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Corfu Fire Department

Pre-holiday Craft Show is Saturday in Corfu

By Joanne Beck
If you're ready for a little pre-holiday shopping, the Corfu Fire Department will be ready with items to sell this weekend, organizers say. Set to run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, the Pre-holiday Craft Show will be at 116 E. Main St., Corfu.

In 65th year of service, Ed Fauth named Corfu's Firefighter of the Year

By Howard B. Owens

At the Corfu Volunteer Fire Department's annual dinner on Friday night, Ed Fauth, left, who has served actively for 65 years, was named Firefighter of the Year. He's pictured with new chief, Greg Lang.

Lori Stiles was named Service Person of the Year for her help behind the scenes with barbecues, fund drives, fishing raffles, and organizing the annual family picnic. She is pictured with President Steve Rodland, left, and Chief Greg Lang.

Photos and information submitted by Greg Lang.

Alexander, Corfu fire departments 'really glad' to receive grants to help first responders

By Maria Pericozzi

The local fire departments in Alexander and Corfu are excited to receive grants to help the first responders improve their capability to respond to fires and emergencies.

Both fire departments had applied for the same grant last year, but did not receive it, and both fire chiefs said their Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) air packs were becoming outdated. 

The Alexander Fire Department will use $92,994 grant to purchase 15 SCBA air packs and 30 oxygen bottles.

Alexander Chief Marshall Merle said the new packs will be lighter and safer, helping the firefighters.

"We appreciate New York State for letting us receive the grant,” Merle said. “We’re really glad we got it this year. It’s good to help out the community and keep our guys safe.”

Merle said he worked with New York State to apply for the grant again this year.

"They were very helpful throughout this process," Merle said. "I'm happy we are getting the grant."

The Corfu Fire Department will be using the $84,191 grant to purchase 12 SCBA air packs. The packs will provide them with breathable air when responding to an emergency situation.

“We applied for the grant because the air packs that we have, have a life span,” Corfu Fire Chief Brian Schollard said. “They’re all expiring by the end of the year.”

Schollard said everyone at the fire department, himself included, has been positive about the grant.

“It’s a great thing for a small company like us,” Schollard said. “It’s nice to see [AFG] helping out small rural districts. It really is a lifesaver.”

Congressman Chris Collins announced on July 19 that the departments would receive the grants, awarded through the Department of Homeland Security’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) Program.

The AFG program provides direct funding assistance to fire departments, State Fire Training Academies and non-affiliated EMS organizations to enhance their response capabilities, according to the press release. The program also more effectively protects the health and safety of both the public and emergency responders with respect to fire and other hazards.

“Firefighters are selfless individuals and are essential to keeping our communities safe,” Collins said in a press release. “It is imperative that our fire departments have the resources necessary to keep their members safe while they are protecting others.”

For previous coverage of this story, click here.

Photos: Corfu installs 2015 officers, hands out awards

By Howard B. Owens

Steve Rodland, with the trophy, was named Firefighter of the Year for the Corfu Fire Department at the department's annual installation dinner on Saturday night. Pictured with Rodland, Greg Lang, Brian Schollard and Dean Eck.

This year's firematic officers are: Eck, chief; Schollard, 1st assistant; Lang, 2nd assistant; Brian McMartin, senior captain; Ben Trapani, Brad Lang and Mitch Bates, captains; Bernie Fix, fire police captain; Rachel Bozzer, Glenn Eck, Rob McNally, Rodland and Dan Smith, lieutenants. McMartin is the safety officer.

The oath of office.

Ed Fauth, who was honored for his 60th year with the department, received the fire service Person of the Year award.

Kristen Gaik was named Rookie of the Year.

Photos: Corfu Fire Department's annual installation and award dinner

By Howard B. Owens

The Corfu Fire Department held its annual installation and awards dinner Friday night.

Honored were Ben Trapani, Most Calls (left); Greg Lang, Service Person of the Year (center); and, Mitch Bates, Firefighter of the Year (right). Pictured with Trapani, Lang and Bates are Kathy Skeet, president of the fire department and Chief Dean Eck.

Three-year-old Ethan Dawson received a toy fire truck as a present from the department. Ethan was born Aug. 1, 2008, at the Corfu Fire Hall, delivered by Karen Lane, Kathy Skeet and Mary Beth McMartin. With Ethan were his mother, Amanda, and father, Ken (not pictured).

