Fire and Emergency Services

This is a combination of Town and State Services with some County involvement as well.

Call 911 for fire, police and rescue.  If you use your home phone, they will know where you are calling from. Just ask for help.

If you are reporting a lost hiker, call 911 and ask for DEC Forest Rangers or directly call DECs dispatch number: 518-408-5850.

barn-oThe Keene Fire Department and the Keene Valley Fire Department are all-volunteer and both departments are searching for new members. Both departments experience more ambulance calls than fire calls.  Keeping enough trained EMTs is very difficult.  Whoever you are, if you have an interest in serving, especially as an EMT, please call the department.

keene-fdFire Departments are supported by property taxes.  Each Fire Department has a separate District it serves and gets tax revenue from that District.  Route 9N to Elizabethtown divides the two Fire Districts: to the north is Keene and to the south is Keene Valley.  The Keene Fire Department station was destroyed in the flood in August 2011 and has been replaced.  The new building was largely paid for by insurance, FEMA and NY State.

There are two Departments to enable local reponders to get to a scene as fast as possible.  If the problem is, for example, at the Ausable Club and the only fire department was in Keene, the response time could be quite long.  Some volunteers would have to drive to Keene to get a truck, for example, then drive to the Ausable Club.  And vice-versa.

Each District has a group of Fire Commissioners, who are elected (I’m not sure when or how) and they set the Department’s budget.

Police respond to 911 as well. Our Town is covered by the State Police Troop B in Wilmington. They can be reached at: 518-897-2000.

The Essex County Sheriff’s Office has some role too. The Sheriff is a county job mostly focused on enforcement of civil court processes but you see them doing traffic stops and road blocks as well.  For example, divorce papers or an auto repossession might bring the sheriff to your door.  But the Sheriffs big budget item is running the new jail.   It was recently built to handle 120 inmates but it typically only has about 70 people; look here at their monthly report.  NYS prison populations peaked in 1999 and the State is closing prisons.  The County was ordered to build a new prison, but it appears somehow they built one way too large.