Three Chaut. Area Fire Departments To Meet On Merging

Dewittville Fire Department.

Three of the four volunteer fire departments in the town of Chautauqua are moving ahead to explore consolidating and become one department.

It was announced at both the Mayville Village and Chautauqua Town board meetings that a meeting will take place on May 1 at 6 p.m. at the Chautauqua Municipal Building, in the old gym with representatives from the Hartfield, Dewittville and Mayville fire departments. Town and village officials are expected to be in attendance as well.

Elected officials said the meeting will be open to the public, however no public comment will be taken at that meeting.

Earlier this year, there had been a meeting with the three fire departments as well as the Chautauqua Town Volunteer Fire Department to discuss merging, however that department voted to not seek merging at this time. The Chautauqua Town Fire Department borders Chautauqua Institution and is the main responder for Institution calls.

According to Mayor Rick Syper, legally there must be at least three public meetings before the departments can merge. The May 1 meeting will be the first one.

Mayville Fire Dept.

Mayville’s fire department is funded by village taxes, while Dewittville and Hartfield departments are funded by residents who live in each district.

Syper said it’s too early to know how a newly formed department would be funded, located or what equipment it will have. He said this meeting will be more focused on organization.

He noted that around 25 years ago, the departments talked about merging, but it failed. They talked about it again 18 years ago, but those conversations failed as well.

Syper said he has more hope now than in the past.

“This is the right time,” he said.

Hartfield Fire Dept.

Chautauqua Town Supervisor Don Emhardt, who is also the chief of the Hartfield Fire Department, agreed that the time has come to see if these departments can join forces.

“The fact is that we have three fire districts in five miles of highway,” he said.

Emhardt said it’s harder to get volunteers and the price of equipment has skyrocketed. By consolidating the departments, he’s hoping there will be more manpower and financial savings.

Councilman Scott Cummings said he also supports the merger.

“We’re just trying to provide the best service we can to the community and we need to do it together. It’s just too difficult being separate,” he said.

This time around the conversations seem to begin after the Mayville Village Board rejected a request by its fire department to purchase a new engine truck. The board turned down both a $1.2 million truck and a $788,000 commercial pumper fire engine.

After February’s meeting when the board rejected the $788,000 truck, Syper said he wanted to see where these discussions go before revisiting buying a new truck for the department.


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