Tag Archive | "Sag Harbor Volunteer Fire Department"

East End Looks West as Locals Aid in Hurricane Sandy Recovery Effort

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By Kathryn G. Menu; Photography by Michael Heller

On Saturday morning last week, a group of volunteers left Sag Harbor in two ambulances and another SUV, headed to Queens to offer relief and supplies to the residents of Broad Channel and Far Rockaway.

What they saw when they arrived were neighborhoods literally devastated by Hurricane Sandy and the nor’easter that followed the week after the super storm made landfall in southern New Jersey. It was a stark contrast to the damage inflicted on most of the East End, where erosion, power outages and gas shortages marked a majority of the impact Sandy had on this part of Long Island. Further west, lives were changed forever, many washed away with rising floodwaters.

It was for this very reason that over a week ago Sag Harbor Ambulance Corps President Ed Downes, having just received a brand new ambulance purchased solely through donations, decided to give its 2002 modular ambulance to the Broad Channel Volunteer Fire Department, located on a narrow channel island connecting Queens and the Rockaways.

His effort was quickly doubled by Sag Harbor Village Police Chief Tom Fabiano, who spent four days packing the ambulance with canned goods, dog food, water, blankets and other supplies.

On Saturday morning three emergency service personnel and a photographer joined Downes and Fabiano on the trip west. As soon as they turned off the Cross Island Parkway and onto Cross Bay Boulevard, which took the group down through Howard Beach and into Broad Channel headed towards the Rockaways, much changed. Traffic lights were out, but roads were busy — cars negotiated intersections by being patient with each other. Travelling over the bridge to Broad Channel, debris and leaves had climbed over five and a half feet up a chain link fence — a watermark for how high the tide rose.

“The streets were covered in mud and had debris all over them,” said photographer Michael Heller. “You could see they had tried to clear them, but there was stuff literally everywhere. We saw a boat in the middle of a median. The houses that were totally wrecked were closer to the ocean, but you could see a lot of the ones still standing sustained a lot of water damage. I am sure they all had to be gutted.”

As the journey took them onto Noel Road, where the Broad Channel Fire Department headquarters resides, generators were posted on corners and a large police presence was found in the area.

When they arrived, a volunteer with the department, Tom Moss, greeted the group at the department headquarters, a small building that had clearly been flooded significantly during the storm.

“They had both of their ambulances out, but they were ruined and they had another on site that needed some work,” said Downes. “One of their fire trucks was incinerated from the inside out because of a short during the flooding. They had another truck, usually just for parades, in service and another on loan.”

“It really hit you hard how lucky we got and how horrible some of the things are these people have to go through,” said Chief Fabiano. “Some don’t have anything left, others have been without power for weeks. It was very sad.”

“Hurricane Sandy wiped out every vehicle we have — fire trucks, engines, fly cars, boats — we lost everything,” said Broad Channel Fire Department Lieutenant Frank Pasterak. “We put out some feelers to try to get some help from out of state companies, and Sag Harbor was one of the first ones to come back to us … Sag Harbor’s ambulance is definitely a big home run for us to get back in service — it’s helping us out a lot.”

According to Lieutenant Pasternak, the response for aid has been overwhelming.

“Whatever we needed, we got — clothes, food — everyone has helped us out with everything,” said Pasternak. “We’re overstocked with everything, and everyone in town is getting what they need right away. Not just the city and the state; there are other countries, like Ireland, who sent some workers down to help.”

Chief Tracey Moccio said she was “eternally grateful” for Sag Harbor’s donation.

Despite the devastation, Lieutenant Pasternak said the department was already back up and running, and was needed through the region. While the ambulance was being delivered, it received its first call, for a man up the block with a nail in his chin.

Moss would take the team south to Breezy Point, where they spent an hour unloading the supplies Chief Fabiano had collected in Sag Harbor. The clothing was later transported back to Broad Channel after a woman with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) informed them she was no longer accepting clothing. Four trailers were already filled to the brim.

“I am just really grateful for everyone in the village who donated towards this cause,” said Chief Fabiano. “This kind of experience really wakes you up. I don’t even want to think what would have happened if we sustained a direct hit. We were very fortunate.”

This group is one of many from East Hampton and Southampton that have dedicated themselves towards the relief effort. A Saturday night benefit concert at LTV Studios in East Hampton, organized by local musicians and government leaders like Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman, raised over $34,000 that will directly benefit organizations like the Salvation Army and Island Harvest in their relief efforts.

Sag Harbor’s Wendy Tarlow and her partner, Claudia Patino, have also dedicated themselves to the relief effort since their televisions first started working a few days after Hurricane Sandy passed.

“It was right away we knew we had to do something,” said Tarlow.

