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We don't want to do anything that's going to affect the current level of service we provide

Saranac Lake emergency crews worry about staff cuts

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Officials with the Saranac Lake Volunteer Fire Department say their response times to emergencies could be hampered if the village of Saranac Lake cuts two firetruck and ambulance driver positions and eliminates the village's emergency dispatch center. Village officials say they're looking at all options for dealing with a pair of fire driver vacancies, and haven't made any decisions. Chris Knight reports.

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Chris Knight
Adirondack Correspondent

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At a meeting with village leaders last week, Saranac Lake Fire Chief Brendan Keough said fire department officials were told the village doesn't plan to refill two of its five fire driver positions. They also heard the village wants to turn over local fire and rescue dispatching completely to Franklin County's 911 dispatch center in Malone.

To give up drivers or lose local dispatch, Keough said, would impact response times for the fire department and the Saranac Lake ambulance squad.

"We don't want to do anything that's going to affect the current level of service we provide," Keough said.

Village Manager John Sweeney said the village is considering a range of possibilities, including not filling the vacant fire driver positions and transferring dispatching to the county. But he also said expanding or upgrading the village dispatch center are options.

Village Mayor Clyde Rabideau said he "wasn't inclined to reduce service" but also said it doesn't make sense to have two dispatch centers in one county. If other counties can do it (with one dispatch center), why can't we?" he asked.

Rabideau suggested the village invite county officials to a future board meeting.

In addition to driving fire trucks and ambulances, village fire drivers are responsible for dispatching the Saranac Lake Rescue Squad and the Saranac Lake, Bloomingdale and Paul Smiths/Gabriels Volunteer fire departments.

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