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East Pembroke Fire

January 12, 2020 - 12:37pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in east pembroke, East Pembroke Fire, pembroke, batavia, news.


Among the awards handed out Friday night by the East Pembroke Volunteer Fire Department was a plaque and gold-plated ax for Donald Newton Sr., for his 50 years of service to the department.

In those 50 years, Newton has been a fire chief, a commissioner, a president of the fire district board, a captain, lieutenant, assistant chief, vice president and a member of the board of directors.

In the photo above, he's hugged by his son, Don Newton Jr., while 1st Assistant Chief Charles Chatley and 2nd Assistant Chief Stephen Smelski hold the award.

Other awards Friday included Dan Vania, who served for 27 years as district treasurer. Charles Chately and Paul Kirch both received Firefighter of the Year. (Kirch was unable to attend the dinner.) 

Five years of service: Kenny Marble, Ryan Worthington, Joycelyn Perry, Jennifer Henning, and Paul Kirch; 15 years of service: Don Norway; 20 years of service: Dave Winters and James Gayton.

The department responded to 318 calls in 2019, which came to 1,200 manhours on calls for service.

Firematic officers for 2020: Don Newton Jr., chief; Charles Chatley, 1st assistant chief; Stephen Smelski, 2nd assistant chief; Paul Kirch, captain; Kenny Marble, lieutenant; Joycelyn Perry, EMS captain; Jen Groff, EMS lieutenant; Dale Lewter, fire police captain; Matt Allen, Rick Groff and Justin Nye, training officers.


Charles Chatley, Kenny Marble, Don Newton Sr., Don Newton Jr., and Stephen Smelski


Charles Chatley, Don Newton Sr., Kenny Marble, Dan Vania, Don Newton Jr., and Stephen Smelski


Don Newton Jr., Charles Chatley, Stephen Smelski


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January 15, 2019 - 3:22pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in East Pembroke Fire, news, pembroke, batavia, east pembroke.


The East Pembroke Fire Department held its annual installation and awards banquet at Batavia Downs on Saturday night and Kenny Marble was named Firefighter of the Year.

Top photo: Don Newton Sr., president; Chuck Chatley, assistant chief; Steve Smelski, assistant chief; Kenny Marble, vice president; Paul Fenton, owner of Fenton's Produce, commissioner, and Service Person of the Year after serving on the board for 27 years; Don Newton, Jr., chief; Bill Lawrence, commissioner; Tom Dix, commissioner; and Rick Groff, incoming commissioner, replacing Fenton.


Paul Fenton, Service Person of the Year.


Kenny Marble, Firefighter of the Year.


Officers taking the oath of office.


The fire department members and district commissioners.

January 15, 2017 - 12:29pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in East Pembroke Fire, pembroke, news, fire services.


The Firefighter of the Year for the East Pembroke Fire Department is Andrew Martin, who received his award last night during the annual installation banquet for the department. He's pictured with the chiefs who selected Martin for the award, Chief Don Newton, 1st Assistant Chief Stephen Smelski and 2nd Assistant Chief Charles Chatley.

Sworn in as firematic officers for 2017 were Newton, Smelski, Chatley, William Torres as captain, Matthew Florian as fire police captain and James Gayton as training officer.

The administrative officers are Donald Newton Sr., president, Ken Marble, vice president, Joycelyn Perry, secretary, Dan Vania, treasurer, Ryan Worthington, sergeant of arms and parade marshall, Julie Waldron, assistant parade marshall and Pastor Bloom as chaplin.

Members of the board of directors are Steve Smelski, Don Newton, Jr., William Torres, Andrew Martin and Charles Chatley.

Auxiliary officers: Diane Winters, president; Shannon Ferguson, vice president; Steven Petty, secretary; Amber Winters, treasurer; Millie Marble, sergeant of arms; Gordie Petty, standard bearer; and Mary Dix, chaplin.

