Merging 10 Westchester Fire Units Would Save $47 Million: Study

July 6, 2009

A new study claims that merging 10 Westchester County fire departments could save New York homeowners and businesses about $47 million a year in fire insurance premiums alone while delivering better service.

The Pace University study, commissioned by the Westchester County Career Fire Chiefs Association, evaluates the feasibility of consolidating 10 fire departments serving a population of 250,000 people in a 50 square mile area of Westchester County. The departments are those of Eastchester, Fairview, Greenville, Hartsdale, Larchmont, Mount Vernon, New Rochelle, Pelham, Pelham Manor, and Scarsdale.

In addition to more effective and efficient operations, consolidation can result in cost savings through the elimination of duplicate staffing, equipment and facilities, according to the study. It says that lower Insurance Services Office (ISO) ratings could result in additional savings totaling an estimated $47 million on homeowner and business insurance premiums.

Michael Genito, director of the Michaelian Institute at Pace and one of the authors of the study, said the process would take time and that a more comprehensive study that addresses labor and legal issues is needed.

“This study can serve as the basis for a more comprehensive and granular study that would involve an in-depth evaluation of labor agreements, equipment and facility inventory, operational costs, managerial, legal and other issues that a consolidated district would need to address,” said Genito. “New York State has a keen interest in what we are doing and may be willing to fund a more detailed study entirely with state grants.”

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