Town Establishes Southampton Fire District

October 3, 2003 marks an historic event for residents and taxpayers of the Southampton Fire Protection Area, which is comprised of the properties currently served by the Southampton Village Fire Department located outside of the incorporated village and outside of the North Sea Fire District, the Bridgehampton Fire District, and the Hampton Bays Fire District. This outlying area encompasses Tuckahoe, Shinnecock Hills, a large portion of Water Mill and all of the Shinnecock Reservation. This assemblage of property is over 16 square miles and has a multi-million dollar tax base.

At a Special Meeting held on October 3rd at Town Hall, the Town Board adopted a resolution providing for the dissolution of the Southampton Fire Protection District as a taxing entity governed by the Town Board and adopted an order establishing the Southampton Fire District out of the same boundaries as the existing Southampton Fire Protection Area. The Town Board also appointed a Board of five Interim Fire Commissioners, a District Secretary, and a District Treasurer to administer the new Southampton Fire District and the annual Fire Protection Contract with the Village of Southampton and the Volunteer Fire Department.

The following individuals were appointed to serve as Fire Commissioners through December 31, 2004: Robert Grisnik, Mark Press, Dave Price, Tom White, and Tom Martinez. Mike Hadix was appointed as District Treasurer and Bette-jeanne Halsey Schreier was appointed as District Secretary. The first Fire District election will be held in December 2004.

During the public hearing held in August, the benefits of forming the Southampton Fire District were noted to include the following:

  • All property owners within the district to have a voice and a vote in firematic protection issues, rather than just Village of Southampton residents.
  • Better auditing control of taxpayer dollars and simplification of contractual obligations to provide fire protection to outlying areas by same fire department.
  • More streamlined management of certain firematic affairs within the district such as ratification of the annual fire protection contact.
  • The location, financing, and design of a fire substation in Water Mill, if determined to be needed, will be pursued by the Fire District with an ownership interest in the property. The substation will be owned as an asset of the Southampton Fire District, not the Village of Southampton.
  • There is no impact on the volunteer firefighters of the Southampton Village Fire Department, nor the traditional service area. The Fire District is a management structure for taxpayer interests in the outlying area. The Village of Southampton will continue to administer the Length of Service Award Program (LOSAP) and oversee the operations of the fire department. (In the event that the Village Board decides in the future to form a  Joint Fire District with the Town Board (as was the case in the Village of Westhampton Beach with the outlying areas) then further legislative action is necessary by the Village, Town, and State of New York, particularly to effectuate a seamless transfer of the LOSAP Program to a new Joint Fire District if formed, encompassing all of the properties in the village as well as the outlying area.)

According to Councilwoman Linda Kabot, The Town Board desires the management structure offered by the Fire District in that five elected fire commissioners will assume management and control of district finances and ratification of the annual fire protection contract with the Village of Southampton. A Fire District reduces the Town s liability exposure and places the fiduciary duties on a new government unit.