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Shifting fire dispatching questioned

An Orchard Park police lieutenant has urged the Town Board to find out why the Orchard Park Fire District wants to switch fire and ambulance dispatching to the Town of Hamburg.

"As a patrol supervisor who routinely observes the desk function and currently serves as [automated external defibrillator] coordinator and [cardiopulmonary resuscitation] instructor as well as being a former paramedic, I have learned one thing, and that is, time is money," Lt. Joseph A. Buccilli told the board at Wednesday's meeting.

Orchard Park fire commissioners have talked with the Town of Hamburg about moving fire and emergency medical services calls to Hamburg. But the commissioners have been waiting for results of a study, commissioned by the Town Board, of the Orchard Park Police Department and dispatching.

"We need to know what the town is doing, what [its] vision is for dispatch," said Bill Szewc Jr., chairman of the Orchard Park Fire District's board of commissioners.

He said dispatching has been discussed for 20 years. Last year, before learning of the town's study, the Fire District got serious and negotiated with the Hamburg dispatch.

"Until we have something from the town, we're not going to make any decision," Szewc said, adding that the Fire District would conduct a public meeting on the issue before it votes on a proposal.

Orchard Park handled more than 2,400 fire and emergency medical services calls last year. Contracting those calls out to Hamburg could cost $50,000 and take more time, Buccilli said.

Szewc said the Fire District, which consists of three volunteer fire companies and operates its own ambulance service, has asked the town for changes in dispatching, particularly by adding dispatchers and increasing training.