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August 19, 2019 - 10:35pm

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If you live outside the City of Batavia in Genesee County, the ability of volunteer fire companies to get enough able-bodied manpower to your house in a timely manner if it ever caught on fire is reaching a crisis stage, Tim Yaeger, emergency management coordinator, told members of the County Legislature today. 

"We're out of time," Yaeger said. "If anybody says that we've got time, we don't. We're out of time."

Volunteer fire companies throughout the county are running on a bare minimum of staffing. Many volunteers are past the age of retirement. And chiefs are getting burned out because there are few young firefighters with the training and experience to replace them.

Yaeger pulled no punches for the legislature and painted a pretty dire picture.

"You know you're out of time when the chair of the fire districts association is riding on an engine and he's well over 65 and he looks back and his crew is the average age of 72 years old and he thinks 'what do we do when we get there and it's actually an emergency?' The trucks go in. There are people on it. But can they do the job when they get there?"

The business model of volunteer firefighting is broken, Yaeger said, broken by changes in society -- people don't volunteer as much as they used to -- and changes in firefighting. The days of a young guy signing up, showing up the next day in his turnout gear to man a fire hose are over. Now a volunteer requires hours and hours of training, certification, and more training.

The state requires firefighters to be trained to national standards and firefighting has evolved to include multiple specialties, from haz-mat to rope teams, to extrication, to search and rescue, and medics.

"It's a dangerous job," Yaeger said. "It's a job that you have to be physically able to perform. And my concern is not only the numbers that have diminished but I think it's the personnel we're looking at. We don't have the personnel that we used to have to be able to do this job.

"We're seeing guys that are you, know, 60, 65, 70, 75, 80, years old still trying to do the job because they still have it in their heart that this is what they need to do.

"My concern is some of those folks probably shouldn't still be doing this job. They need to retire. There are not many fire chiefs, volunteer fire chiefs, that want to go tell a 35 or 40-year member that it is time that you hang up the helmet."

Yaeger has spent years pushing for legal changes in Albany that would allow communities to compensate their volunteers. But there are folks in Albany, Yaeger indicated, who hang to the notion of volunteer fire companies as partly social clubs, which was fine in Ben Franklin's day and in subsequent decades, but doesn't work in the 21st century.

This is a crisis the state and the county have seen coming for decades. There was a 1987 study that warned of a shortage of volunteers and in 2000 the county produced a report outlining the challenges facing volunteer companies. But in neither case were solutions proposed.

"Society, economics, everything is against us," Yaeger said. "It's just a way different world than it was 20 years ago. I mean, we're seeing it now with the level of apathy in chiefs meetings. You've got chiefs that are into their second or third term and they're burned out. They don't want to do it anymore. But nobody else is stepping up to fill that position so they're fulfilling positions that they really don't want but they have to do it."

Yaeger said he doesn't have the answer but indicated he favors paying firefighters on a per-call basis, and also perhaps compensating them for training. 

The only thing stopping such reform is state law and there seems little willingness in Albany to make such a change.

A couple of years, the state gave volunteers a $250 annual tax credit. In Maryland, Yaeger noted, volunteers get a $3,500 a year tax credit.

"The fact that it costs them a significant amount of money to be a volunteer firefighter isn't right," Yaeger said. "And right now the best of the state and give us is $250. The tax credit isn't working."

Being a firefighter is a skilled job and firefighting, like all skilled jobs, there are fewer and fewer young people eager to pursue those kinds of skills. On top of that, rural schools are graduating half as many potential recruits as they were 20 years ago.

"My concern is, we're an aging population, we're definitely a declining population, and we're an overtaxed state," Yaeger said. "So, there are three things that I'm looking at and saying 'OK. How will we fix this?' Because as soon as we offer anything up it means it's going to cost money and everybody goes 'wait a minute we don't have any money.' "

Compensation, however, seems to be the key to fixing the problem.

"I mean, I'm sure nobody here is willing to sign up to give their life for free, go to all the training that they have to do and then say you're not going to get compensated, there's no health plan, there's no retirement, there is no benefit," Yaeger said. "As a matter of fact, it's going to cost you money."

