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Hawley sponsors legislation for financial support of firefighters, EMS workers

By Billie Owens

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley recently signed on with the Assembly Republican Conference to sponsor legislation that would divert state and federal funds received for COVID-19 relief to frontline firefighters and EMS workers who have been on the clock since the lockdown in New York started.

With these organizations relying heavily on donations and fundraisers to support their services, and with the lockdown draining them of their resources, Hawley wants to ensure these workers are protected and ensure their success.

“During these tough times, with a budget that is struggling to keep up, we need to be provide state and federal funding to those risking their health and safety on the front lines,” Hawley said. “There is just about $90 million that’s been generated from wireless surcharges that is deposited into the state’s General Fund and not used for emergency response purposes; my recommendation is to start there.

“Despite these trying times, it’s important that we keep in sight the health and safety issues that our frontline workers are facing. They need this funding to offset the costs they can’t make back otherwise during this pandemic. The legislation proposed addresses the need for state funding as a result of COVID-19.” 

To further support these frontline workers, Hawley is urging Speaker Heastie and the Chair of Assembly Racing and Waging Committee, Assemblyman Pretlow, to allow a full vote on his Assembly Bill A2250, which would legalize the selling of raffle tickets online for nonprofit organizations who fundraise, such as local firehouses, volunteer organizations, service clubs, or EMS operations.

Basic Exterior Firefighters Operations training completed by 14 GC students

By Billie Owens

Press release:

The spring Basic Exterior Firefighter Operations (BEFO) program was held at the Genesee County Fire Training Center. The 79-hour program began in March and concluded on May 15. Fourteen students completed the 79-hour program from eight county departments. 

The BEFO program is an entry level program for the volunteer fire service designed to prepare students to respond to emergencies as exterior firefighters. Students are instructed in fire extinguishers, building construction, forcible entry, ladder deployment, incident command, drafting operations and hazardous materials operations level. In addition, students are trained in ropes and knots, and first aid/CPR. 

Participants included: 


  • Joseph A. Uhrinek


  • William Allen


  • Cyle J. Felski


  • Matthew N Allen 
  • Sheri Allen 
  • Jenniffer J. Groff
  • Erin M. Martin 
  • Noah A. Martin 
  • Alyssa M. Nye


  • Brandon M. Burgess


  • James D.King


  • Matthew Doran


  • Shane J. Freeman 


  • Julia Bobo

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

Nineteen GC firefighters completed vehicle rescue training in June

By Billie Owens

Press release:

Nineteen firefighters from Genesee County completed an 18-hour Vehicle Rescue: Operations Level training program held over five nights in June; concluding on June 27.

Operations level requires the rescuer to enter the hot zone and perform the rescue in normal-type passenger vehicles.

Student who successful completed the program are able: to demonstrate the ability to perform a situational assessment of the accident scene; to determine what support services, if any, are needed and to determine the effective application of tools, equipment and personnel; recognize existing and/or potential hazards and take appropriate steps to control the same; gain access to the entrapped patient(s); provide for patient assessment and any necessary emergency medical care; assess and perform disentanglement of the patients so as to facilitate patient care, patient packaging and extrication; provide for patient packaging and removal; and assess for and perform patient extrication from the damaged vehicle.  

Participants included:


  • Ryan M. Thompson


  • Bryan A. Moscicki
  • Ian A. Sanfratello
  • Tyler J. Stewart


  • Jacob Stiles


  • Joe T. Marino


  • Matthew N. Allen 
  • Samantha M. Cavalieri


  • Michael J. Pfendler


  • Jared Chick
  • James D. King 
  • Stephany McVicker


  • Nichole Boldt
  • Chase Cone
  • Andrew L. Konieczny
  • Vito Muoio


  • Mark Dougherty 
  • Matt Hendershott
  • Ashley Swartzenberg

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

Training in fire investigation for line officers completed by 32 Genesee County residents

By Billie Owens

Press release:

The Fire Investigation for the Line Officer course is a six-hour, NYS Office of Fire Prevention and Control program, which was conducted at the Genesee County Fire Training Center earlier this year.

