What are the minimum manning levels for safely initiating fire suppression activities?

In our department we have career 3 firefighters and an officer, and an average of 2 to 3 volunteers per call. Is that enought, or should we hire additional personnel and institue an automatic mutual aid policy?

Some background info.

What would you recommend as the mimimum manning levels for a fire department for a village of our size?


http://www.larchmontfire.org/

The Larchmont Fire Department was incorporated in 1891. The department has served the residents of Larchmont for well over 100 years. The fire department is comprised of both career and volunteer firefighters. The present Chief of Department is Richard Heine. There is one firehouse located in the municipal building at 120 Larchmont Avenue. We serve a community of approximately 6,700 residents in an area that is about one square mile. Our apparatus consists of two engines, one tower ladder, a rescue and two chiefs vehicles. A new engine has been ordered to replace an engine that is out of service, and is due within the coming year. In 2006 we answered 920 calls for assistance including car accidents, emergency medical calls, water conditions, lockouts and working structure fires.

http://larchmontgazette.com/2007/art...llawsuit2.html

http://larchmontgazette.com/2007/art...emo_of_law.pdf


http://larchmontgazette.com/2006/pol...s.html#doherty


Larchmont Professional Firefighters Endorse Liz Feld for Mayor
The Larchmont Professional Firefighters have been serving the Village of Larchmont for over 100 years. We are the firefighters who are at every call; we bring the fire apparatus to the scene, and initiate the response to any emergency, as well as being the designated first responders to all emergency medical calls.

On January 16, 2006 the Larchmont Professional Firefighters unanimously voted to endorse Liz Feld for mayor. This endorsement didn't come lightly; it came as a response to a 15-year political influence that has negatively affected the Village of Larchmont Fire Department and the morale of its employees.

Historically the Larchmont Professional Firefighters do not get involved in local elections. However, due to the present political climate, we feel compelled to make the following statement: For the past four years, Liz Feld has served the Village of Larchmont as trustee and deputy mayor with integrity, dedication and the courage of her convictions. Whether it's our annual budget discussions, pushing to renovate and upgrade our kitchen facilities, or on day-to-day matters of the Fire Department, Liz is responsive, fair, candid and good humored. While we may not always agree, we are grateful for her commitment to keeping an open dialogue. Her service on the Village board and dedication to the community has been a tremendous asset to the Village.

We, The Professional Firefighters, believe that the Village of Larchmont needs a mayor who does not operate on the "you're with me or against me" style of management. The Village of Larchmont needs a mayor who is concerned with the needs of the Village resident's first and political agenda second. The Village of Larchmont needs a mayor who will govern with an open mind, balanced with compassion and fiscal responsibility. The Village of Larchmont needs a mayor who will stand in front of all decisions made not hide behind a department head.

That is why The Larchmont Professional Firefighters are endorsing Liz Feld for mayor.

Bryan E Doherty, President

http://larchmontgazette.com/2006/pol...html#macdonald

Larchmont Fire Department Does Not Endorse Candidates
Recent articles and letters to the editor make mention that the Larchmont Fire Department is supporting Trustee Liz Feld in her campaign for mayor against incumbent Mayor Ken Bialo. While there are members of the Career Firefighters Union supporting Ms. Feld’s campaign, the Fire Department does not and will not support one candidate over the other. Regardless of the election outcome, the Larchmont Fire Department will continue to provide the quality of professional service our residents deserve and have come to expect.

Fire Council
Larchmont Fire Department

(The Fire Council is the governing body of the Larchmont Fire Department)


February 17, 2006



Letter From Chief of Department, Richard G. Heine

In response to the recent comments made by Michael Wiener and Ned Benton at the September 10th Village Board meeting I would like to assure the residents of the Village of Larchmont that they are in no greater danger from fire today than yesterday, last month or last year. I have been a member of the Larchmont Fire Department for more than twenty years, eighteen as a professional, and our Department continues to stand ready to respond to any and all calls for service.

