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City Fire planning more hydrant flushing on Monday and Tuesday

By Press Release
May 14, 2023, 4:41pm
fire hydrant flushing
File photo of hydrant flushing at a location on Ellicott Street, Batavia.
Photo by Howard Owens.

Press release:

The City of Batavia Fire Department will be flushing / testing fire hydrants on Monday and Tuesday from approximately 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the general area of North of Main Street and West of Bank Street. 

Homes and businesses nearby will be affected. These tests may result in 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 5 minutes or until clear.

This annual testing is essential to maintain the communities class III Insurance Services Office (ISO) public protection classification, and to assure that fire hydrants are operating efficiently for fire protection purposes. Along with maintaining the fire rating, the test monitors the health of the city's water system, identifies weak areas in the system, and removes material that settles in the water lines. Checking each hydrant improves fire department personnel's knowledge of the hydrant locations.

If you have any questions, or should notice a hydrant in need of repair, please contact the fire department at 585-345-6375.

Photo: Fire hydrant flushing on Ellicott Street, Batavia

By Howard B. Owens
May 11, 2023, 2:33pm
fire hydrant flushing
City of Batavia firefighters flushing a hydrant on Ellicott Street on Thursday morning.
Photo by Howard Owens

It's an annual rite of spring: Fire hydrant flushing, which helps keep the hydrants servicable for emergencies.  City Fire crews flushed hydrants in a couple of city neighborhoods this morning.

In a release, City Fire explained the necessity of fire hydrant flushing:

This annual testing is essential to maintain the communities class III Insurance Services Office (ISO) public protection classification, and to assure that fire hydrants are operating efficiently for fire protection purposes. Along with maintaining the fire rating, the test monitors the health of the city's water system, identifies weak areas in the system, and removes material that settle in the water lines. 

Proclamation: Greg Ireland honored for 23-year service

By Joanne Beck
Mar 14, 2023, 8:16am

Greg Ireland likes to tell people that one of his best days happened 23 years ago. That’s when he was hired by the City of Batavia as an emergency medical technician. Apparently, the feeling has been mutual all these years since Ireland has climbed the ranks, being promoted to firefighter in 2002, lieutenant in 2015 and captain in 2018.

He was given a warm send-off Monday evening during his last department move to retirement. City Councilman Rich Richmond read a proclamation that summarized Ireland’s two dozen years of service that included firefighting, educating other first responders throughout Genesee County, and being “a positive role model to all of the fire department throughout his 23-year career,” Richmond said.

“In the true spirit of appreciation, for many years, Captain Gregory Ireland has served as a City of Batavia employee, the City Council and the City of Batavia herby make this proclamation to sincerely thank him for 23 years of dedicated service in our community, and wish him well in his retirement,” Richmond said.

During an interview with The Batavian in June 2022, Ireland had given notice and already walked out the door.  That last day was emotional, he said, as being part of the city Fire Department had “definitely been part of my lifestyle.”

“Emotions came in waves. It was the right decision at this time,” he said at the time. “I’ll have the opportunity to be home with my family … that’s going to allow me more time with my family and my kids. That was the main driver behind it.”

After more than two decades as a city employee, Ireland has been a recognizable face throughout the community. He started out as an emergency medical technician when the city-owned and operated its own ambulance service. He credits Sept. 4, 1999, as “the best day of my life” for a career move out of the radio — and the airplanes and helicopters used for part of his traffic reporting job.

“I actually flew on an airplane for almost two years every morning. I did that for a bunch of stations up in Buffalo,” he said. “It was a great experience, but not what I wanted to do.”

An Alexander High School and Genesee Community College graduate, he worked in Buffalo for a while before making the move. He began as an EMT in 1999, with a background of having volunteered for the Alexander fire department, and a year or two before that, Ireland took a first aid class. The handwriting seemed to be on the wall before a teenaged Ireland took serious note of it. He moved through the ranks from basic to intermediate EMT and then to paramedic. By 2002, he was offered a job as a firefighter, which was a major goal.

In 1999, the opportunity for a job came up, and it “turned into a great career,” he said.

He couldn’t help but humbly accept the honor before the council and remind everyone how he feels.

“I always say Sept. 4, 1999, was one of the luckiest days of my life,” he said. “They’re always going to be part of my family.”

Photo of Greg Ireland accepting proclamation from City Councilman Rich Richmond during City Council's conference session Monday at City Hall, by Howard Owens.

City Fire annual report: Call volume up 11.6 percent

By Press Release
Jan 16, 2023, 12:27pm

Press release:

As 2022 has drawn to a close, the City of Batavia Fire Department has evaluated the services and programs provided throughout the year.  The annual evaluation of calls for service metrics, training and citizen outreach is part of the department’s continuous quality improvement process.

