Cuts to New Rochelle Fire Department Begin This Week, Ladder-12 to Close

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Cuts to New Rochelle Fire Department Begin This Week, Ladder-12 to Close

November 16, 2011 - 01:15

NRDF 150th 2011 0304

New Rochelle Cuts Fire Department Staffing Beginning Thursday To Save Less Than 3 Cents per Day per Resident

The City of New Rochelle will slash its emergency responder protections this Thursday, November 17), cutting its minimum on duty firefighting contingent to 24 firefighters. Additionally one of the department’s three ladder companies , which conduct search, rescue and recovery operations and venting heat, will be taken out of service.

Closing Ladder-12, which is based at the Webster Avenue firehouse, a highly populated downtown neighborhood will diminish by one-third the number of ladder companies able to respond to emergencies. Ladder companies are especially important in a city like New Rochelle which has scores of multi-story and high rise buildings.

“The city is gambling with the lives of its citizens and firefighters to save less than 3 cents a day per resident,” said Byron Gray, president of the New Rochelle Uniformed Fire Fighters Association. “Will fire victims stuck on the upper floors of a building be able to survive the extra minutes it will take to rescue them.”

In the last decade New Rochelle has become home to major growth and development including New Rock City and several high rise residential towers. It is also host to several major highways including the Hutchison River Parkway and I-95 and Metro North’s New Haven Line. The city is also home to three colleges Iona College, College of New Rochelle and Monroe College.

Since 2008 the New Rochelle Fire Department has gone from 168 firefighters to 143, a 15 percent cut. In 2008, the minimum on-duty staffing level was 29 firefighters to protect the entire city.

New Rochelle’s proposed 2012 city budget calls for the Fire Department to eliminate 9 firefighter positions and permanently closed Ladder 12. The $770,000 budget saving would amount to less than 3 cents per resident per day or ½ of 1 per cent of the city’s total budget.

There are 28 Comments

This is really sickning if it really only cost residents 3 cents a day. Residents should be asked then if they would contribute that the 3 cents to keep them in place.

Sorry but I don't want to pay anything extra. The city is already taking $8.22 per day from me and want to jack that up to $9.86 per day (a 20% total increase) so why would I want to pay more? The city wants to raise the garbage tax over 200% instead of making the approriate cuts. If Bramson & the city council want to layoff firefighters, then let it be, that's their choice and not mine but leave the tax rate alone. We're already paying too much for what we're getting. I really feel like I'm paying for a Cadillac yet I'm only driving a Chevy.

Why not look to cut expenses elsewhere? Because its the easiest route for Chuckie & its just like the school board saying sports will be cut 1st when there's tons of administrative waste in the system, all you have to do is look. It really isn't that hard to identify approriate places to cut the budget, 1 just needs to look & think outside the box.

On a final note, I guess none of the non-profits like Iona reponded to Bramson's begging for cash. I knew that would be a waste of time & effort.

You voted for them and these are our rewards.

After This About Face By New Rochelle City Fathers I Would Suggest That ALL Fire Department Members Boycott This Parade, The 150th Anniversary Year Of The New Rochelle Fire Department Will Go Down As The Darkest Year In The Department's History. The City Fathers Allowed High-Rise Buildings To Be Erected Downtown And Promised Manning Of Heavy Rescue 4 When The New Replacement Unit Was Ordered. Instead, A One Million Dollar Rescue Truck Gathers Dust At Station 1, Ladder 12 ( Which Was Ordered For High-Rise Fires ) Is Shuttered At Station 2 And First Responder's Lives Are Endangered By These Ludicrous Cuts. Shame On Fire Commissioner DeMeglio, City Manager Noam Bransom And City Manager Chuck Strome For Allowing These Drastic And Unacceptable Cut In The Fire Service !!!!!! This Is An Absolute Disgrace !!!!!!

Don't rush, dont get hurt. Have the sniffles, a headache, tired, just bang in. Don't enter a structure until adequate resources are there to rescue YOU... Remember this is only a job and the city doesnt give a $hit about you. Have everyone call the ISO nad tell them about this so everyones fire insurance goes up. When all the northenders see their insurance priemiums double you may then see some action from the Noamster and Chuckie boy. I'm sure everybody saw this coming.