Patino was literally rebuilding houses in Island Park, N.Y. on Monday and began recruiting helpers on Tuesday via Facebook.

The two have also organized several relief drives, most recently putting together backpacks filled with supplies for schoolchildren. Residents can bring donations to Our Gig Two Whatever, 56 Main Street in Sag Harbor.

East End Cares is a group of local residents dedicated to providing relief for residents in the Rockaways, Staten Island and New Jersey. Using a Facebook page, the organization has been a focal point for volunteers on the East End lending a hand further west. It can be accessed by visiting www.facebook.com/groups/EastEndCares.

“The reality is this kind of relief effort is going to need to go on for several months,” said Tarlow. “People lost everything. It’s time for us to help them rebuild.”

Fire Hits Home in Bay Point

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By Claire Walla

When reports of a house fire on Bay Point in Sag Harbor hit the radio waves on Monday, May 21, firefighters from Sag Harbor, East Hampton and North Sea were quickly on the scene. And according to Sag Harbor Fire Chief Pete Garypie, they distinguished the blaze in a matter of minutes.

However, by the time the fire was reported, some significant damage had already been done.

“The bedroom — where the fire was mostly contained — was gutted,” Garypie explained. “And the rest of the house was severely smoke damaged.”

Garypie said crews arrived at 21 Harbor Drive at 10:33 a.m. to find smoke billowing out of the single-story, waterfront home at the eastern edge of the Bay Point peninsula. He added that the fire was already visible at the back of the house when crews first arrived.

One team of volunteer firefighters quickly entered through the front door of the home with a hose to extinguish the flames. Firefighters ultimately made their way to the rear of the building where a bedroom in the western corner of the home was ablaze.

“There was high heat and lots of smoke,” Garypie said of the conditions firefighters faced. “The guys did a great job.”

He also noted that one of the windows in the back of the property had “let go.” It sent wind inside, which Garypie said possibly stoked the flames.

At this time, however, the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

One fireman was treated on the scene for smoke inhalation, which means he was given oxygen and water and told to rest for at least 45 minutes. Garypie said he is now doing fine. Other than that, the fire chief added, there are no reported injuri

Boat Debate Reveals Dive Team Heroism

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When an elderly East Hampton man’s vehicle flew off the commercial dock on Gann Road in Springs on January 4 and proceeded to sink, virtually every local fire department dive team, police force, and ocean rescue squad joined the United States Coast Guard in an effort to rescue 90-year-old Halsey Ludlow Dickinson.

While Dickinson succumbed to his injuries in a case still under investigation and pending results from the Suffolk County Medical Examiners office, it was two members of the Sag Harbor Volunteer Fire Department Dive Team who ultimately located Dickinson and pulled his body from the wreckage.

On Tuesday night, Sag Harbor Volunteer Fire Department Chief Pete Garypie said the names of the two divers cannot be released as the investigation is still pending.

According to Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride, the water temperatures were a frigid 33 degrees late that afternoon as dive teams attempted to reach Dickinson. Equipment was freezing, but eventually after one diver from Sag Harbor descended and located Dickinson, another quickly followed and was able to bring his body to the surface.

It was the second response to a submerged vehicle the dive team from Sag Harbor, and other municipalities, had made in two days. Teams also responded on January 3 to reports of a vehicle driving into the Peconic side of the Shinnecock Canal. Eighty-year-old Simon Flaherty, the driver of that vehicle, was later pronounced dead at Southampton Hospital.

Mayor Gilbride had planned to commend the village’s fire department for their efforts in both cases at Tuesday night’s Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees meeting, but found himself discussing the situation a little earlier in the agenda than originally planned, after some members of the crowd questioned the village’s decision to purchase a surplus 26-foot boat from East Hampton Town at a cost of $40,000. The boat boasts an enclosed cab with heat, and Mayor Gilbride said is in far better shape than the existing boats the dive team has on hand.

According to Mayor Gilbride, the boat has an estimated value of close to $50,000.

“Do we need this boat,” asked Deputy Mayor Tim Culver before the board voted on the measure.

Mayor Gilbride said he believed it was a necessary addition to the department’s dive team, which already has a 12-foot, inflatable boat, as well as a 22-foot fiberglass Boston Whaler that does not have a cab, and according to Mayor Gilbride is rife with cracks.

When questioned by a member of the audience what the boat would be used for, Mayor Gilbride recounted the dive team’s efforts in East Hampton. After the meeting, he said the divers were so frozen after the rescue, and without a boat that has a closed cabin or heat, needed to be warmed up in an existing ambulance until their toes and fingers had movement again.

He added that the $40,000 will come out of the village’s contingency fund, but will be repaid to the village when it works out its 2012-2013 budget, which will include discussions with the fire department about their vehicle reserve account.

