Wednesday, July 01, 2009


Study: Consolidation would save millions
By Richard Liebson • • July 1, 2009

Homeowners and businesses in 10 Westchester communities could save an estimated $47 million a year in fire insurance premiums if their fire districts consolidated, according to a study being released today by Pace University's Edwin G. Michaelian Institute for Public Policy and Management.

"Fire Services of Southern Westchester County: A Case for Consolidation" was commissioned by the Westchester County Career Chiefs Association in 2005 to determine whether a merger of the departments would provide better protection at a lower cost.

The study, paid for with a $56,000 state grant, found that while joint purchasing agreements might help the departments save about $100,000 a year, "consolidation would significantly improve fire prevention and suppression services with the potential to save substantially more money over time."

Keith Fennelly, president of the chiefs association and a retired Eastchester fire chief, said the Pace report "will serve as a footprint as we move forward."

"It will remain a work in progress - now all of the chiefs, union officials and others will have a chance to study it and decide how we will proceed," Fennelly said. "Our goal in asking for this study was to see what we could do to provide more efficient, cost-effective fire service in our communities. We do a good job now. Let's see if we can do better."

The study looks at the staffing and operations of the Eastchester, Fairview, Greenville, Hartsdale, Larchmont, Mount Vernon, New Rochelle, Pelham, Pelham Manor and Scarsdale fire departments. Combined, those departments protect almost 250,000 people in an area of about 50 square miles. "If this area were a city it would be the third most populated city in New York State," the report says.

The study says consolidation would create more effective and efficient fire services and save money by cutting duplicate staffing, equipment and facilities. The streamlining could result in better insurance ratings and lower fire insurance premiums, it says.

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The 10 departments operate 130 vehicles out of 25 fire stations staffed by 604 firefighters and 24 civilian employees at a cost of about $88 million a year.

Individually, not all of the departments can meet fire response standards developed by the National Fire Protection Association and other organizations.

By combining, the report says, the standards could be met with considerable savings.

For example, the NFPA recommends that the first engine arrive at an alarm within four minutes and that 22 firefighters be on scene within eight minutes.

That's not always possible under the current configuration, the report says. If the departments combined and duplication of equipment was eliminated, however, the standard would be met at an equipment cost savings of about $1.7 million.

"The timeliness of this study cannot be overstated, given the state of the economy, the need to improve service delivery, and especially the recent consolidation legislation adopted by the state of New York," said Michael Genito, director of the Michaelian Institute.

The report is to be released at an open meeting at 1 p.m. today at the Pace Graduate Center auditorium, 1 Martine Ave., White Plains.



Anonymous said...

Paul leave the fire depts alone and let the state police take over our police operations. Thay can't even catch the dumb crooks. look what happened at TDYCC. That's what you should be worried about.
Town dept's . The article in the journal news says people would save 47 million in insurance rates if we merged with southern westchester excluding Yonkers.
you noticed it didn't say anything about lower taxes

Anonymous said...

We could have saved millios if a few of your department heads were honest.
You rehired one as consultant and the other rehired him at a higher pay.
You paid no attention to how much the town had in insurance in case of accidents--which cost us money.
You purchased so many parks but never thought of how can one keep up the maintenance.

You take our money to support one part of town.
You take our money and spend it on programs that will not benefit all the residents.
Could it be the next thing that you will want to do is take over the schools.

Yes Paul you want more and more power but the residents will win this one.

Anonymous said...

How about the residents go to the county for a complete takeover?

What say you now Paul?

Anonymous said...

Tell me Paul who receives a bigger pension due to overtime THE FIRE OR THE POLICEPERSON.

How about consolidating the police dept. or have the county or state take over.

fat pension said...

7/01/2009 5:10 PM

the fire dept

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Anonymous said...

The volunteer firefighters can't even serve their own villages they're so lacking in manpower, but can you just imagine how much money the villages would demand from the town for the honor of serving the rest of the town? No wonder Edgemont wants to incorporate.

Anonymous said...

7:10, 7:12 and 7:17 is the same person and is a complete Idiot!
must be a disgruntel cop!

Anonymous said...

7:10 said that one deputy chief made over one hundred thousand dollars in overtime.
Could this be the reason why Feiner is fighting so hard to consolidate fire departments SO----
HArtsdale and Greenville can compensate the expenses of the Fairview dept.

An AFFILIATE said...

Hartsdale Residents BEWARE -
You lost your school district to consolidation - now you are being asked to sacrifice your fire district too.

Anonymous said...

Greenville spends most of their time in Eastchester and Mt.Vernon

An AFFILIATE said...

