Fire Taxes and Raffles?

Fire District??    Fire Department??    What is the Difference?? 

In short, the Fire District is the fire trucks, fire houses and equipment, whereas the Fire Department is the people. 

The Fire District is the taxing entity where your fire tax money is collected. This money is appropriated by five commissioners; publicly chosen by the tax payers within the boundaries of the fire district in an open election each December.  

Being responsible to the community for the tax dollars collected and providing quality training opportunities and equipment is paramount to the fire commissioners. The current Board of Fire Commissioners are Ron Breslawski, Michael Marchetti, Anthony DiNatale, Glen Unterborn and Tom Sercu.  The purchase and maintenance of the fire houses, fire trucks, hoses, SCBA’s, bunker gear, Jaws of Life, and any other equipment used to mitigate emergency situations, comes under their authority.  

The Commissioners also approve three chief officers who are elected by the fire department members as well as some lesser appointed positions like Public Information Officer. To sum it up, the Hamlin Morton Walker Fire District has shiny powerful trucks and lots of great equipment to use at emergencies, but no people.  That’s where the Fire Departments come in.  

The Fire Departments are the organizations that provide the people that put on the gear, ride the trucks and use the equipment purchased and overseen by the District to use on emergency calls. Fire Departments do not have access to public fire taxes and must rely on fundraisers and donations to fund the expenses for their organizations. This is why the fire departments have fundraisers such as the Carnival and Holiday Raffles.  

Before 2013 the Town of Hamlin had three fire districts (Hamlin Fire District, Morton Fire District, and Walker Fire District) that collected tax dollars from homeowners within their specific borders. Each of those Districts had their own Fire Departments (Hamlin Fire Department, Morton Fire Company and Walker Fire Department) that provided manpower. In 2013, the three Fire Districts consolidated to form the Hamlin Morton Walker Fire District. The three Fire Departments did not combine and are still organizationally separate with their own officers, meetings and fundraisers but operate on emergency calls as one group. 

This is a complicated subject and hopefully I have simplified it here for some clarity.  I hope this helps the community understand this topic a little better.

John Deserto, HMW Public Information Officer


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