The Center Moriches Fire District held a $17.9 million bond proposition with nearly double the voter turnout, but it still failed by slim margins on Sept. 12. The proposal was defeated with 389 “no” to 387 “yes” votes out of 776 cast.
“While we are disappointed with the outcome, we are also heartened by the community’s heightened participation and support. The result, however close, underscores the challenges ahead in providing essential fire and ambulance services, particularly as the demand for these services continues to rise significantly year after year,” the department said in a statement. “We are grateful for the significantly greater number of ‘yes’ votes compared to the vote on June 20, as it demonstrates increased community support for our mission to protect life and property.”
The original bond vote failed on June 20, with a total of 221 no votes to 201 yes votes.
The bond proposition would have paid for the renovation and expansion of the department’s firehouse. Due to the larger size of modern fire trucks, the present firehouse fails to meet federal and fire industry codes.
If passed, the bond would have allowed for the renovation and expansion of the department’s firehouse, which presently does not have the capacity to accommodate larger trucks required by National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards.
The proposal included a reconstruction of a portion of the facility originally built in 1930, as well as renovations that will bring the overall building into compliance. The apparatus bay built in the ‘70s is too narrow for firefighters to safely and efficiently dispatch. The ‘90s-built annex building also requires roof and exterior repairs and is too small for modern fire trucks. In addition, the existing radio room on the ground floor of the main firehouse will be reused to accommodate the 24-hour presence of EMS personnel, who currently lack a dedicated space at the firehouse.
Additionally, the new space would have provided the firefighters with a separate gear storage space, improving conditions by minimizing exposure to carcinogens. The current overcrowding is also a violation of NFPA standards.
“Despite the results of the vote, our dedicated team of volunteer firefighters and EMTs remains committed to serving the Center Moriches community with unwavering dedication,” the fire department statement read. “Although this setback poses challenges to our ability to meet increasing service demands, our commitment to public safety remains resolute.”
Department officials said they now plan to evaluate the best paths forward to ensure they meet the community’s growing needs while remaining good stewards of taxpayer dollars.
“In the months ahead, we will engage with the community to explore alternative solutions that will allow us to maintain the high level of service you have come to expect from us,” officials said.