County, fire department approve agreement

Would improve confined-space, hazmat response

FONDA — A fire services agreement between Montgomery County and the City of Amsterdam Fire Department was approved Tuesday night at the legislature meeting.

Through the agreement, the fire department will be required to respond to every hazmat call within the county, be held responsible to provide all measures associated with confined-space work for the county’s Department of Public Works and have necessary training and qualifications for both situations. The fire department was recognized for having trained firefighters in confined-space rescue.

“The fire department will be able to support and assist our volunteer fire department and hazmat response,” County Executive Matthew Ossenfort said. “It’ll help not only our county but Fulton and Schoharie counties, which increases our preparedness and increases our resiliency to deal with emergency situations.”

An annual fee of $10,000 will go to the city of Amsterdam to assist with training, equipment and support for the partnership. The funds were approved in the 2017 budget.

The agreement came in response to Montgomery County having the longest stretch of New York state Thruway and CSX rail tracks in the entire state. Due to the extensive travel routes, risk of a hazardous-materials incident exists at all times. In preparation, the county’s hazardous material response team is adequately staffed, trained and capable of protecting Montgomery County residents and infrastructure. The county is in a regional agreement with Fulton and Schoharie counties to provide assistance when needed, and the Amsterdam fire department has agreed to provide response for this team.

“What happened before in these situations, our emergency management office, the volunteer fire department and city of Amsterdam would all respond,” Ossenfort said. “But what this has done is provided additional resources to the city and also will be formalized in the response process. It has just improved our emergency response.”

Opal Jessica Bogdan can be reached at obogdan@leaderherald.com.

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