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September 13, 2016 - 11:42am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Ladder 15, City Fire, batavia, news.


When I left Batavia High School, where the Genesee Symphony Orchestra was rehearsing last evening, I spotted Ladder 15 over at Dwyer Stadium, so I drove over and found firefighters there doing some training.

June 8, 2016 - 4:43pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Castilone, batavia, news, City Fire, business.


City firefighters have two new buildings that they can use for training because they are scheduled to be demolished.

Today, a crew practiced a second-floor window escape. The scenario is that a fire has expanded and blocked the stairwell, so the only way out is through a window. A few years ago, the state required fire departments to acquire the necessary equipment to make such escapes possible after a tragedy in NYC where firefighters had to jump from the upper story windows of a burning building.

The new Ladder 15 was used in the training, but only as a safety backup. Typically, the urgency of the situation and the fact Ladder 15 would be tied up on other tasks at the fire scene would mean it wouldn't be available to hoist a backup rope to safety.  

In this scenario, firefighters knocked a hole in a bedroom wall to expose a beam they could use as an anchor for a rope.

The two former houses are on West Main Street, just west of Castilone Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram. The dealership acquired the property to further expand its new car lot. Demolition is scheduled to begin June 20.

Before then, Batavia's Emergency Response Team will also use the houses for training and drills.

Castilone also just signed a contract to acquire the property at the corner of West Main and Vernon Avenue. That property was once proposed as a new location for an Arby's Restaurant, but the plan met stiff opposition from Vernon Avenue residents. Steve Castilone said he also already met with neighborhood representatives and discussed his plans with them.

"I sat down with them and I told them all, ‘whatever is going to make you people happy, I’ll do,' " he said. " 'If I do something that makes you unhappy, I’ll change it. If I put a light up and it shines in your windows, I’ll move it.’ They asked me to not put a driveway on their street and I said when I’m done I’ll close the driveway off. They were delighted. What would you rather have, a drive-thru Arby’s on the corner or stationary parked cars?”





May 25, 2016 - 9:54am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Ladder 15, City Fire, batavia, news.


City firefighters were out at about 8:30 last night training with the new truck that will become Ladder 15 early next month and with all the lights on, it was a great chance to get some pictures of what it looks like at night.




May 24, 2016 - 2:23pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Fire, batavia, news, Ladder 15.


This week, city firefighters will be training in Batavia's new ladder truck.

Representatives of E-One, the company that delivered the truck, will be on hand to train firefighters on all aspects of the truck's operations and equipment.

"As with any new piece of equipment detailed and repetitive training is required to develop the 'muscle memory'that enables the CBFD to perform in a proficient and expeditious manner under emergency conditions," said Capt. Robert Fix.

As part of the training, crews will set the truck up at various locations throughout the city over the next week. At times, this may cause some roadway lane restrictions as well as minor inconveniences near mid-rise and high-rise buildings, Fix said.

The new truck is expected to be in service by June 1.

(Yes, I was given a ride all the way up the 100-foot ladder.)










May 23, 2016 - 10:28am
posted by Howard B. Owens in IAFF Local 896, batavia, MDA, City Fire, news.


Members of the Batavia City Firefighters from IAFF Local 896 will fan out across the streets with boots in hand for this year’s drive on Friday, June 3rd.

Batavia’s Fill the Boot drive is organized by firefighter Chris Morasco. 

“In 2015, our members with the generous help of the community were able to raise $7,523 for the MDA! We are going to try our best to top the $10,000 mark for this great cause," Morasco said.

The event is from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Main Street and Court Street and at Ellicott Street and Court Street.

Pictured with city firefighters are Patti Arroyo and her daughter Zoey.

They are a local family that has been touched by the MDA directly. They met with firefighters to explain how the MDA has helped them. 

"It was a great opportunity to put a face to the cause and see that our efforts are truly making a difference and changing lives," Morasco said.

May 5, 2016 - 3:31pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Fire, batavia, news.


City firefighters were at a house on Ganson Avenue this afternoon for training. The house is scheduled for demolition in a couple of weeks, but before it comes down, City crews will use it for numerous training drills.

Today's scenario was dealing with a first-floor fire at a time (such as the middle of the night) when there might be people upstairs sleeping. While one crew attacks the fire, another enters through a second-story window and searches for anybody who might be trapped, injured or just sleeping and unaware of the fire.