Our schools and businesses are inspected on a regular basis for Fire Code compliance as required by New York State law. To further ensure the safety of our students, schools are required by law to conduct fire drills and practice evacuations in case of emergency. The Larchmont Fire Department also offers, upon request, free home fire safety inspections.

In protest over the Village Board’s appointment of a career professional fire chief, Messrs. Benton, Wiener, and others continue to try to dismantle the Larchmont Fire Department. For the past four months they have encouraged our members to resign; they have boycotted alarms for service; they have discouraged prospective new members from joining; and they have tried to maintain control of the financial capabilities of the individual fire companies. I do not know of any organization that allows personnel who have resigned to hold positions of leadership, financial control or active participation at any level.

The Fire Service is larger than any individual or group of individuals. While Mr. Benton may wish to destroy the Village of Larchmont Fire Department and try to blame others for his own actions, he will not succeed. The Larchmont Fire Department will continue to be a combination volunteer/career Fire Department. We will continue to recruit new membership; and we will continue to train and work together as one department in order to provide the best possible fire/EMS service to our community. We will continue to work with our neighboring departments to explore cost savings, equipment sharing and mutual aid, as no single department can staff or equip for all major catastrophes.

I am proud to lead a Fire Department that will carry on the tradition of selfless service to our community as the men and women did who came before us, and we will instill these traditions and ideals in those who follow.

One team, one fight.

Second Suit Filed to Force Election on Hiring of Fire Chief
by Judy Silberstein*

(October 18, 2007) The Larchmont Village Board has been sued again over their hiring of a paid fire chief, this time by seven Larchmont voters who signed petitions in June requesting a referendum that would either affirm or overturn the board’s installation of the chief. Larchmont Mayor Liz Feld referred to the suit as “unfortunate” at the October 15 Village Board meeting.

More Board News
Sat., Oct 20, 11am: Ground Breaking on New Field

Village and County officials will be at Flint Park to celebrate improvements to be made, including the addition of a new turf field. (See: County Approves $2.55 Million Grant for Flint Park.)

Citizen Volunteers for Disaster Response

Trustee Anne McAndrews is encouraging Larchmonters to "prove the cynics wrong" by considering joining a Community Emergency Response Team that backs up police and firefighters during an emergency. Citizens may keep others away from downed wires, for example, freeing police for other tasks. (See: CERT.)

Backups at Chatsworth - Myrtle Lights

Mayor Feld acknowledged complaints about the new lights, traffic patterns and regulations that are causing traffic to back up "all the way to Longford's." . She said the Mamaroneck Town Traffic Commission would be reviewing the situation on October 16.

New Gazebo in Park

The gazebo under construction in the park across from Chatsworth School was donated in honor of Marge Piccone, a former Larchmont Village Trustee and long-time chair of the Beautification Committee.

HALLOWEEN:

--Rag-a-Muffin Parade is October 27 12:30 pm

--Free Glow Ropes at LFD - kids should start their trick-or-treating on October 31 at theLarchmont fire house where they will each receive goodies and a safety-enhancing, glow in the dark necklace.

Deal with Verizon for FiOS TV - "Closer"

Trustee Millstein reported continuing progress in negotiations over a franchise agreement that would allow Verizon to offer television service in Larchmont and Mamaroneck over its fiber optic lines. (Town of Mamaroneck announced there will be a special meeting on Friday, October 19 to set a public hearing on the contract.)

VOL Elections Set: March 18 - 2 Polling Places

After experimenting last year with a single polling place, the board voted to return to having two locations in the Village of Larchmont elections. Districts 1 and 3 will vote at the Village Center behind the library; Districts 2 and 4 will vote at Chatsworth School.

Also on the subject of the Larchmont Fire Department, Mayor Feld and Chief Richard Heine apologized to Mamaroneck Town Fire Chief Matt Peloso for comments made at the October 1 board meeting. (See: Criticisms of Fire Department Rebutted and also Mamaroneck Fire Chief Dispels Misconceptions.) "I'm sure nobody here meant to say the Town is worse or better," said Mayor Feld. Each department operates "in ways that are best for our residents," she said, noting there were some similarities and some differences.