District representatives: Robert Yungfleisch, William Lawerance, William Joyce, Thomas Dix and Paul Fenton.

The department also received an award, presented by Emergency Management Coordinator Tim Yaeger, for most training hours -- at 1,180 -- of any department in the county.

The department responded to 330 calls in 2016.


William Torres responded to the most calls for the year, more than 200. He responded to 212 calls.


Chief Don Newton, who has been chief for eight years, received a gift certificate from the department to take his family on an all-expensed-paid trip to a theme park in Pennsylvania. 




November 30, 2016 - 8:49am
posted by Howard B. Owens in east pembroke, East Pembroke Fire, EPFD, pembroke, news, fire services.


A new all-terrain vehicle for the East Pembroke Volunteer Fire Department will help improve the search and rescue capabilities of fire departments throughout Genesee County, EPFD Chief Don Newton said yesterday.

"This a new tool, another tool, we have available," Newton said. "I think it's a great addition for the fire services."

The only other similar vehicle available for search and rescue operations is with the Alexander Volunteer Fire Department.

Jan Schafer, owner of Buck's Motorsports in Akron helped arrange for the vehicle for EPFD as part of a manufacture's program that allows the department to get free use of the four-wheeler for a year with an option to buy it at 20-percent below dealer costs at the end of the year.

All members of the EPFD will be trained in the operations of the new vehicle, which can be used not only to rescue hunters or snowmobilers, but to help fight small brush fires.

"We need the volunteer firefighters who support our snowmobilers, our ATVers, our hunters, and at events and parades to be well equipped," said Schafer, who is an East Pembroke resident. "I think it’s extremely important that they have some vehicles like this."

There's been an increasing need in the county, Newton said, for increased search and rescue capabilities.

"In our area, Genesee County, we've been getting over the years more and more calls for lost hunters, hurt hunters in the woods, more snowmobile accidents, four-wheeler accidents and ATV accidents," Newton said.

The new vehicle will make it easier and safer for firefighters and EMS personnel to get to a person in need of rescue and more safely get the patients to ambulances or Mercy Flight helicopters, which often must land far from a rescue scene because they're in wooded areas.

Newton said the vehicle not only serves the practical purposes of search and rescue but will also be a good fundraising and recruitment tool. The department can put it on display and show people what their financial support helps bring to the community and greater search and rescue capabilities will help bring in new volunteers interested in that kind of work.


January 10, 2016 - 3:56pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in East Pembroke Fire, east pembroke, fire services.


East Pembroke Fire Chief Don Newton is pictured with William Torres, who was honored as Firefighter of the Year by the East Pembroke Volunteer Fire Department at the department's annual awards dinner Saturday night.

Besides his tireless devotion to fire services and his many contributions to the department, Torres was honored as one of the top responders of 2015. He responded to 243 calls.


Ken Marble received the Fire Service Person of the Year award. The award can go to either a firefighter or member of the community. Co-winner this year, as voted by the members, was Ed Arnold Scrap Processors.

Marble also received certificates for going on 109 calls during the year and completing 54 hours of training.


Assemblyman Steve Hawley presented three long-serving members with certificates. From left are Dan Vania, 30 years of service, Robert Lang, 60 years of service, Hawley, and Don Newton Sr., 45 years of service.

Newton thanks the following local businesses for their support: Fenton's Produce , Ron & Newts , Holiday Ice , Kohorst Custom ome's , Ed Arnold Scrap Processors , Kohorst Trucking and Del-Mar Farms.

The department was called out 343 times in 2015. Members who made at least 25 percent of the calls and Monday night training combined for each quarter received a gift card, shirt and jacket.

The top responders, all making at least 100 calls, were: Kenny Marble, Andy Martin, Steve Smelski, Julie Waldron, James Gayton, Paul Kirch, Chris Bennett, Don Newton Sr, Don Newton Jr, Willie Torres, Matt Florian and Ryan Worthington.

October 11, 2015 - 3:22pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in East Pembroke Fire, gun raffle.


