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Voters to have say on Elmwood Park land buy

Leadership of the North Bethlehem Fire Department will be seeking voter approval to purchase a 6-acre tract of land behind the company's Russell Road firehouse at a cost of $315,000.

The department, which serves the Elmwood Park Fire District, said this purchase would be largely covered through the department's savings and the remainder of the loan will be covered out of the existing operating budget. There are no immediate plans on the table for the land, but Chief Paul Fuino said it would make a good investment for several reasons, one of which would be to prevent any housing development.

We are good neighbors, but we're not good neighbors, he said. "Sometimes when they dial 911 they love us, other times they say the trucks made too much noise...basically, we're looking for land to buffer the firehouse."

Complaints from nearby residents about sirens, late-night activity and traffic are common for fire departments, and North Bethlehem has been no exception, Fuino said. Keeping some distance between the firehouse and community can help cut down on any disturbances.

The department also has tentative plans to build a new shed near the firehouse to help with its rehab tent operations. North Bethlehem provides a heated and air conditioned tent for firefighter and medical use during major fire events, and in the winter unfreezing the tent after a call can be a problem, Fuino said.

"The tent is like a solid block of ice...we have to pull our trucks out of the station for hours to clean and thaw everything," he said. "If we put it on our property now, it will take up most of our fields and everything. By having the extra space and land they're able to push everything back and make space for it."

The tent was used 24 times last year.

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