Deputy coordinator Bill Schutt said being a volunteer firefighter is unlike just about any other kind of volunteer activity in a small community.

"As a volunteer firefighter, it's not on a schedule," Schutt said. "It's not going into a Kiwanis lunch. It's not volunteering once a month. It's some scheduled stuff but it's three o'clock in the morning when the alarm goes off, you got to get up and go even though you go to work in a couple of hours. That only appeals to an odd group of people and there's not many of them."

Some might think that the answer is a full-time paid staff for the entire county, but at $100,000 per firefighter, Genesee County just doesn't have the call volume to warrant the expense.  

It wasn't that long ago that volunteer fire companies were the center of a local community's activities -- Stafford had its carnival, Elba the Onion Festival, East Pembroke the mud races. Those have all disappeared and frequently now, multiple companies are being dispatched to calls that used to take only one fire company just so there will be enough manpower to handle even a minor emergency.

"I know the dispatcher has got to be sitting there with their fingers crossed inside the dispatch center hoping somebody is going to respond," Yaeger said.

June 8, 2019 - 6:00pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in pembroke, pembroke hs, dwi, fire services, video.
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Volunteers from fire departments in Pembroke, Indian Falls, East Pembroke, Darien, and Corfu, along with personnel from the Sheriff's Office, Coroner's Office, C.B. Beach Mortuary, Mercy EMS, and Mercy Flight, conducted a DWI drill Friday afternoon for the benefit of seniors from Pembroke High School in advance of tonight's prom.

Previously (ICYMI):

May 20, 2019 - 5:34pm
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Submitted photo, press release and video:

In support of National EMS Week, Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) joined Assembly Minority colleagues at a press conference held by Assemblyman Chris Tague (R,C,I,Ref-Schoharie) today in Albany to unveil legislation that would exempt volunteer firefighters and EMS workers from state income taxes (A.7655).

Hawley, a veteran and longtime member of the Assembly’s Veterans’ Affairs Committee, has introduced similar legislation to provide tax relief for active duty service members (A.1956).

“The upcoming Memorial Day weekend is just one example where volunteer firefighters and EMS will be working around the clock, spending precious time away from their families, to protect our community in the face of dangerous situations,” Hawley said.

“Sadly, more and more volunteer fire companies are being forced to close their doors, leaving their neighbors without the precious services they provide and we need to do something about it. These dedicated and brave individuals deserve our help and I implore Assembly leadership and our colleagues in the Majority to join us in getting this passed before session adjourns next month."

To be eligible for the state income tax exemption, a volunteer must:

  • Be in good standing;
  • Have a minimum year of service with the fire department;
  • Be certified by the Chief Emergency Service Coordinator of their county;
  • Attend at least 55 percent of department activities.
April 29, 2019 - 11:18am
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire services, byron.
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Eight volunteer fire companies gathered at Southwoods RV Resort in Byron on Saturday morning to participate in a series of RV extrication training exercises. The purpose of the training is to help medics get patients out of mobile homes and trailers when there's been some sort of medical emergency.

To volunteer in your community, visit ReadyGenesee.com.

January 27, 2019 - 11:11am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy Fire, news, Le Roy, fire services.

Video: Le Roy Fire members discuss why they enjoy being volunteer firefighters.

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Brandon Connolly was named Fireman of the Year by the Le Roy Volunteer Fire Department at the department's annual installation and awards banquet, held this year at Terry Hills.

Firematic officers for 2019 are: Tom Wood, chief (far right in top photo); Craig Johnson, 1st assistant chief (second from right); Josh Pfendler, captain and training officer; A.J. DeFelice, lieutenant; Jared Chick, lieutenant; Joe Orlando, safety officer.

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The fire department created a new safety award this year, named in honor of longtime safety officer Joe Orlando. The first recipient is Christopher DeFelice. Photo: Craig Johnson, DeFelice, Orland, and Tom Wood.

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Tim Hogle served as chief for three years. This year, Tom Wood returns to the chief's role and Hogle received a thank-you plaque.

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To find out how you can become a member of your local volunteer fire department, visit ReadyGenesee.com.

