Niagara Gazette

Lewiston

March 24, 2014

After recent fire, state and town officials renew effort to see NYPA help fund fire units

Niagara Gazette — It’s long been considered a sticky situation, but there’s renewed interest on behalf of the Lewiston Town Board this month to seek some form of reimbursement for fire protection at the New York Power Authority’s Robert Moses power plant.

Wednesday’s fire, which saw a transformer explode, according to a NYPA spokesperson, further invigorated the movement and got at least one state politician involved.

“The volunteer fire departments that were called on to put out the dangerous fire at the NYPA plant deserve our thanks and gratitude and should be commended for their efforts (Wednesday) night,” Assemblyman John Ceretto, R-Lewiston, said. “This fire illustrates the importance of NYPA giving compensation to these volunteer fire companies and fire departments for their service so that their budgets are not unnecessarily strained and their resources not stretched too thin. This compensation is needed to ensure firefighters have the right equipment to fight fires and get safely home to their families. Even before this incident, I was talking with NYPA’s leadership about the issue, and (this) event only underscore its importance.”

Upper Mountain Fire Co., Lewiston No. 1 Fire Co., Niagara Active Hose Fire Co. and the Sanborn Fire Co., along with the emergency response unit of the Niagara Air Reserve Station responded to the blaze Wednesday, which took about 80 minutes to bring under control.

For those on the Lewiston board, though, it’s 80 minutes they’ll expense without hope of reimbursement. At least for now.

During the board’s March 10 work session, Councilman Michael Marra presented a new resolution calling for renewed negotiation between NYPA and the town to get some form of payment to help ease the town’s burden in situations like Wednesday.

In Marra’s resolution, the town claims NYPA deprives the town’s protection units of $2 million in revenue due to being a public entity within the town’s boundary. The board claims it’s 2,400 acres of land being protected by Lewiston fire departments and police with no way of offsetting the cost to taxpayers who fund the needs when new equipment and vehicles are purchased or training is needed.

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