How About Rotating The Ladder Closure Between Ladder 12 And Ladder 13, I Bet The North End Elite Will Rip Noam Bransom A New Asshole !!!!!!

How About Trump, The College Of New Rochelle And Iona College Which Occupy LOTS Of Prime Property In New Ro Contributing $250,000. Each To Help The City With It's Apparent Budget Shortfall !!!!!!

This the work of Bramson and the air-head Dems on council and they should accept full blame for it. As everyone can see now, the "net benefit" from New Roc, Avalon and Trump Tower is non-existing. They lied and will continue to lie and scare the public until they have the freedom to raise taxes to push schemes like Echo Bay. How a City in such dire condition agrees to an MOU with Forest City that allows them to be GIVEN valuable city real estate for free is just beyond imangination.

What is the breakdown of the $770,000 savings? Is that the savings just for 9 firefighter salaries? If my math is correct, that would be over $85,000 per job. That just can't be. Does that include the cost of trucks?

probably also factors in health care & pension costs.

And unnecessary. What would it save to retore mayor and cuncil salaries to previous limits. What would it save to put all deputy department heads on reduced time (3 days a week), Better, how about letting go one high level manager per operating unit. What would it save to task each budget manager with a directive to cut 15% from other operating expense budget.

Was there a vote of curret council and if so, I am asking the subject to be resurected at th e January meeting with a new vote taken.

I know the pain te City if suffering. I would loe t agree with 5the Avenue Guy, but I cannot put anything befoe safety. I have posted many ideas straight from the for profit senior management handbook and written to indivdual councilmembers. Apparently it had no effect.

I don't see evil like some do, Isee a lack of experience and willingness to make tought choices.The low hanging fruit are fire and police contracts.

Sounds like some more pointed and direct action is needed. Perhaps there should be a march on City Hall.

I want to see the vote count that led t this and I want to see one tht follows.

Brian Sussman, you are out there amsure. As thefine mn n citizen ou are, can youanswermy earlier question about school district elections.

It is not going to help on any issue to say things that make a person feel better. Something approaching action must take place. I would start with the neighborhood associations and write eah 2012 council member elect regardless of party.

I know it is not sexy, it may be frutiless, but it may work. I think the thinking likely i tat either Nita Lowey or the Obama Infrsstucture proposal might save the day. That would not satisfy Cuomo and it doesn't satisfy me. If you live onfee income,, grant, and ignore the more important, albetit draconian possibilities which lie in high end exempt salaries,some attached to longer range planning initiatives, while retaining sacred cows in line item expenses.

Give me Fifth Avenue Guy, one other guy or gal, and yours truly, and we will find $770,000 pretty quickly. Any takers?

it breaks my heart to see ladder 12 be dismantled, it breaks my heart to see this proud and honorable fire dept of new rochelle be kicked to the curb by a selfish narcissistic snot nose spoiled little punk like bramson.
it breaks my heart to think of all the hard working people, the senior citizens, the children and the 2 schools and churches of the west end of new rochelle that will lose there firehouse on webster ave.
All because of bramson, yes you BRAMSON, your the mayor of this once proud city and it is on your watch that this has happened. Do not twist it and put the blame on anything or anyone other then yourself. Bramson this will be your legacy now .
How dare you, you should be ashamed of yourself, you and all the rest of your democratic cronies for allowing this to happen.
But, I know you dont care one bit, you sure as hell dont give a damn about the poor section of this city, no matter what lies come out of your mouth your actions tell who you really are and what your really all about. At the end of the day your not the peoples mayor, your not my mayor and your not the mayor of all new rochelle, your the north end mayor, case closed! Happy Thanksgiving Noam.

I'm not sure what questions / answers your are seeking regarding school district elections.

Someone else posted that Ron Tocci's legislation gave NR citizens the right to vote for members of the Board of Ed, and to approve their budget proposals. I don't know if that's true, but perhaps Ron himself can comment on this. I don't recall whether that Post was at TOTS or Patch.

I've just posted the following at Patch regarding City of NR abatements and school or county taxes:

It would seem that the City of NR has no legal power to offer tax abatements, other than regarding the taxes that municipal corporation is legally authorized to subject an entity to.