January 20, 2019 - 5:38pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in corfu fire, corfu, news, fire services.

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Six probationary members of the Corfu Fire Department, all juniors and seniors at Pembroke High School, were recognized for their service to the fire department with the Service Person of the Year award. Collectively, they put in more than 800 hours of firefighter training in 2018.

The members are Casey Felski, Cyle Felski, Elizabeth Tebor, Megan Stiles, Ethan Librock, Jayden Eck and Dylan Lang.

In 2018, the department responded to 129 calls. Chief Brian Schollard said after the department fell just shy of 2,000 training hours in 2017 he set a goal of more than 2,000 training hours for the department in 2018. In 2018, collectively, members of the department reached almost 4,000 training hours.

To find out how you can join your local department, visit ReadyGenesee.com.

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Installation of Officers

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Installation of Fire Police

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Jim Mallory was recognized by the department and Assemblyman Steve Hawley for 65 years of continuous volunteer service.

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Jacob Stiles received an award for completing the most training hours.

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Candle lighting in remembrance of members who have passed.

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Ethan Librock, one of the probationary members from Pembroke HS, made this wooden flag for the department in his woodshop class.

November 16, 2018 - 3:19pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire services, news.

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Press release:

Ten area firefighters from six fire departments successfully completed the Rescue Tech Basic course held at the Genesee County Fire Training Center on Sept. 17.

This 24-hour course prepares students for a wide variety of possible rescue scenarios.

Specialized rescue, search, technical rescue management, risk and priorities, use of ropes, knots and rope systems in a low-angle environment as well as the establishment of landing zones for helicopter operations were addressed.

The program involved demonstrations as well as practice sessions.

Congratulations to the following personnel:

  • CITY OF BATAVIA FD: Stefano Napolitano
  • TOWN OF BATAVIA FD: Joshua K. Boyle, Clayton A. Gorski
  • BETHANY FD: Richard J. Klunder III
  • CORFU FD: Glenn J. Eck, Daniel Smith, Jacob D. Stiles
  • ELBA FD: Michael Pfendler
  • STAFFORD FD: Dean A. Brooks, Randal J. Henning 

To find out more about volunteering in your local community, visit ReadyGenesee.com.

November 16, 2018 - 3:14pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire services, news.

Press release:

Nine members of the Genesee County Emergency Support Unit/Hazardous Materials Response Team recently received Hazardous Material Technician certification.

The Hazardous Materials Technician program is offered regionally by the New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control (OFPC). 

Certification requires successful completion of a five modular training program consisting of a total of 84 hours. The modules focused on:

  • Modular 1:  Primary Skills for the Hazardous Materials Responder
  • Modular 2:  Interpreting the Hazardous Material Environment
  • Modular 3:  Managing the Hazardous Materials Incident
  • Modular 4:  Advanced Skills for the Hazardous Materials Responder
  • Modular 5:  Specialty Skills for the Hazardous Materials Responder

Hazardous materials are a vital component in a multitude of today’s industries. HazMat related incidents pose a threat not only to the community and the environment but to emergency responders as well.

Mitigation and response expertise is essential for an efficient and effective response, minimizing risk and threat. The Genesee County Emergency Support Unit responds to a multitude of incidents each year.   

Team members, having been trained in all categories of unknown industrial chemical hazards in liquid, aerosol, powder, solids and vapor/gas forms and who have received Hazardous Material Technician certification, are: 

  • ALABAMA: Gary Patnode
  • ALEXANDER: Tom Green, Lance Scharlau    
  • TOWN OF BATAVIA: James W. Bouton, Patrick J. Spear
  • BYRON: Mark S. Holley
  • CORFU: Lori A. Santini, Brian D. Schollard
  • DARIEN: Jeffrey D. Luker 

To find out more about volunteering in your local community, visit ReadyGenesee.com.

November 16, 2018 - 3:04pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire services, news.

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Press release:

A fall Basic Exterior Firefighter Operations (BEFO) program was held at the Genesee County Fire Training Center.  The 79-hour program began in August and concluded on Nov. 6. Twenty-four students completed the 79-hour program from nine county departments and three neighboring departments.

