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November 19, 2022 - 11:02pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire services, news, office of emergency management, notify.

Volunteer and career firefighters from Genesee County are being deployed to Erie County to assist with emergency management as a result of heavy snowfall in the area.

Tim Yaeger, emergency management coordinator for Genesee County, announced Saturday night that the following departments have been approved for deployment starting Sunday morning at 6 a.m. for a 12-hour shift.

  • City of Batavia Fire
  • Town of Batavia Fire
  • Oakfield Fire
  • East Pembroke Fire
  • Corfu Fire
  • Genesee County Emergency Management

Participating personnel are instructed to assemble by 5:15 a.m. at the Corfu Fire Department, 116 East Main St., Corfu, for deployment to the Erie County Training & Operation Center, 3359 Broadway, Cheektowaga.

October 27, 2022 - 8:05am

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Who says that Fire Prevention can’t sometimes be cute?

Emergency Management Services Coordinator Tim Yaeger and Deputy Coordinator Gary Patnode lightened up the topic a bit with Sparky, the spotted dalmatian mascot that’s part of National Fire Prevention Month.

Legislator Gary Maha, on behalf of the Genesee County Legislature, presented a proclamation to the trio Wednesday. The goal during October is to raise fire safety awareness and help ensure “your home and family are protected,” Maha said.

“Fire is a serious public safety concern both locally and nationally, and homes are the locations where people are at greatest risk from fire,” he said. “And whereas two of every five home fires start in the kitchen, with 31 percent of these fires resulting from unattended cooking.”

The reminder there is to stay in the kitchen when frying food on the stovetop, retain a three-foot distance between kids and the cooking areas, and keep flammable objects away from stovetops, the proclamation stated.

Residents are encouraged to map out and practice a home fire escape plan, as the more prepared families become, the better their rate of survival. Working smoke alarms can cut the risk of dying in half, and “first responders are dedicated to reducing the occurrence of home fires and home fire injuries through prevention and protection,” Maha said.

Genesee County Legislature, therefore, proclaimed October as Fire Prevention Month, and urged all residents to participate by checking their smoke alarms and kitchens for fire hazards, all the while using safe cooking practices in October and beyond.

Sparky didn’t utter a word — not even a bark, per Maha’s suggestion — but his happy demeanor added some levity to an otherwise somber subject, especially given that fires have recently brought destruction to homes and businesses in Genesee County.

Yaeger thanked legislators and emphasized that it’s so important for fire protection systems to be safe.

“The men and women of Genesee County Fire and EMS work every day, training and preparing to provide fire safety training and response,” he said. "The fire dog is not able to speak, but he's here to make sure that both children and adults stay safe. Please, please, please check to make sure you have a clean smoke detector in your home as well as a carbon monoxide detector … be safe everybody.”

Legislative Chairwoman Shelley Stein said that the proclamation and recognition of the county’s emergency management local fire companies “couldn’t be more fitting” right now.

“After the fires that we've had around us and in our county, we need to be reminded one more time about the preventative measures … thank you for the operational expertise that we have in our fire and EMS service here in Genesee County. Our community and our citizens are well served.”

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Top Photo: Genesee County Legislator Gary Maha shakes the paw of the fire dog during Wednesday's legislative meeting; above, Maha, poses with Emergency Management Services Deputy Coordinator Gary Patnode, the fire dog, and EMS Coordinator Tim Yaeger, who accepted a proclamation for National Fire Prevention Month. Photos by Joanne Beck.

September 23, 2022 - 6:08pm
posted by Press Release in Fire Training Center, fire services, news.

Press release:

The Genesee County Office of Emergency Management Services was the host of the New York State Association of Fire Chiefs (NYSAFC) FLASHOVER training. 

The FLASHOVER training was held at the Genesee County Fire Training Center on State Street Road, Batavia, on Sept. 10-11, where forty-three firefighters from around the region attended.

Seasoned instructors with years of experience teaching with a simulator, taught this program. The program included a one-hour classroom lecture, followed by two hours of intense live fire hands-on training evolutions in NYSAFC's mobile flashover simulator.

The FLASHOVER training allowed participants to experience fire development from the incipient stage all the way to flashover.  Participants completing the training are now able to identify the signs of the event before being part of the flashover. It is said that if you are more than five feet from the doorway, your chance of survival in a flashover is minimal.

Participants of the FLASHOVER training Included:

AKRON

  • Hillery Dennies
  • Michael Dennies

ALABAMA

  • Gary Patnode
  • Michelle Patnode
  • Ryan Thompson

CITY OF BATAVIA

  • Ryan Darch
  • Nathan Flint
  • Allison Hubert
  • Jennifer Kirkum
  • Dalton Major
  • Benjamin Pickard

BOWMANSVILLE

  • Mike  Andrzewski
  • Evan MacPeek

CALEDONIA

  • Andrew Carpino
  • Samuel D'Agostino
  • RJ Kantowski
  • John Kellen
  • Michael Lubitow
  • Aaron Rychlicki
  • Nathan Sherlock

EAST BLOOMFIELD

  • Alex Brown
  • Bill Gasser
  • Abigail Miller

EAST PEMBROKE

  • Stephen Smelski

PERRY CENTER

  • David  Parfitt
  • Chuck Wright

PITTSFORD

  • Ron DeCamelia
  • Brian Garber
  • Matt Garber
  • Marc Krieger
  • Chris Otero

RANSOMVILLE

  • Jim Harbison
  • Chris Lederhouse
  • Justin Stoelting
  • Matt Wedge

SOUTH BYRON

  • Nicole Boldt
  • Vito Muoio
  • Jeremie Rassel
  • Jeffrey Starowitz

SPRINGWATER

  • Brian Nadeau
  • Zackery Ryan

WENDELVILLE

  • Thomas Braunscheidel
  • Benjamin Kalbfliesch
August 25, 2022 - 9:40am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Oakfield fire, fire services, Oakfield, news, notify.

