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Short-term fire accord proposed for Bradford

WESTERLY — The Dunn’s Corners Fire District is putting together a short-term contract for fire protection of the Bradford Fire District through May 31. At a meeting of the Dunn’s Corners Operating Committee on Monday, the six-member committee confirmed that it will charge Bradford a tax rate of 38 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value, the same rate it charges the Westerly taxpayers in Dunn’s Corners.

The operating committee will complete work on the short-term contract at a meeting on Nov. 13, and will also decide on the basics of a multiyear contract to begin on June 1. Bradford voters will consider the contract at a meeting on Nov. 14.

Members proposed that the Bradford Fire District will pay half the fee due on Feb. 1, with the other half payable on April 1.

The contract will then be put before Dunn’s Corners voters, district moderator Matt Thomsen said. Although he noted that it’s not required by the district’s charter, Thomsen said he has received a lot of calls about the topic and thought it would be best to hold a meeting with taxpayers.

Bradford’s contract is similar to the one the district has with the Shelter Harbor Fire District, Thomsen said, and the only difference will be the fee.

The contract does not address the possible use of Bradford’s equipment, according to Thomsen. That will be addressed in a separate contract, he said. Chief Michael J. Frink said that all useful firefighting equipment left at the Bradford Fire House was taken to Dunn’s Corners. It has been inventoried and is being stored at Dunn’s Corners for the time being, he said, although it’s taking up a lot of room and will eventually have to be moved somewhere else.

The long-term contract will include all fire-protection services, but not emergency medical services, said Frink. Without another eight or so EMTs in the department, he said he didn’t think it would be feasible. Bradford will have to rely on the Westerly Ambulance Corps for medical emergencies.

According to Frink, Westerly Ambulance is the primary responder for medical emergencies in Dunn’s Corners too, but the fire department does respond to assist.

In addition to addressing equipment usage, the long-term contract will also include information on a Bradford substation.

“It doesn’t have to be a Taj Mahal, just a two-bay garage,” said Frink.

The operating committee also discussed the former Bradford Dye Association property, which members recently learned is not included in the Bradford Fire District charter.

Dunn’s Corners would be obligated to respond to the property if there was a fire, but the property owners have no obligation to pay, and the cost would be borne by Bradford and Dunn’s Corners taxpayers. The operating committee will likely ask the property owner to sign a contract for fire-protection services now, and then ask the state legislature to amend the charter to include the property in the Bradford Fire District.

Members of the Bradford Fire District voted overwhelmingly in September to contract with the Dunn’s Corners Fire Department for fire-protection services. The vote came after voters came to the conclusion that it would be cheaper to contract services from the neighboring fire district than to build a new fire station. Bradford’s fire department had to vacate its station by Sept. 30 to resolve a lawsuit by North Main Street Holdings LLC, the owner of the property, which wanted to evict the department.

The Dunn’s Corners Fire District holds similar contracts with the Shelter Harbor, Shady Harbor, and Quonochontaug Central Beach fire districts.

In other business, the operating committee re-appointed Thomsen as district moderator, Steve White as clerk, Diane Nardone as tax collector, and Bob Delaney as treasurer.

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