Random Lake official tells Town Board keeping service as is would be in ‘best interest’ of residents
Random Lake Fire Chief Pat Depies told the Belgium Town Board his department should continue to serve residents of Dacada.
Depies’s comments came at the end of a heated discussion between the board and residents of the small community in the northwest corner of Belgium on Sept. 15.
“I know how everything works,” Depies, whose father lives in the hamlet, said. “The best interest is to leave it the way it is. I want the best for these people.”
The call for change stems from a decision by the Town Board earlier this year to switch Dacada’s service from Random Lake to the Belgium Fire Department effective Jan. 1.
That brought dozens of citizens to the Town Board meeting on Sept. 8, many of whom are concerned about the added response time the switch may cause.
Rita Horstmeier, a resident of Dacada, said that extra time could be significant in an emergency.
“It’s all about response time,” she said. “We collectively ask why we need to change? Its been working fine for 33 years.”
Town Chairman Tom Winker said one of the reasons for making the change is to simplify the town’s record keeping.
“We asked to cut one check to the Belgium Fire Department,” he said. “They (Belgium Fire) can decide how they want to handle it.”
Dacada residents were also concerned with a change in its ambulance service.
The community is currently served by Random Lake Ambulance through the end of the year.
Belgium Fire Department does not have an ambulance, so it contracts with outlying communities for that service.
Fire Chief Dan Birenbaum said there were no plans to contract with Random Lake Fire Department for its ambulance service, but said it is up to the Town Board to decide how it wants to proceed.
“If the board wants Random Lake to cover ambulance service, we have no problem with that,” Birenbaum said.
“If I contract with Random Lake, I would have to contract with Port, Cedar Grove and Fredonia as well. The MABAS (Mutual Aid Box Alarm System) system has been proven.”
Residents also expressed concern with higher insurance rates because of the changes.
Town Supr. Jim Blick said his insurance provider would raise his rate if he lived outside a five-mile radius of the fire department.
According to Google Maps, a drive from the Belgium Fire Department, 195 Commerce St., to the center of Dacada is six miles or 10 minutes. The same drive from Random Lake Fire Department is 3.1 miles or five minutes.
While a final decision wasn’t made at the meeting, the board said discussions will continue in the near future.
“I think we should try to get this done in the next month,” Blick said.
Supr. Bill Janeshek said he’s comfortable switching the area to Belgium Fire Department.
“I think the service we get from Belgium is good for all the corners of the town,” he said.
“If we’re contracting with Belgium and there’s future expansion, I feel Town of Belgium taxpayers should be putting money into Belgium.”
Depies disagreed, saying things should be kept the same.
“If it was my area, I’d be taking my chief hat off and going to my Town Board and it would not be pretty,” he said.