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There's always a job to do in the Oakfield Volunteer Fire Department -- or any volunteer fire department in the county -- and if you can do a job, there is a job for you to do.

You should volunteer.

Not every job involves rushing into burning buildings or pulling injured passengers from mangled cars. Some jobs involve keeping track of people and materials or just cleaning up the fire hall.  All the jobs help the department fulfill its mission of keeping Oakfield safe.

That was the message Department President Joshua Finn and Chief Sean Downing conveyed when they invited a couple of local reporters to the Fire Hall on Monday.

They also wanted to show off the department's new rec room, which is also integral to Oakfield's effort to recruit more members.

"Some of the things that we want to do is get video game systems up there and have it way more comfortable so that we can get younger kids to have a spot, a place to hang out," Finn said. "Why not hang out here and play video games? If they're at least 16 they're able to go on calls, or those that might be, say, 14 are not able to go, but they may be up here with their friend. Now their friend goes out on the call, they hang back. You know, we hope they think and say hey look, that's pretty cool. Their friend is gonna come back and kind of say, 'Hey, I was at this car accident. It was cool. I got to help save a life,' that sort of thing, because if that does happen, we're hoping that it translates into the kids that are upstairs wanting to join."

Besides the kids, Finn believes Oakfield is a community with a generous spirit.  He suggests there are more people in the community who could and would volunteer if they just understood the need and the opportunity.

"I look at our community especially, and we have a lot of great people," Finn said. "The Oakfield Betterment Committee. That organization is fantastic, the things they do. I look at Suzy Zeliff who's running The Goose here in town, and what she has produced is unbelievable. We have a lot of great community members, and there's so much that we (the department) can offer people. Like Sean said, we have maybe 20 members that legitimately will respond to a lot of the calls out of a population of 5,000 residents. That's half of 1 percent."

An example of somebody from the community stepping forward to fill a need that wasn't being met was Ed Spence, a retired City of Batavia firefighter, who offered to become the department's chaplain.  He's helped a lot, being somebody for members to talk with after difficult scenes and performing religious functions within the department, Finn said. 

Downing noted Oakfield is not unique among local volunteer departments and maybe a little bit better off on staffing than some others, but that doesn't mean the need for more people in all parts of the organization isn't real.

"Everybody is struggling to get people during the day," Downing said. "You might get two people. Other times you get an EMS call for a stubbed toe or something and we get 13 people showing up. So, I mean, it's like it's feast or famine. So what we're trying to do is entice new members to come into the department."

Both Downing and Finn acknowledge that the training requirements for a firefighter or EMT can be pretty daunting, which is why they're suggesting people look for other ways they can help the department (though they also need people to join willing to go through that department).  They're also working with the county to find ways to streamline the training for people who might be willing to respond to a fire scene to help but not actually get involved in fighting the fire.  They can drive trucks, run pumps, help with hoses, and get nowhere near the fire.  But there are still risks involved in being on a fire scene, so some training is essential. 

Volunteers can also help with social media, fundraisers, and with serving on the fire board.  Finn mentioned one local businessman who has a family member in the department that he's hoping will take an interest in becoming a board member. His business experience could be invaluable, Finn summarizes, and with the financial strains in the department, more business experience on the board could be helpful.

"As years go on, one of the things that I've brought up is this building isn't getting any younger," Finn said. "We don't have a plan right now. That's one of the things that we've been talking about."

Clearly, Downing and Finn hope people will read this article and decide to at least explore the idea of helping out the Oakfield Volunteer Fire Department, or the department of the town where they live, and Downing encourages readers to visit ReadyGenesee.com.

"Come check us out," Finn said. "Come check us out on a Monday night. We're here. If you live in Genesee, on a Monday night, every county department in Genesee County has either a meeting or a training night. Check out your department. Everybody in the community knows somebody who's a member, ask them what they need. Find somebody that you know on Facebook.

"Especially in a small town like Oakfield, everybody knows somebody. You know, there are so many different things that we need help doing," he said. "Come check us out. And you know, there are so many things that go on in the volunteer fire service that people don't realize. Come check us out."

PreviouslyNew report addresses growing crisis in county's fire and EMS coverage

Top Photo: Oakfield members and family members hang out in the department's new rec room on the second floor of the Fire Hall.

Photos by Howard Owens.

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Chief Sean Downing, Jamie Lindsley, president of the Oakfield Betterment Committee, Joel D'Alba, owner of Albion Pools, Tonisha and Andrew Pilc, Mike Harding, Attica Furniture, and Joshua Finn, president of the department's board of directors.

The rec room cost in excess of $12,000 was paid for almost entirely by donations and volunteer labor.  The Oakfield Betterment Committee was able to use its non-profit status to be a recipient of donations, such as $5,800 from The Home Depot.  D'Alba, an Oakfield resident, and somebody who would volunteer if training requirements could be modified so he could drive a truck and run a pump, made a cash donation.  Tonisha and Andrew supplied both volunteer labor and the effort and inspiration to get the project off the ground from consulting with local developers to lining up donations.  Harding made a cash donation and also donated the eagle and flag painting to hang in the rec room.

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Photos of what the second-floor room looked like before the remodel.

August 13, 2022 - 9:41pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire services, office of emergency management, news, notify.

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There is a crisis brewing in fire and EMS coverage in Genesee County, but it's invisible to most area residents, according to a report released this week by the Office of Emergency Management.

The report was prepared by Municipal Resources, a consulting firm hired to review the state of fire and EMS services locally and recommend changes.