On a happier note, the mayor congratulated Chief Heine on the “huge” turnout of around 1000 visitors at a departmental open house on October 13.

The New Lawsuit
On Thursday, October 10, attorneys from the firm of Silverberg and Zalantis filed an action with the New York Supreme Court in White Plains to compel an election on the two fire department resolutions passed by the Village Board on May 17. (Larchmont Appoints Paid Fire Chief; Many Volunteers Resign.) The first resolution called for the provisional hiring of Richard Heine as chief at an annual salary of $115K, and the second gave him authority over all department personnel and apparatus while removing from the volunteer firefighters their role in nominating future candidates for chief.

For the most part, volunteers have governed and led the department, with only one previous chief (a nominee of the volunteers) receiving a salary. Saying the job had become too large for a part-time chief, board members opted this year to hire Mr. Heine, a veteran Larchmont career firefighter and previous volunteer.

The plaintiffs argue that the board’s actions constituted an abolishing of the fire department, at least in part, which triggers NY State law allowing for a permissive referendum. The two resolutions “abolish the Fire Council [of volunteer firefighters] as the governing body of the Fire Department in every significant respect except its name,” they argue. (See: Memo of Law.)

Two sets of petitions, one for each resolution, were delivered to the Larchmont Village Clerk, Eileen Finn, on June 13 and June 15. One included 850 signatures, the other 835 – each represented over 20% of the voters, which is the threshold required to request a referendum. The Village Clerk is named as a respondent in the current suit.

The plaintiffs in the latest suit are all voters who signed the petitions. They include two former Village of Larchmont trustees who are also members of the Larchmont Fire Department and plaintiffs in the previous suit, Ned Benton and Mike Wiener. The other plaintiffs are Janice A. Ring, Frances P. O’Connor, Anthony C. Pavin, Nora J. Carlson and John Troy.

Village Attorney Jim Staudt said his firm is still studying the various legal documents, but “the gist of the suit was in the previous lawsuit.” The board's position was that hiring a fire chief was no different than hiring a paid firefighter, so no referendum was required. Judge Orazio Bellantoni ruled in favor of the Village Board on June 21, and according to Mr. Staudt, the judge “held it would be illegal to hold a referendum.” (See: Judge Rules Against Volunteer Firefighters.)

New court documents lay out the plaintiff’s argument that the latest suit is a new action, since the petitions had not yet been filed when the case was put before Judge Bellantoni. Also, while the plaintiffs in the first case were seeking an injunction to overturn the hiring of the chief, the current suit asks only for a “specific and limited relief” – an election.

The case will be heard by Westchester County Court Judge Gerald E. Loehr as early as October 26. Judge Bellantoni has recused himself.

Village Board Response
At the October 15 Village Board meeting, Mayor Liz Feld said $100K had already been spent on legal fees, which Trustee Jim Millstein called a “real waste of taxpayers’ money.”

Mr. Millstein characterized the ongoing legal fight as a policy difference between the current board and former members of the fire department that would be better resolved in the political arena. “We hold a referendum every year when we hold an election,” he said. “I don’t know why we have to spend another $100,000 when an election will do.”





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http://www.larchmontgazette.com/comm...ex.html#delasa



I write in response to letters from Mayor Liz Feld (Chatsworth Fire Safety Unchanged ) and Larchmont Fire Chief Rich Heine (No More Fire Danger Now Than Last Year).

Larchmont’s $152,000 Fire Chief has now admitted that, on average, fewer than three volunteer firefighters are responding to the typical alarm – hardly enough (combined with the 3 career firefighters typically on duty) to safely initiate firefighting. And his figures include members who are not certified for interior firefighting. Yet he and the mayor claim that Larchmont is in “no greater danger than yesterday, last month or last year.”

He should back up his claims about current fire safety with proof – a comparison of fire alarm attendance records from before and after the reorganization. I have copies of the attendance records for all of last April and for May until the Village Board appointed the paid chief. An average of 7.6 interior-qualified volunteers responded to alarms (not parades and meetings) and, when it mattered most, 17 interior-qualified firefighters responded to the fire on Mayhew Avenue and 25 responded for duty during the nor’easter.

