When members of Amherst’s Ellicott Creek Volunteer Fire Company respond to a fire on Raintree Island in the Town of Tonawanda, they have to drive past a Brighton Fire Company station on Ellicott Creek Road at Parker Boulevard.
And with Tonawanda’s contract with the Ellicott Creek company up for renewal Monday night, some Raintree residents questioned why Brighton can’t take over responsibility for the Ellicott Creek company’s part of the town.
“This is a life safety issue,” Jason Adams told the board. “They have to call a different town to report their emergency, have it transferred to Amherst. There’s a delay there. They have to come a mile further than the fire department that’s closer. There’s a delay there.”
The Ellicott Creek company has provided fire coverage for that area of the town for about 70 years. Brighton did not approach the town this year to inquire about taking over responsibility for Raintree Island. Five years ago, Brighton proposed taking over half the area, but the Ellicott Creek company wouldn’t agree, said Supervisor Anthony F. Caruana.
The Town Board voted unanimously Monday to extend the contract with the Ellicott Creek company for another five years, but not before officials urged both companies to try to work out a new arrangement.
At the meeting, Chris Tracey, a past Brighton chief, noted that Brighton is closer to Raintree Island and said that he is concerned for residents’ safety.
But Ellicott Creek Chief Joseph Osika explained that both companies are dispatched to calls in that area, which also includes Ellicott Creek Park and the Irvington-Creekside neighborhood in the very northern section of the town. “Any confirmed structure fires that we have in that area, Brighton is dispatched at the same time,” he said. “I can tell you, from what I know, they’ve never arrived there before we did.”
Osika also said Brighton’s response time depends on which of its three stations firefighters are coming from. Brighton also has stations on McConkey Drive and Jamaica Road, farther from Raintree Island. “He’s correct,” Osika said of Tracey’s comments. “I get it. They are closer. But it also depends on what station they get out of first because they have three stations.”
Caruana said when the contract was up five years ago, Irvington-Creekside residents objected, noting that Brighton firefighters would have to drive past Ellicott Creek’s main hall on South Ellicott Creek Road to get to their neighborhood.
“It just didn’t seem like there was a rational explanation to solve that,” Caruana said. “I would gladly like to see, if it’s possible, to split that in two. But I think Ellicott Creek and Brighton need to get together and discuss that.”
Under the extension, the town agrees to pay the Ellicott Creek company $73,355 annually through 2020, the same as for the previous five years.
Adams said the Ellicott Creek company handles 20 calls annually in that part of the town, amounting to $3,668 per call.
After the meeting, Osika said that there is no “ill will” between the companies.