"The challenges that are facing the fire and EMS services in Genesee County are very real; there is a crisis that is slowly building, and has been for a considerable period," the report states. "The reason that many stakeholders, municipal leaders, and the general public do not see 'evidence' is the long tradition in both the fire and EMS services of 'getting the job done.'

"Looking ahead," according to the report, "the implications of not taking action will be quite simple: service levels will continue to diminish, some companies and EMS agencies may fold under financial pressures or because they are just not viable responders any longer, and fewer and fewer most likely aging volunteer members will be trying to respond to an increasing number of requests for service."

The 278-page report contains 95 recommendations to improve services and ensure the long-term viability of fire and EMS services in the county.

The report was presented to local media for the first time on Wednesday night at the Fire Training Center on Bank Street Road in Batavia by members of a task force formed two years ago.  The members, which included volunteer firefighters, elected officials, and Tim Yaeger, emergency management coordinator, set a goal of finding actionable recommendations on how to improve things and not just produce another study.

The goal is not a countywide fire service
The purpose of the report as some have assumed, said task force chairman Eric Weis (president of the Bergen Fire Department), is to push through a replacement of the current volunteer fire department system with a paid, countywide fire department.

He noted the report contains this statement: "It should be clearly understood by all stakeholders that the focus of this report is to augment and not supplant existing fire and EMS resources. Therefore, recommendations are focused on better utilization of existing organizations and resources while maintaining, supporting, and strengthening existing organizations."

Weis put the same sentiment in his own words.

"The volunteers are the backbone of the emergency services in the county," Weis said. "This is not intended to, again, take away from that. It's intended to enhance it. And I also want to say that, yes, there are issues, but, you know, the members of the volunteer departments in this county put forth a hell of a lot of effort every day. I think the needs are being met."

The biggest challenge for fire departments and EMS companies in Genesee County is the nationwide decline in volunteerism.  Genesee County is not unique.  People are much less likely to volunteer for anything, let alone service as demanding as firefighting or emergency medical assistance.

The report states:

The only reason why the challenges the system is facing both today and looking to the future are not more evident is because of the passion and dedication of the members of the county’s fire and EMS organizations who continue to answer the calls for service. But the number of active volunteers is declining in the county as they are everywhere, and many of those who remain are aging. 

 

The crisis of volunteerism
The report anonymously quotes a volunteer chief, "Volunteerism is being killed by social changes and increasing training standards for liability reasons. With fire call volumes being low and EMS requests high, we are at the point of high-risk low frequency events being a large concern. People don’t want to put in the time to train to fight one or two fires annually."

Long gone are the days when a young person could volunteer for the local fire department, be handed a helmet and coat, and start showing up at fire scenes. Now volunteer firefighters must go through hours and hours of training just to get started, and dozens of hours more every year to advance their skills.

And "volunteer" means they don't get paid for any of that time, either training or responding to incidents.

"I think most people in the community have no idea the amount of hours that they (volunteers) commit to this job," said Yaeger (first inset photo). "They are many hours away from home, away from family, away from work, to get this job done. 

"I think many citizens probably assume that volunteers are compensated to some extent," Yaeger said later. "And other than food and refreshments at a training or after an event, there is no compensation."

Among the 95 recommendations offered by Municipal Resources is finding some way to make some sort of compensation possible, be it monetary, health insurance, or gift cards to local businesses. But that isn't possible currently because state law prohibits any compensation to volunteer firefighters.

County Legislator Gordon Dibble, who served on the task force, said he and his fellow elected officials are ready to try and tackle that problem, which means going to the state Legislature to change the law statewide or working with Assemblyman Steve Hawley on a change in the law allowing Genesee County to become the first county to compensate volunteer firefighters and EMS personnel.

"I don't think we've (the Legislature) talked about that," Dibble said. "We haven't come to that, but I could agree with you that might be a way to go. It might help our situation. It starts somewhere and sometimes it starts with a small tiny county government that moves it up through the state."

Compensation needs to be an option
New York needs to catch up with other parts of the country, Yaeger said, when it comes to compensating volunteer firefighters.  In other parts of the country, volunteers aren't paid wages as much as they are provided pay on a per diem basis.

"They're being paid a stipend," Yaeger said. "They're being paid to be on-call. They're being paid to go to training. They're not making what a career firefighter is making, because they're just being paid or compensated when they're performing a duty for the community. That's something else that we need to pursue. And that needs to happen sooner than later because it's just inevitable."

One option to make volunteer firefighting less of time management challenge is to give volunteers on-call schedules so they know when its their turn to respond to any calls that come in and are prepared to respond.

"I did get some feedback from a friend of mine in the department who said with his job, it's tough for him to come on a whim on a call at certain times of day," said Weis (second inset photo). "He's working constantly. But if he had a set day, where he knew that he was on duty, his eyes opened up to that. That is something that would make being a volunteer more efficient."

The EMS crisis
The report also highlights the challenges facing ambulance providers, whether the all-volunteer services provided by departments such as Byron, Bergen, Alexander, and Bethany, or the paid-personnel services, what Yaeger refers to as "commercial," such as Le Roy Ambulance and Mercy EMS.

Currently, the mixture of volunteer and commercial EMS services are keeping response times in most of the county under four minutes for basic life support calls and eight minutes for advanced life support.

These are critical numbers when the calls are for cardiac arrest (less than two percent of EMS calls) or stroke.

The report states:

Heart attack and stroke victims require rapid intervention and care, and transport to a medical facility. The longer the time duration without care, the less likely the patient is to fully recover. Numerous studies have shown that irreversible brain damage can occur if the brain is deprived of oxygen for more than four minutes. In addition, the potential for successful resuscitation during cardiac arrest decreases exponentially, 7 to 10%, with each passing minute that cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or cardiac defibrillation and ALS intervention is delayed. Few attempts at resuscitation after 10 minutes are successful. 