The BEFO program is an entry-level program for the volunteer fire service designed to prepare students to respond to emergencies as exterior firefighters.

Students are instructed in fire extinguishers, building construction, forcible entry, ladder deployment, incident command, drafting operations, and hazardous materials operations level.  In addition, students are trained in ropes and knots, and first aid/CPR.

The Genesee County participants were:

Town of Batavia -- Thomas Marlowe  

Bergen -- Brandon Cunningham

Bethany -- Rick J. Klunder III and Jose E. Torres

Corfu -- Jayden D. Eck, Casey L. Felski, Ethan J. Librock, Dylan L. Lang, Megan G. Stiler, Elizabeth S. Tebor

East Pembroke -- Samantha M. Cavalieri             

Elba -- Mark E. Anuo

Le Roy -- William M. Crandall, Adam G. Hamel and Chelsea M. Pierce

Oakfield -- Garrett M. Gibson and Noah R. Toal  

Stafford -- Megan E. Burton and Kenneth V. Collins

To find out more about volunteering in your local community, visit ReadyGenesee.com.

August 30, 2018 - 3:22pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy Fire, Le Roy, news, fire services.

A pair of voter referendums to help Le Roy Fire Department purchase a new ladder truck was defeated at the ballot box Tuesday night by tallies of 107 for and 236 against to buy a new truck, and 113 for and 228 against to sell the current truck.

The first referendum would have authorized the Le Roy Fire District to borrow $1 million and spend $400,000 of reserve funds.

Yesterday, Fire District officials released the following statement:

“We would like to thank the voters of the Le Roy Fire District for taking the time to turn out and vote at last night’s election and express their views.

The results of this vote will help us shape how the District’s responsibility to provide the best possible fire protection and service to the residents.

At the same time, we need to recognize the time and efforts of the Departments’ officers and Apparatus Committee for their two years of time and research into developing the basis for this vote. We will redirect their work into continuing the best possible firefighting force for this community.

We must keep in front of us that this was a vote on a fire truck and not on the dedication, commitment and professionalism of the men and women of the Le Roy Fire Department.”

Signed: Le Roy Fire District Board of Fire Commissioners, Fire Chiefs and Officers

June 22, 2018 - 1:14pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, fire services, news, NY-27.

Press release:

U.S. Representatives Chris Collins (R-NY-27) and Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-NJ-09), the co-chair of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus, celebrated the passage of H.R. 931, the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act.

The legislation they sponsored together would require the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to develop and maintain a registry to collect data regarding the incidence of certain cancers in firefighters. The registry will improve collection capabilities and activities to address an enormous gap in research on the health impacts of cancer incidence among all firefighters – career and volunteer.

Firefighters may experience detrimental health effects due to smoke inhalation and other harmful, toxic substances. The legislation takes a first step toward gathering this information to develop new protocols, safeguards, and equipment to protect these men and women. Senate legislation is sponsored by Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).

“I am extremely humbled and proud of the work we have done to get this bill on President Trump’s desk,” Collins said. “We have to prioritize the health and safety of the brave men and women who selflessly protect our communities.

"It has been an honor to work with Congressman Pascrell, and we have seen an outpouring of support for this legislation from the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, various firefighter organizations, health care groups, our colleagues in Congress, and of course the firefighters in our districts and across America that this is intended to serve.

"I look forward to President Trump signing this bill into law and to see all of the positive impacts this will have on the firefighting community.”

“Today is a big day. I can’t think of many priorities more important than protecting the health of America’s firefighters. The Firefighter Cancer Registry will bring together information on firefighters’ history to help doctors and researchers find any connections between firefighters’ work and increased risk for cancer,” Rep. Pascrell said.

"This will strengthen the safety of the brave men and women who put their lives on the line every single day. This legislation has long enjoyed bipartisan support because having the backs of those protecting our families is a cause we all support.

"I want to thank Representatives Chris Collins and Frank Pallone, and Senators Robert Menendez and Lisa Murkowski for all their efforts to get this bill through Congress. After the legislation is signed, I look forward to working with the CDC and members of the firefighting community to see that the new registry is implemented to its fullest use.”

