A battle over fire service in West Brighton that became red-hot over the past two years, may finally be over. This comes as the Henrietta Fire Department has agreed, in principle, to take over firefighting operations in West Brighton.
For 50 years, the West Brighton and Henrietta fire departments worked side-by-side.
"Being so close, we were one of the first companies they always called to help them out," said F. Joe Marten, Henrietta Fire Commission Chairman.
Now, they may work even closer – as one fire district.
"It's not going to be two separate entities, it's going to be one fire district," said Chief Jim Comstock, Henrietta Fire District.
In 2011, due to dwindling volunteer numbers over the past decade, the Town of Brighton began seeking other area fire companies to help West Brighton; a plan met with strong resistance by the West Brighton firefighters.
"You have an organization that's been in business for 86 years, that is all of a sudden is not going to be in business anymore, serving its community," said Chris Smith, West Brighton Fire District President.
Proposals came from the two closest departments: Henrietta and Rochester. The West Brighton district mounted a legal challenge, but the Rochester Fire Department temporarily took over West Brighton last year.
Now, it appears there is a permanent solution developed by the Town of Brighton and the Henrietta Fire district: the large Henrietta Fire District to the south, will expand north and consolidate with West Brighton, moving some equipment and firefighters into that department.
"We do all agree that we have to do what's best for our community, and if the merger with the Henrietta Fire District is what it takes, we have to at some point put our feelings aside and make that happen," said Smith.
"In the long run, I think, in time, the members will realize that maybe this was for the better; but certainly in the short term, I'm sure there's going to be people who are quite upset about whatever takes place," said Comstock.
There is still a court battle over who actually owns the West Brighton Fire Department building and trucks and equipment, but that won't affect this agreement.
Brighton Town Supervisor Bill Moehle said in a statement Tuesday: "We are pleased to work with the Henrietta Fire District, which meets the goal of proving the best possible fire and emergency service in West Brighton."