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Controversy over pre-plan after fatal fire

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Updated: 1/14 10:01 pm

GREENWICH, N.Y. – A debate is brewing in Washington County over which fire department was called to a blaze this Sunday, which turned deadly.

On Sunday night, multiple fire companies were called for mutual aid to help battle the smoke and flames that claimed one person's life in Greenwich.

However, one company was notably absent, The Middle Falls Fire Department, said they were the closest to the scene following the Greenwich Fire Department.

"Our department was not called to assist them in anyway," explained Stephen Wilbur, First Assistant with the Middle Falls Fire Department.

The chief of the Greenwich Fire Department said he had a village alarm assignment, a pre-plan already in place for a mutual aid response plan. The plan is drafted based on equipment and experience according to Chief Dean Watkins.

"We have to take that into account and say ‘Who are our strongest people, where do we get them from?'" asked Greenwich Fire Chief Dean Watkins

"That's the type of the call every fire chief makes for every individual incident," continued Mayor David Doonan.

"For me to call a piece of apparatus that gives me 2,345 guys is a liability," said Chief Watkins.

Middle Falls said they had more than five volunteer fire fighters ready to go on Sunday evening.

"I can tell you I had ten firefighters," explained Chief Wilbur, "Seven of which are qualified for interior fires."

"There is no beef between us and Middle Falls. We just worked with them recently on a thing," continued Chief Watkins

According to Chief Watkins, the decision came down to the equipment he needed to battle the blaze, which had spread to neighboring homes.

"The time delays people are talking about, they would have been a 4th or 5th engine and I didn't need engines at that point," explained Watkins

Chief believes the end result of the fatal fire would not have changed if Middle Falls was included in his pr

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