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
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
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.
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
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.
“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.