Keeping EMS services staffed is both a challenge for volunteer departments and Mercy EMS and Le Roy Ambulance.  The training hours to qualify as a crew member can be up to 150 hours and the duty is hard and often puts EMTs in harm's way. 

Mercy EMS recently went through a staffing crisis that required assistance from services from outside the county and the turnover in personnel is frequent, with employees either finding the work isn't for them or using their training and experience as a stepping stone into a career as a paid firefighter.

"The environments that they're working in are not the best environments," Yaeger said. "People don't need to know what some of those environments are but it's a dangerous job. They're exposed to a lot of things that they probably shouldn't be exposed to."

In New York, as in most of the country, ambulances are not considered an essential service, like police and fire services.  Municipalities are not required to provide EMS coverage.  The report suggests that needs to change.

Among the consultants' recommendations, as one option, is the creation of a countywide EMS service.

This model would have the county assume all EMS response and transport responsibilities for EMS. The county would have to hire full-time personnel and purchase all equipment and vehicles to staff four units. These units would need to be housed in strategic locations across the county to meet response time benchmarks county wide. While this concept is relatively new in New York state, several counties have either implemented this type of service or, are exploring the concept. 

Countywide cooperation
While the report doesn't call for a countywide fire service, there are recommendations for standardizing operations.  That means establishing compatible Standard Operating Procedures across all departments so that when departments are working together, they're all using the same tactics and methods.

"Everyone in the fire service knows that we're already responding regionally," Yaeger said. "So how do we formalize that to make sure that everybody is on the same sheet of music? How do we make sure that the funding sources are there and available for all those resources to come in so we're not duplicating resources, we're not duplicating equipment?"

Getting everyone on the same sheet of music could eventually lead to a countywide department, but that won't happen any time soon, Yaeger said.

"Thirty years from now, 20 years from now, could there be a county-wide fire service? I won't be here to see it. Not in this position. But sure, it could happen," Yaeger said. "It takes time to see if it's even necessary. It may not be necessary. We may find that there are ways to work together and make our system better without forming a countywide service."

Going forward
With 95 recommendations, there is a lot for all the stakeholders to consider what priorities should be tackled first.  That process will involve everyone at all of the departments as volunteers read the report and come back with recommendations.

Task force members say that so far, the report has been received favorably, but they know that there will be those who resist change of any kind.

"(Somebody) coined the phrase that 'firefighters say the two things they hate the most are the way things are, and change,'" Yaeger said.

Weis said he hopes to see each department provide the task force with five, 10, or maybe 15 priorities from the 95 recommendations. The task force will use that feedback to come up with 10 to 15 action items to tackle first.

"We really want feedback first from the departments," Weis said. "Before we kind of settle on the 10, or maybe 15, before we settle on those, we want the feedback from departments. We don't feel we want to just dictate the solution."

PDF Downloads:

Top photo: Six members of the task force, from left,  Eric Weis, president, Bergen Fire, Mike Heale, chief, Elba, Bob Mruzak, fire chief, Bergen, Tim Yaeger, Genesee County Emergency Management Coordinator, Gordon Dibble, Genesee County legislator,  Donna Hynes, supervisor, Town of Elba. Not present and not pictured, Legislator Greg Torrey and Pavilion Supervisor Robert LaPoint.

Photos by Howard Owens

May 23, 2022 - 5:30pm
posted by Press Release in Bethany Fire, Bethany, fire services, news, Tractor Supply Co..

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Press release:

The Bethany FD sold hotdogs Friday and Saturday as a fundraiser. We want to thank Tractor Supply, everyone who supported us by buying hotdogs, and those who donated money as well.

Supporting your local Fire Department is a way to provide essential local services. And the most important way you can help is to volunteer your time. Your local Fire Department will be more than happy to let you know how you can help.

Photos by Glenn Adams

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April 29, 2022 - 7:45am
posted by Press Release in fire services, news.

Press release:

Twenty first responders from nine fire departments participated in the twelve-hour Officer Development:  Firefighter Health and Safety Course, which was held from March 23 through April 13, 2022.

The course provided current and potential fire officers with a basic knowledge of effective communications for both administrative functions and for emergency incidents. Students were provided activities to apply skills learned in addition to conducting a size-up based on emergency incidents. Additionally, this course provided the Company Officer with the skills needed to identify and prevent common safety hazards and to perform an initial accident investigation.  Students must have completed the basic firefighter courses prior to participating in this course.  Successfully completing the Officer Development:  Firefighter Health and Safety were:

BATAVIA, TOWN

  • Joshua M. Finn
  • Dwayne J. Fonda, Jr.

BROCKPORT

  • David R. Stratton

CORFU

  • James C. Hale
  • Matthew P. Lenhard

ELBA

  • Nicole M. Boldt          
  • Nathan J. Tabor          

LE ROY

  • Fay Fuerch
  • James D. King
  • Stephanie A. Mcvicker
  • Brie L. Rogers

OAKFIELD

  • Justin  Cooper
  • Annette J. Johnson
  • Andrew S. Pilc
  • Collins J. Scheiber

PAVILION

  • Jeffery L. Freeman

SOUTH BYRON

  • Vitorrio J. Muoio
  • Jeremie J. Rassel

STAFFORD

  • Randal J. Henning                    
  • Chad A. Rambach  
April 23, 2022 - 6:30pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Bethany Fire, Bethany, news, fire services.

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The Bethany Fire Department hosted the annual Fire Department day this Saturday. Some of the members, shown here, arrived early to prepare food and get out the trucks.

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Jessica arrived with her family to try out a career path, or just to have fun seeing what the fire department is all about. EMT Vicki Wolak explains what the ambulance does and how they help people.

The Fire Department and Ambulance crew are always looking for volunteers. Monday evenings are always a good time to see what jobs are available and how you might be able to help your town.