May 2, 2016 - 2:38pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, City Fire, news.


Peter Yasses, 81, a 23-year veteran of the Batavia City Fire Department, was lain to rest today and his funeral procession was escorted from the J. Leonard McAndrew Funeral Home on Bogue Avenue to St. Joe's Cemetery by Ladder 15. Yasses passed away Wednesday. For his full obituary, click here.

April 29, 2016 - 3:44pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Ladder 15, batavia, City Fire, news.


City firefighters got a first look at their new ladder truck today as it stopped by the fire hall on its trip to Hamburg, where it will receive final setup before being ready to go into service.

After that setup and training for fire crews, it will go into service, about a month from now.

The truck is a dealer's demo built in early 2015 and cost the city $912,000.





March 10, 2016 - 5:16pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, City Fire, IAFF Local 896.


A group of city firefighters will climb 38 floors, 800 steps, in Buffalo on March 12 to help raise funds for the American Lung Association.

The effort is part of the Fight for Air Climb and takes place at the HSBC Tower.

Firefighers have an increased risk for lung disease, including lung cancer, from the exposure to gases, chemicals and smoke in the line of duty. Funds will be used for research, education and patient programs to assist firefighters.

The Fight for Air Climb has so far raised $114,000 and Batavia Local 896 has raised $1,372.

To donate, visit and enter Batavia L896 in search.

Pictured are Jerry Yoder, Adam Palumbo, Christine Marinaccio and Zack Gowanlock.

December 22, 2015 - 4:11pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Fire, batavia.

Press release:

City Manager Jason Molino today announced the immediate appointment of Capt. Dan Herberger to the position of Interim Fire Chief.

“Captain Herberger is well respected at all levels within our fire department and also in the local emergency services community,” Molino said. “I am grateful that Dan has accepted this important transitional responsibility and look forward to working with him.”

Capt. Herberger has served as a member of the City of Batavia Fire Department since 2002 and was appointed to his current position of Fourth Platoon Captain in September 2013.

“I am honored and humbled to serve the people of the City of Batavia in this capacity,” Herberger said. “I look forward to working with the talented and dedicated men and women of this department and appreciate the expressions of support and confidence as we move forward through this transition.”

Capt. Herberger will serve as Interim Chief until a permanent Chief is appointed, which Molino estimates will be sometime mid-Spring. 

The Batavian broke the news of Jim Maxwell's sudden retirement on Saturday.

December 19, 2015 - 8:53am
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Fire, batavia.

Members of the City of Batavia Fire Department were surprised to learn Friday that their fire chief, James Maxwell, retired with no apparent notice.

Contacted by phone this morning, Maxwell said he wasn't in a position to comment on his retirement, but did confirm it was not announced prior to the decision.

City Manager Jason Molino confirmed last night that Maxwell retired. We have not yet been able to reach him this morning for further comment.

We've spoken with several members of the fire department and all were surprised by Maxwell's departure and said they've been told nothing further about Maxwell leaving the department. One member said they were told to refer questions to Molino.

UPDATE 10:51 a.m.: Jim Maxwell asked to include the following statement: "I enjoyed my time with the department and the opportunity to work with the professional men and women of the organiztion. I wish them all the best in the future."

We're expecting to speak with Molino later. He said he has a statement.

Also, we've learned there was a civil service posting for the position Dec. 2. 

UPDATE 3:29 p.m.: Jason Molino and I have been unable to connect by phone today. He e-mailed over this statement: "The City thanks Chief Maxwell for his years of service to the community. We wish him the best in his future endeavors."

UPDATE 3:32 p.m.: A person familiar with the civil service process says the exam was not posted Dec. 2. That was the last filing date for the exam. If a job opening had been posted, the reader suggests, City fire personnel would not be surprised by the retirement.

November 20, 2015 - 4:52pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Operation Warm, IAFF Local 896, City Fire, batavia, Jackson School.


City of Batavia firefighters, members of IAFF Local 896, made their annual trip to Jackson School this afternoon to hand out winter coats to students who needed them.

The children received brand new, 100-percent American-made winter coats. The donations are part of a national effort sponsored by the not-for-profit Operation Warm.



September 16, 2015 - 1:53pm
posted by Billie Owens in City Fire, child safety, seat check.

Press release:

The City of Batavia Fire Department joins the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the New York State Governor’s Traffic Safety Council (GTSC) to commemorate National Child Passenger Safety Week (Sept. 13-19).

