A state Supreme Court judge issued a temporary restraining order...

A state Supreme Court judge issued a temporary restraining order against the Bayville Fire Company from withholding service to Centre Island as the two sides remain in a contract dispute.  Credit: Rick Kopstein

A state Supreme Court judge has ordered the Bayville Fire Company to continue providing fire protection to the Village of Centre Island while the two remain locked in a contract dispute.

Centre Island filed suit Feb. 13 against the fire company after it told village officials and residents it would stop fighting fires there on Wednesday, pending an agreement on a new contract.   

At issue is a surcharge proposed by the Bayville Fire Company that adds more than $120,000 to the village’s annual bill. The department says it would cover costs related to a specialized pumper truck needed to battle blazes in the village, which has no hydrants.

Judge Sharon Gianelli issued the temporary restraining order on Feb. 16, court documents show.

Because of its location, Centre Island officials wrote in court documents that "no other fire company, other than the BFC, can feasibly provide fire protection services to the village."

The contract debate stretches back to 2022, when Centre Island asked the fire company to provide an itemized breakdown of annual costs related to the truck.

Centre Island said the fire company did not provide it, court documents show, and the dispute continued.

On Feb. 10, 2023, the fire company said it would stop providing fire services that month after the village did not pay for the department’s services. Six days later, the village provided a $181,255 payment “in protest,” the village wrote in a letter to the Bayville Fire Company.

Since then Centre Island officials said they would not pay for the department’s additional surcharge without the breakdown of costs tied to the truck, instead only paying for its share of the assessed real property value serviced by the fire company. That measure is typically used to determine contracts with fire services, the village said in court documents.

In November 2023, the Bayville Fire Company again threatened to cease operations the following February, court documents show.

After Centre Island sent a Dec. 7, 2023, check totaling $121,251 to the Bayville Fire Company to satisfy the first half of its biannual payments, the department returned the check and said it did not cover the cost of using specialized equipment.

The Bayville Fire Company initially said the biannual installments should be $190,318, for a total of $380,636, court documents show. That amount was lowered, after a recalculation, to biannual bills of $183,758, for a total of $367,497. 

Centre Island Deputy Mayor Mike Chalos said “the matter now is in the hands of the court,” adding the village continues efforts to “resolve this matter amicably.”

James Cammarata, the attorney representing the Bayville Fire Company, declined to comment.

The two sides are due in court March 4.

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