Photos and information submitted by Glenn Adams, Bethany Fire Department.

April 7, 2022 - 5:39pm
posted by Press Release in fire services, news, elba, Le Roy, bergen, Alexander, Alabama.

Press release:

The NYS Principles of Instructions course is an introductory course for individuals who will be conducting training at the fire company level.  This 15-hour course was recently offered at the Genesee County Fire Training Center and is designed for fire service training officers and company officers. 

Participants reviewed the qualities of a good instructor, job performance requirements, components of a lesson plan, cognitive and psychomotor lesson plans, dealing with adult learners, meeting individual learning needs, factors that affect learning, the instructor’s role in safety, new technologies in course delivery, and learning characteristics of different generations. 

Volunteer and career firefighters regularly attend training courses to continually develop and refresh skills making the job of quality instructors even more valuable.

Ten firefighters representing five county fire companies completed the program held March 16 through March 21, 2022.

ALABAMA

  • Ryan M. Thompson

 ALEXANDER

  • Anthony R. Johnston

BERGEN

  • Jared Hicks 

ELBA

  • Jennifer A. Cardinali   
  • Nicholas J. Esten        
  • Michael Heale
  • Michael J. Pfendler
  • Michael J. Schad
  • Nathan J. Tabor          

LE ROY

  • Fay Fuerch  

Visit your local fire department to find out more about volunteer opportunities

April 7, 2022 - 5:33pm
posted by Press Release in fire services, news, Oakfield, Alabama.

Press release:

The Hazardous Materials First Responder Operation Annual Refresher is a 4-hour class, which satisfies the annual refresher training required by OSHA for hazardous materials.  NYS Fire Instructors ae conducted these 4-hour refresher classes in locations around the county, the most recent of which was held in the West Battalion on March 21, 2022.

This course provides participants with a review of the nine classes of materials, the use of the US DOT Emergency Response Guidebook, principles of containment, confinement, and extinguishment within the scope of the duties of a first responder at the Operations Level.

Responders who fulfilled their annual refresher training requirement on March 21 were:

ALABAMA

  • Ronald D. Bauer
  • Richard T. Brunea
  • Patrick J. Buczek
  • Ashley B. Thompson
  • Sidney N. Eick
  • Annette J. Johnson
  • Henry  Mudrzynski
  • Joshua V. Mullen
  • Gary L. Patnode
  • Gary P. Patnode
  • Gary R. Patnode
  • Michelle Patnode
  • Brianna D. Smith
  • Mark Smith
  • Alison L. Thompson
  • Ryan M. Thompson
  • Terry R. Thompson
  • Todd M. Thompson
  • Joseph A. Uhrinek
  • Patrick J. Watson

OAKFIELD

  • Sean T. Downing
  • Daniel C. Luker
  • Jacob D. Matteson
  • Andrew S. Pilc
  • Peter A. Scheiber

Future Hazardous Materials First Responder Operation Annual Refresher will be offered on Monday, April 11, 2022 at the Elba Rec Hall (7143 Oak Orchard Road) and Monday, April 25 at the Pembroke Fire Hall (630 Main Street, Corfu, NY).  Contact the Genesee County Fire Training Center to register.

Visit your local fire department to find out more about volunteer opportunities

 

March 20, 2022 - 6:27pm
posted by Press Release in byron fire, Byron Rescue Squad, fire services, byron, news.

Press release:

Imagine calling 911 for your emergency and nobody came! In times like these, it could be a possibility, but our little Byron Fire Department and Rescue Squad does not want this to happen to you! Last year this small-town squad answered a whopping 276 calls for 9-1-1 in and around the town of Byron. These are the most calls answered from any volunteer ambulance squad in all of Genesee County

The Byron Rescue Squad, started in 1976 has never received any tax dollars, they are funded only by donations. The dedicated volunteers of this small devoted squad are ready and willing to help, but their 14-year-old ambulance is aging and repairs are becoming very costly. The squad is in desperate need of a new one.  The old, outdated ambulance currently in use will last a little longer, but action is needed quickly otherwise the community may be without the critical care vehicle needed to respond to emergencies.

Everyone knows that the cost of nearly everything is rising. Items that were always available are now unpredictable or unavailable. This is the case with our medical supplies as well. Luckily our dedicated volunteers are still more than generous with their time and are happy to arrive at nearly every emergency call in our community ready and willing to assist. Each call requires a driver and at least one EMT. Depending on the emergency, many times additional fire personnel are required to manage the scene, give lifting assistance and provide whatever help needed to safely transport the patient to the hospital. Once at the hospital, ambulance personnel are required to remain with the patient until the hospital’s ER staff releases them and takes on the responsibility of that patient. With COVID and the hospital staff shortages, that time has increased. However, releasing the patient to the hospital is not the end of the rescue squad’s duties! It sometimes takes an hour or more to complete the required documentation.

Every year Byron Rescue sends out to each household a letter requesting donations. Luckily, we receive donations from some of our residents and we are very grateful for those donations. It helps us cover the cost of gas, supplies, some training, and light maintenance of our vehicle and equipment. This past year we had a most generous donation from an average couple (who wishes to remain anonymous). Their donation of $10,000 really jump-started our most needed mission to purchase a new ambulance. Other donations come to us via United Way and a go-fund-me page on the Byron Rescue Squad Facebook page or use this link - https://gofund.me/c0d1d2f7. There are also pledges from some generous individuals made in their last will and testament. A very thoughtful way to say thank you and a final giving gesture to keep Byron a safe place to work and live.