Forty-three volunteer firefighters completed this program; of those, 32 reside in Genesee County

The program addressed the purpose of fire investigations, the responsibilities of the fire chief, and responsibilities of line officers.

The process used to determine the cause and origin of fires, the importance of scene and evidence preservation, and fire behavior were also discussed.  

The Genesee County residents completing the course were:


  • Richard Brunea


  • James Call
  • Greg Ireland
  • Stefano Napolitano
  • Scott T. Maloy 


  • Jared Hicks


  • Gregory W. Johnson
  • Peggy J. Johnson
  • Richard J. Klunder III
  • Christopher M. Page
  • Corrie A. Rombaut
  • Kyle L. Rombaut


  • Victor L. Flanagan 
  • Zachary Johnson 
  • Robert A. Mruczek


  • Joe T. Marino
  • David W. McGreevy 
  • Theresa A. Tesch


  • Andrew D. Martin 
  • Thomas E. Dix


  • Michael Heale
  • Nicholas Guarino 
  • Christopher P. Lane
  • Michael J. Pfendler
  • Michael Schad Jr. 
  • George M. Underhill


  • Thomas E. Feeley


  • Kelly Kraft
  • Bryen Murrock
  • Tyler Schiske
  • Jason True    


  • Timothy Eckdahl

Total of 148 firefighters brushed up on haz-mat responder skills

By Billie Owens

Press release:

Several offerings of the Hazardous Materials First Responder Operations Refresher course were given across Genesee County over the past few months, providing first responders the opportunity to complete the OSHA required annual refresher.

A total of 148 fire personnel from 11 county fire departments in the area reviewed the competencies for First Responder Awareness and Operations Level Responders.

The competencies included: the nine classes of materials; the use of the U.S. Department of Transportation Emergency Response Guidebook; and principles of containment, confinement and extinguishment within the scope of the duties of a first responder at the Operations Level. 

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

Local police and fire hockey team enjoyed fast-paced tourney in Buffalo last weekend

By Billie Owens

Submitted photos and press release:

The Batavia/Genesee Police and Fire Hockey Team participated in the third annual 2018 Police and Fire Ice Hockey Tournament in Buffalo this past weekend.

Twenty teams participated in the tourney, coming to Buffalo from as far south as South Carolina, and as far north as London, Ontario, Canada.

It was another enjoyable, face-paced weekend for our local boys, who played against teams from Canada, Erie County, and Homeland Security.

All our thanks to those who came out and cheered us on! The team was once again sponsored this year by Ken’s Charcoal Pits & BBQ, with many thanks going to Ken Mistler.

Local volunteer firefighters train and hone their skills to save lives and help in dangerous situations

By Billie Owens

Press release:

Fifteen area firefighers successfully completed the Basic Exterior Firefighter Operations (BEFO) training program held at the Genesee County Fire Training Center. Also, an eight-hour Trench Rescue Awareness course was recently conducted at the Genesee County Fire Training Center. Twenty-two members of the County’s volunteer fire service completed this program on Nov. 9.


BEFO is an entry-level program requiring 79 hours of classroom instruction and skill development. This course is designed to prepare students to respond to emergencies as exterior firefighters. BEFO prepares new firefighters to operate under direct supervision in the exterior or IDLH (immediately dangerous to life or health) areas of the fire scene.

Students participated in training covering: firefighter personal protective equipment (PPE); self-contained breathing apparatus inspection and cylinder changing; fire department communications; building construction and fire behavior; modern fire control research; portable fire extinguishers; rope and knot tying; ground ladders; forcible entry; tactical ventilation theory; water supply; hose and fire streams; loss control; orientation to fire origin and cause determination; fire prevention and life safety initiatives; confined space awareness; overview of first aid and buddy care; and Hazardous Materials First Responder Operations. 

Genesee County BEFO training participants included: 

Alexander Fire Department

  • Matthew F. Grimes                    
  • Adam F. Meier                 
  • Douglas G. Mess                 
  • Heidi L. Richmond                    

Bethany Volunteer Fire Department

  • Timothy J. McCabe                    

Darien Center Chemical Fire Company

  • Megan R. Brown                    

East Pembroke Fire Department

  • Lloyd J. Casselbury

Pavilion Fire Department

  • Amanda A. Goodwin                    
  • Sean P. Vogt Jr.                    
  • Timothy R. Zipfel Jr.                     

