FDNY Tells Volunteers: Don't Respond or Face Arrest

The FDNY is in a turf battle with a volunteer fire department that's surfaced in the Bronx.

Despite warnings that he and his volunteers would be arrested, Chief Romeo Toro said his 60-member strong Aviation Volunteer Fire Department will keep chasing fire alarms in and around the Clason Point neighborhood, according to The New York Daily News.

"Yes, we will risk arrest," the 28-year-old fire chief told reporters. "We will continue to operate until we get a letter from the mayor or the State Office of Fire Prevention and Control saying we can't operate."

FDNY crews got into an altercation with the volunteers when they showed up at a bus wreck. Police reportedly ordered the chief and a lieutenant away from the crash, the paper reported.

That was followed by a strongly worded letter from Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano.

"We hereby demand that AVFD immediately cease its operations and discontinue making any representations that AVFD is authorized by the City of New York or the FDNY to provide emergency medical and firefighting services," he wrote.

The volunteers are "operating without the proper training, equipment and authorizations" and are endangering the public and city firefighters, Cassano added.

"The FDNY has advised its field personnel to prohibit AVFD from operating and to contact law enforcement if necessary," he wrote.

Toro told reporters his department, which was founded in 1923, has had financial troubles in the past and was even shut down for a time. He said the AVFD reestablished itself in January and has since purchased its own fire truck.

The department plans to buy a second truck at city auction this week.

The AVFD responds to at least five emergencies a week, Toro said. The volunteer group says it's funded by members. City firefighters say the AVFD has solicited cash from residents -- a charge the volunteers deny, according to the paper.

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