The East Pembroke Volunteer Fire Department hosted its first gun raffle Saturday night at its fire hall. The event was a fundraiser to support the department. We don't yet have a list of winners, but several prizes were given away.  





August 23, 2014 - 9:46am
posted by Howard B. Owens in pembroke, corfu, east pembroke, East Pembroke Fire.

The two drivers reportedly involved in an ATV crash Sunday night have both been arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated.

Charles R. Chatley, 26, of 2392 Kilian Road, Corfu, was also charged with unlawful operation of an ATV on a public highway.

Stephen R. Smelski, 35, of West Main Street, Batavia, is also charged with unlawful operation of an ATV on a public highway and leaving the scene of a personal injury accident.

Witnesses say Smelski was the most seriously injured of the four people involved in the accident and he's the one victim still hospitalized, though he's listed in good condition at ECMC.

An East Pembroke Fire Department 1st assistant chief and Genesee County emergency dispatcher, Smelski was reportedly taken by private vehicle to UMMC following the accident and later transported to ECMC.

The accident was reported at 11:09 p.m. Sunday in the area of 2069 E. Main St., East Pembroke.

Also injured were passengers Kristina Rumble, 26, and Brenda Smelski, 37.

Brenda Smelski was treated and released at ECMC, as was Chatley.  Rumble, who was transported to ECMC by Mercy Flight, was released from the hospital two days ago.

Chatley is a 2nd assistant chief with East Pembroke.

The accident occurred the same date as the annual East Pembroke Mud Races, hosted by the fire department, but the accident was hours after the event ended and at least a mile from the mud pits. 

The accident was investigated by deputies Jason Saile and James Diehl and Sgt. Eric Seppala.

June 10, 2014 - 7:00am

The fire hall in East Pembroke has served its department well for more than 80 years. Now, Fire District officials hope the department's next fire hall will serve the community well for another 80 to 100 years.

If there is a new fire hall.

Voters will need to approve the expenditure and tax increase to make it possible, and Fire District Commissioner Bill Lawrence says it's absolutely essential to approve the expenditure if East Pembroke Fire is going to continue to provide essential service to the 100 square miles and 5,500 residents over its coverage area.

The proposed fire hall would sit on land purchased by the district more than a decade ago that is a little bit east of the current location. The building would be 11,128 square feet and cost $3 million.

It would contain not only more room for existing fire trucks, but rooms for hose drying, decontamination and air packs.

"It's by no means a castle," Lawrence said. "It's just a basic building. It's got what we need and stuff that we should have had."

For a district that has traditionally held the line on tax increases, the proposal might make some property owners gulp. The tax assessment would go up from the current $1.10 per $1,000 of assessed value to $1.98.

But that price factors in future inflation, new trucks, ongoing maintenance and other expenses.

"There won't be another tax rate increase for 20 years," Lawrence said.

The district, Lawrence said, has always tried to keep taxes down, even while always paying cash for new trucks and keeping its annual budget at $150,000 or less.

Now the district faces a situation where the fire hall must be replaced, but there's not enough money in the bank to cover all of the costs.

"Our feeling was to let the people keep their money," Lawrence said. "We've been asked, 'why didn't you increase the tax rate right along?' But we felt it was better to let people keep their money."

There will be a public meeting June 18 at St. Mary's to discuss the new fire hall and make the case that the expenditure is critically necessary.

A visit to the fire hall's basement might be the district's most convincing evidence.

The former rec hall for the department sits under three bays that were built in the 1970s. The floor was designed to support only 14,000 pounds. The current trucks occupying those three bays weigh more than 45,000 pounds.

On the advice of an engineer, the rec hall was gutted and support beams were constructed.

The lowest available price from a contractor for the support construction was $30,000. The department was able to reduce the sum with its volunteers and material donated by Ed Arnold Scrap, Jay E. Potter Lumber and Fastenal (top photo).

