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Strategic plan in future for town's emergency services

Fire and ambulance companies will finance project if grants can't be found

Emergency services districts in the Town of Bethlehem are looking to collaborate in creating a plan that would help them better work together in the coming years.

The town's five fire departments and two ambulance corps first began discussing in October partnering to develop a 5- to 10-year development plan. At that time, the state's Local Government Efficiency Planning Grant Program was still handing out funds for such projects, but since then the program has run out of money and is unlikely to see more funding in the near future.

The districts are not looking for funding from the town, but rather support in finding grants and also in framing data when the study does get under way, said John Lutz, who is on the Board of Commissioners of the Elsmere Fire Department, at a Wednesday, July 28, meeting of the Town Board. The funding is needed to bring in a consultant to assist with the planning.

We felt that it was important that a 5- to 10-year plan be put in place, and to accomplish that we felt a consultant was necessary, he said.

Among the topics the departments would coordinate on are future equipment purchases, standardizing operating procedures and training and seeking out cost savings. The departments would coordinate with the town through the supervisor's office.

Supervisor Sam Messina said this is the first he knows of such collaboration between the town's emergency service districts. He also made mention of the town's 20/20 Plan, which sets the goal of coordinating municipal services.

"It was certainly on my mind, and I think it was certainly on the minds and motives of the people who met with me," he said of the plan.

Other communities that are covered by multiple emergency services companies have conducted emergency services studies, including the Town of Malta, where companies are preparing for the opening of a GlobalFoundries manufacturing plant and the challenges that will present.

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