As the City of NR cannot authorize school system taxes or school system expenditures, it follows that the City of NR cannot authorized property tax abatements affecting the school system or county taxes. This should be obvious.

A group of taxpayers could possibly file a NY Supreme Court Art 78 action in the nature of a certiorai or mandamus, to exclude NR school system taxes from the tax abatements of Trump, New Roc City and the Avalons, Succeeding at that would help to balance the school system's budget.

Of course, that is only true if the Board of Education did not also offer the tax abatements. Even then, those Board of Ed sponsored abatements might not be legally effective, unless they were also put to a vote of the people in a referendum, similar to school system bonding referendums.

Perhaps, the NR City Charter needs to be amended to guarantee a referendum on any massive tax abatements of the City of New Rochelle, as well as of its Board of Education.

yes Brian you quoted a commented made weeks earlier by a poster alleging that Tocci was responsible for the city not being able to control school board membership and so, the budget. of course Ron would not be empowered to do so as a Assemblyman or Senator and I took your quote to directly reflect that it is now law that New Rochelle cannot gain control over the school district.

I have already contacted Maisano, Paulin and Latimer for clarity and will let the inquiry settle. If no response, I will tell you and visit Albany or contact someone in government in person. This is anything but trivial as it directly affects both the failings of the district since Kelly has department, the incongruity of having non business people and as important, non district representation, representing the people. Of course, the notion that having this level of dysfunction and failure cripples our children's future, makes our developmental efforts very difficult given the foolishness of establishing plans to import new commercial and residential tax payers, It is gut wrenching.

Brian offers ideas worth pursuing, providing we have those with the stomach to pursue.

I call upon all council members scheduled to be installed at the first of the year to take off the party and ideology robes and do what is best for new rochelle. i call on the posters to do the same sanely, respectfully, and with ideas for today and not anger based on yesterday.

in a week i will publish the salient points of the City Code.

I call upon Jim Killoran to put aside his rightful anger at being ignored at his alleged rushing to judgment and simply use his good office and his unsullied reputation to call on community and church leaders to meet and take another look at this fire station and fire fighter situation.

I call on Bob Cox and any poster who has factual data on the voting, seating, prescribed role, and even history of the school board and history to post what they have.

Finally, I call on the Administration to reflect on what the Journal News editorial page is printing regarding citizens from many communities who are rightly concerned of a signficant breakdown in the capital expansion or simply restoration budgets. Lord only knows the potential impact on budgets and taxes especially given current tax cap considerations. I am sure New Rochelle is in very bad shape in this regard and I have tried for several years to raise this point to no avail.

The issues are clear if we don't muddy them through ideology, anger, rationalization, wrong choices, and lack of what I have described often as a non-cohesive and coherent plan.

I think we need a renaissance in governance and the centerpiece is selfless citizen involvement. We either join or take a big hit on our property as we look for ways to sell it, protect it, or even leave it for a few hours for essentials. This is not overdramatization.

Brian, stay put on the blog. You have specific and important historical perspectives as well as ideas. I think I speak for 90% of the posters on this blog.

The "City" does not grant the tax abatements, the Industrial Development Agency (IDA) does. One of the campaign issues was to have city council make the final decision, by vote, of all IDA approved abatements but the democratic majority voted that down 4-3. There is one school trustee on the IDA, Lacher, but he does not officially represent the school district. These are the politicians you elected so don't cry now. Another republican issue was to give the Board of Education veto power on IDA abatements again shot down 4-3. An article 78 in this circumstance would akin shoveling sand against the tide, useless!

Yes, Tocci sponsored legislation for the school board to be elected at large.

Ron Tocci sponsored a bill requiring school boards in cities with a population of less than 125,000, to present their school budget to the voters for approval. This bill also allowed a second school budget vote or adoption of a contingency budget if the initial budget failed. The bill was approved in June of 1996.

should have went to the old master first.1996 and thank you anthony; i have something to work with. you might be surprised at the lack of information and knowledge out there.

this is something that must be reconsidered and changed. ron missed the mark on a number of matters and not all related to where we are now as a city and nation.

i am going to ask that this be overturned or at least modified.

thank u and just another example of your importance to the City. owe you a maxwell house or a dunkin donuts; your choice. w

I need to do much research but I believe the governing law is NYS Education Law Sections 1601, 1603, 1701, etc.

