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Board member lauds fire district response

By DAVID HUTTON The Press-News Published: September 23, 2016 10:00 AM

SANDY TWP. Fire protection is something that many people take for granted until they need assistance, and a member of the Mohawk Valley Joint Fire District Board of Trustees learned that first-hand on Sept. 12.

Firefighters responded to a call at the Indian Run Road residence of board member John McCall.

"The response time was amazing," he said.

McCall smelled smoke at around 9 a.m. and called 911.

According to reports, the fire was electrical in nature and started in the basement.

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McCall lauded the quick response, including mutual aid from Magnolia, East Sparta and Great Trail departments.

Fire District Assistant Chief Tom Ely was first on the scene and he quickly assessed the situation and directed firefighters in tackling the issue.

"This was a small fire that very easily could have been big," McCall said. "Tom took charge. There was a great deal of teamwork between the different departments."

Damage was kept to a minimum, though no estimate was available.

"I never dreamed I'd need the service," McCall said. "I was glad to have the service."

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Fire Chief James Marraccini said calls for mutual aid go out automatically for virtually every fire call.

"We don't have the luxury of having big numbers turn out for each call," he said.

Resident Linda Barnes was critical of the low turnout on some calls, though Marraccini noted that the fire district has an average response of 6.8 firefighters per call.

"Sometimes it is less," he said. "I wish we could have 10 or 20 respond to each call, but that isn't reality."

Marraccini noted that is the reason for mutual aid. Even the largest departments in the country, including New York City with 15,400 firefighters, rely on mutual aid agreements.

Marraccini noted that the creation of the fire district has allowed it to make more effective use of its resources. While he acknowledged that there could come a time when there is no response from fire district volunteers for a call, the likelihood is minimal.

"It could happen, regardless of the entity," he said. "That is the nature of a volunteer force. We can't afford to have a paid force so we do the best with the resources that we have."

In other business, the board:

PAID bills totaling $4,903.91.

LEARNED that the domain mohawkvalleyfire.org will be used for the fire district website, which is under construction.

RECEIVED an application from area resident Bo Tucker to become a firefighter with the district.

The next meeting of the Mohawk Valley Joint Fire District is at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 6 at the fire station, located at 8285 Waynesburg Drive.

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