In addition, our department does continue to do fundraising, however, fundraising is very time-consuming, and takes away time volunteers might otherwise have for themselves or helping others. We are planning a chicken bar-b-que this Memorial Day, Monday, May 30th after the Memorial Day parade. This will be held at the Byron Fire Hall around 11:30 a.m. until food is sold out. It will again be a drive-thru event. The cost this year will be $15.00 a half chicken with home-made macaroni salad, coleslaw, and roll. Our firemen will also be outside seeking boot donations. Please plan to come early to enjoy this most delicious meal!! 

The cost of a new ambulance is approximately $200,000. We need to push forward so our dream of a new ambulance can be realized. It is becoming a financial burden to continue patching up our old ambulance; it is draining the funds we need to operate. We will reach a point when we will have to take our current ambulance out of service, but hopefully, we will have a new one purchased before that time comes!

Our Byron Rescue Squad is reaching out to anyone who would like to help us help others by donating to this more than worthy cause. Byron is a great place to live and raise a family, and for the most part our little community has wonderful, caring people, and our community should be very thankful for that! COVID has been a great time to reflect on and be thankful for what we have. We know not everyone has the knowledge and ability to help out when a Medical Emergency happens, and it is sometimes difficult for our volunteers to stop in the midst of their day or night and run to the fire hall, and head out to help those who are probably having the worst day in their life, but that’s what our volunteers do day after day! Everyone who can help should help a little!

If you are a person who likes to help others, consider lending your talents and skills to our dedicated Byron Rescue Squad.  Fall EMT classes are free and they start in September and run through March, usually Tuesdays and Thursday nights in Batavia. There is training here in Byron at the Fire Hall on Monday nights, feel free to stop by and say hello. Please don’t wait for an emergency to do your part, help us get this new ambulance on the road so that we can all be safe!

March 19, 2022 - 5:36pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Bethany, Bethany Fire, news, fire services.

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Photos and article submitted by Glenn Adams.

Earlier this month the Bethany Fire Department met for an annual dinner and awards event. In a year with over 200 service calls, this event highlights the time and sacrifice of volunteers who serve our community.

Jeff Fluker received the “firefighter of the year” award. Being a fire chief is a thankless job. It entails the visible time spent at fire and accident calls and the weekly Monday evening meetings. But there is also time spent planning, going to other meetings, filling out paperwork, and a host of other details in keeping a volunteer fire department going.

Top photo: Jamie Fluker, Jeff Fluker, and Jeff Wolak

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Jeff Wolak received our “fire service award”.Jeff is the assistant chief, and likewise spends a great deal of personal time on fire department business above and beyond the regular meeting and service times. He works with the Chief going to meetings and planning the things that need to be done to serve our community.

Jamie Fluker, Jeff Wolak, and Chief Jeff Fluker

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Jim Duval received the “ EMS award”. Tonight was Jim’s last monthly meeting with the Bethany Vol fire company. Jim has been with us for many years. This past year was one of the toughest we have been challenged with. Losing our EMS captain Mel Davis, Jim took everything over that Mel had previously done. Jim and his family have decided to take another path in life and be closer to his family. We truly appreciate Jim’s time, knowledge and dedication, along with his wife, Jane, for always understanding when he left for a fire call there was not telling what time he would be back.

Jim Duval with Chief Jeff Fluker, Jeff Wolak, and Jamie Fluker

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As always, we are looking for more volunteers. We always need EMTs, interior firefighters, fire police, there is a job for everyone! If anyone is interested in joining there is always training you can attend to become qualified!! Join today!

Jeff Wolak, Chief Fluker, Lyle Boundy, Jamie Fluker  and FD Captain John Szymkowiak.

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The Bethany Volunteer Fire Department.

March 15, 2022 - 3:25pm
posted by Virginia Kropf in Tony Mudrzynski, Alabama Fire, news, fire services.

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Tony Mudrzynski was recently recognized by the Alabama Volunteer Fire Company for achieving an incredible milestone.

At their installation and awards banquet on March 8, Mudrzynski was honored for 70 years of active membership in the fire company.

Another former Alabama resident, Gordon Baubie, has also been a member for 70 years, but now lives in Penn Yan and was unable to attend.

Mudrzynski was born in 1934 on Fisher Road in Oakfield, one of seven children, all of whom were born at home. His family moved to a farm on Lockport Road when he was 2 months old.

When Mudrzynski’s father was diagnosed with lung cancer, he put the farm up for sale.

“I crawled into the haymow and cried for an hour,” he said. “Luckily, the farm didn’t sell.

His father died when Mudrzynski was 16, and at the end of his sophomore year, he quit school to take care of his mother and siblings.

“I loved farming, and that’s what I wanted to do,” he said.

When his mother died at 95, she had never been in a hospital, Mudrzynski said.

Tony and his brother Hank eventually bought the farm, and later two others down the road.

No one in Tony’s family had been a member of the fire company, but he decided it was something he wanted to do to help other people.

“And you never know when you might need a firefighter,” he said.

Tony joined the Alabama Volunteer Fire Company on Feb. 11,  1952, just two days before his 18th birthday. The fire department was just five years old. Hank would join several years later, just two weeks after he turned 18, and has also served various roles, including 13 years as chief.

Tony said he was offered the job as chief, but turned it down.

“Somebody had to be at home to milk the cows,” he said. “I have held every office but chief.”

He has been treasurer for at least 15 years. He continues in that role, goes to Buffalo regularly to get bingo supplies, volunteers every week to get things ready for bingo, counts the money and makes the deposit.

Tony can rattle off every piece of equipment the fire company ever purchased, its model, and what they paid for it. Their first new truck was bought in 1950 at a cost of $10,000. Their last piece, a pumper/tanker bought in 2018, cost $434,000.

Tony recalls the first carnival the fire company had on schoolhouse grounds in Alabama Center.

“We made 150 gallons of chowder and sold it all,” he said. “We had a fund drive at that carnival to build the two-bay building across the road. Hank and I tore the old down. That was around 1954.

