A letter from Rye Professional Firefighters Local 2029.
This letter was written partly in response to a the letter published from Lester Millman, Captain of Patrol 3, Truck 39, Rye Police Patrol.
What do you think? Leave a comment below.
Rye Professional Firefighters Local 2029
PO Box 202 Rye, NY 10580
April 12th, 2017
Dear Readers of MyRye:
The City of Rye has not lost its volunteer firefighters. Those volunteer firefighters who feel that 132 years of service were wiped out are blinded by the past. The volunteer member of the non-firematic utility company is trying to paint a doom and gloom picture of the future of the Rye Fire Department (RFD). When in fact the opposite is true. The unfortunate side of social media is that anyone, regardless of their knowledge or experience, is permitted to express their opinion and disregard the existence of factual information.
When the Public Employee Safety and Health (PESH) Bureau of New York State inspected the RFD last year, they found 19 serious violations. One of the most serious was that the “Chief of the Department” lacked more training than the general membership. This did not come as a surprise to members of the department. The RFD qualifications to be a volunteer “Chief” are minimal: candidates must be 18 years or older, have completed basic firefighting training (roughly 100 hours), and have previously held the position of captain in one of the fire companies. By contrast, an ENTRY level Career Firefighter upon graduation from the Westchester Career Fire Academy has more than 500 hours of training and over 25 certifications in various firefighting disciplines. Post-graduation, Career Firefighters are required to complete 100 hours of additional training annually. It is our understanding that the volunteer “Chiefs” were told they needed to obtain more training than the general membership, with additional training as “incident commanders”. Any reasonable person would agree that the citizens of Rye deserve a leader of the RFD with years of experience and training. During a public referendum last November, the citizens of Rye voted to change the leadership of the RFD and removed the Board of Fire Wardens, who failed to move the department forward.
Our job as Career Firefighters is not simply to “run [our] truck”. It is to provide the best service to the Rye community. At every single fire call, Career Firefighters take action to help the public. Not only are we on the end of the hose lines putting out fires, we are checking homes for natural gas leaks, or carbon monoxide. We are the men and women who first arrive and fix whatever issue the citizens of Rye have asked us to come help them address. We do NOT simply wait by the truck or engine down the road. If the 10 interior qualified volunteer firefighters show up, they assist us and we are grateful for their help. When the situation requires it, we send two Career Firefighters into a building on fire while the third runs a pump or ladder, while also trying to run the scene. This is far from ideal. Our new Public Safety Commissioner (PSC) knows this is far from ideal. That is why he is changing how the Fire Department has run things the last 100+ years.
The truth of the matter is that the newly appointed PSC position was created, in part, to address the department’s deficiencies and ensure safety using industry standards as a guide. The Rye volunteers have not been disbanded. Volunteers simply have to abide by guidelines that exist to ensure safety. We hope MyRye readers and all Rye residents understand that we want to provide the best service to our community. That means having leaders who have more than just basic/entry level firefighter training. Leaders who have not only been around the fire department for years, but that those years have been filled with substance and experience. Those who do not want change are impeding efforts to improve and make the department safer for both firefighters and the community. We, the Rye Professional Firefighters Local 2029, welcome this change.
Rye Professional Firefighters Local 2029