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Mount Kisco Mulls Expanding Firehouses

A rendering of a proposed addition to the Green Street firehouse in Mount Kisco. Photo Credit: H2M/screen shot
A rendering of a proposed addition to the Mutual Engine and Hose firehouse in Mount Kisco. Photo Credit: H2M/screen shot
A rendering that shows two proposed additions to the Independent Fire Company firehouse in Mount Kisco. Photo Credit: H2M/screen shot

MOUNT KISCO, N.Y. -- Mount Kisco officials are exploring the possibility of building additions for all three of the village's firehouses, which would be the biggest change for the buildings in recent history.

A study released on Monday by H2M, an architecture and engineer firm, notes that the firehouses have several logistical problems. They include lack of compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act for second floors and toilets; outdated electrical service, generators and HVAC systems; a need for separate storage, training and decontamination spaces that older firehouses traditionally did not include; and bays that are too small for newer fire trucks.

The report was presented to the Village Board of Trustees at a Monday meeting, Cindrich confirmed. A copy of the study can be viewed here.

The firehouses were built about 50 to 60 years ago, Mount Kisco Mayor Michael Cindrich told Daily Voice.

A firehouse located off of Route 117 and across from Village Hall houses Mutual Engine and Hose, while another one located off of Lexington Avenue hosts the Independent Fire Company. Two other companies, Union Hook and Ladder, and Rescue Fire Police share a firehouse located off of Green Street.

A conceptual proposal envisions adding an addition to Mutual's firehouse that would be at the end of the site's existing parking lot and have a bay. The Green Street firehouse would have an addition added to its left side with a bay and offices, while Independent's firehouse would have expansions added to both of its sides with new bays.

The expansion scenarios are grouped under a proposal called Option A, which has a projected total cost of $10,292,387. Cheaper scenarios involve doing upgrades to the firehouses but without additions.

Building a completely new firehouse that would host all of the companies under one roof would cost at least $14,000,000, a figure that does not include purchasing land. Another scenario, in which three new firehouses but would be built to house the same companies would cost $22,398,375.

Speaking in his personal capacity, Cindrich leaned towards Option A.

The village has a convoluted relationship with the volunteer fire department's four component fire companies. The municipality owns firehouses, while the companies own their equipment. The companies also sign contracts with the village government to offer fire protection, a situation that has them acting as vendors who receive municipal payments. Meanwhile, the Village Board of Trustees appoints members of the Board of Fire Commissioners, with each company having a seat.

The governance structure is an unusual hybrid arrangement compared to other volunteer fire departments in the region. Some are under the auspices of fire districts, which have elected boards, and set their own budgets and taxes. Others have pure vendor models, in which they contract with municipalities but select their boards and own their firehouses.

Mount Kisco's fire department also covers the eastern swaths of the town of New Castle and the southwestern corner of the town of Bedford. Cindrich told Daily Voice that tax-impact projections will be subsequently broken out for all three municipalities.

"The entire fire district will be affected," Cindrich said.

New Castle and Bedford officials collect taxes from their covered residents, with the funds being passed along to fund the fire companies.

The problems outlined in H2M's support have confronted several of Mount Kisco's neighboring fire departments in recent years. For example, Millwood firefighters moved into a newer, larger firehouse in 2015. Officials in Chappaqua unsuccessfully sought to get an expansion built for their existing firehouse; while a bond referendum was voted down in October, residents decided in February to approve buying a next-door property for similar usage in the future.

Further out, officials in Bedford Village have explored the possibility of building a new firehouse to replace their cramped one in the hamlet's historic district.

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