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City Fire

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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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."

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

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Firefighter and Local 896 President Adam Palumbo with opening remarks.

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City Fire Chief Jim Maxwell.

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

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Michael Szustak and Michel Lujan

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Retired firefighter, Capt. Mike Mullen.

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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.

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The laying of the wreath at Grandview Cemetery.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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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May 24, 2015 - 12:41pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, City Fire.

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A city resident turned to the Fire Department this morning for help rescuing a cat whose curiosity, or insatiable appetite, got the better of him and perhaps cost him one of his nine lives. The cat stuck his head in a can and couldn't get unstuck. Engine 15 responded at 7:58 a.m. and firefighters used handheld cutting tools to peel the can open and extricate the feline.

The cat is fine.

Photos and information submitted by Lt. Bob Fix, Batavia FD.

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May 22, 2015 - 12:53pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Fire, batavia.

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City of Batavia firefighters have been busy with training much of the day, working on accident-scene response and patient extrication in the parking lot next to the fire hall.

Among those getting in more practice time, Matt Pillsbury, the newest member of the department. Originally, from Massachusetts, currently living in Chili, he will soon move to Batavia.

April 28, 2015 - 9:39am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, City Fire.

After 21 years of service to the citizens of the City of Batavia, Captain Mark Mikolajczyk was honored by the City Council on Monday evening with a proclamation presented by Councilman Kris Doeringer. 

April 21, 2015 - 2:24pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, IAFF Local 896, City Fire.

Press release:

For the third year, in a row City of Batavia Firefighters IAFF Local 896 will be raising funds to provide children in the City of Batavia with brand-new 100-percent American-made winter coats.

Firefighters partnered with the national non-for-profit Operation Warm in 2013 and held the first ever successful Operation Warm coat campaign in New York State associated with the International Association of Firefighters. Since 2013 City firefighters have distributed more than 125 brand new 100-percent American-made winter coats.

For the second year in a row, Local 896 will be raffling off a N6A Sam Houston leather helmet along with four other prizes. All proceeds will benefit the 2015 Firefighters for Operation Warm campaign with a goal of 200 coats for local children. Drawing held Saturday Sept. 5.

City of Batavia Firefighters IAFF Local 896 would like to thank everyone who has supported this great cause over the last two years. For more information please contact Adam Palumbo at [email protected] or visit www.operationwarm.org/batavia

February 10, 2015 - 5:57pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, City Fire.

Firefighters clear snow from around a fire hydrant on Clifton Avenue, Batavia. There are some 640 hydrants in the city. A firefighter noted, "I know it's our job, but we can't get to them all." He said it would be great if residents would adopt the hydrants on their streets and help keep them clear of snow. "After all," he said, "it's their property we're trying to protect."

February 5, 2015 - 5:14pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, City Fire.

Press release:

With the recent snowfall City fire crews have been out daily looking for buried fire hydrants.

During one trip down a street, they came across an elderly woman attempting to shovel the end of her driveway alone. The crew of Engine 12 stopped to assist her and the moment was caught by a City of Batavia Fire Department Facebook follower.

Over the next 24 hours this photo flashed across computer, phone and tablet screens 10,000 times resulting in 440 likes, 29 comments, and has been shared 16 times! All records since the Fire Department launched its Facebook page in September of 2014.

Chief Jim Maxwell said "He is proud of the men and women of the City of Batavia Fire Department who routinely go above and beyond for the residents of the City."

Lt. Fix who administers the Fire Department's Facebook page said "Since this photo was added, we have received others who have 'adopted a hydrant' in their neighborhood."

Keeping hydrants clear of snow can save valuable time for firefighters arriving at the scene of a fire.

If your neighborhood has adopted a hydrant, feel free to share it with the "City of Batavia Fire Department, NY" Facebook page.

December 31, 2014 - 2:44pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, City Fire.

In August, City Fire Chief Jim Maxwell announced plans to equip medics in his fire department with Narcan, a drug that can potentially save the life of a person who has overdosed on heroin or other opiate-based drugs.

Saturday, for the first time, a life was saved in the city when a firefighter administered Narcan to a middle-aged female resident.

The woman apparently overdosed on heroin.

The firefighter, Ryan Whitcombe, said the call came in shortly after noon Saturday for an unresponsive female.

When firefighters arrived, they found the woman unconscious on the floor of her residence. She wasn't breathing.

Whitcombe was informed by others at the residence that the woman may have suffered a narcotics overdose.

After consulting with other first responders, he agreed the best course of action was to administer Narcan, generically known as naloxone hyrdochloride, which he sprayed into the woman's nostrils.

The fast-acting drug did its job.

"Over the period of a minute or two, her breathing started to come back," Whitcombe said. "Little by little her breathing came back to the point where she became conscious and was breathing on her own without assistance."

When a person ODs on heroin or an opiate-based prescription medication, the drug shuts down brain function that controls breathing. The person literally forgets to breath. Narcan stimulates that portion of the brain and the person will start breathing again.

As Maxwell explained to council members in August, there's no known downside to administering the life-saving drug.

"If it's not an opiate overdose, you can't hurt the patient," Maxwell said. "You can't overdose on it or anything along those lines, so if it's a false recognition and they administer it, it doesn't do anything to the patient."

Narcan, clinically considered "an opioid antagonist," can also be used to revive people who have overdosed on prescription medications that are opiates.

November 17, 2014 - 12:07pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, IAFF Local 896, City Fire, Jackson School.

Fire Chief Jim Maxwell and Principal Diane Bonarigo help a student at Jackson School try on a new winter coat at the school this morning.  

IAFF Local 896 gave out about 90 winter coats to students at the school.

UPDATE: Here's some additional info about the coat distribution:

City of Batavia firefighters, Local 896 distributed 90 brand new 100-percent American Made winter coats to children grades K-1 at Jackson primary. This is the second year firefighters have partnered with the national not-for-profit Operation Warm. More than $3,600 was raised to provide the coats. Local 896 would like to thank all who supported this great program. It truly is more than a coat. The coats give children a sense of pride having something brand new and all their own. New coats also promote a healthy lifestyle for children during the winter months and having a positive impact on school attendance.

Firefighter Adam Palumbo

Firefighter Chuck Hammon stretches out his arms to show a student how to test the fit of his new coat.

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