The inner-workings of the Board of Fire Commissioners

Dear Editor,

For folks not aware of the inner-workings of the Town of Owego Board of Fire Commissioners, this is background information. Five people from the area are elected one at a time for five-year term. They are sworn in at the Monday, Jan. 2 meeting at the Owego Town Hall at 7 p.m. and will abide by the laws of the State of New York.

To get to be one of these Commissioners, a written request in early November will get you on the ballot. Voting is on the second Tuesday at Campville One and South Side between 6 and 9 p.m. You must be a registered voter of the county. The majority of votes will get the job.

You will then attend 60 regular meetings and any special meetings are published in fine print in the Press, but only once. No more than two Commissioners are allowed to share coffee without notice of a special meeting.

Now you will be able to purchase necessary equipment for members, all with UL labels and the state will tell you the life span and when to discard. Some are unfunded. There is no material at a cheaper price from a foreign country.

You will work with these fire companies to plan for emergencies that might arise and they will respond. The board will see to training, physical fitness for the responders, breathing devices, and many other things. All requests for items not in the budget must be spec approved. A lawyer is engaged to advise on any questionable problems.

The Village of Owego and Apalachin are separate fire groups and operate on their own rules. As both contracts expired in 2015, no new rules were made and this is where the budget increase started.

With approximately 100 calls a month from Campville alone, qualified persons to respond to all sorts of problems are needed. Volunteers who are able to take time off from their jobs cannot be found. In addition to the hundreds of hours of training, these individuals have the knowledge but do not come free or cheap.

Future bad events in the world are less than a day away. Try to be ready.


Walter Jensen

Owego, N.Y.