

The agreement could be the start of other sharing of fire department services.

“I think it would be a positive first step into a larger conversation with the county,” Strahan said.

Potential Contract

The contract is for fire suppression, inspection and code enforcement for the entire town of Leyden. Fire suppression is defined as the attempt to extinguish fires in an effort to reduce the damage to objects and life. The contract does not include EMS services.

The contract is intended to last for 10 years, ending June 30, 2029, which corresponds with the end of the budget year. Renegotiations of a new contract would begin at latest in January of that same year.

There is an opt-out clause in the contract, which allows either side to decide to leave after the sixth year. If they wanted to, Greenfield or Leyden could end the agreement with one-year notice, which means the contract could end as early as 2027.

If Greenfield or Leyden decided to opt-out prior to the contract or decided to not renew the contract, then the Leyden fire trucks will remain with Greenfield, given the payments for it are complete.

Either side could also end the contract if there is a failure to comply with the agreed terms.

Greenfield will acquire Leyden’s 2008 tanker and 1987 brush truck, a value of $100,000.

Leyden agreed the cost for the fire services is $40,000 a year, but the cost will play out differently to compensate for the value of the trucks. For the first seven years the trucks will account for $14,400 in credit.

In the first three years Leyden will pay $25,600 and payments will then increase by 2 percent a year rising to about $46,000 by 2029.

The total cost to the Town of Leyden is about $323,000 for a 10-year contract with Greenfield Fire Department.




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