Corfu Fire Department's officers explain state audit to members

By Howard B. Owens

A state audit of the Corfu Fire Department was a good thing for the department, members were told Monday evening at their first regular meeting since the audit was released by the NYS Comptroller's Office.

While the audit uncovered some missing documentation for expenses, it found "no material deficiencies."

"Like I said, it's a very good audit for us and she (the auditor from the state) explained everything to us very well," said Greg Lang, president of the department. "The audit showed incorrect procedures, but no misappropriation of funds."

Treasurer Bruce Fauth reviewed the report for members and then Lang and Fauth discussed what the auditor said during the process.

One of the auditor's findings was that for 26 financial payments totaling $4,779 the department failed to maintain proper documentation. However, as Fauth discussed with members, the expenses were authorized and accounted for.

The audit also nicked the department for not completing an annual report that by state law needs to be provided to members and filed with Genesee County.

Lang told members that the auditor said until she attended a seminar a few days before the audit she herself didn't know about the state law. It applies to all nonprofits in New York, and Fauth said he's never seen the requirement appear in a state audit report before.

"She said you're going to send this (the annual report) to Genesee County and you're going to get a phone call saying, ‘What is this?’ because they're never going to have seen it before," Lang said.

Fauth and Lang said that on every recommendation made by the auditor, the department's executive officers have already put corrective measures in place.

"She told us the reason we do these audits is so that you can correct these issues," Lang said. "As I said, we believe this audit was a good thing for us."

Corfu FD treasurer responds to report on state audit

By Howard B. Owens

Statement from Bruce Fauth, outgoing treasurer of the Corfu Fire Department:

It is very unfortunate that there are certain people in town that because of their own actions find it necessary to try to tear down all the good that your fire dept. has done for the people they protect. The latest is the unfair reporting on the recent audit of the fire dept. 

The first statement of the results of the audit reads; “We found that the Trustees provide adequate oversight of the Department’s financial activities and the Treasurer maintained suitable records to account for the financial activity."

The auditor stated verbally to us that we are doing a very good job with our funds. Further, the state will always find ways to better the controls of the finances. The claims not included on the lists approved by the trustees were items brought up at meetings and were indeed voted on and approved by the membership. Some bills were paid that didn’t have supporting statements attached but I want you to know that they were all legitimate fire dept. approved expenditures backed by our recorded minutes.

I feel we had a very good audit report, but it’s too bad that certain people have an axe to grind, again because of their own actions. They find it necessary to try and destroy a vital asset of the community and I urge citizens to not put up with this.   

Previously: State audit nicks Corfu Fire Department for undocumented expenditures

State audit nicks Corfu Fire Department for undocumented expenditures

By Howard B. Owens

Now it's the Corfu Fire Department's turn for a little financial scrutiny.

In August, the NYS Comptroller's Office released a report on the Corfu Fire District that eventually led to the one-year suspension of two department members over alleged irregularities involving district credit cards.

This week the comptroller's office released audit finding on the fire department (the district and department are intertwined, but separate agencies) and while declaring there were no "material discrepancies," the audit states there are at least $7,000 in insufficiently documented expenses over a 20 month period.

Auditors said the checked 115 paid claims totaling $30,398 from January 2010 through August 2011 and 26 payments totaling $4,779 were not supported by any documentation. Additionally, 14 claims totaling $3,096 were not included on the list of approved bills prepared by the trustees.

"As a result, Trustees were unable to verify that these payments were for legitimate Department purposes and that the correct amounts were approved for payment," auditors said.

The audit also found that the department's treasurer did not reconcile the bank account in 2010, and though the account was reconciled monthly in 2011, the trustees did not review and approve the reconciliations.

The department meets Jan. 9 and will likely discuss the audit.

The department was first incorporated in 1882 as “Rescue Hook & Ladder Co. #1.” It currently has 35 members and an annual budget of $20,600.

Department revenue is generated through various fundraisers and donations. 

The fire district, which helps fund firefighting in Corfu, is taxpayer supported.


Corfu Fire District trustees vote to discipline three members for alleged misuse of credit cards

By Howard B. Owens

In a 3-0 vote Wednesday night, the Corfu Fire District Board of Trustees approved a resolution disciplining three people for alleged ethical violations and misappropriation of funds.

The vote came following a closed session in which the trustees met with members of an ethics review panel that looked into accusations that the district's treasurer, a former fire chief and a sitting trustee allegedly misused district credit cards and kept incomplete records.

