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Mutual Aid Calls for Rescue Unit Have Fulton Mayor Thinking of Quitting Fire Mutual Aid System

Four times in the last year, Fulton city firefighters have been called to the Chateau West apartments just over the city line in Granby to help that town’s volunteers.  Now, according to Mayor Ron Woodward, city firefighters are being called out of the city to help with accidents.

Enough is enough, said Woodward, who raised the possibility of quitting the county’s mutual aid system at a recent Common Council meeting.

“I’m certainly looking at it,” he said in an interview afterwards. “If you can’t get volunteers, why would you expect another municipality to fight your fires?”

Under mutual aid, neighboring fire departments are called to help handle an event or provide backup staffing at a fire station.

The number of volunteer firefighters has been dropping over time.  Fewer employers allow workers to leave their jobs to respond to calls and fewer people want to spend the time and money needed to become and remain volunteers.

The city is in a bind of its own.  Its contract with the fire department’s union requires a minimum level of staffing at the two city fire stations.  Mutual aid calls could require the city to call in workers on overtime.  As the firefighter’s workday is 24 hours, that equals 24 hours of overtime.

Woodward believes the mandatory minimum staffing requirement is all but impossible to negotiate out of the contract with the union.

Woodward’s motivation is simple: “I want to get paid for what we’re doing,” he said.  “I would never want to eliminate it but I think we have to sit down and say ‘Look, guys, we can’t pay for this.'”

Woodward even raised the possibility of having neighboring towns contract with the city for fire and rescue services. “They’re paying for volunteer fire departments. They might better pay the people who are covering it.”

He said he hasn’t met with anyone at the county or town level to discuss this issue yet because he’s still gathering information from his fire department.  But he said that what he’s found has him convinced something has to change.

“We have our own problems.  We can’t serve the world,” he said.

12 Comments

  1. Mr. Mayor you should not forget about the volunteers that volunteered there time to help you with your fires this past year FREE OF CHARGE. Don’t burn this bridge you will regret it!!

  2. If he cannot save the world and he feels they should be paid for services that are provided on a mutual aid basis, is he going to pay for VOLUNTEERS to cover their city when there is a large incident? I am guessing he will not entertain that thought.

  3. Mr Mayor did you know that your city cost Granby tax payers money? We had to buy extra equipment and training for our Fire Dept. in case there is a fire at Towpath Tower . What is your plan when there is a major fire at Fulton Mill Apartments or Sealright or any other large building ? Who will you can if you opt out? Mutual Aid is just that, mutual. Are you ready to put the people of Fulton and your own Firefighters at risk over a couple of calls outside the city? If it is all about money switch to a volunteer dept.

  4. I hope the Mayor understands that mutual aid is a two-way street, hence the designation “mutual.” He might want to see how many times in the past that the surrounding volunteer departments have helped the city’s firefighters, by covering the fire houses during a big fire that has the Fulton firemen tied up, for example. Now, if the Mayor wants to contract with these departments for coverage, that is a whole different situation, involving town governments and fire districts. I hope he investigates this notion thoroughly, especially by meeting with the Oswego County Fire Coordinator and others from county emergency services. I can understand his concern; it’s just that he shouldn’t feel the Fulton Fire Department is giving everyone else a free ride and not getting anything in return.

  5. Talk about misleading this guy has no idea what he is talking about, 24hrs overtime all four fires that he mentioned they were picked up and returning within 2 hrs so 3 guys only equals 6 hrs overtime unless they have a 4hr automatic and that only adds up to 12hrs . I sure hope the firefighters are not behind this as they will need help again from there neighbors and the fact that they are union and I have yet to see a union member want to do away with overtime.

  6. This is about the most selfish thing I have ever heard coming out of Fulton. They want and want, give us this, give us that, but we don’t want to do anything for you in return. The City of Fulton stole land from the Town of Volney, you never paid us, you’ve had it now for quite awhile, what has it become? A row of empty storefronts, how much sales tax have you collected from those empty places? Mutual Aid is a necessary thing, shall the Towns of Granby and Volney make out a scorecard? I wonder who has helped who the most? Newsflash: Fulton would not exist without the Towns of Granby and Volney allowing you to become the City of Fulton, before that you were only two little villages. What would happen if another huge fire started? How much would you pay Granby and Volney to help you? Ron, this will never fly.

  7. Mr Mayor,
    I thought fore departments were suppose to help each other out in a time of need. Also they are there to help people in a community. Peoples lives should be thought of first. A paid department is always staffed and a volunteer department has to respond from home in all types of weather. This could be a life saving factor of time. It is selfish to not help your neighbors in a time of need. I have seen volunteer fire departments helping out the city on many occasions and I am sure they weren’t worried about money at that time. You are using their towns money then. By the way, why was a neighboring fire departments rescue boat parked.at futons east side station all summer? Volunteer firefighters are the unpaid professionals.

  8. When I was 2nd Ward Alderman I asked the Fire Chief to pull stats for how many times Fulton provided mutual aid as opposed to how many times we utilized it. Over a 2 year period Fulton provided mutual aid on more occasions than it received it. I’m sure current stats for more recent years would be available to anyone if requested. That being said, I do not think opting out of the mutual aid system is the answer to our problem. Mutual aid is very necessary, especially in the case of a major type of fire as mentioned by the other commenters on this site. The real problem is the cost of current fire department. Fulton has a full-time manned fire department with minimum staffing compliment of 8 firefighters per shift. In addition to normally earned leave time they have built in time off called “Kelly Days”. The minimum manning is in the city’s labor agreement with the fire union and the Mayor is right, it can only come out via negotiation or binding arbitration. Anytime someone in this city talks about reducing the size of the fire department we are told how unsafe we would be and how public safety would jeopardized. I know of other communities in NYS that have volunteer fire departments that are very well trained and qualified and there is no clamoring for paid fire departments in those communities. My thought would be that Fulton have some type of Hybrid Department with paid drivers and a mainly volunteer force. You could convert to this over a period of time, with no current firefighters losing their job. There are a number of firefighters that could retire as of now, having put in their 20 years already, we may have to negotiate a buyout package for them, and as new firefighters hit their 20 years, they could also be bought out. It would not be a huge cost saving at first, but over time, it would reduce the size of our city workforce, medical insurance costs and future pension obligations, which in the years to come will be crushing to city taxpayers. It could all be done in a humane way, and in a way that public safety can be maintained just like it is in many other communities across New York State. I hope that our city government considers this, because our city really cannot afford the level of services we are currently providing.

  9. As said many times already on this. Mr Mayor if you burn this bridge you are only hurting yourself and the city!!! There are many other ways to cut cost and spending.

  10. Mr. Mayor – What are the chance that the person who needs rescue at a car wreck lives in the City of Fulton, works in Fulton or has family in Fulton ? Any FF worth their salts would want to provide the quickest and most efficient service they could to any person in need and not worry if they went 100 feet outside the city line. If they are worried about who paying – get into a different line of work. What cost – 4 or 5 times a year – 5 to 10 miles – The FF are on duty sitting around the station or doing chores that could be put off for 1/2 hour. If you had to pay for a Vol. Dept response – 10 to 15 FF with very modern expensive equipment – look out it could get very expensive.

  11. If the volunteer department calls for your career services because you have a staffed crew – send it… that’s why your a UNION and have a recall status…

    If it was your family that needed help, you would have no problem sending your career crew…

    Quit bitching and talk to them… Dont demand – TALK…

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