While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect people around the world, City Fire operations have been able to roll back COVID-19 protocols and operate in a Post Pandemic “normal status.”

“I am honored to lead the City of Batavia Fire Department.  In my first few months of employment, I have been working to bring the department to full staffing, analyzing the condition of the fleet, and meeting with command staff and firefighters to listen to their ideas and concerns.” 

“The number one priority of the Department is life safety, followed closely by protecting property and the environment. The professionals that make up this department will continue to train and serve to the highest of standards”

“Below, please find the year-end summary for 2022 and thank you for your continued support of the City of Batavia Fire Department,” said Josh Graham, City of Batavia Fire Chief.

Total alarms for 2022, 2669

  • Fires, 59
  • Overpressure Rupture, Explosion, Overheating, 15
  • Emergency Medical Services, 1,940
  • Motor Vehicle Accidents, 51
  • Pedestrian Struck, 14
  • Extrication (vehicle, machinery, building), 2
  • Elevator Rescue, 4
  • Ice/Swift Water Rescue. 2
  • Hazardous Conditions, 80
  • Service Calls, 111
  • Good Intent Calls, 126
  • Fire / Carbon Monoxide Alarm Activations, 308
  • Severe Weather, 2
  • Special Incident Type, 11
  • Mutual Given, 23
  • Mutual Received, 15

Fire Prevention

  • Fire prevention programs, 31events, 104 adult / 2124 children Points of Contact  (Includes: station tours, fire drills, and school visits)
  • Fire Extinguisher Trainings, 19 events, 691 points of contact
  • Smoke Alarm / CO alarm installs, 29
  • Smoke alarm / CO alarm battery replacements, 21
  • Juvenile Fire Setter Interventions, 2
  • Car Seat installations/inspections, 158

Fire Inspection/Code Enforcement

  • Special Events Inspections, 80
  • Commercial Building Inspection, 334
  • Multi-family Dwelling Inspections, 38

General Information

  • Busiest Month, December (234)
  • Busiest Day, Tuesday (375)              
  • Busiest Time of Day, 1000 – 1059 hrs. (160)
  • Slowest Month, January (150)
  • Slowest Day, Sunday (280)
  • Slowest Time of Day, 0400 – 0459 hrs. (38)

City Response Time (Time of Dispatch to on-scene arrival)

  • 10 minutes or less, 99 percent
  • 8 minutes or less, 97 percent
  • 6 minutes or less, 90 percent
  • Two or more calls for service simultaneously, 519

Overall, the total call volume for the year was up by approximately 11.6 percent. 

“I accepted this position after being impressed with my research on the department as well as the City, and neither has let me down. The individuals that make up the City of Batavia Fire Department continue to be some of the most professional and competent people I’ve had the pleasure of serving with. In addition to this group, I’d like to say thank you to the other City of Batavia departments, leadership, Genesee County partners, dispatchers, City of Batavia business owners, residents and local media outlets for all of their support and dedication,” said Fire Chief Josh Graham.

Batavia PD and FD to battle it out on the ice this Sunday

By Press Release
Jan 6, 2023, 11:46pm

Press release:

This Sunday, Jan. 8, at 6:30 p.m., the City of Batavia Police Department and Fire Department are squaring off for a hockey match-up. 

The two agencies have battled it out on the softball diamond in years past. 

The game will take place at the David M. McCarthy Memorial Ice Arena. 

The board of directors at the ice rink has gone above and beyond to make this event both successful and memorable.

Robbie Nichols (owner of the Batavia Muckdogs) brought this idea to both departments.  Nichols hosted similar events in Binghamton.  Marc Witt (employed by Nichols and the Muckdogs) has taken lead on organizing the game. 

The doors at the ice rink will open at 5:30 p.m.  Patrons will be welcomed by some high-energy music to set the tone for the evening.   The teams will take the ice for warm-ups around 5:50 p.m.

At around 6:30 p.m., the show starts.  Team introductions will have all patrons on their feet.  The National Anthem is being played by Miles Meyer on electric guitar.  Puck drop is scheduled for 6:35 p.m., directly after the ceremonial puck drop. 

The ice rink secured a one-day liquor license and will be stocked with your favorite food/beverages.  The night will include 50/50 drawings.  Staff is still trying to work out the logistics of the fan favorite “chuck a puck.”  The Batavia Rampart Mite Teams will keep fans entertained by playing during intermissions. 

All proceeds will benefit the David McCarthy Memorial foundation.    

Submitted photo.

