After 81 years, the Elbridge Fire Department and the town may end their partnership. Negotiations between the village, which operates the fire department, and the town broke down and now town councilors are set to vote on a contract that would have the Jordan and Mottsville fire department's take over coverage.
The Elbridge Fire Department's contract ends on December 31st. Starting January 1st, if a fire broke out across the street from the station - firefighters couldn't respond unless they were called in as mutual aid.
"There's a turmoil between the town and the village at this time to sign the contract. We don't care about the contract, we just want to respond and take care of the people and their property - and that's all we're trying to do," said Elbridge Fire Chief Bob Chuff
The town and the fire department have had a series of issues in recent years. Most recently, the former chief stepped down after violating department rules by going on a fire call within eight hours of drinking alcohol.
If the Elbridge Fire Department loses the contract with the town, firefighters can only respond to calls in the village limits. It is an unsustainable situation for the department in the long term. The village of Elbridge responded to the town's proposed deal with Jordan and Mottsville by saying it will charge the town $25,000 a month if the Elbridge Fire Department is asked to respond to calls without a contract. Elbridge Town Councilor Bill Kuhn says he knows it is difficult but a change needs to be made.
"There's been a lot of ongoing issues, some I can talk about, some I can't," said Kuhn.
Kuhn says the decision to change coverage was not based on financial issues.
"It was clear we had to contract with someone else to provide the best coverage for the townspeople," said Kuhn.
Elbridge firefighters say it will take Jordan or Mottsville three to five minutes longer to respond to some calls in some parts of the town.
"Those are precious minutes, if someone doesn't get there to put out the fire or get oxygen on somebody, it's life or death," said Elbridge firefighter Jarrod Smith.
Elbridge town councilors are scheduled to vote on the contract with Jordan and Mottsville fire departments on Thursday December 26th.