The motion was unanimously adopted by the village board, including Culver.

Residents Rally for Windmill Repairs

Following the revelation that the iconic windmill on the aptly named Windmill Beach is in need of serious repairs, Save Sag Harbor President Mia Grosjean queried the village board on Tuesday night about the ownership of the windmill in an effort to inform her board so they may help in the effort.

The Village of Sag Harbor, led by Superintendent of Public Works Dee Yardley, has already spent $9,000 on fixing the windmill, but may need an estimated $25,000 to finish a full repair of the structure, which was constructed in the late 1960s, according to Nada Barry, one of the Sag Harbor residents who she said turned out “to bang nails” and erect the windmill from scratch.

Grosjean asked if the village owned the land under the windmill and who owned the windmill itself. She also asked if the village carried insurance that could cover the cost of repairs.

Mayor Gilbride said that while the village does the own the windmill, it does not own the land underneath it. The land was supposed to have been transferred to the village from Suffolk County in the 1980s, along with the whole of Windmill Beach, but the deal was never finalized. As the village has been in negotiations over the ownership of Long Wharf with Suffolk County it has also been attempting to finally secure ownership of the beach parcels as well.

According to Mayor Gilbride, Yardley will have a final figure on the cost of the repairs, which includes replacing the floors and the forearms of the windmill as well as re-shingling the entire exterior, next week. Yardley is also working with the Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce, and Save Sag Harbor, to see if funds can be raised for the project.

Washington Street Lot Will Not Revert to 2-Hour Parking

Sag Harbor Planning Board member Larry Perrine was rebuffed by Mayor Gilbride on Tuesday evening after requesting, with the support of Cape Advisors spokesman David Kronman and some local business owners, that the parking lot on Washington Street be made two-hour parking as opposed to its newest designation, which allows residents to park for up to seven days.

Perrine is also the current chair of a liaison committee set up to handle any issues that may arise during the two-year construction of the condominiums in the former watchcase factory. He said the consensus was having the lot become a two-hour parking lot would aid businesses on Washington Street who may be burdened by the loss of parking spaces near their stores as a result of the construction plan.

The change, said Perrine, was requested as one that would be temporary.

However, Mayor Gilbride said the lot was needed by people who work in the village and need a parking space for more than two-hours. Additional parking, he added, has opened up nearby, on Rysam and East Union streets.

Mayor Gilbride also questioned how businesses were being impacted in December and January, when parking abounds in the village and things are generally slower.

Perrine countered that the impacts would be felt down the road, as the busy summer season nears.

Mayor Gilbride replied the situation would have to be looked at on an ongoing basis.

“And I am encouraging that,” said Perrine.


Sag Harbor Village Adopts Budget

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On Friday, April 16, the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees adopted an $8,229,019 spending plan for the 2010-2011 fiscal year, a 2.43 percent increase over this year’s budget with $7,703,690 earmarked to cover the village’s general operating budget and the remaining $525,329 accounting for Sag Harbor’s sewer fund.

The adoption came after board members decided to scrap plans to fund the replacement of 27 self-contained breathing apparatuses and back up air bottles for the Sag Harbor Volunteer Fire Department at a cost of $130,000. The department hopes to replace its entire stock of 54 air packs in the next two years as many are decades old, some hailing from the 1970s. Newer models are more efficient and not as heavy, reducing the burden on firefighters during duty, according to department officials. The total cost of the replacement would come in around $320,000.

The department has applied for a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant, which will be doled out in the fall and could cover some 80 percent of the cost. Chief Robert Mitchell had hoped the village would budget it a portion of the replacement cost in case the village isn’t awarded the grant monies. Conversely, members of the village board expressed worry that budgeting the expenditure could put the grant at risk, stating they would rather buoy the department’s truck reserve this year, and address the air packs next year should the department not receive the grant.

On Friday, Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride said the board had decided to remove the $130,000 originally earmarked for the packs, and has instead added an additional $25,000 to the fire department’s truck reserve, bringing that expenditure up to $50,000.

Sag Harbor Village Trustees said it was a priority to keep spending down for the coming fiscal year, however after mandatory contractual expenses and other non discretionary spending was laid into the budget, the board was forced to cut a number of requests by departments, including an estimated $250,000 to $500,000 for a new fire boat and Sag Harbor Village Police Chief Tom Fabiano’s request for an additional police officer. Currently, that department is running with 11 full-time officers, while the State of New York has reported efficiency and oversight in the police department would be better served with 14 full-time officers in the village.

The reduction of the budget leaves the final tax rate at 0.002621. According to Sag Harbor Village Clerk Sandra Schroeder, a house assessed at $795,000 can expect to see a $14.57 increase in village taxes in the next fiscal year.