Creation of a Fire District

Whitehall Fire is the fastest growing fire company in the county. It has nearly tripled in size since 2005. The cost to outfit an interior firefighter for personal protective equipment (PPE), annual physical and a pager is roughly $3,000 per person. Since 9/11, the fire service has changed greatly, equipment mandates such as PPE with 10 year life, radio systems. Without a dedicated Fire District Board to oversee the growth and plan for expenditures, the fire company may become insolvent.

The village has been approached in the past about increasing funding for the fire company. The village increased the budget in 2019 from $35,000, to $56,000 increase was the first since the merger of Skenesborough Central Volunteer Fire into Whitehall Fire. Historically, town taxpayers have provided the lion’s share of the company’s operation budget, while village taxpayers have had a minimal contribution by comparison.

A Fire District would eliminate the fire department line item in the village budget; and the Special District in the town.

Both the village and the town will be in the Fire District.

A Fire District will allow a tax on each parcel and will insure a fair burden for all taxpayers, while providing a guaranteed revenue stream to the fire company in order to continue providing the best in fire protection, fire prevention and rescue services.

Budget:

It currently costs approximately $210,000 per year to maintain the fire company. Local government provides $180,000, plus an average of $8,000 from fundraising – leaving the fire company losing approximately $30,000 per year. The fire company maintains two bank accounts: Fire Operations checking, Capital Reserve savings.

The Volunteer and Exempt Firefighters Benevolent Association of Whitehall provides Member Benefit and receives no taxpayer money (all NY State Foreign Fire Tax money is deposited here). This fund provides tee shirts, dress uniforms, and other apparel for firefighters; and provides for the Annual Installation of Officers Banquet.

Whitehall needs a local live fire training center for the new curriculum. Firefighters currently have to travel to Ballston Spa for live fire training, 1.5 hours away.

Expanding responsibilities such as a training center for local firefighters, new state mandates, and a long range replacement program for apparatus and equipment will strain the current finances.

Due to set Spending Limitations, based on current assessed evaluation set by Town Law, an initial budget of approximately $193,000 is all that is allowed to be raised by taxes (unless a public referendum is conducted).

A Fire District insures that the immediate needs of the fire company are being met, that infrastructure of the both stations and the training center will be maintained in the upcoming years.

Grants:

Our history with grants is well known. No other fire company in Washington county has received more grant money than Whitehall Fire. In our last grant we received $24,000 for 10 sets of PPE from the 2014 FEMA Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG). Countless hours have gone into writing this grant, and countless more will go into administering it. We attempted two more grants for the Martell Training Center located next to the Town Garage.

Washington County is going to a new radio system which will require us to purchase all new mobile and portable radios for the fire officers.(only chief officers have mobile radios in their cars). We are working on a $2,850 grant to fund the bulk of this purchase.

Fundraisers:

Fundraising is extremely time-consuming, and takes away valuable time firefighters need for training.  Due to manpower issues, we have not been able to conduct the three coin drops per year as we did several years ago. We send out an Annual Letter Campaign each April where we gross about $10,000 and net about $7,800 after utilizing a mailing company to prepare, address and send out the letters ($2,200 cost).

Anticipated Major Purchases:

(all dates are project starting dates; amounts and cost estimates are approximate)

