The Round Lake Fire Department’s volunteers are asking officials to begin planning for a new substation in the town of Ballston.
They also said having more money from the towns of Malta and Ballston would allow members to spend less volunteer time on fundraising, and help attract and retain more volunteer firefighters.
A new station would improve response times in a fast-growing section of Ballston, in the western part of the district the fire department covers.
“A fire station in the western part of the district must be planned for now, or land will not be available or affordable,” said incoming Round Lake Hose Co. President Fred Sievers.
The company members met Saturday with representatives of the Malta and Ballston town boards and the Round Lake Village Board to outline some of their ideas about the future.
The department is dealing with significant growth in the areas it covers, as well as the prospect of more emergency activity if Advanced Micro Devices builds a computer chip factory in the Luther Forest Technology Campus.
“Increased call volume will come with growth,” said firefighter James McGork.
Firefighters from the Malta Ridge volunteer fire company had a similar meeting with the Malta Town Board recently, to say it may need more resources if AMD arrives and as Luther Forest develops.
The Round Lake department is owned by the village. It has a $336,000 annual budget, which is funded by a $317,472 contract with the town of Malta, and an $18,600 contract with the town of Ballston.
Under those contracts, it provides coverage to the southern half of the town of Malta and an area of Ballston running from East Line Road most of the way to Ballston Lake’s eastern shore. Last year, Round Lake responded to about 300 calls, ranging from house fires to accidents on the Northway.
That part of Ballston, which has been rural farmland, is seeing development of the 120-lot Chapel Hill residential subdivision, and more subdivisions are being planned. With its closest station being on the east side of the Northway in Round Lake, company members said response time to that area could be slow, especially since many of the volunteers live on the west side of the Northway but need to get to the fire station before responding.
Ballston Supervisor Patti Southworth said a new station in that town would be a big expense for taxpayers, but could be something to look at in the future.
“It’s good to have that on the radar,” she said.
The volunteers also asked for more help with recruiting new members.
The Round Lake Hose Co., a separate organization made up of the volunteers, currently has about 50 volunteers. The number has been dropping.
The hose company has a separate $82,000 budget, some of which comes from lease payments made by the village for the station, but about $33,000 of which comes from fundraising activities.
Sievers said the company would like to see municipal funding increased to the point the volunteers don’t have to do door-to-door fundraising.
“It would be really helpful to us if our operation were funded to the point our time could go to training and firefighting,” he said.
No specific amount was requested, and town officials made no commitment. Funding for firefighting comes through the property tax, since state law says other general revenue like sales tax money can’t go to fire districts.
Malta Supervisor Paul Sausville said finding ways of keeping viable volunteer fire services has to be a priority because of the high cost of a paid fire department.
“We’re always on the lookout for ideas,” Sausville said.
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