South Byron Fire Department

  • Aaron N. Belluscio                 
  • Theresa E. Hammer                 
  • Andew L. Konieczny                 
  • Vitorrio J. Muoio                    

Stafford Volunteer Fire Department

  • Samantha S. Call                  


Problems that can and do occur in trench rescue incidents were discussed. Safety techniques, shoring techniques, proper procedures, team operations and hazard assessment were addressed.

Trench Rescue Awareness participants included:

Town of Batavia Fire Department

  • Joshua K. Boyle
  • Clayton A. Gorski                 

Bethany Volunteer Fire Department

  • Christopher M. Page
  • Kyle L. Rombaut

Corfu Rescue Hook & Ladder Co.

  • Mitchell D. Bates
  • Gregory S. Lang
  • Matthew P. Lenhard
  • Steven D. Rodland
  • Jeffrey D. Luker

Darien Center Chemical Fire Company inc.

  • Joe T. Marino
  • David W. McGreevy
  • Mark R. Starczewski Sr.
  • Paul C. Redden

Elba Fire Department

  • Nickolas J. Esten
  • John D. Mudrzynski
  • Jason R. Pallister
  • Michael J. Schad Jr.
  • George M. Underhill
  • Caitlin E. Zipfel                    

Pembroke Fire District

  • James Reinhardt
  • Tera L. Reinhardt

Stafford Volunteer Fire Department

  • Timothy E. Eckdahl

Photos: Tribute to First Responders 2015

By Howard B. Owens

This slide show is a collection of some of the photos from 2015 of the fires, accidents, ceremonies and other events involving our first responders in 2015.

It was a year in which law enforcement responded to at least three incidents where officers' calm professionalism, despite the looming risk to their own safety, avoided rash action and prevented the situation from getting worse.

This year, we tragically lost a volunteer in the line of duty, and another had his life threatened, plus whether volunteers or paid personnel, these professionals have sacrificed time away from family, businesses and jobs to respond to both the routine and the difficult calls and they put in countless hours training.

We thank our first responders for keeping us safe and responding when we need them.

Photos from 2014: A tribute to the firefighters who serve Genesee County

By Howard B. Owens

This is the third year we've created a slide show of photos from 2014 of our firefighters as a way to honor those who serve our community in an often difficult, sometimes dangerous job, and many times an emotionally draining one, too. We thank them for their service to our community.

There are not as many opportunities to get photos of police officers on the job, but we also want to extend a thank you to the members of our local law enforcement community for all they do to protect and serve.

To find out how to become a volunteer firefighter, visit

Remembering fallen firefighters

By Julia Ferrini

Firefighters who have fallen in the line of duty were honored Saturday at Pembroke Town Park as part of the four-day Cost of Freedom event held in Pembroke. Genesee County Fire Coordinator Timothy Yaeger applauded those men and women of courage who give unselfishly in aid of others and remembered those who have lost their lives.

Good, reliable firefighting equipment is of course essential. And there are times when that equipment has just as much of a story to tell as those who fight the fires. In this case, it is South Byron’s Rescue 88 vehicle.

“Rescue 88 was just about brand new with the Floral Park Fire Department in Long Island,” Scott Blossom said. “This vehicle was there, on that day, at ground zero.”

The Long Island Fire Department was retiring this truck out of service when South Byron Fire Department was looking to add an ambulance to its inventory.

“This truck was donated. All we had to do was go pick it up,” the Assistant Chief of South Byron Fire Department said. 

Not only did this truck serve New York City on Sept. 11, 2001, this vehicle was also used to bring a life into the world.

“Floral Park (Fire Department) has this neat tradition. They place a stork sticker, with a pink or blue blanket, on their rescue vehicle if a child was born in the ambulance,” Blossom said. “I often wonder how long after 9/11 that baby girl was born in this vehicle.

“Oftentimes, ambulances are on a scene because someone has left this world,” Blossom continued. “I thought it was neat that this one was also used to bring someone into this world.”