It will be a merrier Christmas for local kids after toy donations collected at Ken Barrett

By Howard B. Owens
Dec 9, 2022, 10:55pm

City Fire, WBTA, Ken Barrett Chevrolet and Cadillac, along with the Salvation Army, teamed up again for their annual toy drive to benefit families in Genesee County who may not have the financial means to meet all of their kids' Christmas dreams.

Photo: Ryan Whitcombe, Nathan Kinne, Nici Johnson, Ken Barrett, and Todd Rapp. Photo by Howard Owens

Torch gets passed on for firefighting family and new city chief

By Joanne Beck
Dec 6, 2022, 7:19pm

Josh Graham’s career path began awhile ago as a kid going on ride-alongs with his firefighting grandpa.

And now, the torch has seemingly been passed on to Jaxon, Graham’s 11-year-old son. Jaxon has regularly accompanied his dad to the Arcade department to clean or roll the hose and other tasks. In other words, “he’s right there with us,” Graham said.

The father-son team intends to be a firefighting duo for some time to come no matter where they are.

“He’s got his Arcade Fire Department jacket. He gets a weekly allowance if he does his chores, and he likes us to put that on Amazon; he’s been ordering medical equipment to build his own EMT bag,” Graham said Tuesday at his office at Batavia City Fire headquarters. “I plan on seeing myself retire from here.”

Graham, a Corfu native now living in Arcade, has been in the fire business for more than 20 years, ever since he volunteered as a firefighter at age 16. He was hired by the city as fire chief, and has been learning his new role for about a month now.

Equipped as an assistant fire chief with Arcade, associate degrees in Strategic Operations Management and in Fire Science and a bachelor's degree in Fire and Emergency Management, Graham reached the rank of Senior Master Sergeant in the military, and  held the position of Deputy Fire Chief with his Reserve Flight.

The 37-year-old was only hesitant about one thing when taking his current administrative position.

“If there was a reservation about taking this position, it was probably that I love riding in that truck on calls. Where I came from, the fire chief and the deputy chief did not respond to calls, unless there was something catastrophic. This position is kind of unique in that I can go to whatever calls I want to go to,” he said. “So even though I'm not riding in the fire truck, I can still respond to the calls. I'm still assisting on the scene and things like that.”

That doesn’t mean he can skimp on administrative duties, and he has been working on paperwork, schedules, new and future hires, trainings, and — tis the season — the city’s annual budget.

City Manager Rachael Tabelski has been knee-deep in the budget process, she said, beginning to meet with department heads to find out what their needs are, and what can and cannot be included in the overall financial plan. For Graham, he is determining what equipment, materials, and other costs will be part of his roughly $4.4 million budget this next year.

“So we're at the very beginning of all that, but the city manager has been great," he said. "And anything that our initial talks, that she and I discussed, and something that we need is justified, she's been very understanding of that stuff. So, there's a balance … it's just finding that balance that allows us to continue to operate efficiently and serve the community while not going crazy.”

Renovations have been slated for the Evans Street station, including at the one bathroom available to the men and women personnel, he said. Work has just been put out for bid, so that’s likely a project that will go into next year.

So what is it about the role of firefighter — and chief — that has drawn him in so deeply?
“I've always wanted to be a firefighter since I was a kid. I just like the thought of helping people. And 9/11 had a lot to do with it as well,” he said. “I was a junior in high school when 9/11 happened … that made me want to serve my country, so I figured I would join the military as a firefighter.”

He, his wife Carrie and Jaxon live in Wyoming County and will continue to do so until Graham has passed his six-month probation period. After that, the family will move to the city, per residency requirements. The new chief is also a state fire instructor, which means teaching classes periodically in his home county.

While much has remained the same when responding to fires and accidents, two things have changed, he said: more lightweight structures that don’t hold up to flames and electric vehicles. EV batteries are "super hot" and can burn for hours. Although he hasn't encountered such a situation here yet, it's something to be aware of and trained for, he said. A typical vehicle fire may use up to 1,000 gallons of water, versus 20,000 to 30,000 for electric vehicle batteries, he said. 

When asked what moments hang with him from being on the job, he first thought about the survivors: to be there and calm them down and help them to get through the incident. He also remembers saving people who were in cardiac arrest — dramatic saves that don’t often happen when people are having heart attacks, he said.

Six new hires and a transfer from Jamestown have meant more training and initiation of personnel. But he doesn’t believe in fixing what isn’t broken, and the city fire department is in great shape, he said.

“When I came in, I saw that they were doing a fantastic job,” he said. “My goal is to maintain the same level of proficiency and level of care that’s been provided for quite some time.”

His induction has been more about meeting people, learning about what and who is at the station, and throughout the city, including Tabelski, the Public Works Department personnel and city police, he said.

To say he’s been busy is an understatement.

“I told someone I think I’ve eaten lunch three times since I started,” he said with an unreluctant smile. “It’s absolutely a lifestyle, for the last 20 years.”

