New York News

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Commission sides with ex-firefighter in Harrison discrimination, retaliation probe

The Harrison Fire Department should pay $90,000 to settle a complaint from a former volunteer who said she was sexually discriminated against, the federal agency that enforces civil rights laws determined. But a town attorney said Harrison will still have its day in court. The Equal Opportunity Employment Commission determined there was reasonable cause to believe the department discriminated against Angela Bommarito and retaliated against her for filing internal complaints about Henry Mohr, a former chief with whom she had an affair. Rose Weber, Bommarito’s attorney, said she and her client were “delighted but not in any way surprised” about the decision. “The EEOC’s determination is a complete victory for my client and a humiliating expose of the dishonesty and corruption that permeate Harrison,” she said.
NY Journal News (

Buffalo: Firetruck headed to fire in vacant Breckenridge house collides with car

Firefighters battled a blaze at a vacant house on Breckenridge Street Wednesday morning, fire officials said. The 2-and-a-half story house was located at 314 Breckenridge, between Grant Street and Parkdale Avenue. The fire, reported just after 6 a.m., caused $100,000 in damage to the building. The cause of the fire was under investigation. A fire truck on its way to the scene was involved in an accident with a car at the intersection of Michigan Avenue and East Ferry Street. No firefighters were hurt but radio transmissions by emergency responders indicated one person in the car was transported to a hospital for treatment of minor injuries.
Buffalo News

New Hope Fire Department audited for insufficient money tracking procedures

The New Hope Fire Department was audited by the New York state Comptroller's office for inadequate board oversight of financial activities for the audit period of Jan. 1, 2016 to Nov. 1, 2017. The key findings of the audit, released on Tuesday, indicated that the board of directors of the fire department did not adequately oversee or establish internal controls over transaction authorization and record keeping, the treasurer did not complete bank reconciliations or adequately document disbursements, and the board did not perform an annual audit of the treasurer's records. The New Hope Fire Department is affiliated with the Three Towns Fire District in Cayuga County, the report stated, which also includes the towns of Niles and Sempronius. Sempronius also received an audit this year for lack of financial oversight during an audit period of January 2016 to August 2017.
Auburn Citizen

Is 60 The Watertown Fire Department’s Magic Number?

City Manager Sharon Addison says 60 firefighters is enough for the Watertown Fire Department to safely, efficiently and effectively get the job done. She says last August, she, Fire Chief Dale Herman, and Deputy Chief Russell Randall all agreed that 60 firefighters was enough to run the department. "They basically admitted that it could be done with 60," she said. But both Herman and Randall say that's a misrepresentation and they don't recall that number being agreed to. Right now the fire department has 64 firefighters, but 4 are on long-term leave, meaning they're at 60, which fire officials say is leading to mounting overtime costs. "We are working at 60 right now and you can see where the overtime numbers are right now, they're through the roof," said fire union president Dan Daugherty.

House Fire in the City of Tonawanda sends two to the hospital

Just after 5:00 p.m. Monday evening, fire crews were called to 16 Summit Street in the City of Tonawanda for a possible structure fire. One man, and one younger female were taken to Oishei Children's Hospital of Buffalo with injuries related to smoke inhalation. Upon arrival, fire officials were searching for a possible third occupant, but it turned out that person wasn't inside the home. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

New questions emerge about firefighter who was refused 9/11 aid while suffering from severe PTSD

New questions emerged Monday about the FDNY’s denial of 9/11-related disability benefits to a retired firefighter who labored at Ground Zero and then suffered severe psychiatric illness before dying in a mental hospital. Joe Battista spent months at the World Trade Center site after the 9/11 attacks and developed serious health issues, and severe depression and post-traumatic stress disorder that led to repeated hospitalizations. But the FDNY repeatedly denied him World Trade Center disability benefits. He choked to death on food at a Florida mental hospital on April 5. He was 63. An FDNY official suggested in Monday’s exclusive Daily News report that the department repeatedly denied the benefits because his condition had not been properly linked to 9/11.
New York Daily News