The 1930s era portion of the structure was designed to support on 8,000 pounds and it currently contains a 12,000-pound rescue truck.

The structural problems with the building came to light after a car struck the fire hall Nov. 15, 2012. Before the accident, replacing the fire hall was on the district's long-term to-do list, but didn't become a matter of urgency until the accident brought code inspectors and engineers to the property who found the structure was insufficient for its current use.

Firefighting has changed a lot since the 1930s. Trucks have gotten bigger and the state has implemented ever more stringent and costly regulations. 

For example, new turnout gear for interior firefighters must be purchased every 10 years, at a cost of $3,500. New air packs must be purchased every 15 years and cost $6,500 each. The state requires all tires on fire trucks be replaced every 10 years, whether the tires are worn or not.

Recently, more and more residents have been putting steel roofs on their homes and barns. That presents a new firefighting challenge because the roofs are harder to access -- especially in frosty or wet whether -- to ventilate a fire (a key firefighting strategy).  

The increase in steel roofs means the district needs to buy a new ladder truck at a cost of $675,000.

"Somebody might ask, why are you going to get ladder truck and it's for that reason," Lawrence said. "We can't take care of these houses and some the barns that are getting these roofs on them. We're being pushed into a lot of stuff where we don't have control. It's depressing because you're losing control and still they're coming out with more regulations."

Lawrence also feels like the companies that supply fire departments with apparatus have the departments in a monopolistic hammerlock, giving them the ability to inflate prices.

Rescue 57 cost $270,000, a price Lawrence said is outrageous.

"It's like a wedding," Lawrence said. "If you're going to go anywhere for a wedding, and they know it's a wedding cake, they know it's a wedding dress, they know it's anything else, it doubles the price. They know it's related to fire, they kick the price up. There's no reason that truck should have cost nearly $300,000. No reason at all."

The current fire hall is owned by the East Pembroke Fire Department and Lawrence said district officials feel it would be better for the district to own the fire hall. Building a new one will give the district the chance to correct that historic anomaly.  

The fire department would then sell the current hall -- which, if you need to know -- is not the same parcel as the mud race pits, so the annual mud races would be unaffected by the sale.  

The department goes out on nearly 300 calls a year and currently has 31 volunteer firefighters. The district projects growth in the area that will mean 400 calls annually by 2034 and the department will need 55 volunteers to operate.

There simply isn't room in the current building to upgrade it enough to accomodate that growth. But even just upgrading the electrical, the structural, the mechanical and making it handicapped accessible (which would be required under federal law) would cost nearly $1 million.

Voters in the Town of Barre recently turned down a new fire hall proposal that was about half the price East Pembroke is seeking, but Lawrence said that vote doesn't concern him much.

"It doesn't make us nervous because we know what we have to have to serve the residents of the district," Lawrence said.

This fire truck arrived at EPFD new in 1934. It's the kind of truck the 1930s era fire hall was built to hold; not the massive engines of today. This truck is still technically operational, but is used for display and parades.

The crumbling cement of the floor of the firehouse as seen from the basement.

File photo from the 2012 accident that made the defects with the current fire hall much more obvious.

June 30, 2013 - 1:36pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, pembroke, East Pembroke Fire.

The East Pembroke Volunteer Fire Department is hosting a fundraiser today for Trey (pictured above with Chief Don Newton Jr., and his mother, Heather).

Trey recently underwent surgery for Chiari Malformation (Arnold-Chiari), a serious neurological disorder where the bottom part of the brain, the cerebellum, descends out of the skull and crowds the spinal cord, putting pressure on both the brain and spine causing many symptoms.

The fundraiser will help cover his medical expenses. It includes a chicken BBQ, chance auction and silent auction and goes until 5 p.m. at the East Pembroke fire hall on Route 5.

June 16, 2013 - 3:17pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, pembroke, East Pembroke Fire.

Members of the East Pembroke Volunteer Fire Department are organizing a fundraiser from noon to 5 p.m., Sunday, June 30, to assist Trey.