The department is climbing its way back up to full platoons, with an expected total of 36 people in the next year. Retirements, transfers, and — yes, still — COVID issues have bogged down hiring practices for the last couple of years, he said. He's ready to lead.

"I always say I have a servant leadership style," Graham said. "My job is to make sure that everybody that works here has everything they need to do their job, and that would include their morale, it would include the equipment, training, anything that may come up as a hindrance to them being able to do their job and serve the community is something that I need to handle."

In his free time, Graham enjoys hunting deer and turkeys, and camping and riding ATVs with his family.

Photo: Newly appointed City of Batavia Fire Chief Josh Graham at the Evans Street station. Photo by Howard Owens.

John Kennedy student gets surprise ride to school on Ladder 15

By Alecia Kaus
Nov 10, 2022, 12:53pm

A surprise ride to school on Ladder 15

Madelyn Alford, the second-place winner from John Kennedy School in Group 2 (2-3rd grade) of the City Fire, Fire Prevention Coloring Contest, had a big surprise today.

Alford received a ride to school on City Ladder 15 on Thursday morning.

First-place winner, Kylie Lutey of St. Joseph's School, who had won previously,  decided to defer her ride to the second-place winner.

Photo: Lt. Bob Tedford, Madelyn Alford, and Firefighter Brian Fix. Photo by Alecia Kaus/Video News Service.

Photos: First grader at Jackson wins coloring contest, gets ride in Engine 11

By Howard B. Owens
Nov 4, 2022, 6:09pm

Joseph Schafer won City Fire's fire prevention coloring contest in the K-1 group and his grand prize was a ride in Engine 11 to Jackson School this morning.

His smile says it all but his mother said the ride this morning was a surprise. He had been sick so his parent held off telling him he won until he was well and could return to school. He was thrilled this morning, she said. "It's his favorite truck and his favorite people," she said.

St. Paul student rides to school in fire truck after winning coloring contest

By Howard B. Owens
Nov 3, 2022, 10:42pm

Wednesday morning got off to a special start for Abigail Varland, a fourth-grade student at St. Paul Lutheran School.

She got a ride to school in City Fire's Engine 11.

Abigail was one of the city's winners in the department's fire prevention coloring contest.

Photo by Jennifer Dunn.

Pembroke grad, USAF veteran, volunteer firefighter named new city fire chief

By Press Release
Oct 6, 2022, 1:14pm

Press release:

The City of Batavia announces the appointment of Joshua Graham to the position of Fire Chief for the City of Batavia.  Graham was selected following an extensive search for candidates and active recruitment campaign.  The new Chief will assume his role on Monday, October 31st, 2022.

A Western New York native, Graham holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Fire and Emergency Management from Purdue Global University, an Associate’s Degree in Fire Science, and an Associate’s Degree in Strategic Operation Management from the Community College of the Air Force. He has completed numerous trainings and certifications related to fire safety, management, and leadership.  He is currently serving as Captain in the Fire Department with the Department of Defense at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station.

Graham has worked as a professional paid fire fighter and volunteer fire fighter throughout his career.  Graham has served on Active-Duty Air Force, New York Air National Guard and he recently retired from the United State Air Force Reserves as a Senior Master Sergeant, where he filled the role of Deputy Fire Chief. He has volunteer experience with the Darien Fire Department and the Arcade Fire Department.  He also serves as a New York State Fire Instructor with the Office of Fire Prevention and Control. 

“I am excited for Josh to take on the leadership role of Chief of the Fire Department.  His record, dedication, and leadership ability made him the right fit for this position in the City.  Josh highlighted his preference to work in a team atmosphere and that made him the best candidate for this position,” said Rachael Tabelski, City Manager. 

“I am very excited to start in the position of Fire Chief for the City of Batavia. The Fire Department has done a fantastic job of upholding a high level of standard and professionalism for the community they serve, and I look forward to continuing that level of service for many years to come”, said Josh.

Josh, a graduate of Pembroke Jr./Sr. High School, lives with his wife Carrie and son Jaxon in Arcade. He will be relocating for the position.

City Fire announces site designed to help responders access critical information about homes and businesses

By Press Release
Sep 6, 2022, 11:41pm

Press release:

The City of Batavia Fire Department has been working closely with technology partner First Due to

release Community Connect, an application focused on protecting residents and their property in the most effective way possible during an incident or major disaster. Community Connect is a secure, easy-to-use platform that allows residents to share critical information about their household in order to aid first responders and emergency service personnel in responding more efficiently and effectively; ultimately resulting in better incident outcomes.  In addition to the residential portal, Community Connect also helps business owners and managers keep people at their commercial properties safe by giving First Responders access to critical documents such as evacuation procedures, occupant rosters, hazardous material lists and more. Additionally, designated contacts at properties that joined the program will receive immediate alerts via text message when First Responders are dispatched to the building address.   

