The Examiner

New Castle Fire Commissioners Agree to Continue Mt. Kisco Service

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New Castle fire commissioners hope to repair the relationship with Mount Kisco officials and continue receiving fire protection from the village for 147 properties after concerns were raised that response time would suffer.

Commissioners for New Castle Fire District #1 agreed by a 4-0 vote last Thursday to continue service with the Mount Kisco Fire Department for next year for $90,000 while they explore all options for future coverage. There will also be a joint committee formed by next month consisting of officials, chiefs and perhaps residents from both communities to analyze legal costs and firefighting issues.

Last week’s action by the commissioners will result in research into the origins of the decades-old agreement and try to determine whether the area that has been serviced on the northern end of town by the Mount Kisco Fire Department is a fire protection zone or area, which could have important legal ramifications.

One of the board’s commissioners, Terence Hoey, said there were productive discussions with Mount Kisco Village Manager Edward Brancati and Mayor Gina Picinich last week, and that they were receptive to the area of town in question continuing to receive coverage from the village.

He said that increasing response time would be a mistake.

“Here we are on the eve of the end of the year and we would have been forced to provide fire protection service to these 147 houses and it would have been increasing risk for these people,” Hoey said.

The Chappaqua Fire Department would have provided the coverage, but Chief Russell Maitland said recently that as much as five minutes of additional response time would be dangerous if there was a life-threatening emergency. The closest New Castle properties are within a half-mile of a Mount Kisco firehouse.

On Dec. 1, Mount Kisco Village Manager Edward Brancati sent a letter to outgoing New Castle fire commissioner Chairman Erik Nicolaysen stating that Mount Kisco’s coverage would be terminated at the end of this month. The fire district had been paying $50,000 annually for the service until it increased to $90,000 for this year. New Castle fire commissioners objected to the steep increase, arguing that it was mainly related to Mount Kisco’s miscalculations of the village’s firehouse renovation work. Instead, the New Castle commissioners had offered $64,000.

Picinich said Mount Kisco is happy to continue its relationship with the New Castle Fire District. However, questions regarding how much is paid isn’t negotiable because it is a tax levy, she said.

“The bottom line here is we all recognize the need to ensure the highest level of service and fire safety protection and we will all work together to make sure that that happens for the people of New Castle in that area and, of course, the continuing service of the Northern Protection Fire District and all the residents of Mount Kisco,” Picinich said.

Nicolaysen, who abstained from the vote after announcing his resignation from the board effective the end of the month earlier in the meeting, said that the figure for coverage could soon rise to $120,000 a year, although that number was disputed by other commissioners.

He said the district has the money to cover the added expense.

“I’m not concerned about the availability of the funds,” Nicolaysen said. “The question that the four of you have to pass is a resolution setting aside our previous discussions and votes that you’re willing to change it to what the Mount Kisco board is requesting.”

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