The 5-year-old is the son of heather Gill Palandino and Donald Newton Jr. He is being treated for Chiari Malformation (Arnold-Chiari), is a serious neurological disorder where the bottom part of the brain, the cerebellum, descends out of the skull and crowds the spinal cord, putting pressure on both the brain and spine causing many symptoms.

Newton is chief of the department and Julie Waldron said department members are ever grateful for all he does for the community.

"Donald and his family do a lot for our fire department and community and we would love to give back to them at this time," Waldron said. "We could never thank him enough for everything he has done for our department, and Heather and Trey, as well. They are all always there when we need them. We are one big family and we are helping our brother, our leader and his family."

The fundraiser includes a chance auction and a chicken BBQ. Pre-sale tickets for the BBQ are $9 and are available on Monday evenings at the department or from members.

August 20, 2012 - 9:59am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Sports, East Pembroke Fire, mud races.

Ed Woods attended the Mud Races hosted by the East Pembroke Volunteer Fire Department on Saturday and provided us with these photos.

February 29, 2012 - 12:11pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, East Pembroke Fire.

A state audit of the East Pembroke Fire District's financial records found problems with accounting procedures, but did not uncover any missing funds or improper expenditures.

The NYS Comptroller's Office released the audit this past week and was critical of the district for:

  • Not auditing treasurer's records and reports;
  • The treasurer has not completed and filed annual financial reports with state since 2005;
  • There's no evidence the board reviewed claims before they were paid;
  • Bank statements were not reconciled monthly.

The apparent problems with the bookkeeping required auditors to go through expenses check-by-check -- 75 checks in all totaling $21,875 -- from May 1 through Oct. 30, as well as all bank account transfers, deposits and withdrawals.

The financial activity was properly recorded and disbursements appeared for district purposes, but claims lacked proper approvals.

The audit period was Jan. 1, 2010 through Nov. 29, 2011.

The district has an annual budget of $158,000.

September 11, 2011 - 10:10pm
posted by Destin Danser in East Pembroke Fire.

The East Pembroke Volunteer Fire Department held a memorial service this morning to honor all those who perished in the events that took place on September 11, 2001. Members from the department came out early this morning to decorate the trucks, and stayed there throughout the day to have a total of six moments of silence; one at the exact time when each plane hit, and one at the time of each tower's collapse and to mark the carnage at the Pentagon. Each moment of silence began with blowing the air horn on one of the fire engines, followed by one minute of silence to honor the victims and heros of that event. 

Pictured above: Firefighters observe a moment of silence for those who lost their lives when the first tower collapsed at 8:46 a.m. Below: A memorial set up in front of antique truck, "Old Betsy."




Pictured above is Firefighter William Torres, who joined the East Pembroke Fire Department in March of this year after moving up here for a job with the Loyola Recovery Foundation. Torres worked for the New York City Fire Department for 21 years, and was on duty on September 11, 2001. He was stationed in the Bronx that day, but once the first plane hit the Trade Center at 8:46 a.m., he was immediately called in to help with the rescue efforts.

He recalls bringing a patient out of the south tower just before it fell, "We were a couple of blocks away, headed for our ambulance when the first tower collapsed. When I saw the cloud of dust, my partner and I just started running as fast as we could while pushing our patient on the stretcher." It's obvious that he was greatly affected by the events that unfolded that day, but he says they made him a stronger person.

October 10, 2010 - 2:11pm

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:

October 7, 2010 - 10:48pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in pembroke, Pembroke Primary School, East Pembroke Fire.


Volunteer firefighters from several companies turned out to Pembroke Primary School today as part of East Pembroke's annual effort to educate students on emergency preparedness.

Eleven trucks rolled up to the school first thing this morning, with all the sirens, horns and flashing lights the children could hope for.

Most of the trucks stayed at the campus throughout the school day and classes of children took turns touring the rigs.

Firefighters also provided information on emergency preparedness.

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