Community Connect is completely voluntary and residents are individually able to decide which information they are comfortable sharing. Residents simply create a profile and enter critical property and occupant information which is then made available to public safety agencies at the time of dispatch. Data provided by residents within Community Connect is 100% secure and is used only for the purpose of better serving the resident during emergency situations.

To learn more about the program and to create your profile, please visit City of Batavia Community Connect.

City firefighter boots filled with nearly $9K in donations this year

By Howard B. Owens
Jun 18, 2022, 1:43pm

City Firefighters, members of Local 896, were out on city streets on Saturday as part of their annual Fill the Boot campaign on behalf of the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

This year's campaign also included over the past several months placing boots in the lobbies and entrances of area businesses.

In all -- yesterday's fundraising and the in-store boot drive -- the firefighters have raised $8,725.50 for MDA.

Photos by Frank Capuano.

Annual Fill the Boot and year-round traveling boots to benefit MDA

By Press Release
Jun 5, 2022, 10:45pm

Press Release

City of Batavia Firefighters IAFF Local 896 is happy to announce the
return of our Fill the Boot campaign for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

After a two-year break due to COVID we are bringing back our annual boot drive this year. On Friday, June 17, 2022, from 8:30 a.m. through 1:30 p.m. our Local 896 members will once again be out in the areas of Court Street and Main Street as well as Court Street and Ellicott Street to collect donations for the MDA.

The second part of our Fill the Boot campaign is our traveling boots. IAFF Local 896 has partnered with businesses throughout the City of Batavia to host a collection boot so that donations can be made throughout the year. Donations collected during our Fill the Boot campaign will support researching neuromuscular diseases such as ALS, muscular dystrophies, and other diseases.

Donations will also provide support for families affected by these diseases and opportunities for children affected to go to camps with other children.

Local 896 would like to thank everyone for the donations already received and for all future donations. Also a thank you to the local businesses such as Dunkin’ Donuts, Tops Friendly Markets, NAPA, Sherwin-Williams, and Tonawanda Valley Federal Credit Union who have already adopted a traveling boot for their location.

Captain Greg Ireland: A look back while looking forward to new opportunities

By Joanne Beck
Jun 4, 2022, 8:00am

June 18 may be a bit anti-climactic for Greg Ireland as his official last day before retirement.

With some reserves of vacation time, Ireland opted to work his last shift this past weekend and use his paid time off for the remaining few weeks. That didn’t make reality sting any less.

“Walking out on my last day was emotional,” he said during an interview with The Batavian. “It’s definitely been part of my lifestyle. Emotions came in waves. It was the right decision at this time, I’ll have the opportunity to be home with my family … that’s going to allow me more time with my family and my kids. That was the main driver behind it.”

After nearly 23 years as a city employee, Ireland has been a recognizable face throughout the community. He started out as an emergency medical technician when the city owned and operated its own ambulance service. He credits Sept. 4, 1999 as “the best day of my life” for a career move out of radio — and the airplanes and helicopters used for part of his traffic reporting job.

“I actually flew on an airplane for almost two years every morning. I did that for a bunch of stations up in Buffalo,” he said. “It was a great experience, but not what I wanted to do.”

So, an Alexander High School and Genesee Community College graduate, he worked in Buffalo for awhile before making the move. He began as an EMT in 1999, with a background of having volunteered for the Alexander fire department, and a year or two before that, Ireland took a first aid class. The handwriting seemed to be on the wall before a teenaged Ireland took serious note of it. He moved through the ranks from basic to intermediate EMT and then to paramedic. By 2002, he was offered a job as a firefighter, which was a major goal.

Much of it has been about community service, he said.

“I had some family members who are volunteer firefighters and I was interested in that. I actually took a first aid class and I was probably 14 or 15 years old. I join the volunteer fire department in Alexander when I was 16,” he said. “And then I got involved taking the EMT classes and always stayed involved in it, and then in 1999, the opportunity came up to do it. There's a job. Yeah. It turned into a great career.”

The Batavian asked Ireland to name a few scenarios about …
The most surprising thing about being a firefighter:
“Just how much of the camaraderie there is of the folks I work with, the family atmosphere. It's unlike any other profession, any other job that I've been a part of before,” he said. “It's pretty special to be a part of the fire department; just that family atmosphere. It's odd, because, people I work with, I know their wives, their families, their kids. You know, it's a little different than a regular office job, per se.”