The panel was appointed in September after a NYS comptroller's audit uncovered possible irregularities in the use and reporting of credit card transactions.

Based upon the findings of the ethics panel -- which reportedly uncovered possible further misappropriations not contained in the state's audit report -- the district's former treasurer, Shari Salim, was suspended from the district for two years; her brother, and former department chief Jeff Ammon, was suspended for one year, and their father, trustee Bob Ammon, was asked to resign from the district board.

The trio will also be asked to reimburse any funds due to the district, plus legal and accounting fees.

The district's recently retained attorney, Mark Boylan, of Le Roy, said after the meeting that the matter has also been turned over to the Genesee County Sheriff's Office for a possible criminal investigation. 

The resolution passed by the board also appoints a CPA to do a thorough audit of the district's books.

While the ethics panel's report indicates there was allegedly repeated personal use of the district credit cards by Shari and Jeff, it's unclear how much of that personal use was reimbursed to the district.  

One charge by Bob Ammon came under scrutiny. In 2007, Ammon reportedly made a $359.51 purchase at Dick's Sporting Goods. While listed in the report as a not approved purchase, Ammon reportedly told the ethics panel that the purchase was agreed to and paid for by the fire department. The purchase, he reportedly told the panel, was for exercise equipment for the fire hall.

The report states that while payments were made on the credit cards with other than district funds, some of those payments were late resulting in late charges on the district's cards.

There are also authorized purchases on the cards, allegedly, for which there are no receipts and no proof that the purchases were actually made.

The total of non-approved charges from 2004 to 2007 (the period reviewed by the panel, since the comptroller's office had looked at more recent dates) exceed $2,600, according to the report. Again, a substantial amount of that money appears to have been repaid with non-district funds, but the panel could not determine the exact amount that was repaid.

The district board, while it includes volunteers for the department, is elected by Corfu residents. The board collects taxes and manages some of the revenue used to help fund the fire department. The fire district and fire department are separate entities.

Only three members of the district board participated in the closed session because Bob Ammon recused himself and a fifth member was unable to attend because of health issues.

Pembroke kids have fun learning about fire safety

By Daniel Crofts

When Mr. Fire comes knockin' at your door, make sure you know what to do!

That's the gist of the message Sgt. Major William Joyce, of the East Pembroke Fire Department, had for Pembroke Primary School students last week.

He and firefighters from various districts came to talk to the kids about the importance of being prepared for fire-related emergencies.

These are some of the trucks that pulled up to the school in the morning, much to the delight of the children:

Part of being prepared for a fire, according to Joyce, is developing an evacuation plan, which has to include a designated spot for the family to meet outside the home.

"And please don't pick your mom or dad's truck," Joyce said. "Mom and dad might have gone to the store or something, which means the truck could be gone."

He recommended picking a neighborhood tree or telephone pole, because "last time I checked, trees and telephone poles don't walk away."

Secondly, Joyce stressed the importance not only of getting out of a burning house, but also of staying out.

"Don't go back in for your dog or your cat or your favorite toy," he said. "You can always buy a new dog, cat or toy at the store, but there's no store I know of where your parents can get another little boy or girl."

Families should practice these and other safety measures through home fire drills, according to Joyce.

"Monday night is the best time for fire drills," he said, "because the firefighters are at the hall and we have all the equipment we need ready."

And in case one of these little ones were to get stuck in the house during a fire, Joyce stressed one very important thing they would need to remember:

"Don't be afraid of the firefighters."

He acknowledged that firefighters can look kind of scary when they come crawling into the house or room in the dark, masked, dressed in heavy gear, and breathing like Darth Vader.

Joyce explained that the masks and suits are to protect the firefighters, and that they crawl in order to avoid the fire, which is going to be "up above."

To help the kids out, the firefighters did a little demonstration in the gymnasium, with the lights off -- the kids were asked to shout out "help," as if they were trapped in a fire and needed rescue:

Some practical tips for fire prevention and safety were included in the presentation as well. Some of these were:

• Remember to empty your wastebaskets

• Keep the doors unblocked

• Change your smoke detector's battery regularly

• Don't try to put out the fire yourself; call the fire department

The assembly was followed by some hands-on activities for the kids, including tours of the buses, a look at firefighters' equipment, and trying on firemen's uniforms. These activities went on for most of the day, with classes taking turns touring the rigs:



On the way back to my car I got a look a the school's playground, which I thought looked pretty cool:

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