The Fire District is the political entity responsible for training and equipping the members of the Stanford Heights Fire Department who provide fire protection and first response emergency medical care to all the residents and businesses in the area known as Stanford Heights in the towns of Colonie and Niskayuna.
Fire districts are political subdivisions of the state. The fire commissioners and other officers and employees of each fire district are not officers or employees of the town or of any other political subdivision. New York State Town Law Article 11 details the requirements, makeup and responsibilities of fire districts and fire commissioners.
Each fire district in New York State is governed by its own board of five fire commissioners. The commissioners are elected by the qualified voters of the fire district at annual elections, which are held on the second Tuesday of December of each year. Each commissioner is elected for a five-year term commencing on January 1 following the election. The office terms are staggered so that one commissioner is elected each year to ensure there will always be experienced commissioners on the Board at any given time. Fire district commissioners receive no compensation for their services. Currently Stanford Heights fire officers also include the appointed positions of District Financial Secretary and Recording Secretary. The Board of Fire Commissioners fixes those employees’ compensation rates annually. The fire district retains an attorney to assist, counsel and advise the Board. Each fire district commissioner, treasurer, and secretary must, at the time of election or appointment and throughout the term of office, be a resident of the fire district. A person may not hold the office of Fire Chief or Assistant Fire Chief or Town Councilman or Town Supervisor and Fire Commissioner at the same time.
The Board of Fire Commissioners determines a set day and time for the Board’s monthly meetings. At those public monthly meetings, the Board conducts the business of the fire district with regard to the financial and operational aspects associated with all fire district activities. All monies used for such operations are derived from fire taxes that are levied by the fire district and collected by the town as part of the town tax on each assessed property. In all cases the Board acts together as a whole.
The Board of Fire Commissioners acts in the interest of the fire district taxpayers while overseeing the fire prevention and fire suppression activities of the Stanford Heights Fire Department. The Board purchases and maintains the buildings, utilities, furnishings and fire fighting equipment necessary for the members of the fire department to respond to emergency situations such as rescue, EMS and structural fire fighting. The Board also provides funding for proper training of the all-volunteer fire fighting force.
By law fire district taxes may only be used for fire district activities, which include firematic operations. The fire department conducts fundraisers on its own for the financing of its social activities such as member trips, events, and sponsorships. Fire tax monies may not be used for such purposes. The Board of Fire Commissioners works as a team to accomplish the objectives of the Fire District