Safety seats, if used correctly, can dramatically reduce the risk of fatality or injury to children involved in car crashes. Therefore, even if you think you have your child in the right car seat, you should check again to be sure, as the latest data from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that approximately 59 percent of car seats are misused. Furthermore, in 2013 more than one-third of children killed in car crashes were completely unrestrained – meaning that they were not in car seats, booster seats or wearing seat belts.

Child Passenger Safety Week is a nationwide community effort sponsored by NHTSA to provide education on how to use car seats, booster seats and seat belts for children. The week concludes with National Seat Check Saturday on Sept. 19th, when certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians across the country will be available at local car seat inspection stations to offer advice and instruction to parents and caregivers about choosing the right car seat for their child, the importance of registering car seats with the manufacturer, and what to expect if the seat is subject to a safety recall.

The City of Batavia Fire Department will be hosting the National Seat Check Saturday event on Saturday, Sept. 19th from 10 a.m. to noon at the City of Batavia Fire Department (18 Evans St.). The event will be held rain or shine. Nationally Certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians will be on hand to ensure the proper installation and use of child safety seats.

September 14, 2015 - 3:09pm
posted by Billie Owens in City Fire, hydrant flushing.

Press release from Batavia Fire Capt. Robert L. Fix II:

The City of Batavia Fire Department will be flushing fire hydrants from approximately 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.on Wednesday, Sept. 16th, and Thursday, Sept. 17th in the general area of Main Street, Bank Street and State Street. Homes and businesses nearby will be affected.

These tests may result in a temporary discoloration of water in that area. As in the past, please do not attempt to wash any clothing if your water appears discolored. If you do experience a discoloration of your water, run cold water for about five minutes or until clear.

August 24, 2015 - 3:37pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Fire, batavia.


August 5, 2015 - 7:49pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Fire, batavia.


From this day forward, when city firefighters pass down the hall leading into the aparatus bay to answer an alarm for a fire or medical call, they will pass a picture of Capt. Loren J. Michel, the only city firefighter to ever die in the line of duty.

The memorial to Michel also contains his badge, ID and the page from the logbook of his final call Aug. 5, 1965.

Looking over the mementos of his late friend, Bill Benedict stared at each item intently. It was a sad, sad day, the day he died, Benedict said.

"A lot of sadness that day," he said. "I was there that day. I was driving the aerial truck. I was on the top floor ventilating the roof. After I cut a hole in the roof, I nearly passed out with the gas. It was bad, bad gas."

The structure fire was reported at 402 Bank St. and a resident indicated her two children might still be inside. As acting chief that day, Michel led his crew into the house, kicking down the front door. As firefighters entered ahead of him, a fireball of flames exploded out of the house and Michel apparently inhaled the flames, burning his lungs. His face was also burned.

Michel was not wearing an air pack and staggered out of the house to get some oxygen. Wilbur Hinz, president of the Western New York Volunteer Firemen's Association, helped Michel walk to the truck.

Hinz drove Michel to Genesee Memorial Hospital.

Michel told Hinz to go to his house and tell his wife and daughter that he would be OK. By the time Hinz returned to ER, Michel was dead.

The service today, attended by members of Michel's family, included prayer and remembrances. A plaque was dedicated that will be placed on the outside of the fire hall and a wreath was lain at the grave of Michel in Grandview Cemetery.

The service was intended to recall the kind of man Michel was and his dedication to firefighting. He was an instructor, instrumental in creating the mutual aid and emergency management coordination that is still in place today.

He served the city for 24 years and was an honorary member of every volunteer fire company in the county.

"Capt. Michel's death was a devastating loss to his family, his community and the entire fire service," said Adam Palumbo, president of Local 896.

Palumbo and firefighter Mike Dorgan took the lead in organizing today's service.

Leonard Smatak, a firefighter and son-in-law of Michel's, recalled how this fallen hero devoted his life to serving others.

He shared one story of a structure fire that started with a boy who accidently lit his sister's bed on fire. The alarm was sounded quickly and the house was saved, but the boy was nowhere in sight when it was all over. Firefighters and police began a neighborhood search, but Michel said he would handle matters.

He figured the boy was hiding in the house, and he was right. Soon he and the boy came walking out of the house hand-in-hand. Michel sat the boy on the front seat of a fire truck and had a private chat with him. Smatak said that to this day, that boy, now a man, credits Michel with changing his life.