A scary moment on the job: “I don't want to sound corny, but there's always like, people call us on their worst day. And when other people are running away, we're running in. So it's, I guess, it's always kind of scary, but it's the training and that in the preparation we've had for that we understand what to do and how to handle it. So I never really was scared, just, I was more prepared and handled it.”

A ritual or routine at the start of every day: “When I came to work, whether it was a day shift or night shift, or certain routines we go through, especially as the captain, the shift commander, it was my responsibility to put together the log sheet for that shift: who was working and what position, and that was part of our accountability system,” he said. “So we knew who was assigned to what position and what vehicles and that's when the commander comes on shift, whether it's day or night shift, that's the first thing we do. And then, I always called it ‘walking the floor,’ where I would go out to the vehicles, I would put those assignment sheets in each vehicle and I would get my gear out, set my gear out by my riding spot at engine 11. And get it ready so I could get into it at a moment's notice to go on a call … to give me a sense of okay, if there was a certain vehicle out for service, so which vehicles were we using that day or that night. A routine just so I knew that I was prepared for myself and for my crew.”

A most rewarding time on the job: “Not one specific one, a moment that blew me away. But one of the most rewarding parts I feel that I got to do was being the fire prevention officer. And when I was able to go out into, whether it was the schools or wherever we're doing a fire prevention program, and just have that face-to-face interaction. Especially with the kids. And I hope that would be my lasting legacy that I was able to make a positive impression on the kids, and whether it's to reduce their fear of firefighters or to make them more confident if there was an emergency, so that they knew what to do,” he said. “I always thought I was lucky that I was able to be the fire prevention officer and coordinate those visits with the schools and stuff. And over the last two years, it's been difficult with COVID, yeah, but we've definitely, we got creative with it.”

Lessons you have learned: “That there's a lot of really good-hearted people here in Genesee County, and in this area is incredible. A lot of times we encountered people on their worst day. And something so bad can be going on in their life, but a lot of times people keep a positive mindset. It's incredible. Especially in this day and age, you don't see that too much right? A lot of people are like, something could be going so bad, but they'll be like, well, it could be worse, you know, they put a positive spin on it. And going to the schools, the teachers, the administrators, they're incredible. The work they do for the kids in this community is something else.”

Top two memories that will always be with you: 1. “My first call I ever took back in 1999, in my first day working, I always remember that.” 2. “The year 2009 was a tough time. (The city proposed selling off the ambulance service.) And I was intimately involved with that being the union president at the time. So yeah, it was that transition. Just the way it all transpired. I wish there was more open communication between the city and us at the time. There wasn’t, and we moved on from it.”

That’s not to say he doesn’t recall those many other firefighting situations, he said. There was a time when a woman was hanging out of a window, desperate to get out of the burning home. He could see her head out of the second story window as a ladder was going up to get her out.

“And as we're climbing the ladder, she handed a baby out the window,” he said incredulously.

Ireland also climbed the professional ladder, from firefighter to lieutenant in 2015 and captain in 2018.

“I definitely enjoyed being a firefighter … that was the ultimate goal, to get promoted to the fire department as a firefighter. And on the flip side of that, from the 13 years I was a firefighter to become lieutenant, I really enjoyed my time as a firefighter, and almost thankful for the time I got to spend being a firefighter before being promoted to an officer, if that makes sense,” he said. “Just to be a firefighter, to learn the craft, and to enjoy that part of the job before being, and I was very thankful to be, promoted, but to be a firefighter before being promoted into the management side of things.”

He saw a saying somewhere about a parent only having 18 summers to spend with their kids before they go off to college. That has motivated Ireland to dig even deeper into family life and enjoy his family, including wife Ginelle, and two daughters, Lauren, 10, and 7-year-old Morgan. There will be outdoor gatherings, swimming, fishing, exploring new parks, lots of day trips, a yearly trek to the Adirondacks and a couple times a year in Florida, he said.

“And it doesn't seem like a lot. But I I know from when I was a kid, how busy my parents were,” he said.

Now for the exciting part of his story, as Ireland more fully launches the business he purchased in January. It began around this time a year ago when he began to talk with Jim Russell, a former City Councilman who owned Southern Tier Fire Extinguisher. Russell was planning to retire, and Ireland saw another opportunity, he said.

“I purchased the company, the assets, the equipment, the inventory,” Ireland said. “I wouldn't say a name change is  out of the question in the future … obviously, Southern Tier Fire Extinguisher is because where it originated was in Wayland. So it just made sense. Obviously, he gained a lot more business in this area and kept the southern tier, and I hope to do the same.”

The business covers the service, inspection and recharging of fire extinguishers. He will also work with fire suppression systems in kitchens, restaurants and automotive fire suppression systems and service bays as well, he said.