In the early days, there were four of five phones in homes in the districts where fire calls would ring into. Then those people would notify the other firefighters.

Tony said he used to respond to nearly every call. His first major fire was Kelsey’s barn on Macomber Road.

Tony was actively involved with the fire company when they acquired the land to build the hall on Judge Road in South Alabama. He said Guy and Ken Simons donated two acres of land and the fire company purchased another 4.2 acres. The hall was built in 1956. Carnivals were held there until the mid-1980s when they served fish fries on Friday night.

When chicken barbecues became popular, Tony looked into having one for the fire company. Their first one was in June 1956, and they have had them every year since, except during the pandemic. Last year was take-out only, he said.

He has also worked on their annual auctions the first Saturday in October, dating back to the first one in 1956, which netted $2,000. The second year it netted $800, and since profits have soared from $6,000 to $8,000.

“We don’t have to canvas the neighborhood anymore for donation,” Tony said. “People just bring us their stuff.”

When the recreation hall was built in 1967, the fire company went full steam with bingo.

Tony married Helen Fry in 1967. She had two children. She died 15 years ago.

Tony’s wife, mother, and sister Josephine were all active members of the Ladies Auxiliary, which sadly has disbanded due to lack of membership.

In 1992, Tony ran for town supervisor and ended up serving for 22 years.

Tony doesn’t respond to active calls anymore, but he is still articulate in his bookwork.

“My balance is not that good anymore, so I don’t belong out there fighting fires,” he said.

But he will still continue his work as treasurer and continue checking out the fire hall a couple of times a week to make sure everything is alright.

“The people I’ve met and the friendships I’ve made through the fire service and being town supervisor can’t be replaced by anything,” Tony said. “I wouldn’t give them up for the world, and I have no regrets about quitting school.”

Photos by Howard Owens

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March 15, 2022 - 3:20pm
posted by Virginia Kropf in Alabama Fire, news, fire services.

For the first time in two years, the Alabama Volunteer Fire Company held an award and installation banquet.

The fire company was not able to have their annual banquet in 2020 or 2021 due to Covid, and decided to scale down the event this year due to continued concerns, said president Wendy Allen-Thompson.

The banquet took place on March 8 on the evening of the regular monthly meeting, with dinner catered by Penna’s, presentation of awards, and installation of officers.

Allen-Thompson was emcee for the evening.

First on the agenda was remembering four members who died during 2020. They are Edwin “Ed” Schoenthal, Leo Snyder, Henry Brunea, and Gary Tripp.

Rick Brunea, deputy chief, presented the first award of the evening – the EMS Award to the entire Alabama Rescue Squad, to honor all members who responded to emergencies during the past years.

The Service Award was presented by vice president Joe Uhrinek to Pat Buczek, a longtime and active member who always steps up in an emergency.

“He is dependable, a capable driver and pump operator,” Uhrinek said. “You can always count on him.”

Two past Firefighters of the Year, Brian and Todd Thompson, chose to name the entire fire company as “Firefighters of the Year” this year.

“They all had to step up more than other years, and there was not one who stepped up above the others,” the Thompsons said. “We are all a team in everything we do.”

Allen-Thompson’s President Award was new this year and recognized a new member of at least one year and not more than five. She chose Joshua Miller as the recipient of the Rising Star Award.

He has attended all his firefighting classes and is up-to-date with his training, Allen-Thompson said.

Allen-Thompson then presented a pin to members for years of service, in addition to a special gift for members with active service.

New members introduced were Brianna Bronson-Smith, Mark Smith, and Jacob Cook.

Three members were recognized for 10 years of service from 2019 to 2020. They are Ryan Thompson, Diane Fry and Mike Bielski.

Recognized for 2021 for one year were Bob Kehlenbeck, Joshua Mullen, and Gary R. Patnode; five years, Joe Uhrinek; 10 years,  Michelle Patnode and Kristopher Thompson; 20 years, Gloria Abrams; 35 years, Jeff Sage; 40 years, Ron Bauer; and 70 years, Gordon Baubie and Tony Mudrzynski.

Baubie, who now lives in Penn Yan, did not attend the banquet, but Rob Crossen offered to take him a fire department blanket as a souvenir for his years of service.

Proclamations were presented from Assemblyman Stephen Hawley to Todd Thompson. Tony Mudrzynski received proclamations from Hawley and Senator Mary Lou Rath.

New officers were installed by Kevin Fisher, deputy supervisor/councilman of the town of Alabama. They are president, Wendy-Allen Thompson; vice president, Joe Uhrinek; treasurer, Tony Mudrzynski; secretary, Leah Thompson; financial secretary, Rob Crossen; Bell jar secretary, Clayton Fry; and board of directors, Terry Thompson, Hank Mudrzynski, Rick Brunea, Gary Patnode Sr. and Alison Thompson.

Fire Chief is Gary Patnode Jr. Appointed officers are deputy fire chief, Rick Brunea; assistant fire chiefs, Pat Buczek and Sid Eick;  captain, Ryan Thompson; lieutenant, Todd Thompson; EMS captain, Terry Thompson; and fire police captain, Hank Mudrzynski.

Photos by Howard Owens.

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Joshua Miller

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Pat Buczek receives service award from Joe Uhrinek.

October 13, 2021 - 9:34am
posted by Press Release in fire services, news, Fire Training Center.

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Press release:

The Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus / Interior Firefighter Officer (SCBA/IFO) course began with an orientation for students and fire department officers on August 24, 2021. 

The SCBA-IFO course is the second segment to becoming a Level I Firefighter. Students of this course acquired knowledge and skills in SCBA use, fire control initial fire attack, search and rescue, survival, tactical ventilation, vehicle fire, and structure fire skills along with company operations.

