Board Approves Volunteer Firefighter

Resident James Akel is newest member to join department ranks.

Fire commissioner Dennis Donnelly and Mayor John Watras welcome James Akel.
Fire commissioner Dennis Donnelly and Mayor John Watras welcome James Akel.
The village board of trustees Thursday unanimously approved resident James Akel as Garden City's newest volunteer firefighter.

"It's always great to have a new volunteer on our force. We have a great group of guys you get to join. Good luck as a fireman," Trustee Dennis Donnelly, who serves as fire commissioner, said as he made the motion.

Mayor John Watras, a staunch supporter of volunteerism in the village, added, "Thank you for volunteering. Now James will go back and talk to his friends and they'll see how energized he is with his volunteerism and they too will volunteer. That's what it's all about. Thank you James so much."

The Garden City Fire Department is continually looking for new volunteers as part of a statewide program dubbed Recruit NY. Email membership@gcfdny.com or leave a telephone message at 465-4135 if interested in volunteering. Applications can be downloaded here.
kevin O' December 11, 2013 at 01:32 PM
Thank you Mr. Akel and the other residents for volunteering but this is a great window dressing article. I've read over the past few weeks about 3 or 4 devastating house fires, which is very unusual for our village. Firehouses in the village are left empty during overnight hours and burglaries are up. Staffing for both our police and fire departments has been cut to the bone. Then I read in Newsday that the village is spending money on firetrucks and to tear down a building at St. Paul's that's been neglected for decades. It makes me question the financial decisions that are being made. Maybe hiring more police officers and firefighters to drive the trucks we have, should be the priority.
Jack O'Niel December 11, 2013 at 01:38 PM
Burglaries are up because the economy has been in the crapper for such a long time. Let's say it improves and the robberies go down because of that, do we just fire the "new" officers? The St. Paul's issue is a use-it-or-lose-it issue with money being provided by another govt entity and while the timing isn't great it's a good idea to go forward with it.
kevin O' December 11, 2013 at 08:08 PM
Jack, I don't understand your analogy. Why would we fire newly hired police officers if crime goes down? Would you cancel your medical insurance if you didn't get sick for a few years? You would make a good trustee. We don't need fireman because we don't have fires, but now we're having fires and don't have fireman. We don't need cops because we don't have crime but the crime will stop when the economy gets better. So would you recommend not having homeowners insurance if you haven't had a fire or burglary the past 5 years. I'm sure if it was your house on Andover Ct or Hamilton Place you'd be asking why the nearest firehouse at village hall is no longer staffed with paid fireman. Having retired from a nearby municipality you get a lot of information as to what is happening in other villages. There was a call last year during village elections for more transparency. One has to still ask, are we getting it? But then again, if the village were hiring police officers would I leave my job in New York City knowing that the village may let me go after a few years. They are ready let 6 firefighters go. Regarding Ellis Hall, the article states "The village would have to spend a minimum of $600,000 in order to get the full $300,000 from the county, according to village clerk Brian Ridgway. Bids documents are being drafted." So this is still a cost to the village of at least $300K. When were told we can't afford cops and fireman do we need to spend money to get money? I say leave the dead horse in the barn. It's been there this long.


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