“Our firefighters are brave men and women, who put themselves in harm’s way day after day. This registry has the potential to improve the quality of life for these real-life heroes,” said Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR-02) and Health Subcommittee Chairman Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX-26). “From a house fire to the wildfires that ravage the west, these men and women don’t think twice before heading into dangerous situations of fire and smoke to protect others. This national registry is one way we can help protect them.”

A 2015 study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) found that firefighters had a greater number of cancer diagnoses and cancer-related deaths for certain types of cancer when compared to the general U.S. population, specifically digestive, oral, respiratory and urinary cancers, and malignant mesothelioma.

The study confirmed that firefighters have an increased risk of cancer because of occupational exposure. To bolster the efforts led by researchers at NIOSH, the firefighter cancer registry will improve collection capabilities and activities related to the nationwide monitoring of cancer incidence among all firefighters – career and volunteer.

Specifically, the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act will authorize $2 million in federal funds to the CDC from FY2018 to FY2022. Additionally, the legislation will:

  • Develop a firefighter registry of available cancer incidence data collected by existing State Cancer Registries and a strategy to maximize participation;
  • Create a registry that will contain relevant histories, such as other occupational information, years of service, number of fire incidents responded to, and additional risk factors;
  • Make de-identified data available to public health researchers to provide them with robust and comprehensive datasets to expand groundbreaking research; and
  • Improve our understanding of cancer incidences by requiring administrators to consult regularly with public health experts, clinicians, and firefighters.

The legislation has support from several major fire organizations, including the National Volunteer Fire Council, the International Association of Fire Chiefs, the International Association of Fire Fighters, the Congressional Fire Services Institute, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, New Jersey Firefighters’ Mutual Benevolent Association and the International Fire Services Training Association.

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Fire Fighter Steering Committee said “The AFGE, AFL-CIO supports the Fire Fighter Cancer Registry bill because it will help improve the health and safety of our federal firefighters and municipal and volunteer firefighters who protect and serve the American public at the Department of Defense, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

"We look forward to collecting this important data in the federal registry and sharing it with our civilian counterparts.”

“I would like to thank Congress for passing this critical legislation, as well as Representative Collins for his leadership in introducing and championing it,” said National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) Chair Kevin D. Quinn.

"Too many firefighters are contracting and dying from cancer caused by duty-related exposures. This registry will improve our understanding of why firefighter cancer is occurring at such a high rate, and will make it easier to prevent, detect, and treat.”

“Firefighters are routinely exposed to numerous carcinogens over the course of their careers and deserve the best protection and prevention tools available," said International Association of Fire Fighters, AFL-CIO General President Harold Schaitberger.

"The Firefighter Cancer Registry Act will provide yet another means to study the deadly relationship between cancer and firefighting. I thank Representative Collins for his leadership on this important issue and applaud the Congress for sending the bill to the President to be signed into law.”

April 29, 2018 - 5:26pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Town of Batavia Fire, fire services, news, batavia.

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Lindsey Zanghi, 12, from Pembroke, had a lot of fun Saturday at the Town of Batavia Fire Department's Open House. So did Brooke Nichols, 12, of Oakfield, below, who got to honk the emergency horn on one of the fire trucks.

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February 15, 2018 - 10:29am
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire services, City Fire, batavia, news.

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Christina Matrella demonstrates how to provide first aid to a baby who is choking for state fire officials who spent Tuesday and Wednesday in Batavia for a series of training classes.

The classes, which included a range of topics, including hazardous material, provides state officials with uniform training that they can use to better assist and support local fire departments.

There are more than 200 state fire officials now, said Deputy Chief Brian Benstead, and getting them all in one place at one time for training and meetings can be difficult, so the agency is trying regional meetings and Batavia was chosen as a location in Western New York this training session.

"This is primarily our safety training like anyone else goes through, just like any other fire department or police department goes through on a regular basis," Benstead said. "Ours is enhanced by the fact that this is how we make that connection to the local communities and how we support them."

About 20 fire officials were in Batavia for the two days, staying at local hotels and eating at local restaurants.