In addition to the stork emblem, the ambulance also has an insignia of the badge of one of the Floral Park paramedics who lost his life Sept. 11.

“We’ve had this ambulance for about four or five years now. She’s finally coming up on 50,000 miles,” Blossom said. “She’s a special girl for us.”

Bone marrow drive for Pavilion firefighter to be held Tuesday

By Daniel Crofts

Bill Kegler, left, spent 22 years in the military and has been fighting fires since he was 18. Now he is fighting a different enemy, and hoping his winning hand gets dealt next week.

Kegler is a Pavilion resident and six-year member of the Community Fire Company; he is pictured above with Vice President Nick Wright. He is battling myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), a disease that causes poorly formed or dysfunctional blood cells.

"I found out that there was something going on with my blood through the (Batavia) VA back in 2011," Kegler said. "They told me to see a hematologist (blood doctor), who diagnosed what I had through a bone marrow biopsy."

He has since been receiving treatment -- first from the Batavia hematologist who diagnosed him, and now at the Wilmot Cancer Center at Rochester's Strong Memorial Hospital. In addition to chemotherapy, his treatment includes experimental drugs that are part of a national clinical test.

"I get chemo treatments every month," Kegler said. "It lasts for seven days straight, and then I'm off for 21 days. Then it starts all over, and that will go on forever until they find a bone marrow match."

To that end, at the instigation of Secretary Kathy Wright, the Community Fire Company is hosting a bone marrow drive for Kegler from 5 until 9 p.m. on Tuesday. It will be at the Pavilion Fire Department Hall at 11302 Lake St. in Pavilion.

Anyone age 18 to 44 and in good health is encouraged to participate. There is no cost, and it only requires a few moments of people's time and a mouth swab.

"I would be very grateful to anyone who comes out," Kegler said.

Until then, he stays in high spirits.

"I think the biggest thing is all the support and prayers I'm getting from everybody I know," he said.  "And people I haven't even met are coming up to me and saying they have me on their prayer lists. My own spirituality is also going a long way in keeping me on an even keel."

Originally from Alden, Kegler has resided in Genesee County for more than 40 years. He and his wife raised their six children in Batavia, sending their two oldest to Notre Dame High School and the younger children to the Batavia City School District. Kegler has also lived in Oakfield and served as a member of the Oakfield Fire Department.

For more information, call Nick Wright at 813-1288.

Well respected firefighter and community leader passes

By Howard B. Owens

Genesee County's firefighting community lost one of its highly regarded members early Wednesday when William Dix passed away while in his office at Jay E. Potter Lumber on Maple Avenue in Corfu.

Dix, a deputy fire coordinator with Genesee County Emergency Services for 22 years, was in his fifties.

In a statement, Emergency Management Coordinator Tim Yaeger said, "DFC Bill Dix will be deeply missed by his family and his fire service family, his dedication to his business and the fire service was never ending. Bill was always there when you needed anything, including a friendly smile and a handshake."

Dix was found dead early Wednesday morning after family members became concerned that he hadn't returned home from the office. His death is not considered suspicious. The cause of death is pending an examination by the Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Besides his duties as a deputy fire coordinator,  Dix was also the past chief of the East Pembroke Fire Department and most recently a commissioner with the East Pembroke Fire District. The East Pembroke resident logged more than 40 years in the fire service.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

City firefighters get new gear and training to help escape from burning buildings

By Howard B. Owens

On Jan. 23, 2005, six New York City firefighters became trapped on the fourth floor of a burning building. All six jumped from windows, and two firefighters died after the 50-foot fall.

Soon after, FDNY began testing procedures and systems to allow firefighters to more safely exit a building if fire has blocked all doorway exits.

After a couple of years of research, FDNY came up with specification for a rappel system that is lightweight so interior firefighters can carry it as part of their regular gear. 

A Utah-based company then developed a device based on those specifications.

It's now state law that all interior firefighters be equipped with this system, or one like it, and the City of Batavia has become one of the first fire departments in the state, outside of New York City, to purchase and train all of its firefighters on the system, called EXO.

"New York has been using it three or four years, so it's a proven system," said Capt. Craig Williams.

The cost to outfit 36 firefighters and have local crew members trained to use it and train other firefighters was $25,000.

