SECOND NOTE & ADDITIONAL CLARIFICATION: On behalf of Patrol 3, Truck 39, Rye Fire Patrol, Captain Lester Millman: "The letter sent by Patrol 3, Truck 39, Rye Fire Patrol, was sent by the whole company of Patrol 3. The wording was voted on at our last monthly meeting April 3, 2017. The letter is signed by the Captain of the unit for the unit. It is not one person's effort."
NOTE: MyRye.com has been asked to clarify this letter represents the view of one individual. It does not represent the views of the Fire Department or any group within the department.
A letter from Lester Millman, Captain of Patrol 3, Truck 39, Rye Police Patrol.
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To: The Editor
From: Patrol 3, Truck 39 Rye Volunteer Fire Department, the Fire Police Patrol
The City of Rye, NY has lost its volunteer fire department. Over 132 years of service were wiped out at the announcement by the new Public Safety Commissioner that the Volunteer Fire Chiefs would be relieved of all fire fighting command. The chiefs know how to manage a fire scene, they train with the firefighters, have knowledge from classes provided in firefighting by Westchester County and years of experience.
We, volunteer firefighters, were promised that all fire fighting duties of the department would not be changed by the introduction of a public safety commissioner. Starting with a meeting last year with two city council members, through to election day, we were assured that the commissioner would be there to administer the department, not to change how fires are fought.
We agree with the recommendations of the PESH (Public Employee Safety Health Act) but the City Council's firing of all three of our chiefs, and removing all fire scene command authority, with no back up plan to provide continued leadership for Volunteer Firefighters, is very short sighted. If the volunteers leave, the city will need to hire more than 20 new paid firefighters.
After the commissioner's announcement (on March 31st) he looked at the active volunteer firefighters in the room and said: “Just do your jobs, you know how to fight fires, just do your jobs.” He announced that henceforth the 'senior paid firefighter on the scene would be in charge.' Police officers, after their pre-shift briefing, go out and do their jobs. They work individually until there is a call for help.
Fire fighting is a team effort, from the very start, always, never do we work singly, always, always we have to be in a team, with a chief at the top! We cannot 'just do our job' without leadership. We are trained firefighters, but to fight a fire, effectively and safely, we need to be deployed by a command authority who sees the whole fire scene and who knows the personnel and the equipment..that means a chief!
At 3 o'clock in the morning in the City of Rye, there are generally 3 paid firefighters, depending on the schedule. They bring three fire trucks to a scene. EACH paid firefighter has a job, to run their truck. The ladders, the pumps and other equipment are complex and fighting a fire is dangerous. With EACH running their truck, they have no time to manage the volunteer firefighters. We volunteers are dispatched from our homes, by pager.
A fire scene commander has to be paying attention to the whole fire scene. As the trained volunteers arrive they are assigned to the job that the chief believes is important AT THAT MOMENT. Fires change, people and equipment have to be continually monitored and re-assigned.
Currently Rye has one career command officer who works from 8 to 4. Other paid officers are supposed to take up the slack, while running their trucks, a dangerous plan!
Raising a power ladder is very complex, not hitting power lines, getting the correct position, watching the personnel climbing the ladder are all important, but that paid truck officer cannot watch where the hoses are going at the same time.
The pump operation, the pressures need continual adjusting and monitoring, depending on the sizes and length of the hoses. Often the pump truck, with its paid fire person, is more than a block from the scene, near the closest hydrant. In no position to monitor personnel on a fire scene.
The Chief, the person with the white helmet, is central to fighting a fire, saving lives and property. We learned from the World Trade Center disaster to use the National Incident Management System. A system where each arriving firefighter or truck, reports to the command center (the chief) to be deployed. Otherwise chaos will rain as it did on 9-11.
We Volunteers arrive in our personal vehicles and are put into service where we are needed at that moment. The volunteers have hundreds of hours of training and years of service, they can fight fires, they can not deploy themselves.
For: Patrol 3, Truck 39, Rye Police Patrol
Lester Millman, Captain