Peter Clancy addresses board Thursday, wants to provide an evaluation between information provided in the report and information they have compiled.
Headquarters Company Lt. Peter Clancy, supported by a large contingency of Garden City career firefighters, told the village board Thursday that the 85-page International City/County Management Association (ICMA) report
analyzing village fire services is inaccurate.
"There are 14 recommendations within the report. The board has decided to take action on two of these recommendations. Recommendation #6 is the closing of the satellite stations and recommendation #8 the passing of dispatch to Firecom. After review of the report we find the information you used as a basis for your decision to be inaccurate," Lt. Clancy, president of Local 1588, which represents Garden City’s professional firefighters, said. "It is with this reason we offer our services to provide an evaluation between the information provided in the report and the information we have compiled."
Mayor Don Brudie corrected Lt. Clancy, stating that the board has only acted on one item - not two. All dispatching duties (recommendation #8) were turned over to Firecom
Aug. 6. "We're studying the entire report. They're only recommendations," he said.
A July 31 letter from village administrator Robert Schoelle, however, states in part: "The village board of trustees has directed that I have recommendations 6 and 8 implemented immediately."
Trustee Nick Episcopia, who has served as fire commissioner twice during his tenure on the village board, told Patch Friday, "Nobody said that they were absolutely going to do it immediately. By implementing, which is the wrong term, we were expecting the chiefs to come back to us with a plan. We did not vote on a plan to specifically do that ... The chiefs, who are the experts in this, will come back to us with recommendations and then we'll meet again to discuss it and see where we are with all of this."
Episcopia added, "The chiefs are in the process of doing this. When the BOT decides on a course of action, it is my opinion that this should be presented to the public with a clear explanation of our reasoning. Whether this will be in a public meeting or through Village Facts and press releases has not yet been decided. I believe my colleagues on the BOT will certainly agree with this approach. No firm decisions have been made yet."
Lt. Clancy suggested forming a committee to thoroughly review the data in the report; some within the fire department thought all sides should be represented on such a committee. For example, deputy mayor and current fire commissioner John Watras, a member of both the volunteer and career forces and perhaps even a member of the Citizens Budget Review Advisory Committee (CBRAC) could all be represented.
"You can't just have the trustees sit down and review this thing and say, 'Oh we reviewed it everything's good have a nice day,'" a source told Patch.
Chief Charles Cavarra, addressing the public at Thursday's board meeting, said there are a lot of rumors and innuendos throughout the media and the general populus. "I think it's important to recognize that the report is to be used as a guide or road map to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the fire department," he said.
"The consultants were not hired to re-write the bylaws of the village or the fire department. It's an outside, expert's opinion from a company who's done plenty of other departments throughout the country and their evaluation of our department. We are simply using the report, again, as a guideline to re-evaluate ourselves to see if there's a way we can do things better."
Chief Charles Cavarra told Patch via e-mail Friday that the chiefs' office has always been open to any and all members who wish to meet and discuss concerns or ideas. "We are currently reviewing the options, as to the next course of action to keep the public informed, and get the fire dept. moving in the right direction."
Further, Trustee Dennis Donnelly said Friday, also via e-mail, "We will be responding to all the total inaccuracies relating the Fire Department later today."
Lt. Clancy told trustees unmanning firehouses and reducing staff is extremely dangerous. "Staffing reductions and station closings will jeopardize public safety," he said. "Our highest priority, first and foremost, is to serve and protect the residents and property of the village, ensuring their safety to the best of our ability. Second is the safety of your firefighters, not just the career members but all firefighters, volunteers included. I implore you as it is your public responsibility to examine the results of the ICMA report for its accuracy before implementing any recommendations."
Episcopia told Patch Friday that the suggestion of moving all dispatching duties to Firecom has been met with union opposition for years. "It's interesting that the lieutenant got up and talked a lot about how concerned he was about safety and response time yet you had people there saying that switching over to Firecom, which is something all the chiefs had said for years, and reduces the response time from five to six minutes down to one or two, somehow that's being criticized," he said.
"That was looked into extensively ... All there was was union opposition to doing this. It didn't have anything to do with the response time."
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