The training isn't as easy as it looks, the firefighters say. They are required to climb out of a simulated second-story window nine times -- three times with no other gear, three times with their breathing apparatus and three times with their face shields blacked out so they can't see -- just as it would likely be in a real fire.

The training is obviously physically demanding. Today, firefighters who completed the procedure were clearly winded once they were on the ground and had their masks off.

Of the local volunteer fire departments, Williams said only Bergen is making the purchase and beginning the training at this time.

Photos: Top, Capt. Jeff Day comes out of a simulated upper-story window at the city's fire headquarters. Inset is Day right after pulling off his mask after reaching the ground. Bottom, is firefighter Dave Adams.

Local firefighters mourn the loss of two comrades in Buffalo

By Howard B. Owens

Flags at fire departments throughout Genesee County are flying at half staff today to honor two fallen comrades in Buffalo early Monday.

Buffalo's Lt. Charles W. "Chip" McCarthy Jr. and Firefighter Jonathan S. Croom died in a fire at a deli on Genesee Street, by apparently falling through the floor of the burning building while looking for a possible victim trapped inside.

McCarthy, a 22-year veteran of the department who comes from a family of Buffalo firefighters, is survived by his wife, Terry, three children and a 6-month-old grandchild. Croom, a 10-year veteran, leaves a 9-month-old child and his fiancee; fire officials said he lost a young child a few years ago.

The men and women who worked with McCarthy and Croom remember them as dedicated, professional firefighters.

A sad day for Buffalo

By bud prevost

While this is a sight that is for Batavia and our community, I would think this sad event would know no boundaries. The loss of two professional firefighters in Buffalo this morning stopped me in my tracks. These upstanding and outstanding citizens went to work, like any other day, and they won't be going home to their families at the end of their shift.

As the son, nephew, grandson and great grandson of paid firemen from the city of Rochester, I know the pride these folks put into what they do. And to do the job so unselfishly, with little regard for themselves, makes a day like today so tragic. Please take a moment to pray for the families of these fallen heroes, then give your kids a hug. And thank God that we have such wonderful individuals in our world willing to do the tough jobs. God bless the Buffalo FD, and all firefighters everywhere.

City firefighters got their boots filled for MDA

By Howard B. Owens

Lori Ann Santini took these pictures today. She reports that it appears today's "Fill the Boot" campaign put on by the firefighters union was successful. The union raised money today for MDA.

Above is firefighter Jeff Stevens. 

Union president Greg Ireland and Captain Jay Steinbrenner.

Firefighter Tim Stengal.

UPDATE: Greg Ireland reports the fundraiser brought in $4,500.

"It's a bit shy of last year's total but it will still go a long way to help the kids. Local 896 wants to send a big THANK YOU to everyone who stopped and donated to this great cause."

Kids get close up look at firefighting tools

By Billie Owens

Bob Fix, a reader of this site as well as a firefighter and paramedic wrote the following for The Batavian about a summer program for children:

Batavia’s Youth Bureau got a first hand look recently at the tools the City of Batavia Firefighters, IAFF Local 896, use at emergencies. Approximately 20 children ranging in age from 6 to 14, that are participating in the City’s summer youth program, attended a tour given by Firefighter/EMT Anne Kleinbach  and Firefighter/Paramedic Robert Fix.

The kids were reminded that family fire drills are important to practice. Each family should have an exit plan with a safe meeting place. This allows the first arriving firefighters to quickly check with the family to make sure all occupants are accounted for.

Firefighter Kleinbach demonstrated what a fully turned out firefighter will look like when doing a search of a building and how a TIC or Thermal Imaging Camera is used. She told the kids not to be afraid of the fireman and to stay low to the ground while exiting the building.

The 45-minute tour also included a show-and-tell of the equipment on Engine 12 and Truck 15. It was concluded by firefighter Fix assisting each child in using a fire hose to spray water on the 80-degree day.

Volunteer firefighters trained in building evacuation at county facility

By Howard B. Owens

Contrary to Councilwoman Rose Mary Christian's adamant and repeated point Monday night that volunteer firefighters aren't trained or qualified to evacuate buildings, especially such large structures as 400 Towers, the VA and UMMC, volunteers get extensive evacuation training according to Genesee County Emergency Management Coordinator Tim Yaeger.