Is there any doubt that the Larchmont Fire Department's firefighting capacity has collapsed? Can LFD produce more than a handful of qualified volunteers in response to a fire or major storm?

Is there any doubt that consolidation with the Town of Mamaroneck Fire District (TMFD) would save money and reduce response times for certain neighborhoods?

Is there any doubt that TMFD’s more than 50 active volunteers (including 13 volunteers who recently switched from LFD in the wake of the reorganization) could provide better fire protection at a lower cost?

The mayor and her chief don’t offer facts to dispute concerns raised about the shortage of qualified firefighters. Rather, they attack the motives and impugn the character of those, like former Chief Mike Wiener and me, who state the obvious: Larchmont’s fire department is dangerously deficient.

The mayor and trustees are the only reason we are not progressing toward consolidation right now. They claim to be interested in “studying” consolidation, but what have they actually accomplished other than delay? Larchmont needs demonstrable leadership – a public declaration that the mayor and trustees favor consolidation, and a public meeting with the Mamaroneck Town Council to set in motion the next steps.

Ned Benton
Former Village Trustee and Former Active LFD Volunteer Firefighter

September 20, 2007


War of Words over Larchmont Fire Department Heats Up
In Court and At the Village Board Meeting
by Joan R. Simon

(June 7, 2007) The conflict between Larchmont’s volunteer firefighters and the Village Board over the appointment of career firefighter Rich Heine as paid fire chief continued to heat up this week. The law suit filed by a group of volunteers against the board inched closer to a resolution, and petitions to allow a referendum on the board’s hiring of Rich Heine circulated through the Village. (See: Judge Weighs Case by Firefighters Against Village Board.)

Meanwhile Mayor Liz Feld fueled the fire at the June 4 Village Board meeting by scolding the resigning volunteers without permitting a response.

Petition Drive Growing
This week, the volunteer firefighters ramped up efforts to gather signatures on petitions to allow the public to pass judgment on the board’s hiring of a paid chief on May 16. They contend that the board’s actions constitute a partial abolition of the fire department, an act subject to permissive referendum. Twenty percent of Village voters must sign a petition before a referendum can be held. As of June 7, the volunteers had gathered 592 signatures, representing approximately 16% of registered voters.

Mayor Feld Criticizes the Suing Volunteers
At Monday’s board meeting, Mayor Feld took issue with the petition drive, calling those involved irresponsible for scaring the residents. "To go door-to-door around the community, to tell everyone that somehow they are not going to be protected as they have been up to now is entirely inconsistent with the oath these volunteers took when they joined the department ," she said.

Mayor Feld insisted that all fire calls were being met and criticized the plaintiffs in the law suit who have stopped responding. The plaintiffs have argued that rather than scaring the residents they are merely informing the public that the majority of active volunteers have announced they will be resigning as of mid-June.

The mayor also criticized the department leadership for failing to providing village boards over the years with “a list of members, equipment and the cost of equipping the volunteers.” She added, "You aren’t going to know what they are going to walk out the door with," implying that firefighters who have announced their resignations might take village property with them.

As Ned Benton, one of the plaintiffs, a volunteer firefighter and former Village trustee, reached the podium to respond, the mayor asked for a motion to adjourn. "This is our forum tonight," she said. Only Trustees Anne McAndrews, Marlene Kolbert and Richard Ward stayed briefly to hear Mr. Benton defend the volunteer firefighters’ integrity. (See: Firefighter Responds to Mayor.)

Where is the List of Firefighters’ Gear?
Jim Sweeney, a former Larchmont fire chief and another plaintiff in the law suit, later answered the question about inventory. “In fact, an annual physical inventory of the volunteer equipment has been completed every February or March, typically preceding the department budget presentations, for at least the last 5 years.”

