This letter was published in the March 1 issue of the Gazette.
To the Editor:
Throughout the two years I served as Village Trustee, I worked closely with the leadership of the Croton Volunteer Fire Department. Our village is fortunate to be served by the brave and dedicated men and women of the CFD, who provide excellent protection and service to our village, and do so despite a shortage of new members as well as the aging out of many long-term volunteers. For this, the department deserves great credit.
Unfortunately, workforce issues (which are a national as well as a local problem) are not the only issues that I believe our village and fire department must address in the near term. Over the last two years, there have been 11 accidents involving our fire apparatus according to Village records. Our department has a fleet of seven rigs total with an approximate value of $3-3.5 million dollars. The Village pays approximately $500,000 a year to support the three firehouses. We must do a better job of protecting and sustaining our assets.
To do so, I would suggest a proactive plan:
- Certify or recertify our drivers on an annual basis; all firefighters must “demonstrate competency” in their various skills according to PESH, including drivers.
- Drivers who have serious accidents have to be taken out of service, and retrained; I believe the current standard operating guidelines require a driver to take a defensive driving course before returning to driving. I suggest that this be done by driving the apparatus under simulated emergency conditions to demonstrate competency.
- And most importantly, an Accident Prevention Program should be undertaken by the Village and the department.
I am particularly concerned because our brand new rescue vehicle ($680,000) is now out of service due to an accident and may be out of service for several months. When the prior administration was considering the purchase of this vehicle (which was eventually delivered ahead of schedule and under budget), Former Trustee Pugh made several public statements to the effect that the absence of this vehicle among the village's fleet posed an imminent danger to resident safety.
What happens now? Who will respond? During the repair of Rescue 18, will the village have the proper tools to respond to emergencies and keep residents safe? What is the current administration doing to ensure resident safety? I think the public deserves transparency on this issue.