The training was held at Batavia's fire headquarters.

Chief Stefano Napolitano said he was proud the state chose Batavia for a meeting location.

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February 11, 2018 - 11:04am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Bethany, Bethany Fire, news, fire services.

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Dan Adams was named Firefighter of the Year for the Bethany Volunteer Fire Department at the department's annual awards and installation dinner Saturday night.

Pictured with Adams are Jamie Fluker, Jeff Pietrzykowski and Jeff Fluker.

The 2018 officers are: Jeff Pietrzykowski, chief; Jeff Fluker, first assistant chief; Jamie Fluker, second assistant chief; Kyle Rombaut, captain; Christopher Page, lieutenant; Mel Davis, first aid captain; Jim Duval, first aid lieutenant; and George Larish, fire police captain.  

The board officers are: Christopher Page, president; Kyle Rombaut, VP; Corie Rombaut, secretary; Jeff Wolak, treasurer; with board directors -- Vicki Wolak, Peggy Johnson, Wayne Walker, Todd Mogenhan, Mel Davis, Bill Shea. The chaplain is Rev. Walter Whenhold.

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Jamie Fluker received the Chief's Award.

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The department responded to 132 calls. Jim Duval responded to 91 of those calls, the most of any member.

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Greg Johnson put in 107 training hours, the most of any member.

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The dinner featured a ceremony honoring all of the first responders in Bethany. A plaque will be hung in the Fire Hall that reads, "We Are All Heros."

Pictured, Jeff Fluker, Mel Davis and Peggy Johnson.

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Jeff Fluker, who just finished a three-year stint as chief, and has been chief for nine of the past 11 years, received a gift from the department.

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January 23, 2018 - 1:56pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in east pembroke, batavia, news, fire services.

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Monday night is training night for most volunteer fire departments but last night in East Pembroke it was gear inspection night.

For the first time, the annual inspection was conducted in the department's new $3.5 million fire hall.

East Pembroke isn't running calls out of the hall yet. They're not quite settled in. The Internet was just hooked up today. The emergency radio has yet to be installed. And there is a lot of equipment yet to move over from the old hall. Chief Don Newton expects the new hall to be in service in about three weeks.

The department will host an open house in the early spring.

Gear inspection is all about ensuring there are no holes, tears or worn spots in any of the three layers of a firefighter's suit that provides thermal protection.  

Newton explained that East Pembroke buys three sets of gear -- boots, hat, jacket, pants and gloves -- every year. That's an annual cost of up to $17,000.  

But it's got to be done. Worn and damaged gear is a danger to firefighters and state regulations require interior firefighters to use gear that is less than 10 years old.

East Pembroke is starting to rotate interior gear every eight years. That leaves two years of life left on the old gear. It can by used by new volunteers while they go through training and it provides back up gear for a firefighter who might wind up with damaged gear before new gear is purchased.

Monday, members also brought in their Class A uniforms for inspection and inventory.

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An example of a hole torn in a layer of thermal protection. This suit was being taken out of service.

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The new hall has six bays, with two additional backdoors. Those two longer bays can potentially hold two trucks, giving the hall the capability of parking eight trucks.

January 21, 2018 - 4:22pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in South Byron Fire, fire services, byron, south byron, news.

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Among the honorees at South Byron Volunteer Fire Department's annual dinner on Saturday night was Gerald Bateman, who was recognized for 65 years of service to the department. State Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer and Assemblyman Steve Hawley were on hand to honor Bateman's service to the community.

The 2018 firematic officers are: Scott Blossom, chief; Brian Hickey, deputy chief; Jim McKenzie, assistant chief; Chase Cone, captain; Andy Konieczny, 1st lieutenant; Matt Dougherty, 2nd lieutenant; Nicole Bold, engineer; Reggie Macdonald, fire police captain; Elizabeth Blossom, fire police sergeant; Steve Sharp, fire police corporal.

Administrative officers: Dean Bates, president; Reggie Macdonald, VP; Elizabeth Blossom, secretary; Alfred Klycek, treasurer; Bob Fite, membership chair; Al Secash, bell jar chair; Allison McKenzie, sunshine chair; Rev. Harold Coller, fire chaplain.

