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


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


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:


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


  • David R. Stratton


  • James C. Hale
  • Matthew P. Lenhard


  • Nicole M. Boldt          
  • Nathan J. Tabor          


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


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


  • Jeffery L. Freeman


  • Vitorrio J. Muoio
  • Jeremie J. Rassel


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


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.



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.


  • Ryan M. Thompson


  • Anthony R. Johnston


  • Jared Hicks 


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


  • 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:


  • 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


  • 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.


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


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


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


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.


The Bethany Volunteer Fire Department.

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


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




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.


Joshua Miller


Pat Buczek receives service award from Joe Uhrinek.

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


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.



April 12, 2021 - 5:01pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in byron, video, fire services, Byron Fire Department.
Video Sponsor

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.


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.


September 12, 2020 - 2:37pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in ABATE, news, fire services, batavia.


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.)






February 11, 2020 - 10:26pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire services, batavia, DeWitt Recreation Area, video.
Video Sponsor

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:


  • Michael Pfendler
  • Ryan M. Thompson
  • Joseph Uhrinek


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


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


  • David A. Martin


  • Nicole M. Boldt
  • Michael J. Schad

HENRIETTA (Monroe County)

  • Patrick R. Kelly


  • Vito J. Muoio


  • 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.


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).


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


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


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


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


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.




Video Sponsor


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

Communities survive and thrive on local news.  Support local news.  Please sign up today. Click the button below.

January 19, 2020 - 10:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in corfu, Corfu Fire Department, news, fire services.


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


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

Photos and information submitted by Greg Lang.

August 19, 2019 - 10:35pm


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.

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