Yaeger gave me a tour of the building last night where it's done (pictured above). We walked around inside and out. He showed me how interior rooms are configured and used, and the room where temperatures can reach as high as 900 degrees while trainees learn how to rescue people.

"The volunteer training is the exact same training as the career firefighters get," Yaeger said. "The main difference is that the volunteer's training might be spread over months if not a year where the career firefighter goes through an academy and is trained in three months."

In every jurisdiction, Yaeger said, whether covered by a career department or a volunteer department, all firefighters receive specialized training and pre-planned rescue schemes are developed on the exact large structures in their jurisdictions.

In other words, there's no reason a volunteer couldn't be just as qualified as a career firefighter to evacuate 400 Towers in an emergency.

"400 Towers is in my ward, and we have hospitals in the other wards," Christian said during Monday's council meeting. "When you can prove to me that they have the training, then I can agree with it. Until then, I can't."

Asked to comment this afternoon, Christian said he gets her information from her two nephews, who are volunteer firefighters, and Batavia Fire Chief Ralph Hyde. She said her nephews told her they've never been trained to evacuate a building.

"I'd like them to prove it to me (that volunteers get the same training) and give me the facts," Christian said. "If you can't believe in our own fire chief, who can you believe?"

She invited Yaeger to call her and explain the training to her, or she will take to him the next time she sees him at a county meeting.

Steve Hawley Passes 15 Bills for Western New York

By Steve Hawley




As the regularly scheduled legislative session drew to a close, Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R, I, C – Batavia) was pleased to have been able to have over a dozen pieces of his legislation passed, despite a banner year for Albany’s notorious dysfunction.


“Despite all the chaos, changes in leadership and gridlock, I was able to get some common-sense and important pieces of legislation passed that will greatly help the communities in Western New York, as well as the rest of the state,” said Hawley.


Of the 15 pieces of legislation that Hawley sponsored, which passed the Assembly, five bills specifically helped local communities in Western New York.  These bills include measures to help town court proceedings in the towns of Elba, Oakfield and Batavia, and the city of Batavia.  These four municipalities are leading the way in the state for finding an innovative solution, to their individual need for new and upgraded court facilities, will help local governments save taxpayer dollars by sharing services and building a joint court facility.


Perhaps Hawley’s largest statewide initiatives that passed were measures to help firefighters.  Assembly Bill 2733-A establishes the volunteer firefighter and volunteer emergency services recruitment and retention fund.  Assembly Bill 6051-A allows firefighters to operate a fire truck without possessing a commercial driver’s license, saving fire districts endless amounts of time, which can be better spent training, as well as thousands of dollars annually.  This measure was passed by both houses and signed into law.


            Hawley’s passed legislation also includes a number of initiatives to help those with disabilities.  Assembly Bill 7848 requires access aisles of handicapped parking spaces to be marked with a sign and stripes; and Assembly Bill 7849 requires that handicapped parking spaces be at least 8 feet wide.


            The Assemblyman also played an instrumental role in leading the fight against some of the more dangerous bills that came to the floor, such as the “Farm Death Bill.”  Hawley stated, “The fight against this harmful bill, brought together farmers, farm workers, and agribusinesses, and bipartisan legislators from across the state.  This opposition was an example of Albany at its finest.  Unfortunately, its passage in the Assembly highlighted the standard dysfunction in the State Capitol, but I am hopeful that our collective voices will help prevent this bill from coming to fruition in the Senate.”


            Hawley also lead the charge for other important measures, such as property tax relief.  During and after budget negotiations the Assemblyman stood on the Assembly floor to demand relief for overburdened homeowners and businesses, specifically calling on both houses and the Governor to reinstate the STAR Rebate Check and restore cuts made to the traditional STAR programs.  Hawley also called on the Governor to make smart usage of the $1 billion in federal stimulus dollars which have not yet been appropriated.  He commented, “We need to begin looking at ways to make it easier for residents and businesses to survive.  Maintaining jobs, and attracting new ones, are necessary to keep our economy moving.”



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