Court Battle Continues
The court battle between the board and volunteers also ratcheted up another notch this week. Attorneys for the board submitted final responses to the plaintiffs’ requests for a temporary injunction that would remove Rich Heine as chief and re-install Chris MacDonald, the last volunteer chief. The board’s attorneys reiterated arguments in support of the board’s right to hire a “paid fireman,” or fire chief, to supervise both the volunteers and professional staff. John Galligan of the New York State Conference of Mayors (NYCOM) submitted an affidavit saying many villages operate in this manner. However, the plaintiffs have pointed out that no specific examples were provided to the court.

The defendants also claimed there was no need for the injunction the volunteer firefighters are continuing to seek, saying “there will be no added risk to the community” with the new paid fire chief structure. According to Rich Heine, there are 10 volunteers continuing with the department. Two former volunteers and one new resident have expressed interest in joining.

The issue of safety and the number of active volunteers remaining on the force is at the heart of the injunction sought by the volunteers. Mr. Sweeney explained that of the 28 most active members, 22 have announced they will resign as of mid-June. He said an appropriate question to ask is: “Of those remaining, how active are they and what are their training and experience levels? The new recruits would have to undergo new extensive training requirements.”

Attorneys for the plaintiffs will be filing their final arguments on Friday, June 7. Westchester Supreme Court Justice Orazio Bellantoni has promised a swift ruling on the injunction.

At last week’s hearing, the judge seemed to agree with the urgency of the situation. In granting the defense request to file additional papers this week, the judge nevertheless stressed that he wanted to keep the schedule very tight. “It’s imperative that the decision be made as soon as possible,” he said. “I realize that the middle of June is a critical time.”



-----------------------------------

Chief of Department (Career)
Richard Heine

Career Captains
Steve Epstein Thomas Andersen

Career Lieutenants
Wayne Sternemann John Veteri

Career Firefighters
David Scholz Thomas O'Connor Jack Yannuzzi Anthony Martyn
Steve Forrest Bryan Doherty John Caparelli Donn Andersen
Alex Augsburg John Moreno

Volunteer Captain

Volunteer Lieutenant
Joe Carrara

Volunteer Firefighters

--------------------------------------------------------


http://larchmontgazette.com/2007/art...llawsuit2.html

Second Suit Filed to Force Election on Hiring of Fire Chief
by Judy Silberstein*

(October 18, 2007) The Larchmont Village Board has been sued again over their hiring of a paid fire chief, this time by seven Larchmont voters who signed petitions in June requesting a referendum that would either affirm or overturn the board’s installation of the chief. Larchmont Mayor Liz Feld referred to the suit as “unfortunate” at the October 15 Village Board meeting.

More Board News
Sat., Oct 20, 11am: Ground Breaking on New Field

Village and County officials will be at Flint Park to celebrate improvements to be made, including the addition of a new turf field. (See: County Approves $2.55 Million Grant for Flint Park.)

Citizen Volunteers for Disaster Response

Trustee Anne McAndrews is encouraging Larchmonters to "prove the cynics wrong" by considering joining a Community Emergency Response Team that backs up police and firefighters during an emergency. Citizens may keep others away from downed wires, for example, freeing police for other tasks. (See: CERT.)

Backups at Chatsworth - Myrtle Lights

Mayor Feld acknowledged complaints about the new lights, traffic patterns and regulations that are causing traffic to back up "all the way to Longford's." . She said the Mamaroneck Town Traffic Commission would be reviewing the situation on October 16.

New Gazebo in Park

The gazebo under construction in the park across from Chatsworth School was donated in honor of Marge Piccone, a former Larchmont Village Trustee and long-time chair of the Beautification Committee.

HALLOWEEN:

--Rag-a-Muffin Parade is October 27 12:30 pm

--Free Glow Ropes at LFD - kids should start their trick-or-treating on October 31 at theLarchmont fire house where they will each receive goodies and a safety-enhancing, glow in the dark necklace.

Deal with Verizon for FiOS TV - "Closer"

Trustee Millstein reported continuing progress in negotiations over a franchise agreement that would allow Verizon to offer television service in Larchmont and Mamaroneck over its fiber optic lines. (Town of Mamaroneck announced there will be a special meeting on Friday, October 19 to set a public hearing on the contract.)