“It's crazy, pretty much just the opportunity, that it's been a great career, and I've been so fortunate that, in 1999, like I said, it was the best day of my life to start at the fire department, and I was just lucky to be a part of that,” he said. “My hope is that I did well and it continues with the next generation. The only thing constant is change. And the people change and I'm sure they're gonna do great at it.”

Top photo: Captain Greg Ireland of the City of Batavia Fire Department at this year's Memorial Day parade; and posing with his family when he was sworn in as lieutenant of the city fire department in 2015. His daughters are "super excited" to spend more time with dad now that he has retired from the City of Batavia Fire Department, he says. Submitted photos.

New fire engine for City of Batavia

By Joanne Beck
May 24, 2022, 8:15am

A new fire engine — at a total cost of about $700,000 — is on the horizon for the city of Batavia after City Council approved a U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development funding offer Monday.

Council approved Rural Development’s proposed funding of a $630,000 loan at 2.5 percent interest for 20 years; an estimated grant of $50,000; and the city’s own contribution of $20,000 to come from fire department reserves, City Manager Rachael Tabelski said.

“We need to replace engine 12. This is in the capital plan for vehicle replacement. It is a 20-year-old fire apparatus pumper. The estimated costs a month or two ago was $700,000, and whether that holds true today, we'll see,” Tabelski said during a special business meeting at City Hall. “I recommend that we accept this funding offer from USDA Rural Development. If we do so by the end of June, it's basically an informal letter from myself to them to move forward in the process. We'll be able to lock in the interest rate at 2.5. Interest rates are supposed to go up again at the end of June.”

The current engine 12 has been showing “extreme corrosion,” she said in a memo to council members. Excessive road salting during winter months has caused corrosion and decay on the engine body, chassis and wiring, and the fire engine has had many repairs in the last few years — repairs that are becoming more costly, she said.

The new engine will be a 2023 National Fire Protection Association compliant rescue-style fire engine with a custom cab, seating for six fire personnel, 1,500 gallons per minute fire pump with foam capability, a 750-gallon water tank, the latest safety features, full LED emergency and scene lights and aluminum or stainless steel construction for longevity.

City Council unanimously approved the resolution to accept Rural Development’s funding offer and to transfer $20,000 out of fire reserves to be used for the deal.

Hinz retires as captain for Batavia City Fire Department

By Joanne Beck
Apr 25, 2022, 11:14pm

Martin (Marty) Hinz was recognized for his 23 years of service during Batavia City Council’s conference meeting Monday evening.

Hinz “brought knowledge and dedication to the city,” with his first promotion to lieutenant, followed later to captain, at the Batavia City Fire Department. He “displayed a calm and composed demeanor” in the face of chaotic situations, council members said.

Photo by Howard Owens

City fire department embraces role as PAARI location

By Press Release
Mar 25, 2022, 1:49pm

Press release:

More than ever, people struggling with substance use disorder need to know there are places they can go for immediate help – free of judgment and criminal implications. That’s why Genesee County’s Public Safety Assisted Addiction & Recovery Initiative locations are so important.

This month marks the second anniversary of the opening of the PAARI site at the City of Batavia Fire Department – a significant event as the department is the first from New York State to participate in PAARI and one of only a few fire companies in a network of more than 600 police and public safety agencies in 34 states.

“We wholeheartedly believe in the PAARI program,” said Fire Captain Greg Ireland (photo at right), “so much so that we’ve incorporated this program into the training and orientation of new firefighters coming out of the academy.”

Ireland said community members have come to the fire headquarters on Evans Street for support in recent months, just as others dealing with substance use disorder have reached out to the county’s other PAARI locations -- the Batavia City Police Department, Le Roy Police Department and Genesee County Sheriff’s Office.

He also said firefighters regularly give out the business cards and postcards featuring the “help hotline” phone numbers when they go out on emergency medical service calls.

“It's just another level of involvement that we can try to reach out to the community and offer them the help they may need and the resources that they're out there,” he said.

Funded by the Greater Rochester Health Foundation, the City of Batavia Fire Department renovated its foyer area for the PAARI program and opened to the public in March 2020. Due to the COVID-19 shutdown, however, the grand opening event that was scheduled for that spring had to be postponed.

An official launch took place on July 13, 2021 with more than 50 people – including Allie Hunter, PAARI’s executive director – in attendance.

“This month, we are celebrating two years of the Batavia Fire Department as a PAARI partner and a great resource to those that may be in need of services in our community,” said Christen Ferraro, coordinator of the GOW Opioid Task Force. “Throughout the pandemic, all locations continued to be open and available for our residents.”

Other Genesee locations include the Genesee County Sheriff Office, City of Batavia Police Department and Village of Le Roy Police Department.

