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Spring Valley, NY Mayor Bans Employee/Volunteer Firefighters From Responding to Calls

Once upon a time, employers let volunteer firefighters respond to calls during work hours figuring it was for the betterment of the community. Nowadays, this is a practice is not as common as it once was.

However, in the Village of Spring Valley, New York, Mayor Demeza Delhomme has set a brand new and completely idiotic precedence. 

Mayor Delhomme has banned Village employees who are also volunteer firefighters in the Village from responding to calls during work hours. Spring Valley FD responds to approximately 1000 calls a year. (read the entire article here)

spring valley new york mayor bans firefighters from responding to callsIronic…isn't it? Maybe you don't quite understand how Mayor Delhomme is shooting himself in the foot.

The Village of Spring Valley gets to enjoy a 100% volunteer fire department. That means that they don't have to pay firefighter salaries, benefits, etc. The village employees/volunteer firefighters number fewer than 10 (there are more volunteers though). Yet, when Delhommes community needs the firefighters to spring to action, he is crippling his own fire department and potentially putting his community, citizens, and visitors in peril. 

I guess the way I look at it is that this Mayor gets to enjoy several of his firefighters working for the Village in various capacities that are also available to respond. I am curious to know how many of his other volunteers aren't able to respond during the day due to their employers policies, travel distance, etc. 

What do you think? 

Here are some tidbits from the article (read the entire article here):

“Every five minutes we have a false alarm,” Delhomme said Wednesday. “We can’t have … people leaving their jobs. Everybody leaves work and comes back three hours later and then they go home. There has to be controls. They work for the taxpayers. My job is to change how things are run.

Delhomme estimated fewer than 10 employees are volunteers. He said workers who are not volunteers have to pick up the slack and have complained."

FC: 1000 calls a year is tremendously lower than Delhomme's exagerated "Every five minutes we have a false alarm". As for the other employees, maybe they should be educated (as well as Delhomme) on how the community benefits from having volunteers so close and able to respond. 

Authorities said the mayor also has ordered the fire inspectors to do inspections only — not to investigate the cause of the fires. By law, the fire inspectors are the police arm of the fire departments and are mandated to determine causes of fires.

FC: sigh…

Delhomme, a village trustee since 1999 until his election as mayor in November, said he’s confident that firefighting will continue unaffected. He said many of the volunteers, such as the chiefs, hold important positions in the public works and building departments, as well as the highway department.

FC: The Chiefs won't even be able to respond…

“They are some of the top people working for us,” Delhomme said. “If we have a serious fire, we have other people. We have other departments. They help us and we help them.”

FC: Sure…rely on the next town over. I am sure they are willing to run more and more of your calls…I am sure they read the paper too. Maybe they don't want to have to "afford" to run your calls for you Mayor. 

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Comments - Add Yours

  • Frank Colelli

    Sad that it has come to this but if the employees were abusing the privilege of leaving for calls they sort of shot themselves in the foot.

  • Mark Picerno

    Our village employees drive the apparatus mon thru fri if there are any calls 7-4.

    if I need more drivers I just call the foreman and he releases who we need.

  • Brian Haggerty

    Well, in Massachusetts, where we are usually backwards, we have this one correct. SEE below Mass Law:

    [ First paragraph effective until September 19, 2012. For text effective September 19, 2012, see below.]

      Section 177B. No employer shall discharge or take any other disciplinary action against any employee by reason of failure of such employee to report for work at the commencement of his regular working hours where such failure is due to his responding to an emergency in his capacity as a volunteer member of a fire department; provided, however, that no such employer shall be required to compensate any such employee for any period of his normal working hours during which for such reason he fails to report for work and at the request of an employer shall submit a statement signed by the chief of such fire department certifying the date and time such employee responded to and returned from such emergency. Such employee shall inform his employer or immediate supervisor of the reasons for such failure.

    [ First paragraph as amended by 2012, 125, Sec. 1 effective September 19, 2012. For text effective until September 19, 2012, see above.]

      No employer shall discharge or take any other disciplinary action against any employee by reason of failure of such employee to report for work at the commencement of his regular working hours where such failure is due to his responding to an emergency in his capacity as a volunteer member of a fire department or ambulance department; provided, however, that no such employer shall be required to compensate any such employee for any period of his normal working hours during which for such reason he fails to report for work and at the request of an employer shall submit a statement signed by the chief of such fire department or ambulance department certifying the date and time such employee responded to and returned from such emergency. Such employee shall inform his employer or immediate supervisor of the reasons for such failure.

    [ Second paragraph effective until September 19, 2012. For text effective September 19, 2012, see below.]

      As used in this section, "responding to an emergency'' shall mean responding to, working at the scene of, or returning from a fire or a call of fire in the good faith belief that such action is necessary to prevent the imminent loss of life or property, where either such fire or such call of fire occurs during a period other than the normal working hours of the employee. As used in this section, "volunteer member'' shall mean a volunteer, call, reserve, or permanent-intermittent firefighter, but shall not include any person who received compensation for over nine hundred and seventy-five hours of services rendered in such capacity over the preceding six month period.

     

  • Robert Milles

    The mayor has revoked the order due to FD pressure.  

    It's a difficult situation. I live in SV.  These are all DPW workers. My house floods every time it rains.  Clogged storm drains due to undermanned DPW is a real issue too. The systems being abused. This was not the answer, but it wasn't done just for giggles.  Half the DPW spending hours everyday clearing a false alarm while works projects remain uncompleted for years.

  • Larry Cohen FDNY LT. ret.

    The problem with the mayor is that he clearly does not understand the importance of having in town employees respond to emergencies. The trend of getting members in the volunteer fire service is difficult enough without a politician making knee jerk decisions based on bad information from people within the town. Delayed responses, and  undermanning, are only 2 bad results of what is going to happen if the mayor in fact pulls this off. What really needs to happen is the people of Spring Valley need to understand that their fire department will not be able to respond and perform to the levels they have been used to. It is those residence that need to call this mayor on the carpet and demand an explanation. A mayor's job and responsibility is to make decisions that improves  the public's safety not erode it by ignorance.

  • rich griffin

    what the mayor fails to realize is that 90%of fd members are out of there village, town at work from 8am to 5pm on a daily basis.village employees can take up the slack when the 90% of members are working. as for mutual aid to respond to srping valley calls i am 100% sure they will be village town employees responding!!! wake up mayor those people are the backbone of our fire service.