Auxiliary officers: Theresa Hammer, president; Beth Wilson, VP; Melody Stone, secretary; Michelle Yasses, treasurer; Irene Fite, sunshine chair; Theresa Hammer, party chair; Mariellen Blossom, chaplain.

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Chief Scott Blossom presented Andy Konieczny with Firefighter of the Year and Most Training Hours awards.

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President Dean Bates presented Theresa Hammer with the Member of the Year award.

January 21, 2018 - 4:04pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in corfu, corfu fire, news, fire services.

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Corfu Volunteer Fire Department held it's annual awards and installation dinner on Saturday night.

Bernie Fix, top photo, received the Firefighter of the Year Award from Chief Brian Schollard.

The firematic officers for 2018 are: Brian Schollard, chief; Greg Lang, deputy chief; Brian McMartin, 2nd assistant chief; Dean Eck, senior captain; captains Ben Trapani, Mitch Bates, and Dan Smith; Dan Smith; fire police captian, Matt Lenard; fire police lieutenant; lieutenants, Glenn Eck, Steve Rodland, and Tyler Lang; Dean Eck, safety officer.

Executive officers are: Steve Rodland, president; Tyler Lang, VP; Paula Trapani, secretary; Jen Eck, treasurer; Allan Starkweather, sargeant at arms; Brad Lang, chaplain; and trustees, Bernie Fix, Justin Rodland, and Ed Fauth.

EMTs, Kristen Gaik, LoriAnn Santini, Karen Lang and Cathy Skeet. 

Corfu Fire District officers: Bruce Fauth, chairman; Jim Mallory, deputy chairman; Jenny McMartin-Eck, commssioner; Jim Hale, commissioner; Paula Trapani, secretary; and Michelle Sformo, treasurer. 

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Paula Trapani received the Service Person of the Year Award from President Steve Rodland.

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Linda Tucker was honored for 45 years of service.

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Kristen Gaik put in more than 300 hours of training.

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Ed Fauth was recognized for responding to the most calls.

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Bruce Fauth was recognized for his effort to help the department secure a federal grant.

November 22, 2017 - 10:10am
posted by Maria Pericozzi in batavia, news, fire services.

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Around 61 percent of firefighters get occupational cancer in the line of duty, according to an article in the NFPA Journal. (NFPA stands for National Fire Protection Association.)

Lieutenant Mahlon Irish Jr., of the City of Ithaca Fire Department, is one of those 61 percent. Irish was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2014. Firefighters from four different counties traveled to Batavia City Centre on Monday to hear him share his story as a prostate cancer survivor.

“We have proof that there is a link between our job, whether it's volunteer or career, as a firefighter, and cancer,” Irish said. “We have proof that’s happening.”

Irish has almost 44 years in the fire service. He spent 30 years as a NYS Fire Instructor, served the City of Ithaca for more than 22 years as a firefighter and lieutenant, and past chief and current member of the Homer Fire Department.

“The risk doesn’t end when we hang up our gear,” Irish said. “Our exposure to some of these chemicals go on for [a long] time.”

Irish educates firefighters about the increased dangers of cancer. He said a lot of the information from studies he shared is relatively new.

“We did not know about a lot of this five years ago,” Irish said.  

Multiple chemicals are released in fires, including hydrogen cyanide, an extremely poisonous gas that was used in gas chambers.

“Because of what is burning today, we are seeing more and more hydrogen cyanide,” Irish said.

Fires 20 or 30 years ago were “natural fires,” mostly wood, Irish said. They are seeing more hydrogen cyanide being released, because of carpets, plastics, TVs, and other objects that are burning.

Irish spoke about the contamination of firefighters' bodies from today’s fires and how it affects them. He recommended for firefighters that go into a fire, they need to shower and wash their gear immediately afterward.

“[Chemicals] still get there,” Irish said. “They penetrate our turnout gear, our undergarments, all the way through T-shirts and gets to our skin.”

Stefano Napolitano, Batavia’s fire chief, said they are looking to enact different methodologies and techniques to reduce the exposure.

