I recently read an article in your newspaper about declining volunteerism in local firehouses. It is an eye-opening article, as many Rivertowns have volunteer departments and the residents rely on their volunteers to keep them safe.
David Goldstein, Assistant Chief for Tarrytown, was interviewed and stated that several issues factor into the decline, and welcomes anyone interested to apply.Here is the problem: A former Chief from Sleepy Hollow has denied membership applications.
Tarrytown’s own Village Administrator and Town Attorney are denying mutual aid applications. Mutual aid – meaning a decorated Lieutenant with many years of experience and numerous training certificates from a neighboring department who works in the Village during the day. He works for a private company that would not only allow, but encourages him to respond. However, the Village Attorney and Administrator denied his application stating that mutual aid members are an insurance liability. Really? If an experienced member from another department is a liability, then what is an inexperienced, untrained walk-in off the street? If they are welcome, as they should be, then I would think an experienced Firefighter from a neighboring village would be a huge asset. Yet, his application was denied. And there were several potential applicants who chose not to apply to Tarrytown, but went to other departments as mutual aid members.
In addition to denying applications, The DPW no longer allows Village Employees to respond to calls during the day, even though they are working in the Village and many have been volunteers with the department for many years and in years past were allowed to respond.
I think the residents of Tarrytown have a false sense of security in thinking that there is sufficient manpower in the case of an emergency.
I grew up in the “Tarrytown firefighters family.” My family and friends live in town. My niece attends school and my mother is semi-retired and lives in a building with elderly neighbors who wouldn’t be able to evacuate in an emergency without assistance. What happens in an emergency when there’s not enough manpower? Precious time is lost waiting for another department.
If declining membership is truly a concern, Tarrytown needs to re-evaluate their approval process and not allow politics to impede their application process.
Colleen Murphy, Tarrytown