PAARI provides support and resources to help law enforcement agencies nationwide create non-arrest pathways to treatment and recovery. Anyone in the community dealing with addiction issues can walk into these locations, any time of the day or night and receive help, without judgment.

City of Batavia sets wheels in motion to replace Engine 12

By Mike Pettinella
Mar 15, 2022, 10:44am

It seems as though fire truck No. 12 is the “little engine that can’t” – for very much longer.

City of Batavia Manager Rachael Tabelski reported at Monday night’s City Council Business Meeting that the city fire department’s Engine 12 (photo above) is 20 years old and is just about ready to be retired from service.

“We have in our capital plan a fire truck replacement for Engine 12 and we are looking at getting grant funding from CDBG (Community Development Block Grant),” Tabelski said. “And before we submit a full application, they ask that municipalities go through a pre-application process.

“It’s a 2002 (model) that we will be replacing and the estimated cost is 700,000 dollars.”

From there, she turned it over to Interim Fire Chief Dan Herberger, who provided more details about Engine 12, including its shortcomings in the area of technology.

“We’re looking at replacing it with something very similar to our frontline engine, which is Engine 11,” he said. “It’s a rescue, fire engine-type style; basically, think of it as a fire engine with rescue capabilities.”

Herberger explained that the department operates with two main pieces of apparatus – one for the on-duty staff, “so we basically have to take everything with us, all the time.”

He said Engine 12 doesn’t have the safety features that come with today’s fire trucks, such as lighting and the ability to hook generators to the trucks. He also said the current vehicle has signs of rust.

“Right now, we’re in the design phase – looking at various vehicles from around the region to see what best fits our needs,” he said.

Tabelski, answering a question from City Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr., said she is hoping to receive $200,000 from the grant. Coupled with $400,000 that is in reserves, the city would be close to covering the full cost of the new truck – likely in 2023-24.

Herberger said there would be little trade-in value for Engine 12, noting that it would be 22 years old by the time a new truck was delivered to the city.

He said he remembers the sale of an old ladder truck to a tree trimming company in North Carolina but the monetary return “really didn’t offset anything too much.”

When asked if the cost of the new truck was a bottom line price, Herberger said the department may have to purchase “a few miscellaneous pieces of equipment for it.”

“In the past years, we’ve really tried to standardize all of our vehicles, so hose complement, rescue tools and hand tools, they’re pretty much the same throughout everything, so that bottom line price would be with equipment,” he said.

Herberger decides against taking permanent City of Batavia fire chief position

By Mike Pettinella
Feb 17, 2022, 3:20pm

About seven months after stepping in as the City of Batavia interim fire chief, Dan Herberger apparently has decided that he doesn’t want the job on a permanent basis.

In a letter dated today to fire department personnel, Herberger informed his colleagues that he has declined the position, calling it “an extremely difficult decision for me to make that was based on two very basic reasons that I could not get past.”

He wrote that those two reasons were that the timing wasn’t right for his family and him and “his overall love I have for the job and the desire to be a fireman working on a fire truck.”

Herberger was named interim chief in July 2021 when Stefano Napolitano resigned as fire chief to take the deputy state fire administrator on the State University of Albany campus.

Continuing with the letter, Herberger mentioned that he enjoyed being the fire chief and was thankful for the support he received from city management, department heads and those that he supervised.

“As a department, we are very fortunate to have the relationships we do with our partners in other city departments as well as our partners in the county Emergency Management, area fire departments and local emergency services agencies,” he wrote. “It is an absolute joy to have worked with everyone in this capacity … making this decision that much more difficult.”

He wrote that he plans to stay on as the interim chief until a replacement is found.

“It is the hope of the city manager (Rachael Tabelski) that my replacement will be from within this department and over the next several weeks/months, we will work to find the right replacement,” he wrote.

Herberger, a captain prior to the interim appointment, has worked for the fire department since 2002, starting as a paramedic. He was promoted to firefighter in 2005, lieutenant in 2012 and captain in 2013.  Previously, he served in the interim chief role for 16 months prior to the hiring of Napolitano in April 2017.

Responding to an email from The Batavian, Tabelski issued the following statement:

"Dan Herberger is a great Captain and a great Fire Chief.  I respect his decision to decline the offer of the position of Fire Chief at this time, and am grateful that he will remain in the department working for the City of Batavia.  He is a valuable member of our team.

Herberger will continue to serve as Interim Fire Chief until a new Chief is hired.  I am soliciting internal candidates, and hope the position can be filled from within the department." 

File photo: City Police Chief Shawn Heubusch, left, and Interim Fire Chief Dan Herberger. Photo by Jim Burns.

Previously: Napolitano shows humility as he bids farewell to the city; Dan Herberger to assume role as interim fire chief

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