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Town of Oswego Fire Department looks to end service at SUNY Oswego

Jason Smith
WRVO News (file photo)

As the spring semester comes to an end, SUNY Oswego is looking for help protecting students from fires and emergencies. The Town of Oswego Fire Department is looking to end service to the SUNY Oswego campus after the fire department has responded to a growing number of nuisance calls on campus — now totaling more than 300 a year since 2021.

Robert Whitehall, the Town of Oswego Fire District Commissioner, says a lot of the calls the fire department is receiving are alarms going off from things like people smoking or from burnt food. He says that number of calls isn't sustainable for the 43-person volunteer department.

"More people are shutting their pagers off because of all the college calls going on overnight," Whitehall said. "We have already had an incident where we were at a structure fire and a fire alarm was at the college and we had to send a crew from the structure fire to respond to the college call to find out that there was no issue."

The fire department is still providing service to the campus while waiting for the town board to meet and potentially create a new fire protection district without the SUNY Oswego campus. Karen Crowe, Interim Vice President for Communications and Marketing, said the university is developing a plan to reduce the number of calls from campus while maintaining safety for students, faculty, staff and visitors.

“Some of the steps we have taken in the short time since our meeting include inviting engineers from the Office of Fire Prevention and Control and from Johnson Fire System to assess our fire system responsiveness, training for our University Police and Residence Life and Housing Staff and drafting new response protocols," Crowe said. “Fire protection services for the SUNY Oswego campus are continuing, in keeping with New York State Town Law."

In the meantime, the town is still providing fire and emergency services. Once the new plans are finalized, it may take a few months before they're implemented.

Ava Pukatch joined the WRVO news team in September 2022. She previously reported for WCHL in Chapel Hill, NC and earned a degree in Journalism and Media from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At UNC, Ava was a Stembler Scholar and a reporter and producer for the award-winning UNC Hussman broadcast Carolina Connection. In her free time, Ava enjoys theatre, coffee and cheering on Tar Heel sports. Find her on Twitter @apukatch.