Fonda dissolves Fire Department

FONDA – After more than 100 years in service, the Fonda Volunteer Fire Department is shutting down.

The village board voted 4-1 Monday to dissolve the department, citing increased costs.

The board also voted to contract with the Mohawk Volunteer Fire Department for coverage in the village, effective March 14. The village is awaiting Mohawk’s approval.

Fonda Trustee Timothy Healey, a former fire chief and 31-year veteran of the Fonda Fire Department, voted against the dissolution of the department.

Mayor Bill Peeler said he doesn’t enjoy dissolving the department.

“This is nothing of a personal nature with anyone,” Peeler said via Skype from Florida.

“We all strongly understand, and even for us who aren’t members of the department, we feel compassion for what you do and have done for the village of Fonda,” Peeler said of the department. “And by no stretch of the imagination was disrespect meant for anyone involved.”

In November, Peeler said the budget for the village’s Fire Department is roughly $43,000 a year.

If the village contracts with the Mohawk Fire Department, he said, the cost would be around $22,000 a year.

Fonda Fire Chief Donald Wagoner said, “It’s unnerving. I understand the financial part, and I understand what they’re doing, but it doesn’t have to make me happy … We were all pretty upset.”

Village residents would have to pay a fire tax to be covered by the town Fire Department.

Wagoner said he does not know if the village department’s dissolution would affect homeowner’s insurance rates for property owners in the village.

Current Fonda Fire Department members have been invited to join the Mohawk Fire Department, but they must go through the application process.

Some Fonda members, such as Wagoner, cannot join the Mohawk department because they live in Glen, which is in another fire district.

Wagoner, a 21-year veteran of the Fonda department and a three-year chief, does not know what he will do next.

Under the proposed contract with the Mohawk Fire Department, the village would retain ownership of Fonda’s equipment and would be able to decide what to do with the equipment on an item-by-item basis.

The Mohawk Fire Department would need to keep the village Board of Trustees informed about fire matters, according to the contract.

Wagoner said members of the department’s administration will be part of a committee to see what would happen with Fonda’s equipment.

The Fonda siren will ring for the last time March 14 to signify the end of the department.