Thursday, July 24, 2014

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The Berkshires

Fonda Fire Department may dissolve

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Albany/HV: Fonda Fire Department may dissolve
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A Montgomery County volunteer fire station reacts to the news that their help may no longer be needed. As our Mohawk Valley reporter Maria Valvanis explains, the Village of Fonda is pursuing alternative options in order to save money.

FONDA, N.Y. -- "Wow, what's a whopping $20,000 when these guys are putting their lives on the line?" asked Leeann Arnold.

But that's how much money Mayor Peeler tells us the village will save by pursuing a contract with the Town of Mohawk Fire District.

"For my membership it feels like a slap in the face. We were basically told when this contract’s signed, the department will be dissolved," said Fonda Fire Chief Donald Wagoner.

Besides being a village staple for the last 139 years, the station offers a level of comfort to residents the Mohawk department cannot. Chief Wagoner says the majority of their work is emergency medicine calls, something the town doesn't offer.

"It's when you call 911 and you have a medical emergency and you need to go to the hospital," said Wagoner.

Arnold said, "They have parties for the kids around Halloween time and they make sure the kids are safe when they're trick or treating."

Now Mayor Peeler says the board does not want firefighters to feel under-appreciated by any means, it's simply a matter of finances. In the 2012-2013budget alone, the village is facing a $43,000 fire cost.

"We don't ask for anything more than New York State says we need," said Arnold.

The Fonda firefighters will be able to apply to volunteer at the Mohawk department, but for many, that means having to give up rank.


"I'm going to start off as a probationary firefighter, but like I told my men, I'll be the last one out the door when it closes," said Arnold.

Peeler tells us the contract is only in the early stages at this point.

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