Fire District History
On June 18, 1937, the newly formed Westmere Fire District held its first meeting. In a letter dated June 14, 1937, Otto Gabriel, John F. Gipp, Henry Meyer, Martin Mathusa and Jacob Ableman were appointed by the Guilderland Town Board to serve as Fire Commissioners of the Westmere Fire District, with Eugene Spawn being appointed as district Treasurer. The first official business of the meeting was the appointment of Otto Gabriel as Chairman of the Board of Fire Commissioners and Henry Meyer as Secretary. Many weekly meetings followed.
Office Hours: Monday through Friday, 8:00am – 4:00pm.
The Westmere Fire District is a governmental entity formed under the laws of the State of New York. It is governed by a board of five commissioners, each of whom serves a five year term. One commissioner is elected every year.
The district lies within the eastern portion of the town of Guilderland. It covers one of the most densely populated parts of the town, including Crossgates Mall and a large part Western Avenue which is home to many commercial establishments.
The district owns and operates the fire house, various fire apparatus and all the equipment used by the Westmere Fire Department. An annual budget is approved by the commissioners and taxes are levied based on the budget.
The Westmere Fire district is a municipal corporation and a separate entity from the Westmere Fire Department. Please see the Westmere Fire Department website for more information about becoming a volunteer firefighter or supporting the work of the department.
The ABCs of the Powers and Duties of Fire District Commissioners (from New YorkFire District Officers’ Guide, 2009)
ACQUIRE REAL PROPERTY. May acquire by purchase, lease, gift, devise or condemnation real property, and erect, construct, alter, repair and equip suitable buildings for fire district purposes. Town Law Section 176 14.
ADMINISTER OATH. Members, along with the secretary, or treasurer, may administer any necessary oath lawfully before him or in connection with any papers filed with him. Town Law Section 176 4-b.
ADOPT OWN VOUCHER FORM. Members may adopt their own voucher form so long as it is properly signed or verified under oath by the claimant. Town Law Section 176 4-a.
ADOPT RULES AND REGULATIONS. May adopt rules and regulations governing all fire companies and fire departments in the district and,Prescribe duties of the members,Enforce discipline,Provide for public drills. Parades, funerals inspections and reviews of the fire district fire departments. Town Law Section 176 11.
ALLOW AGRICULTURE ASSESSMENT ON PROPERTY. May authorize the application of the special agriculture assessment on land within the district. Town Law Section 176 34.
APPROVE THE DEPARTMENT OPERATING WITHIN THE DISTRICT. May grant or withhold consent to the formation of a fire corporation, which intends to operate within the territory of the fire district. Town Law Section 176 20.
APPOINT BOARD OF ELECTIONS. Members shall appoint and compensate officials for the fire district elections. Town Law Section 176 8.
APPOINT CHAIRMAN OF BOARD. Members shall elect one of their own as chairman, who shall preside at the board meetings. In the chairman’s absence, the board members may designate one of their own as temporary chairman. Town Law Section 176 1.
APPOINT FIRE DISTRICT SECRETARY. Members shall appoint a fire district secretary. Town Law Section 176 2.
APPOINT SOMEONE TO FILL VACANCY. Members shall fill a vacancy in any fire district office. Town Law Section 176 3.
AUDIT ALL CLAIMS. Members shall audit all claims against the fire district and shall order the payment by the fire district treasurer. Town Law Section 176 4-a.
AUTHORIZE IN ADVANCE OF AUDIT. Members may authorize the payment in advance of audit of claims, subject to audit and reimbursement by the claimant for,Lights,Telephone, Postage,Freight,Express charges. Town Law Section 176 4-a.
AUTHORIZE VOTING MACHINES. May authorize the use of voting machines at any annual or special election of the district. Town Law Section 176 29.
AWARD CONTRACTS. Shall award contracts to the lowest responsible bidder. Town Law Section 176 23-a.
CALL FOR ADDITIONAL MEETINGS. May call for another meeting of the department to consider the names of officers not approved. Town Law Section 176 11-b.
