The recently upgraded its firehouse and dispatch system, giving it further independence, and will soon have a new ambulance in its fleet — moves that officials are touting were made without taxes being raised.
“We are keeping up with the times to give you the best when you need help,” said Katherine Archibald, clerk of the Inwood Fire District. “The last few years, we’ve really nailed it fiscally. The board we have now is cognizant of budgeting.”
The district’s budget for this year was $1.5 million, which will remain the same for next year. The board has been putting aside money for a capital reserve fund for the past few years in anticipation of the upgrades, according to Commissioner Charles Borfitz. Most of the budget is spent on day-to-day operations such as maintaining equipment and the 100-year-old firehouse.
“That’s the first thing on everybody’s mind when you’re spending, to keep within a boundary,” said Borfitz, who was to the board last December. “We have a great plan with upkeep and mechanical work.”
The new dispatch system — a Zetron Model 4010 Radio Dispatch Console — cost $33,000 and gives the Inwood Fire Department the ability to handle dispatch operations for fire departments in the Five Towns area. Four members are trained to use the system. The Nassau County Fire Communications system, known as Fire Com, handles dispatch for most firehouses now, but the system has had been outages in the past.
“The new console really gives us independence,” said Inwood Chief Rich Magliaro. “Fire Com has its moments, so we can do it ourselves. That’s a major asset to us.”
The volunteer department utilized the dispatch system during Hurricane Irene, when Fire Come was inundated with alarms, according to the Inwood district.
A new ambulance is also being built for the department to replace an older one in the fleet, which will be sold. The vehicle will cost about $160,000 and is four-wheel drive, which Magliaro insisted upon.
“It costs $5,000 more, but I won’t have to send an engine out in the winter,” he said. “Now they can be pretty independent. For the most part, the ambulance will get there.”
Other recent purchases include a $16,000 mezzanine, which adds two floors of storage space to the firehouse.
Magliaro praised the board of commissioners, saying many past chiefs have had shouting matches with prior boards.
“They’ve been smart businessmen in the past number of years, where they put money in capital reserve,” he said. But, he added, “I can’t rule out that they won’t raise taxes.”
The reason for this may be due to a proposed from Long Island American Water, who owns the fire hydrants the department uses. The department currently pays $400,000 a year to use the hydrants.
Magliaro said that if prices increase, the department might buy its own water tanker to respond to calls, but he said that solution has its own problems.
The Inwood Fire District will hold an election on Dec. 13 from 6 to 9 p.m. to elect a fire commissioner for a five-year term.
Thomas Havey, a 33-year member of the Inwood fire department and former chief, currently fills the seat and is seeking reelection. The board appointed Havey after a commissioner stepped down this year.
“I feel I do the job to the best of my ability,” he said.