Plan to Consolidate County Fire Stations Comes Under Fire

September 27, 2013 Updated Jul 7, 2010 at 11:37 PM EDT

By WKBW News

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September 27, 2013 Updated Jul 7, 2010 at 11:37 PM EDT

Dick Mariani is the Commissioner of West Seneca Fire District Number Four. He argues the idea of consolidating fire districts to save money, doesn't add up.

"What people are doing now with 500 calls a year, 1000 calls a year would just put them over the top. Response times would be increased, insurance rates would go up...there are just too many cons against it," said Mariani.

But Erie County Controller Mark Poloncarz doesn't agree. A recent report released by his office shows Erie County has 98 fire companies. Compare that to 40 in Monroe County and 58 in Onondaga County.

Poloncarz admits he doesn't have all the answers. His report didn't include the impact on response times. But with taxpayers spending $130 million on fire safety, he says an audit needs to be done.

"The major recommendation was not to change it and turn it into a countywide facility or force...or to turn it into a paid force, but that the county should at least look and see if further study makes sense and I think it does," said Poloncarz.

A room packed full of local volunteer firefighters say the decision should be made by the fire stations, not a politician.

"In Elma, we did get together and look at possibly consolidating and at that time we would be putting our community at risk due to response times so we decided to go against it," said Brian Nolan, the Jamison Road Fire Company Chief.

Poloncarz asked Erie County Executive Chris Collins to apply for a grant to fund further research about the idea. But Collins declined.