Recent & Anticipated Major Purchases:
(This does not include regular annual maintenance costs on buildings, and equipment. All dates are project starting dates; amounts and cost estimates are approximate)
2015 Purchase of 20 Emergency Escape Systems, required by NY State 12 NYCRR Part 800.7. $14,000 – Completed.
2015 Purchase of 10 sets of PPE through 2014 FEMA AFG grant. $24,800. (PPE=coats, pants, boots, helmet, hood, gloves) – Completed.
2016 Purchase of 2000’ of 1.75” attack line $5,000.00. This will equip four trucks. Completed.
2016 Purchased used 2008 Glassmaster rescue boat, equipped with 24 mile radar cartography, sonar system and emergency lighting package, cost of $9,999. Completed.
Replaced 1972 Mako Marine rescue boat, to be sold as surplus equipment this spring. Completed.
2016 Replace four overhead doors at Station #1. Completed
2016 Purchase replacement windows for both buildings (w-1913, w-1968). Both buildings received new vinyl replacement windows in 1987. Some of the conditions are broken glass, failed dual glass panels, sashes that will not stay closed and/or do not hold heat. Completed.
2016 Purchase of 20 Unication brand Pagers, $9,500 Completed
2017 Matching money of $9,800 for 2016 AFG Grant of $198,000 – no award
2017 Expansion of hard drive to station server, additional cameras installed, Computer tracked ID card RFID encoded locks. $3,300 Completed
2019 Long term loan (15-20 yr.) for extensive renovation of the old firehouse: floors, stairwell, installation of new back-up generator, repaint of all apparatus bays, refinish apparatus room floors in main station, Training Center property improvements. Stage one for $75,000 UCC loan 10yr.; Stage Two for 100,000 using the building combined into one loan for 18 years. Completed for a UCC loan (stage one) through Bank of Greene County in December 2017. Part 2 will finish as listed.
2018 Truck Service, pump testing, hose testing, aerial testing $18,000 Pump and hose testing not completed.
2018 Refinish concrete floors in station #1 (1968) $15,500. Completed
2018 Purchase & connect two 40’ shipping containers for live fire training. $5,300. Completed
2019 Point to point internet connection from Station #1 to Station #2 for additional camera coverage. $500.
2019 Purchase of 5 Carbon Fiber bottles $5,000. (Replacing five bottles too old for hydrostatic testing.)
2019 Purchase of 6 new fire officer’s radios, $4,500 (low band is being phased out)
2019 The floor and stairwell in the 1913 building is unsafe and needs to be rebuilt. Loan part 2
2019 Electrical System/Generator System in station #1 need to be upgraded $20,000. Loan part 2.
2019 Truck Service, pump testing, hose testing, aerial testing $18,000
2019 Purchase of 1500’ of 5” large diameter hose $19,000.00 including couplings and hydrant connections. This will equip one truck. We have four that need to be outfitted. #1
2019 Purchase of 1500’ of 5” large diameter hose $19,000.00 including couplings and hydrant connections. This will equip one truck. We have four that need to be outfitted. #2
2019 Connect the two shipping containers together for live fire training. $10,000.
2020 Purchase of 5 sets of PPE, $12,500. (PPE=coats, pants, boots, helmet, hood, gloves)
2020 Purchase 5 new pagers, $2,000.
2020 Purchase of 1500’ of 5” large diameter hose $20,000.00 including couplings and hydrant connections. This will equip one truck. We have four that need to be outfitted. #3
2020 Purchase of 1500’ of 5” large diameter hose $20,000.00 including couplings and hydrant connections. This will equip one truck. We have four that need to be outfitted. #4
2020 Truck Service, pump testing, hose testing, aerial testing $18,000
2020 Purchase of 3 SCBA, plus 3 spare bottles $25,000.
2021 Purchase of 15 Emergency Escape Systems, $16,000.
2021 Truck Service, pump testing, hose testing, aerial testing $18,000
2021 Purchase of 10 sets of PPE, $25,000. (PPE=coats, pants, boots, helmet, hood, gloves)
2022 Truck Service, pump testing, hose testing, aerial testing $20,000
2023 Truck Service, pump testing, hose testing, aerial testing $20,000
2023 Purchase of 3 SCBA, plus 3 spare bottles $26,000.
2023 Purchase of 10 sets of PPE, $25,000.
2024 Truck Service, pump testing, hose testing, aerial testing $20,000
2025 Purchase of 3 SCBA, $20,000.
2025 Truck Service, pump testing, hose testing, aerial testing $20,000
2025 Purchase of new SCBA air refill station, $50,000. (to replace 35-year-old unit).
2025 Replace Ladder 482 replacement, $950,000.
2026 Truck Service, pump testing, hose testing, aerial testing $22,000
2027 Purchase of 3 SCBA, plus 3 spare bottles $27,000.
2027 Truck Service, pump testing, hose testing, aerial testing $22,000
2028 Purchase of 10 sets of PPE, $27,000. (PPE=coats, pants, boots, helmet, hood, gloves)
2028 Truck Service, pump testing, hose testing, aerial testing $22,000

In closing, we thank you for your support and we encourage members of both boards and the public to stop in on Tuesday evenings and tour the facility, meet the members and appreciate what local volunteers have done for you for over 60 years!

Grant History

  • 2005     $ 94,000 FEMA AFG – PPE / SCBA
  • 2006     $  1,500 ENCON grant – Pump w/ forestry hose
  • 2007     $ 95,000 FEMA AFG – Engine Tanker
  • 2007     $  1,500 ENCON grant – Chain Saw Safety Chaps, Helmet
  • 2008     $ 30,000 NY State – Ice Water Rescue Boat
  • 2008     $  1,500 ENCON grant – Chainsaw, Safety equipment
  • 2009     $ 21,000 FEMA AFG – AED/Radios-cross band repeater system
  • 2009     $  2,000 NY State – shelving for Engine Tanker
  • 2010     $ 51,000 FEMA AFG – PPE / Gear Lockers
  • 2010     $  1,500 ENCON grant- Hand Tools, Indian Tanks
  • 2011     $  1,500 ENCON grant – Fire-resistant Coveralls for Brush fires
  • 2015     $ 24,800 FEMA AFG – PPE

Total $325,300 over 10 years, averages $32,530 per year in grants.