RYE BROOK, N.Y. – Port Chester and Rye Brook will start saving some taxpayer money in June when the villages begin sharing fire protection services.
Rye Brook will pay Port Chester about $1 million over the next five years to use its services when the new agreement kicks in on June 1.
Port Chester approved the contract this month, replacing an agreement that expires May 31.
Port Chester resident Goldie Solomon said she was concerned the village won't be adequately protected from a fire under the new contract.
“It should not just be five-year fire protection, it should be all the time,” she said.
Port Chester Mayor Dennis Pilla said officials plan to evaluate how the merger is working and if fire operations can be improved and costs decreased throughout the term of the contract.
Under the agreement, fire services will operate under one department called the “Port Chester Fire Department.” Current Fire Chief Kevin McMinn will continue in the role on a volunteer basis.
Port Chester Trustee Daniel Brakewood said merging fire services is common in other communities.
“That really is what a lot of municipalities strive for,” Brakewood said. “We are very fortunate here in the Village of Port Chester to have one of our key departments be a sharing service with our neighbor, the Village of Rye Brook."
Pilla said both villages will benefit from the new arrangement.
“This fire contract calls for a 2 percent annual increase, which is at the tax cap, so for Rye Brook, it keeps them where they want to be, which is a win for them, and it increases revenue that we get specifically for fire protection. The cost of the Fire Department is increasing by less than 2 percent, so this is a win-win for the Village of Port Chester,” he said.
Rye Brook Mayor Joan Feinstein said Feb. 12 during her State of the Village address that she is glad the village will continue to receive high-quality fire protection.
“This shows the importance of sharing services and intermunicipal cooperation,” she said.
The villages will discuss how to bring enough staff to the department if levels change in either community.
Port Chester will staff the Rye Brook fire station with at least one career firefighter and fire engine for at least 12 hours a day.
In addition, each village will fund costs for department personnel, requirements for training firefighters, benefits, and other costs including the maintenance, repair and replacement of their own firetrucks.