"To truly honor Capt. Michel in all that you do, do it right the first time, take no shortcuts, do it by the numbers, just as you were all trained to do," Smatak said.

Standing before the memorial, all city firefighters will pass from this day forward. Benedict said he'll never forget his friend or that tragic day.

"He was a nice man, a good leader," Benedict said. "Everybody liked him. He was well respected. We all miss him."




Firefighter Greg Ireland presents the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of the service.


Firefighter and Local 896 President Adam Palumbo with opening remarks.


City Fire Chief Jim Maxwell.


Firefighter Ryan Hendershott sounds the final bells for Capt. Michel.


Michael Szustak and Michel Lujan


Retired firefighter, Capt. Mike Mullen.


The service pin, as shown above, is the same one city firefighters will wear from now on on their Class A uniforms to honor Capt. Michel and the date of his death.


The laying of the wreath at Grandview Cemetery.



Four of the county's volunteer firefighters pay tribute to Capt. Michel.

August 3, 2015 - 5:10pm
posted by Traci Turner in City Fire, batavia.

The City of Batavia Fire Department will be holding a ceremony to remember Capt. Loren J. Michel, who died after helping fight a house fire 50 years ago.

The memorial ceremony will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 5 at the City of Batavia Fire Headquarters on Evans Street. A new station plaque donated by the firefighters' association will be dedicated. Members of Firefighters Local 896 organized the ceremony to honor Capt. Michel's sacrifice.

Capt. Michel was the only city of Batavia firefighter to die in the line of duty.

Marty Phelps, firefighter, remembers getting the call for a house fire at 402 Bank St. around 2:30 p.m. on Aug. 5, 1965. Phelps was in the truck going down Ellicott Street on his way to the scene and saw Capt. Michel pointing to the sky.  

"It looked like Pearl Harbor," Phelps said. "The whole sky was black from black smoke and we knew we had a real serious fire."

When they arrived at the scene, a lady almost knocked Phelps down and screamed that her two boys were trapped inside the house. No one knew the boys were watching firefighters battle the blaze from the backyard.

Firefighters started fighting the fire and cut a hole in the roof. According to Phelps, an explosion occured and a "massive fireball" came from the first floor of the house and down the stairway over two firefighters. They couldn't get into the house.

"Capt. Michels was standing in the doorway when the fire came down over the top of two of the firefighters," Phelps said. "The fire was so intense it flipped him and he inhaled the fire, burning his lungs."

Michels was not wearing an air pack and staggered out of the house to get some oxygen. Wilbur Hinz, president of the Western New York Volunteer Firemen's Association, helped Michels walk to the truck.

Phelps recalls the last thing he heard Capt. Michel say before Hinz drove him to Genesee Memorial Hospital.

"He flipped his face back and you could see his face was burned and his eyes were red," Phelps said. "He was gurgling and said, 'I want to see my wife and daughter.' "

Thirty minutes later Capt. Michel collapsed in the emergency room and died due to smoke inhalation. Hinz had gone to tell Michel's wife, Carol, that he was receiving oxygen at the hospital but would be home soon. Hinz returned to find Michel's dead. An autopsy confirmed his cause of death as pulmonary edema.

Capt. Michels served the department for 24 years. In March 1965, he was awarded "Fireman of the Year" for his role as a Genesee County mutual aid instructor for 17 years. 

Currently, a plaque honoring him is outside the fire department. The plaque will be moved inside when the new one is dedicated Wednesday morning.

July 31, 2015 - 12:30pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in hlom, education, schools, batavia, City Fire.


Earlier this week, City firefighters paid a visit to the History Heroes summer education program at the Holland Land Office Museum.

Photos submitted by Jeffrey M. Fischer, assistant director.



July 29, 2015 - 2:55pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in IAFF Local 896, batavia, Habitat for Humanity, City Fire.


Today, off duty city firefighters, members of Local 896, are volunteering their time to help work on the Habitat for Humanity house on Oak Street.





June 26, 2015 - 11:10am
posted by Howard B. Owens in IAFF Local 896, batavia, City Fire.


Members of City Fire, IAFF Local 896, are in the midst of their annual fundraising effort on behalf of the Muscular Dystrophy Association this morning, asking passing motorist to "fill the boot."  The firefighters are on Main Street and Ellicott Street around Court Street and will be in place until 1 p.m.






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