The course concluded on October 7th with fourteen (14) firefighters successfully completing the 50-hour course.  Genesee County Deputy Coordinator/SFI Gary Patnode and SFI Dan Coffey were lead instructors of the course.

(See photo.  Participants listed below.) 

(Back Row)

Jimmy King –LeRoy Fire District

Matthew Delre—Indian Falls Fire Department

Jennifer Kirkum—East Pembroke Fire District

Jeremie Rassel— South Byron Fire Department

Steven Kinney  - Newstead Fire Department

Jenn Demark - Brockport Fire Department

(Second Row) Christie Offen - Scottsville Fire Department

Matthew Allen— East Pembroke Fire Department

Preston Lampo - Murray Joint Fire District

John McCarthy - Corfu Fire District

(Front Row)

Anthony Ray— Town of Batavia Fire Department

Brie Rogers - Leroy Fire District

Cody Place—Brockport Fire Department

Dwayne Fonda— Town of Batavia Fire Department

 

Visit your local fire department to find out more about volunteer opportunities.

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April 12, 2021 - 5:01pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in byron, video, fire services, Byron Fire Department.
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Laura Platt was just settling into defrosting a freezer on July 7 when the alarm came in: somebody had a serious cut.

The Byron Volunteer Fire Department EMT grabbed her gear, making sure she had a tourniquet and plenty of gauze and was on scene about a minute later.

Somebody who provided first-aid to a man who suffered a large cut in his arm from a chainsaw had done a good job of slowing the bleeding by using a bungee cord as a makeshift tourniquet.

William Hallinan, trauma program manager of UR Medical Center, said some first responders think that would be enough but Platt, through training and experience, knew better. She applied a medical tourniquet. That stopped the bleeding and at a minimum saved the victim from losing his arm and probably saved his life.

For her efforts, Pratt was honored Saturday at the Byron Fire Hall by her department and UR Medical Center.

To become a volunteer in your community, visit ReadyGenesee.com.

March 27, 2021 - 2:00pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire services, byron fire, byron, news.

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Members of the Byron Volunteer Fire Department held a boot drive in the hamlet this afternoon. With normal fundraising activities curtailed by the coronavirus pandemic, the department conducted the boot drive to help raise money for air packs.
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September 12, 2020 - 2:37pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in ABATE, news, fire services, batavia.

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Kelly Boyle delivers a few remarks this afternoon at Town of Batavia Fire's Station 1 to thank the volunteers for their service to the community as part of an ABATE motorcycle ride around the county to recognize firefighters.

Boyle said, "We thank you because you're there for us. You save us no matter who we are, white, black, or brown, you are there to help us when we need it most."

ABATE a national nonprofit organization of motorcycle enthusiasts which has a chapter in Genesee County -- also visited Mercy EMS, City fire, Stafford, and Le Roy today in their "Ride for the Red."

(ABATE is dedicated to preserving motorcyclist rights, promoting safe operating practices and raising motorists' awareness of motorcycles.)

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February 11, 2020 - 10:26pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire services, batavia, DeWitt Recreation Area, video.
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Firefighters from four counties were in Batavia over the weekend to learn from NYS instructors how to handle cold water/ice rescues. On Sunday they put into practice the previous day's classroom training at DeWitt Recreation Area.

UPDATE: Press release from Genesee County Emergency Management:

Eighteen fire personnel endured the weekend’s cold temperature to complete 16-hour advanced level ice rescue training. The Ice/Cold Water Rescue Technician Level course included instruction in self-rescue, shore-based ice rescue techniques and on ice rescue techniques.

Effects of cold water on victims, ice rescue techniques, offshore techniques, and ice rescue equipment were also addressed. Students participated in a significant amount of hands-on ice time for skill practice.

Participants included:

ALABAMA

  • Michael Pfendler
  • Ryan M. Thompson
  • Joseph Uhrinek

TOWN OF BATAVIA

  • Joshua K. Boyle
  • Dwane J. Fonda Jr.
  • Clayton A. Gorski
  • Conor P. Wilkes

CORFU

  • Mitchell D.Bates
  • Jayden D. Eck
  • Tyler G. Lang
  • Matthew P. Lenhard

EAST PEMBROKE

  • David A. Martin

ELBA

  • Nicole M. Boldt
  • Michael J. Schad

HENRIETTA (Monroe County)

  • Patrick R. Kelly

SOUTH BYRON

  • Vito J. Muoio

TWIN DISTRICTS (Erie County)

  • Andrew R. Poreda

WRIGHT’S CORNERS (Niagara County)

  • Zachary W. Wodo

Visit your local fire department to find out more about volunteer opportunities.

February 2, 2020 - 10:48pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Town of Batavia Fire, batavia, news, video, fire services.

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Town of Batavia Fire Department held its annual awards banquet and installation of officers at Terry Hills on Saturday night. 

Bryan Moscicki was named Firefighter of the Year (top photo).

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Tim Yaeger, a past chief and current board member, received the President's Award.

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Jim Bouton responded to the most calls in 2019: 284.

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Paul Barrett, a past chief, received his 35-year pin.

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Joseph DeMarco, cofounder of Wings Flights of Hope, was on hand to accept a $1,000 donation from the department.

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The 2020 Line Officers: Daniel Coffey, chief; James Bouton, deputy chief; Thomas Garlock, first assistant chief; Christopher Strathearn, second assistant chief; Conor Wilkes, captain; Russell Borden, lieutenant; Paul Barrett, safety officer.

Corporate Officers for 2020: Scott Garlock, president; Ian Sanfratello, vice president; Steve Coburn, secretary; Donal Koziol, treasurer; and directors -- Timothy Yaeger, Robert Tripp, Paul Barrett, Gary Giegelman and Daniel Jacques.

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Second video, Town of Batavia fire's 2019 in Review, produced by Clayton Gorski.

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