In 1942 a group of residents formed the Union Hill Volunteer Firemen’s Association Inc. as a volunteer fire company in the Town of Ontario. Their objective was to provide additional fire protection services in the Hamlet of Union Hill that straddles the western side of the Town of Ontario and the eastern side of the Town of Webster along the Monroe/Wayne County line.
Since that time during World War II to present day, hundreds of volunteers have served to the present day. Unfortunately changes in 2016 resulted in the loss of service due to consolidation of fire territory and funding from the Northeast Joint Fire District in Webster. That move, along with finding and keeping volunteers, has been very trying and difficult to overcome.
“These facts have placed us in a position where the Union Hill Board of Directors, Officers and members have decided and voted to cease operations as a fire company and not renew the fire protection contract with the Ontario Fire District #1 when the current three-year contract ends on 12/31/2019,” said Kevin Ramph, Chairman of the Union Hill Board of Directors.
The Union Hill Board had been meeting regularly this past year with the Ontario Board of Fire Commissioners and the Ontario Fire Company Inc. Joint training sessions have been ongoing for fire personnel to work together to fulfill the passion of the volunteers to continue to serve the community. The Union Hill Fire Department currently has 25 members, according to Ramph, with about 10 active. They have been welcomed to join the Ontario District..
The Ontario Fire District #1 Board of Fire Commissioners and Fire Chiefs have begun the process of addressing the challenges they now face - without delay in service - due to the increased emergency call volume in a larger service area.
“We must find a suitable site to provide the necessary facilities for the equipment required to maintain the high level of service expected and satisfy insurance requirements. We also plan to control the inevitable increasing financial impact that will be necessary to fulfil this change as well as face the new requirements in a rapidly expanding town in both residential and commercial properties. In addition, we are planning for the substantial fiscal impact stemming from the new, ten-year, Ginna Pilot Agreement, resulting in yearly decreases in funding,” added Aron Thompson, Chairman of the Ontario Fire District #1 Board of Directors.
The ISO (Insurance Service Office) criteria for fire departments, requires that there be a fire station at least every five driving miles to earn an insurance rating of 10 (which is the minimum requirement). This rating affects the fire district taxpayers. Without Union Hill, a new site will have to determined for a third fire station. Currently there are two - one on Walter Cone Drive and one on Brick Church Road.
Ramph emphasized that the Union Hill Ambulance is a separate entity from the Fire Department and will not be impacted by the closing of the Fire Department.
He also indicated that Union Hill Fire equipment, engines and rescue unit will be liquidated and go to the highest bidder.
The Union Hill Board of Directors, Fire Company Officers and members, the Ontario Fire District #1 Board of Fire Commissioners, Fire Company Officers and members ask the residents of the Town of Ontario for your support, patience and assistance during this transition period. Volunteers are always welcome and needed in numerous capacities. Please, contact the Ontario Fire Company at 315-524-2661 if interested in providing an invaluable service to the community.