Town Board abandons plans to consolidate coverage with Belgium
Residents of Dacada gave a collective sigh of relief Monday when the Belgium Town Board agreed to allow fire, EMS and ambulance services to remain with the Random Lake Fire Department.
Ultimately, the decision is what is best for those residents, if not the entire town, chairman Tom Winker said Tuesday.
“We wanted to be like the towns of Fredonia and Saukville who contract with one fire department,” Winker said. “Those departments then contract with other entities for services.”
That was the goal of the Town of Belgium’s decision to initially move Dacada’s emergency services from Random Lake to Belgium.
Belgium Fire Chief Dan Birenbaum said last month that his department does not contract with other departments for ambulance services, instead using the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System.
That meant a distress call coming from Dacada wouldn’t necessarily result in the Random Lake Fire Department being the first to respond to a call, despite being the closest department.
That sparked outrage from several Dacada residents over the course of two meetings last month.
What followed was what Winker called “turf protection and egos getting in the way.”
“We wanted to at least keep the best EMS and ambulance service for the residents of Dacada because that’s what they deserve,” he said. “I’m very disappointed in how some of this was handled.”
Random Lake Fire Chief Pat Depies said he met with Dacada residents this summer to discuss how the changes would be implemented.
Depies said residents had questions about MABAS and how it would apply to emergency services.
He denied Winker’s claims of turf protecting, saying it was a matter of common sense to keep services in Random Lake.
“If the residents are going to pay more on their insurance to have this service changed, why would anybody want to pay more for less?” Depies asked.
“This truly came from the residents. It didn’t come from our department. It came from them pushing us to help them.”
Depies added that he spoke with Birenbaum to “make sure we weren’t stepping on anybody’s toes.
“We were on the same page as far as what the residents want,” Depies said.
Supr. Bill Janeshek, who cast the lone dissenting vote Monday, believes it is in the long term interest of the town to contract with Belgium for all emergency services.
“I think we started out with good intentions, thinking this was something we could clean up,” he said Tuesday. “I didn’t have any intention of stirring up any Dacada residents.
“It just didn’t work out the way we thought it was going to.”
Birenbaum said Monday that he thought the Town of Belgium’s decision was the right one.
“I think this is a good move for the residents of Dacada,” he said.