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Fire Companies reach agreement

Updated: Aug 31, 2020

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A Year Ago

On Tuesday August 12, 2019 there was a public hearing scheduled for 6pm at the Taghkanic Town Hall. The purpose was to discuss the town’s proposal to possibly change fire company coverage areas in the Town of Taghkanic. At that time, the Town of Taghkanic contracted with Churchtown Fire Company to cover the north eastern corner of Taghkanic along the border with Claverack and Livingston, extending down the Route 27 corridor into East Taghkanic. The town also contracted with the Taghkanic Fire Company to cover the area of West Taghkanic, the western part of the town bordering Livingston, the southern part of the town bordering Gallatin and the eastern part of the town bordering Copake and Ancram. There is a smaller section in the Northeastern part of the town that is covered by the Craryville Fire District. Taghkanic Town Supervisor Ryan Skoda contacted members of the Taghkanic Fire Company in June of 2019 to discuss his proposal with them and subsequently met with the Churchtown Fire Company in July to do the same. The well attended public hearing maxed out the allowable building code capacity of the town hall and was relocated across the street to Taghkanic Fire Station #1. The meeting was quite lively and animated. Some audience members in attendance had a “if it isn’t broke don’t fix it” attitude. Some, although not as vocal, felt there is obviously something wrong when a situation exists in our town that has a fire company responding almost 5 miles to a location that has a fire truck from another agency literally next door or across the street. This situation was a difficult one, with passionate pleas and arguments from many members of the audience being directed to the town board. The moral answer was not as popular as the public opinion answer.

The result of those engagements from the public hearing led to a follow up meeting with a few members from each fire company talking with Supervisor Skoda at the Taghkanic Town Hall in September. Little headway was made during this two-and-a-half-hour process. Churchtown claimed they could provide better coverage to the area in question from their station in the hamlet of Churchtown and expressed they would suffer an unsurmountable hardship if anything was done to change the monies they receive from the Town of Taghkanic. The Taghkanic Fire Company took a non-confrontational position at first. They had no plan to nor did they want to engage anyone, but ended up defending themselves and Taghkanic Fire Station 2, located in East Taghkanic. The fire station in East Taghkanic is the one pictured above. It contains the pumper/tanker you see in the photo. The truck has served the residents of the Taghkanic Fire District well since 2006 and has a significant and tactical advantage of being housed at the County 10 & County 27 intersection. It’s important to note in addition to the obvious fact of Taghkanic Station 2 being in East Taghkanic, Taghkanic Fire Station 1 is closer to every intersection in the area considered in Supervisor Skoda’s original proposal. This is an undisputable fact. He presented this data at the August 12th public hearing for those who missed it. All Taghkanic Equipment as well as the truck in Station 2 would be available to respond to any emergency as needed. Mr. Skoda wanted what’s best for the residents of the town and therefore asked that the fire companies work on a plan and present it to the town in the near future. The main thing that was agreed to by all in attendance was that the fire chief of Churchtown meet with the fire chief from Taghkanic to work on the plan.

The fire chiefs did meet and came up with an automatic mutual aid plan that would have the Taghkanic Fire Company dispatched to all reported structure fires, car accidents, brush fires, vehicle fires, echo level EMS calls and any call on the Taconic State Parkway that are in the Churchtown response area in the portion of the Town of Taghkanic as outlined by the attached map. Taghkanic equipment and manpower would be responding from both stations 1 and 2. The mutual aid agreement would need to be “reviewed annually and renewed by mutual agreement.” The fire chief and Board of Directors of the Churchtown Fire Company signed this plan on December 6 and the Chief and Board of Directors of the Taghkanic Fire Company signed it on December 10th 2019. It was presented to Columbia County 911 and a copy was filed with the Taghkanic Town Board and therefore is in effect until this December. The Taghkanic Fire Company will receive no compensation for their participation in this mutual aid plan.

As of this date there have been no automatic mutual aid calls dispatched by the Columbia County 911 Center in this area.

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