Update: Watertown city lawmakers move forward with applying for firefighter grant

City Council members agreed to apply for a federal grant that could lead to the city hiring four more firefighters, despite strong opposition from Mayor Joseph M. Butler Jr. By a 3-1 vote, council members gave Fire Chief Dale C. Herman permission to apply for the funding to hire four firefighters through the Staffing for an Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grant. Councilman Mark C. Walczyk remains away on military service and was absent from the meeting. The grant would pay 75 percent of the salaries and benefits for the additional four firefighters for the first two years of the three-year grant and 35 percent during the third year. The application is due April 27. In lobbying for the grant, the fire chief said the city would save about $939,315 in overtime costs. During the current fiscal year, overtime expenses reached about $549,000 for the 68-member department.
Watertown Daily Times

Firefighter Good Samaritan and patient suffer fatal heart attacks in Wurtsboro

An active honorary member who was a past firefighter in the Wurtsboro Fire Department suffered cardiac arrest as he was performing CPR on a neighbor, who also suffered an apparent heart attack. Both the firefighter and the patient later died. The Good Samaritan in the Saturday evening event was identified by Wurtsboro Fire Chief Richard Dunn as 62-year-old Robert Cordani. Dunn said Cordani responded to his neighbor’s home in Wurtsboro Hill for a call of cardiac arrest and performed CPR until paramedics and State Police arrived. During the procedure, Cordani also went into cardiac arrest, the chief said. Both men were taken to Orange Regional Medical Center in the Town of Wallkill, where Dunn said Cordani was pronounced dead. The neighbor also died, said Sullivan County Fire Coordinator John Hauschild.
Mid-Hudson News

Recognizing autism is focus of Dutchess County first responder training

Dutchess County Marc Molinaro got a Facebook message recently from the mother of a child with autism, letting him know how pleased she was with the way first responders and law-enforcement officials handled a situation involving her son. Although Molinaro said he doesn’t know if those responders had participated in the county’s autism training program in 2017, he said such training is an integral part of his effort to change the way individuals, businesses, organizations and communities relate to people with special needs. The county will host a second training session from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday at the Department of Emergency Response, 392 Creek Road, Poughkeepsie.
Kingston Daily Freeman

Outgoing fire chief reflects on the privilege of service in Riverhead

As of Tuesday night, Riverhead Fire Chief Kevin Brooks will get to do something he hasn’t been able to do in eight years: roll over in bed when a call comes in for a chiefs’ investigation. The fire chiefs in Riverhead answer dozens of alarms like that every year — every time a smoke detector or CO2 alarm or some other automatic alarm sounds. Over his eight years in the chiefs’ cycle, Brooks has answered hundreds. And that’s on top of the more than a thousand other alarms answered by RFD rank and file firefighters every year. The veteran firefighter becomes “ex-chief” Brooks tomorrow night, when First Assistant Chief Peter Jackman will be sworn in as chief of the department at the Riverhead Fire District Commissioners’ meeting. Brooks, 60, a 21-year member of the Riverhead Fire Department, put in his time as second lieutenant, first lieutenant and captain of his company — Reliable Hose — prior to his election as third assistant chief in 2010.
Riverhead Local

Glen Cove Fire Department seeks volunteers amid membership decline

“Any time there’s a disaster, storms, anything,” said Bill Basdavanos, former chief of the Glen Cove Fire Department, “the city calls us, and we open up our doors to the community.” Basdavanos recalled that during Hurricane Sandy, locals needed secure, dry shelter, and crowded the halls of the firehouse. “When you need us,” he said, “we’re there.” On April 22, the department will open its doors for another reason: to host a recruitment event as part of the statewide RecruitNY, which aims to inspire people to get involved with their local volunteer emergency-service agencies. The Fire Explorers — a group for boys and girls ages 14 to 19, run by the department — will also be there, to offer information and take membership applications.

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