(Press release from the City of Oneonta)

An independent consulting firm with extensive expertise in fire protection costs, selected jointly by the City of Oneonta and the Town Fire District, has issued their final report with a recommended formula for calculating cost sharing of fire protection services. The recommended formula takes all factors affecting cost of service into consideration.

Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig states, “I thank VFIS for their detailed analysis. I respect their expertise and recommendations. While the actual costs require additional data on non-resident visitors, total fire protection costs, and net cost of EMS services, I am confident that the final calculation will verify that the City’s request for compensation accurately reflects the quality protection it provides.”

“It is my understanding, unfortunately, that the Commissioners will continue to explore the feasibility of creating a volunteer fire department to protect the Town Fire District,” continued Mayor Herzig.“Such a move would result in a serious reduction in the size of the Oneonta Fire Department and would jeopardize the safety of residents of both the town and the city. In this era of cooperative government, it is my hope that we can continue to work together for the good of all.”

In 2017, the second year of the current three-year agreement, the District has agreed to pay $1,050,000 to the City for fire protection. The price agreed upon for 2018 will be $1,100,000.

The final report concludes, “The City of Oneonta Fire Department has worked hard to provide a valuable service and there is a cost associated with that. This assessment has attempted to provide a structure to determining how the sharing of these services might be funded.”

Both the City of Oneonta and the Town Fire District agreed, in the current 2016-2018 Inter-municipal Agreement for Fire Protection Services, to retain a consultant with a history and expertise in the cost and development of firefighting.

The City and District jointly identified 7 professionals, all of which were sent a Request for Proposals to provide the City of Oneonta and the Town of Oneonta Fire District with non-binding recommendations on methodologies for cost determination. After reviewing
the proposals received, the City and the Town Fire District jointly agreed to retain VFIS Education, Training and Consulting. VFIS held a series of meetings with City and Town Fire District representatives. Representing the City were Finance Director Meg Hungerford and Council Member Revised: 11/2013, Russ Southard. Representing the Town Fire District were Commissioners Johnna Peachin and Mike Butler.

The VFIS project manger responsible for this task was William F. Jenaway, Ph.D., CFO, CFPS. He has served as Chief and Fire Marshal of the East Bethlehem Township, Pennsylvania Volunteer Fire Department; and as Chief and President of the King of Prussia, Pennsylvania; Volunteer Fire Company, as well as being Chairman of the municipality’s Fire and Rescue Services Board. Under Chief Jenaway’s leadership, the department became the first all volunteer Accredited Fire Service Agency in the US. Fire Chief Magazine named him the “Volunteer Fire Chief of the Year” in 2001. Bill’s background includes 30-plus years of volunteer fire and EMS experience. In 2004 he was named to Chair the Pennsylvania Senate Resolution 60 Commission to evaluate and provide recommendations to the Pennsylvania legislature and fire service on strategic approaches to the state’s fire and EMS delivery system. Over the years, Bill has authored over 200 articles, seven texts and provided over 100 speeches on fire and life safety issues. He holds Certified Fire Protection Specialist and Certified Fire Officer designations as well. In 1999 he was named to the Presidential/Congressional Commission known as the “Advisory Panel to Assess preparedness for Terroristic Acts Involving Weapons of Mass Destruction” (a/k/a Gilmore Commission). Dr. Jenaway also serves as President of the Congressional Fire Services Institute and is Past President of the Pennsylvania Fire Services Institute. He serves on the National Fire Protection Association Committees of Emergency Services Risk Management; Providing Emergency Services to the Public; Fire Department Apparatus, and Fire Service Training. Dr. Jenaway is in his second, three-year term as a Commissioner on the Commission on Fire
Department Accreditation. Bill serves as an adjunct faculty member in the Graduate School of Public Safety at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia (Risk Analysis, Strategic Planning & Disaster Preparedness) and the Graduate School of Legal Studies at California University of Pennsylvania (Terrorism Threat Assessment). Bill is an elected official – Township Supervisor – in Upper Merion Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.