VOL Elections Set: March 18 - 2 Polling Places

After experimenting last year with a single polling place, the board voted to return to having two locations in the Village of Larchmont elections. Districts 1 and 3 will vote at the Village Center behind the library; Districts 2 and 4 will vote at Chatsworth School.

Also on the subject of the Larchmont Fire Department, Mayor Feld and Chief Richard Heine apologized to Mamaroneck Town Fire Chief Matt Peloso for comments made at the October 1 board meeting. (See: Criticisms of Fire Department Rebutted and also Mamaroneck Fire Chief Dispels Misconceptions.) "I'm sure nobody here meant to say the Town is worse or better," said Mayor Feld. Each department operates "in ways that are best for our residents," she said, noting there were some similarities and some differences.

On a happier note, the mayor congratulated Chief Heine on the “huge” turnout of around 1000 visitors at a departmental open house on October 13.

The New Lawsuit
On Thursday, October 10, attorneys from the firm of Silverberg and Zalantis filed an action with the New York Supreme Court in White Plains to compel an election on the two fire department resolutions passed by the Village Board on May 17. (Larchmont Appoints Paid Fire Chief; Many Volunteers Resign.) The first resolution called for the provisional hiring of Richard Heine as chief at an annual salary of $115K, and the second gave him authority over all department personnel and apparatus while removing from the volunteer firefighters their role in nominating future candidates for chief.

For the most part, volunteers have governed and led the department, with only one previous chief (a nominee of the volunteers) receiving a salary. Saying the job had become too large for a part-time chief, board members opted this year to hire Mr. Heine, a veteran Larchmont career firefighter and previous volunteer.

The plaintiffs argue that the board’s actions constituted an abolishing of the fire department, at least in part, which triggers NY State law allowing for a permissive referendum. The two resolutions “abolish the Fire Council [of volunteer firefighters] as the governing body of the Fire Department in every significant respect except its name,” they argue. (See: Memo of Law.)

Two sets of petitions, one for each resolution, were delivered to the Larchmont Village Clerk, Eileen Finn, on June 13 and June 15. One included 850 signatures, the other 835 – each represented over 20% of the voters, which is the threshold required to request a referendum. The Village Clerk is named as a respondent in the current suit.

The plaintiffs in the latest suit are all voters who signed the petitions. They include two former Village of Larchmont trustees who are also members of the Larchmont Fire Department and plaintiffs in the previous suit, Ned Benton and Mike Wiener. The other plaintiffs are Janice A. Ring, Frances P. O’Connor, Anthony C. Pavin, Nora J. Carlson and John Troy.

Village Attorney Jim Staudt said his firm is still studying the various legal documents, but “the gist of the suit was in the previous lawsuit.” The board's position was that hiring a fire chief was no different than hiring a paid firefighter, so no referendum was required. Judge Orazio Bellantoni ruled in favor of the Village Board on June 21, and according to Mr. Staudt, the judge “held it would be illegal to hold a referendum.” (See: Judge Rules Against Volunteer Firefighters.)

New court documents lay out the plaintiff’s argument that the latest suit is a new action, since the petitions had not yet been filed when the case was put before Judge Bellantoni. Also, while the plaintiffs in the first case were seeking an injunction to overturn the hiring of the chief, the current suit asks only for a “specific and limited relief” – an election.

The case will be heard by Westchester County Court Judge Gerald E. Loehr as early as October 26. Judge Bellantoni has recused himself.

Village Board Response
At the October 15 Village Board meeting, Mayor Liz Feld said $100K had already been spent on legal fees, which Trustee Jim Millstein called a “real waste of taxpayers’ money.”

Mr. Millstein characterized the ongoing legal fight as a policy difference between the current board and former members of the fire department that would be better resolved in the political arena. “We hold a referendum every year when we hold an election,” he said. “I don’t know why we have to spend another $100,000 when an election will do.”