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« Letter To Editor - Just Show Me The Money | Main | Letter To Editor - Red Light Camera Program More About Dollars Than Sense »

Letter To Editor - St James Fire District Proposal Consolidates Services Addresses Safety Concerns

Dear Editor,

As commissioners of the St. James Fire District, we encourage all eligible residents to learn about our proposal for improving fire services in the St. James community. Residents will have the opportunity to vote on the proposal on Tuesday, Sept. 19 from 3-9 p.m. We have spent a great deal of time over the past several years discussing how to best meet the needs of the community in the most safe and efficient manner possible, while at the same time being mindful of the tax impact on residents.

Our volunteers are facing real challenges due to facility limitations. The proposal seeks to address three major concerns: the safety challenges posed by the configuration of the current firehouse on Jefferson Avenue; damage endured at the facility last August following a large-scale storm and subsequent flood; and the antiquated Route 25A/Lake Avenue facility constructed in 1922 that is out-of-date with current fire safety standards and procedures and is undersized for most of the fire district’s fire trucks and engines.

We are not looking to build a luxurious firehouse, as other communities have. We are simply looking to provide our dedicated volunteers with the basic and modern resources they need to effectively do their job – a job that protects and serves the residents of this community in their greatest times of need. 

The proposed plan calls for the consolidation of all fire services through the construction of a new facility on the existing Jefferson Avenue property. A new, centralized building will not only alleviate the safety concerns that currently exist, but will also allow the district to efficiently serve the community well into the future. The building would feature spaces that could be converted into accommodations for members and the community during storms or other major emergencies, and would also house a large meeting room for department meetings and community use. 

It is important to note that regardless of the outcome of the vote on Sept. 19, the fire district is moving ahead with the sale of the firehouse at the Route 25A/Lake Avenue location to the St. James Fire Department (which originally owned the building prior to the district’s purchase of the property in 2013). While we certainly recognize the sentimental value that many in the community have for this building, the firehouse is antiquated, undersized and no longer best serves the fire district for the purpose of responding to calls in a quick, safe and efficient manner. In fact, only one fire truck is currently housed at that property. Financially, it is no longer in the fire district’s best interest to use valuable taxpayer funds to maintain this outdated property. 

Please inform yourselves of the facts by visiting the fire district’s website at www.stjamesfd.org. We will also host a public hearing on the proposal on Tuesday, Aug. 29 at 7 p.m. at the Jefferson Avenue firehouse, as well as open houses on Saturday, Sept. 9 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.; Thursday, Sept. 14 from 7-9 p.m.; and Sunday, Sept. 17 from 1-3 p.m., all at the Jefferson Avenue firehouse. 

Please remember to vote on Sept. 19. Polls will be open from 3-9 p.m. at the Jefferson Avenue firehouse, as well as at the Fairfield Condos of St. James for those who live in Election District 79 within the St. James Fire District. Thank you for your participation. 


Lawrence Montrose, Chairman of the Board of Fire Commissioners

Edward Springer, Sr., Vice Chairman of the Board of Fire Commissioners

William Kearney, Commissioner

William Theobalt, Commissioner

John Young, Commissioner

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