Show me the money!
Consolidation is a red herring to distract voters from the fiscal mismanagement rampant at the Town level.
The argument against revaluation (reassessment in the popular political jargon) was that some people were going to get really screwed - and there is truth to that.
The argument against consolidation that some people are going to get really screwed is equally valid.
Kapica's report said Greenville's fair share of the consolidated fire district budget would be slightly over $14 million. Greenville's current fire district budget is slightly over $7 million. DO THE MATH!! Edgemont/Greenville will pay TWICE AS MUCH AS WE DO NOW!
The savings inherent in consolidation come from closing buildings and laying off people. Given the level of police protection currently afforded Edgemont, the decline in fire services would set the stage for an absolute disaster. (Ever try to drive from the 4 corners in Hartsdale to Ardsley Rd along Central Avenue on a Saturday during the Christmas shopping season? Fires grow exponentially - and time wasted in traffic by the responders means property damage is MUCH greater as is the potential for loss of life.
Think about this very carefully - the life you save may be your own.

Anonymous said...

The reason our school taxes and fire district taxes are so high is because of the high number of non-taxed properties in the Town. Churches and not-for-profits are kiiling the individual tax payer. Who approves these uses? THE TOWN! The other major reason is a result of property tax assessments - the Town needs to be reassessed across the board. The Town's Board of Assessors determines these refunds based on the Town's assessements. The tax cert refunds have to be paid back to the Town by the fire and school districts. This results in huge fire district and school district increases. Central 7 actually had to borrow money to pay back these refunds. Don't blame the districts, blame the Town. They are afraid of a Town wide reassessment as it will result in a higher Town property Tax and lower school & fire district taxes. Political suicide. Nonetheless, they should do the right and responsible thing - reassess the Town across the board!

Anonymous said...

Re-assessment would be very interesting right now. How would they assess homes in Hartsdale which are all lingering on the market and apparently can't be sold?

Anonymous said...

This is the perfect time to reassess as the average home price is beginning to come down. The reason the houses in Hartsdale aren't selling is because the taxes are so high. A lower assessed value = lower taxes across the board. It's now or never.

Anonymous said...

Kapica should do a study of the poor response from his police officers concerning the pistol whipping of a Greenburgh/Hastings resident. Why did the Police responding to the scene take no immediate action? Why did they knock on the front door while the suspects fled through the back? Why were they scared to take immediate action even when THEY KNEW that the lives of the people inside depended on it?

It seems that the Greenburgh Police are not inclined to take action to protect the lives of taxpayers if THEIR OWN lives are placed in jeopardy. Witness the refusal to take any action at the shopping center when it was reported that hostages were inside being held by the robbers. Kapica's Legions would not take action until the entire SWAT Team was in place. The Fire District study is just a way for Kapica and Feiner to take the heat off of their poor performances.

Please Note: NONE of the three paid fire departments look at a fire and say, "Gee, it is just too big for us right now, let's wait until we get more people and equipment here before we take any action." Unlike Kapica's Legions, the Fire Departments take immediate action to save lives!!!! Kapica and his legions should take note and learn how to do their jobs!

Anonymous said...

Dear 9:09,
Wow, that's a lot of unwarranted bashing of our police department. Our officers are not "afraid" to do their jobs. Maybe you should have gone with them and advised them how to do it better. Don't blame the police department - blame the Supervisor and Town Board for always using the Chief and the police department to do their dirty deeds. Kapica, like every other Town department head works at the will and pleasure of the Town Board - he has no choice but to take on the projects those ninnies assign. The fire dept. study is just one in a long list of politically motivated studies/investigations.

We need to wake up to the anitcs of Paul Feiner - he is the ultimate publicity machine! I can't believe how many residents think he's great just because he calls them back when they leave him a message. I always ask them whether or not their complaints/inquiries were satisfied and almost 100% of the time I am told "I don't really know but at least he called me back." Yikes - aren't we too smart to fall for this nonsense? Sure, he sits in the supermarkets, goes to the pool & parks and knocks on door late at what? He never follows thourgh and he never gets anything done. He just keeps passing the buck and distracting us with lamebrain ideas like getting rid of the County Gov't and consolidating the fire districts. How about reducing our property taxes? We had over 31% Town tax increase over the last 2 years with an anticipated 15%-17% again next year. During his 18 years our Town taxes alone have increased over 100% and our services have been reduced. Now we have to pay $300 a year for sideyard garbage pick-up even though it's being done by the same crews who come through our neighborhoods for the regular pick-ups - double taxation, wouldn't you say? The pool hours have been reduced this summer, the bookmobile has been slashed, we're running and paying for eduational programs at the TDYCC which should be sponsored by the school districts, we have numerous lawsuits against the Town as a result of Mr. Feiner and his back-room deals with developers, and on, and on, and on. Don't be fooled by a willing ear...demand results or vote this guy out!