CANDIDATE TO FILE NAME WITH SECRETARY. Board shall require candidates for public office to file their names with the secretary of the fire district at least 20 days before the election. May provide, by resolution, that all nominations be submitted in petition form. Town Law Section 176 7.
COMPROMISE LAWSUITS. May compromise any suit or claims now existing or hereinafter arising against the fire district. Town Law Section 176 28.
CONTRACT FOR WATER SUPPLY. May contract for the supply of water and the furnishing, erection, maintenance, care and replacement of fire hydrants, maintenance of markers, and snow removal for a period not to exceed 5 years without an appropriation vote by the qualified voters of the district. Town Law Section 176 12.
CONTRACT FOR FIRE PROTECTION. May contract for the furnishing of fire protection within the fire district. Town Law Section 176 22.
CONTRACT TO PROVIDE OUTSIDE SERVICES. May contract to provide, outside the district,Fire protectionEmergency services,General ambulance services. Town Law Section 176 16.
CONSIDER DEPARTMENT OFFICERS IN JANUARY. Shall consider and may approve all names presented for the department offices at the organizational meeting of the district. Town Law Section 176 11-b.
CONSIDER NAMES OF DEPARTMENT OFFICERS PRESENTED TO THE BOARD. Shall consider the names of the officers presented to them by the department, and either appoint such persons to the positions or call another meeting of the members of the fire department to nominate officers not approved by the Board of Fire Commissioners. Town Law Section 176 11-a.
DESIGNATE TIME AND PLACE FOR BOARD MEETINGS. Shall designate the time and place for the annual meeting of the fire department. Town Law Section 176 11-a.
DETERMINE IF TREASURER IS TO BE ELECTED OR APPOINTED. Members may, after the electors of the district vote upon the proposition, make the position of the fire district treasurer appointed, or elective. Town Law Section 176 2-a.
DIRECT REIMBURSEMENT TO PETTY CASH FUND. Members shall direct the treasurer to reimburse the petty cash fund after presentation of bills. Town Law Section 176 4-c.EMPLOY AN ATTORNEY. May employ an attorney to counsel or assist the fire district. Town Law Section 176 17.
EMPLOY PAID FIREFIGHTERS AND A PAID CHIEF. May adopt a resolution to Employ paid firefighters, Employ a paid chief (after public hearing),Provide for their powers and duties,Determine the chain of command in the fire department between paid personnel,Determine that the paid chief shall have charges of the apparatus and other equipment,Determine that volunteer firefighters and volunteer officers shall be under the orders and control of paid officers. Town Law Section 176 11-c.
EMPLOY PERSONNEL. May employ persons to effectuate the purposes of the district. Town Law Section 176 18-a.
ENGAGE AN ACCOUNTANT. May engage an accountant to audit the accounts and fiscal affairs of the district. Town Law Section 176 32.ESTABLISH TAX ZONES. Shall have the power to establish, within the fire district, different tax zones. Town Law Section 176 27.
ESTABLISH PETTY CASH FUND. Members may establish a petty cash fund, not exceeding $100.00. This fund may be used for the payment, in advance of audit, of properly itemized and verified or certified bills for materials, supplies or services furnished to the fire district for the conduct of its affairs. Town Law Section 176 4-c.
FIRE EQUIPMENT FOR FUNERALS. May authorize the use of fire equipment for the funeral of a deceased member of the department. Town Law Section 176 33.
GIVE NOTICE OF ANNUAL ELECTIONS. Members shall give notice of annual elections. Town Law Section 176 6.
INSURE PROPERTY. May insure property against loss or damage. Town Law Section 176 19.
INSURE AGAINST LIABILITY. May insure district for liability in the operation of the district. Town Law Section 176 19.
INSURE MEMBERS. May insure members of the fire department in the performance of their duties. Town Law Section 176 19.
INVESTIGATE FIRES. Shall have the power to cause investigations to be made to determine compliance with the state or local building codes or fire prevention codes. Town Law Section 176 25.
ISSUE FIRE PERMITS. May enter into an agreement with the town for the fire district to issue fire permits on behalf of the town. Town Law Section 176 24.
MAINTAIN ALARM SYSTEMS. May construct and maintain fire alarm system in the district. Town Law Section 176 15.
