Montgomery County, Amsterdam Fire Department join forces

FONDA — Montgomery County and the city of Amsterdam have announced a new intermunicipal agreement to give funding to the city’s fire department.

County Executive Matthew L. Ossenfort announced on Thursday the two municipalities have reached an agreement to appropriate $10,000 to the department for 2017.

According to a news release from Ossenfort’s office, the funding, which was included in the county’s 2017 budget, will assist with training, equipment and support the fire department, in response to hazardous material incidents or confined-space rescue.

The funds were approved by the County Executive and County Legislature for the city to use for its fire department “in a cooperative action to stabilize hazmat response, improve overall safety and benefit all residents.”

“This agreement illustrates another positive partnership between the county and the city,” Ossenfort said in the news release. “The Amsterdam Fire Department has the appropriate people in place to support the volunteers who have been providing this service, which is absolutely necessary to protect our residents. This funding the county is providing to the city’s fire department will go a long way in helping us be better prepared for any potential incidents.”

The agreement guarantees the fire department will respond to any hazmat incident throughout Montgomery County. According to the release, the addition of the city fire department to what volunteer firefighters already do, will provide immediate and enhanced coverage for all municipalities in the county. According to the release, the volunteer firefighter support the addition of the Amsterdam Fire Department.

“Public safety and being prepared are among our highest priorities at the county, so we are grateful for the positive working relationship with the city,” said District 8 Legislator Joseph M. Isabel, who also serves as the chairman of the legislature’s Public Safety Committee. “This teamwork and cooperation demonstrates our ability to put the safety of our residents first.”

According to county officials, Montgomery County has the longest stretch of the New York state Thruway and CSX rail tracks in the entire state.

These highly traveled transportation routes, in addition to many state roads, place the county at risk for a hazardous material incident at any given time. Responding to these types of incidents requires specific manpower and training, according to the release.

“Our coordinated response to potential emergency situations is more effective when we work together,” Montgomery County Emergency Services Director Jeffery T. Smith said. “The city fire department has helped stabilize the county’s ability to handle these types of incidents and positioned us in a better place overall to respond should a situation take place.”

Montgomery County has a regional agreement with Fulton and Schoharie counties to provide assistance, when needed, and the Amsterdam Fire Department has agreed to provide response for this regional team as well, and has agreed to support the county’s department of public works for any confined-space work detail, rescue or incident.

“We are happy to partner with the county on this very important endeavor,” Amsterdam Fire Department Chief Michael Whitty said. “This support will help us obtain necessary equipment and keep our trainings and qualifications up to date. This cooperation between the city and the county is benefiting all of our residents.”

By Patricia Older

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