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Rift In Fire Department Causes Half Of Crew To Resign

By Debra Myers     Jul 19, 2007 in Business
Big Flats, NY - Monday night, half of the Big Flats Fire Department, including the Chief resigned over what seems to be a conflict of personalities. There also seems to be some questions about legal matters and misspending that's come to light.
It's not sure just how many volunteer firemen walked off the job Monday evening, but it's no less than nine who turned in their equipment. Both articles say that there are still twelve firemen left, but even then...that figure isn't a sure thing.
What is a certainty, is the concern that with the reduced number of firemen, can they cover the township adequately if their services are required? Big Flats Town Supervisor Mary Ann Balland said, “As far as I’m concerned the level of service has not changed. We have some personality issues, which that fire company needs to work out. My concern is long term. Long term the town will do whatever it has to do to make sure there's an adequate fire company for residents and businesses.”
What started this it seems, had to do something with the elected chief, Rich Alred resigning for an undisclosed reason. The defeated Ahrens had remained the deputy chief while Alred served as chief, but with Alred gone, Ahrens became acting Chief. That's when things seemed to fall apart.
After Chief Richard Alred resigned, many in the department refused to work under stand-in fire Chief Mike Ahrens. They wanted Ahrens and two other members to resign for allegedly breaking state laws and questionable spending practices. When the three refused to resign, more than half of the fire department did.
Balland told the press that she went to a meeting Monday evening, and suggested that the two sides call in a mediator to resolve their differences. By Tuesday evening, mediation was becoming more of an option. A news conference will be held tonight at 7 p.m. to discuss the this situation. There is some suggestion that maybe the fire company needs to become a paid crew, versus a volunteer crew.
In the meantime, the residents are being reassured that there is adequate coverage by the fire department if they're needed, and mutual aid will also be called in to assist.
This situation does need to be remedied in more ways than one. A conflict of personalities is rather normal in the work place, so there definitely something else going on here. In this part of New York, almost all of our fire companies are volunteer.
More about Fire department, Firemen resign, Scandals
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