MAKE MAP OF DISTRICT BOUNDARIES. Members shall cause a map to be prepared showing the exact boundaries of the district. Town Law Section 176 5.
MAKE CONTRACTS. Members shall have the power to make contracts to carry out their purposes, within statutory limitation. Town Law Section 176 9.
MANAGE ALL DISTRICT PROPERTY. Shall have exclusive management and control over property of the district. Town Law Section 176 19.
MAY NOT INTERFERE WITH A CHIEF WHEN ON DUTY. May not interfere with the duties of the fire chief and assistant fire chief when the fire department is on duty. Town Law Section 176 11.
OFFICER NOMINATION. May adopt a rule or regulation providing that future meetings of the Department for the purposes of nomination of the chief and assistant chief are held in December. Town Law Section 176 11-b.
OVERSEE FIRE COMPANIES. May organize, operate, maintain and equip fire companies, including purchasing uniforms to be used by the company members. Town Law Section 176 10.
PAY WITHOUT VOUCHER. Members may pay, without a claims voucher (Town Law Section 176 4-a), Fixed salaries of fire district officers, Wages due employees regularly engaged at an agreed upon hour, Fixed amount due under contracts for fire protection, Amount to be paid to the New York State Retirement system.
PAY THE FIRE DEPARTMENT TO PROVIDE OUTSIDE SERVICES. May pay the fire department to provide services outside the district. Town Law Section 176 16.
PURCHASE WATER RIGHTS. May purchase temporary or permanent rights to take water from cisterns, wells, water courses, or bodies of water, lease such rights or construct fire suction polls in such water sources. Town Law Section 176 12-a.
PURCHASE FIRE EQUIPMENT AND APPARATUS. May purchase apparatus and equipment for the extinguishment and the prevention of fires and for the purposes of emergency rescue and first aid and fire police squads. Town Law Section 176 13.REQUIRE BONDING OF TREASURER. Members shall require the fire district treasurer to post a bond or surety for the successful performance of his duties. Such bond shall be filed in the office of the clerk or clerks of the town or towns where the fire district is located. Town Law Section 176 4.
REQUIRE PROPER VOUCHER. Members shall not pay any claim unless a proper itemized voucher is presented for payment. Town Law Section 176 4-a.
REMOVAL OF MEMBERS OF FIRE COMPANIES. May provide for the removal of members of the fire companies for cause. Town Law Section 176 10.RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS. May, by resolution, require that all fire department officers be residents of the fire district. Town Law Section 176 11-a.
REQUIRE DEPARTMENT NOMINATIONS BE MADE IN APRIL. May, if the department votes to hold nominations for the chief and assistant chief in April of every year, adopt a rule and regulation providing that future meetings for the nomination of chief and assistant chief be held in April. Town Law Section 176 11-b.
SPEND MONEY WITHOUT A PROPOSITION. May expend, without adoption of a proposition, for (Town Law Section 176 18 (1) to Town Law Section 176 18(14)),Payments for water supply,Payments for fire protection,Lease payments for water supply, Payments for principal and interest on, Bond Anticipation Notes,Capital notes,Budget Notes,Tax Anticipation Notes,Compensation for paid personnel of the district,Contributions to New York State Employees’ Retirement System,Contributions to the New York State Police and Firemen Retirement System,Workman Compensation or Self-insured planV.F.B.L. Insurance costs,Costs to fund service awards programs,Insurance for volunteers against death or bodily injury,Medical and medically-related costs in connection with the disability of a paid fire department,Employer contributions to Social Security retirement payments of principal and interest on Tax Anticipation Notes for newly created fire district,Payment of compromised claims,Motor Vehicle Liability insurance costs,Payments for monetary rewards for the assistance in the arrest and conviction of persons who damage district property,Any necessary and proper expenditure within the statutory spending limitation.
SELL SURPLUS PROPERTY. May sell or otherwise dispose of real or personal property of the district no longer necessary for its purposes. Town Law Section 176 23.
TAX TO PAY JUDGMENTS. May provide by taxation the sum necessary to pay any judgment against the district. Town Law Section 176 30.