O'burg fire chief questions contract with Spart

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:51

    OGDENSBURG n Sometimes five minutes can hold a life in the balance when the individual is a victim of an auto accident or a fire. The Ogdensburg Fire Department's truck equipped with the "jaws of life" wasn't dispatched to an accident scene last week until ten minutes after crash. Fortunately, the delay wasn't fatal and the victim is recovering in the hospital, said Borough Fire Chief Mark Batty. But because similar problems have been ongoing with the borough's rescue dispatch service, which is provided under contract by neighboring Sparta, Batty came to Monday night's borough council meeting to ask what can be done about improving it. Batty has commented at several borough council meetings over the past six months regarding problems with the dispatch system. At the most recent meeting, he further questioned the contract with Sparta to provide dispatch services. The three-year contract, at the cost of $112,000 over the life of the agreement, expires in December 2006. Sparta also provides dispatch services to Franklin. The service kicks in when no one is at the Ogdensburg Police Department to answer a 911 call or other request for emergency aid. Batty said that the police and emergency services do not appear to have any problems with Sparta dispatch, but the fire department continues to be dissatisfied. "We have updated our equipment in an attempt to satisfy a ‘frequency' problem, and there is still a problem," he said. "We are not officially dispatched until the tones go off." Giving Sparta the benefit of the doubt, he said, "Possibly the cause of the problem is that new dispatchers are being trained now." In addition, Batty questioned several sections of the contract which, in essence, absolves Sparta of any liability and transfers that responsibility to Ogdensburg. He said the language reads almost like a "disclaimer," and continued, "It doesn't cover what they do; it just covers what they don't do." Regarding the particular situation of last week's accident, Batty has requested a tape to examine the timing of the initial call and the dispatch. Other board members commented that they believe the information should be made available to the fire department for inspection. Mayor Jacqueline Pietrodangelo agreed, saying, "If it takes 10 minutes for them to dispatch you, then it's a problem." Batty suggested Pietrodangelo contact the mayor of Sparta to discuss the matter, saying that perhaps the township's governing body was unaware of the situation. Borough attorney Sanford Hollander will be asked to review the present contract for discrepancies. Sparta officials did not return phone calls before The Advertiser-News went to press Wednesday morning.