“Cancer doesn’t know career or volunteer,” Napolitano said. “Cancer doesn’t know urban, suburb and rural.”

Irish shared his story about issues of being diagnosed, his pre-and post-radical prostatectomy surgery, and the physical, mental and financial impacts of living with prostate cancer.

“I am living with cancer and I made the choice to not let this cancer negatively affect my life,” Irish said. “It has affected my life in some ways I can’t change, but I choose to make it on the positive side.”

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Irish showed the audience multiple hoods, comparing them, discussing which ones would protect firefighters the best. 

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October 13, 2017 - 3:25pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in east pembroke, pembroke, news, fire services.

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The students at Pembroke Elementary School in East Pembroke learned about fire services and fire prevention today.

The participating agencies included East Pembroke fire, Pembroke fire, Indian Falls fire, Corfu fire, Town of Batavia fire, Mercy Flight, and Emergency Services.

Reader submitted photos.

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October 10, 2017 - 3:21pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Stafford, Le Roy, Alabama, fire services, michael ranzenhofer, news.

Press release:

State Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer today has announced $415,000 in state funding for three fire departments in Genesee County. 

“Today’s announced state investment will assist local fire departments and defray a major portion of expenses for important capital projects, while preventing a higher property tax burden for local homeowners,” Ranzenhofer said.

Oct. 8th marks the start of Fire Prevention Week. This year’s theme is "Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out!"

“Our volunteer firefighters are dedicated, and they are working tirelessly to protect and serve our communities each and every day,” Ranzenhofer said. “This financial support will ensure that life-saving services will continue to be available for Genesee County residents, businesses and visitors.”

Fire departments receiving grants include:

Alabama Fire Department: $165,000
The Alabama Fire Department will use the funds for a major capital project to upgrade the fire hall and build an addition for storage requirements. The project includes structure repairs, new insulation and windows, replacing a 31-year-old furnace, upgrading outdated plumbing and reworking electrical systems. 

The upgrades will make the department compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and National Fire Prevention Association recommendations for personal protection equipment storage. The improvements are estimated to save thousands of dollars per year due to lower energy bills and maintenance expenses.

“Our Fire Department faces challenges – from potential emergencies from the ever increasing trucks carrying chemicals, gasoline, and ethanol through our area to anticipated growth from the WNY STAMP Project. Senator Ranzenhofer’s grant will help to update our aging infrastructure. This state funding allows our volunteer firefighters to be better prepared, without passing additional costs to local property taxpayers,” said Alabama Fire Department President Robert Crossen.

The total cost is projected to be $236,000. A groundbreaking is tentatively planned for January. The project should be completed in six months.

Stafford Volunteer Fire Department: $150,000
The funding will be used for facility upgrades at Stafford Fire Department, including:

• Replacement of the original fire station roof;

• Improvements to damaged blacktop; and

• New energy-saving LED exterior lighting.

“Stafford Fire Department is very appreciative of the efforts of Senator Ranzenhofer in securing these much needed funds. We have been a financially secure organization for many decades with low town taxes due to our very successful antique car raffle. Supposed changes to the enforcement of charitable gaming laws have brought that to an abrupt end, burdening our local taxpayers. These funds will help our organization’s ability to respond at peak levels,” said Stafford Fire Department President James Call

The project is expected to start in April and be completed by next September. The project’s total cost is estimated at $225,000. 

Le Roy Fire District: $100,000
The Le Roy Fire District is planning to acquire land to expand parking and storage areas for fire safety equipment. The existing fire station – located at the intersection of routes 5 and 19 in the Village of Le Roy– is virtually landlocked, limiting the District’s capabilities. The existing parking area lacks enough spaces for firefighters to park their personal vehicles during an emergency response call.

“By acquiring property, the opportunity for future expansion will be assured, while meeting the immediate safety needs by providing zones for both emergency personnel accessing apparatus and the general public during operations from the station. Receiving this grant will allow us to complete the preliminary work and provide the needed additional financing to extend a purchase offer on the property,” said Le Roy Fire District Commissioner Gerald Diskin.

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