Updated 08/06/2012 06:08 PM
Village safety at risk
Road closures and construction in one Montgomery County village is proving to be a recipe for disaster. As YNN's Maria Valvanis explains, some emergency responders say the extra time needed to go short distances could mean the difference between life and death.
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FONDA, N.Y. -- Fonda Mayor William Peeler said, "We're very fortunate firemen were able to get here and respond to this, but there was delays in getting proper apparatus here, in a timely fashion."
This East Street home sits literally feet from the Fonda Fire station. But the closure of two village rail road crossings, along with multiple construction projects in the area, made for a response time that was three times longer than it should have taken.
"The longer a fire goes unintended, the faster it grows and the bigger it gets," said Fonda Fire Chief Donald Wagoner.
Which is exactly why some residents have been concerned since the DOT temporarily closed the crossings, cutting off their emergency routes. A public hearing on whether to keep them permanently closed was held back in May.
"They feel like they're trapped and they can't get out quick enough to get to where they need to go," said resident, Sal Riggi.
Adding to the frustration is construction on the new Route 30 bridge, along with road work in the area, causing major back-ups.
The DOT has proposed opening the crossings during emergency situations, but even then, it could be too late.
"Anything could happen anytime you know," said Riggi.
"You can't wait for a number of phone calls and for someone to come down with a key, we need the crossing open, we need the access," said Wagoner.
In the mean time, Chief Wagoner says residents need to do their part. And when traffic backs up all the way to the fire station, they need to make sure to leave enough space, so emergency vehicles can get in and out."
"You block up the fire house, it could be your house that's on fire, or someone in your house that needs attention."
Construction is expected to be over by the end of October. And as for the crossings, a ruling is expected in the next few weeks.
"I would like to see these railroad crossings open so us residents can get to safety and the fire department can get in if needed." said Riggi.