At a special board meeting Thursday, the Brighton Town Board set a public hearing for 7:30 p.m. Monday, June 4, for the purpose of authorizing the board, as commissioners of the West Brighton Fire Protection District, to enter into an intermunicipal agreement with the Rochester Fire Department for the provision of fire protection and emergency medical services in the district. The contract would be for five years with four paid full-time firefighters at all times.
If the contract is approved, the contract with the West Brighton Fire Department would be terminated, said Brighton Supervisor Bill Moehle.
Fire protection districts are an arm of local government established under state law, he said, and the town board serves as commissioners to contract with fire departments for service.
The board currently contracts with the West Brighton Fire Department and pays for two paid firefighters at all times — paid for by taxpayer dollars. The board also contracts with the Rochester Fire Department to respond to certain classes of fires, including structural fires.
In 2010, the town board became aware of a state Local Government Efficiency Grant to conduct an updated study of fire protection and emergency medical services. A steering committee was formed, and consultant MMA Consulting Group Inc. was hired to conduct the study. The study recommended that the West Brighton Fire Protection District contract with either the Brighton, Henrietta or Rochester fire departments. Each of the departments, in addition to the West Brighton Fire Department, provided a proposal for fire protection coverage for the district.
The Rochester Fire Department provided the best option in terms of cost and the number of firefighters — four at all times — providing service for the district, said Moehle.
Last December, the town board recommended that the town enter an agreement with the Rochester Fire Department to provide primary fire and emergency medical services within the West Brighton Fire Protection District and also an agreement with the West Brighton Fire Department to provide additional, supplemental services. Since that time, the town has been discussing the contract with the Rochester department, said Moehle.
Chris Smith, president of the West Brighton Fire Department, said he believes that the arrangement would be the “demise” of the department.
A letter sent to the town by Bradley M. Pinksky, Esq., counsel to the West Brighton Fire Department, dated May 11, stated, “In response to your most recent request/demand for our clients to provide access to the Rochester Fire Department to utilize the firehouse, we must decline. Your request is based upon the fire department agreeing to permanently surrender possession of its assets, including the firehouse, under the whim of the town. This will never happen.”
It continued, “We are requesting that the town determine on its own to dissolve the fire protection district and to create a fire district in its place. This will permit the residents of the fire district to elect their own commissioners and to vote on all important matters.”
Page 2 of 2 - The town also received a petition with over 200 signatures, submitted May 10, to dissolve the West Brighton Fire Protection District. Smith said the West Brighton Fire Department initiated the petition to give residents of the district a voice and ensure that the commissioners were residents of the district.
The petition is being reviewed by the town clerk to determine if it meets the requirement of 10 percent of electors within the district, said Moehle. If the petition is deemed valid, it would trigger a process including a public hearing and referendum by voters.