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Mt. Kisco Mulls Expanding Firehouses

Village Board, fire commissioners, discuss possible additions for two firehouses. New Castle and Bedford residents in Mount Kisco's fire district may be asked to pay shares for it.

Mount Kisco officials are considering a series of construction projects for the village's three firehouses, including building additions for two of them.

The ideas were discussed Monday night at a special joint meeting of the Village Board of Trustees and the Board of Fire Commissioners. Members of both boards took time to review what items the village's four fire companies might need for their buildings, along with safety measures.

The ideas being considered would involve an addition for the Independent Fire Company's Lexington Avenue firehouse, which would contain a new apparatus bay, and a one-bay addition for the Green Street firehouse, which is the home of two fire companies: Union Hook & Ladder and Rescue Fire Police. The East Main Street firehouse that houses the Mutual Engine & Hose fire company was being discussed for a possible elevator.

Mayor Michael Cindrich described the meeting as being "conceptual" for what the needs are. The fire commissioners, who represent the fire companies, will return with a list of items that are considered to be needs. What to include for work would ultimately have to be decided. Unlike some nearby fire districts that serve as standalone entities, Mount Kisco's is politically attached to the village government; commissioners are appointed and the village owns the firehouses.

The reasons for the additions depend on the firehouse. Cindrich said the reason for Independent is so that it can more easily move its equipment out during calls, while having more usable space in a two-fire company building was the reason for the Green Street proposal. For Mutual, having an elevator would provide for something that could be used to help its elderly members get to the second floor more easily.

Recent History Shapes the Proposals

The expansion proposals are not new, however. The addition for the Independent firehouse was in an area drawing in 2000, when the next-door Mount Kisco Volunteer Ambulance Corps building was worked on. More recently, the expansion concept for the Green Street building was made around the late 2000s as part of an application for a federal grant.

“That's something that we really do need to look at," Fire Commissioner Lanson Hyatt said about a Green Street addition.

Officials are revisting the concepts after the Independent company made a presentation before the village board on Jan. 3, with future needs having been discussed. The meeting led to a broader interest in looking at each company's situation, according to Cindrich.

The Green Street firehouse and the Mutual firehouse have had additions before, it was noted. Ironically, a structural flaw caused by a previous addition on the Green Street building, believed to have been done in the 1970s, is being cited as something to tackle. The flaw discussed is the fact that the building's original exterior wall was left in place, which means that fire trucks cannot drive completely through one of the bays. The structural oddity was discussed as being a safety risk for any firefighter situated by a truck that is coming back into the building, and its removal was talked about as an option.

Other items discussed ranged from whether the Independent firehouse could serve as the village's emergency operations center during a future disaster - massive flooding was described as an example - to replacing each firehouse's heating system with natural gas. It was explained that the later idea could be part of a bond package or it could be handled outside of one.

Still Open: Cost, Site Specifics

The village board is open to handling work on all three firehouses as one package. This could lead to a relatively large bond and possibly a public vote. While no cost studies have been done yet, village officials who spoke broad about the issue feel that it will likely be in the seven-figure range.

As trustees and comissioners discussed debt service, a trip down memory lane was taken, as officials discussed the costs of other major projects that were handled within the last decade, including the Byram Lake water filtration plant and the newer library building. At one point, Cindrich suggested a possibility of getting the financing for the firehouse work after some existing debt has matured and is dropped; the mayor added, however, that safety will not be sacrificed.

Meanwhile, the exact site for the Green Street addition remains to be considered. It was originally eyed for the western part of the building, Cindrich told reporters after the meeting, but because of environmental regulation it may be more suitable for the eastern side, which abuts the parking lot of the former Borders Books & Music site.

Once commissioners come back with the companies' list of needs, the village could choose to seek out an architect and engineer to work on a detailed plan, while financing could be looked at in detail.

Impact is Unclear for New Castle, Bedford Residents

Although Mount Kisco's fire department is based in the village and covers its entirety, its fire district also includes large parts of the towns of New Castle and Bedford. Residents who reside in those parts of each town pay for fire protection through their property taxes, according to Village Manager James Palmer, and a contract system is in place.

Cindrich said that New Castle and Bedford town officials would be informed about the possible plans. He also did not rule out having residents of the towns who have the village's fire protection contributing to the project's cost, describing it as something that is "open for discussion."

It is also not clear whether New Castle and Bedford residents would be able to directly vote on a referendum for a proposal.

Axle January 15, 2013 at 05:31 PM
Maybe someone can explain why a 3 square mile village with a population of around 10,000 needs three fire stations, and four companies.
jkeeping January 15, 2013 at 06:35 PM
The members of the Mount Kisco Fire Department often join the firehouse/Company located nearest to the neighborhood in which the reside. Have you ever tried to get from the north end of Kisco, to the south end at 4:30 on a week day. The firehouse are geography located so one engine company is in the north end of the Village (the Mutuals) and the Independent in the South with the Hook and ladder and Rescue companies in the center. The number of Firehouses and apparatus also is based on ISO insurance ratings.
Tom Auchterlonie (Editor) January 15, 2013 at 06:51 PM
Axle, the Mount Kisco fire district serves a much larger area than the village proper, as many New Castle and Bedford residents rely on its protection. The fire district includes the northeastern panhandle of New Castle (which includes relatively dense communities, such as Kisco Park and Riverwoods), southeastern New Castle and southwestern Bedford.
Donald Fagen January 15, 2013 at 06:58 PM
C'mon. It is unamerican to question the need for firehouses. Neighbor New Castle has 3 fire houses, 2 of which are being used, and Millwood is looking to add a new building with a big multiuse room good for parties.
Axle January 15, 2013 at 07:59 PM
I won't assume to know how to run a fire department, but it seems that ours should be looking for ways to run more efficiently (consolidating, even) instead of adding to our already high taxes. Also, adding an elevator to accommodate elderly members doesn't seem to be related to the duties of a fire house.
lanny hyatt January 17, 2013 at 04:26 PM
Your first statement " I won't assume to know how to run a Fire Department " says it all....shut-up.....with out are old timers , The MKFD would not exist.
Axle January 17, 2013 at 05:17 PM
I respect the fire department and those who volunteer their time and effort to serve, and those who have in the past. I believe it's a great and selfless thing, and these men and women set a fine example to us all. Unfortunately some people don't seem to be made of the same stuff. There should definitely be some benefit to volunteering for the fire department, but that should be defined and made clear to the taxpayers. A yearly cash bonus? Special parking privileges? Retired member perks? Sure. But the fire department shouldn't just get the green light for things unrelated to the duties of the fire department just because it wants them. All I'm saying is that there should be justification. If the elderly members need to get to the second floor of the fire house in order to aid in the function of the fire department, then it should be considered. If it's so they can more easily hang out and shoot the breeze with those on duty, then maybe not.

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