Advocates for this law use the same arguments that likely established the law in the first place --- school boards are balanced and skilled, they are open to public input and change, they represent an entire city fairly, etc.... we know they may be the finest people on earth, but the progression of time calls for a new paradigm of governance. Facts are they lack broad-based skills in many cases, they do not represent the realities of various districts demographics and needs, they and the City are run as separate entitities and there is no evidence that they work as one in a scheduled, transparent, public accessible forum to address common issue of improving the district performance and graduation rates to attract new businesses and residents, to effectively work toward joint reponsibility for a capital plan, to be subject to city audit --- what these advocates fail to understand is that the enfranchisement of citizens voting for a school budget and admininstrtors are the same voters casting ballots for city government.

the system is based on, frankly, liberal "oughts" and does not satisfy basic realities or common sense. It also fails to comply to coherency. I hear statements like "the high school has an excellent reputation" - yes, but...... it was better, could be better yet, has administration issues... too large for a city of 70,000 plus people.

then we have the likely odd Albany logic of picking some number out of a hat --- in this case, 125,000 people baseline affords you relief from these statutes as written as I understand it so Yonkers, etal can follow a different path and create their own unique problem set.

Facts are that the Manhattan Institute, admittedly a Conservative think tank, among many many others, have pointed out that the trend in many areas of the country is to centralize to support more of a chance of business leadership while NOT disenfranchising areas like our Council Districts 1-4 who rarely, if ever, will get proportional representation.

This will turn out to be a liberal vs. conservative issue if brought to light. I am still going to press for someone to pick up the cudgel and think this damn thing through.

I know this is buried in the bowels of a blog response, but my system is down and I wanted to report back as best I can.

This is a fight worth taking on because it matters.


I think Article 78 might be very effective. Why do you think its worthless?

It is worthless because the city did not grant the tax abatements, the IDA did and the IDA has the power to grant school tax abatements. Does anyone believe the school district would willingly sign off on 30-year tax abatements to anyone? Unfortunately it is legal and a waste of time and money to challenge. Now if you could prove there are tenants receiving section 8 assistance/vouchers in the Avalons the abatements would end per the agreement.

While it is not as high profile as the elimination of a ladder company and fewer firefighters available, the PD is also going down to 119 total officers and detectives. This is down from over 147 in 2009 This reduction is concentrated in Patrol- the first responders. Most of the detectives are not in patrol. This guarantees that there will be fewer officers available to respond to calls. I doubt the commissioner will allow overtime to ensure proper staffing . 28 fewer officers yet essentially the same amount allocated for overtime in 2012 as 2009. It stands to reason that if proper staffing is going to be maintained with 28 fewer officers then additional overtime would be needed.
It is a worthy debate at what the proper staffing levels should be but these current FD and PD reductions are simply unsafe. I can only hope that this is just a ploy to get tax rates increased.

I agree the PD decimation is not viewed as onerous because it's done through attrition. The bottom line is that 14 fewer police officers means more overtime, injuries and unmanned sectors. The crossing guards refused to give back the time they are on duty with no one to cross since the implementation of all day kindergarten so they got the axe. While I know this is the exception there is a guard at 4th & Washington who sits in her Mercedes Benz with illegal blacked out windows that is parked illegally. It's time to share the pain, the middle-class taxpayers have shouldered the burden long enough, it's time for others to chip in.

I understand that the firefighters pay into their health and retirement but the police officers get off scot free.

This happened many years ago under the Idoni administration. A march on City Hall by residents and firefighters from the Webster Ave. Firehouse to City Hall on the night of a Citizens To Be Heard council meeting turned the tide. Hopefully this can be organized again but it is totally unnecessary. This stems from a fire study ordered by then City Manager Korn that concluded Ladder12 and the Webster Ave. firehouse could be closed without drastically affecting the 4-minute response time. Doc did not agree with the study so City Council never adopted the findings. This study ended up in a City Hall wastebasket after costing NR Taxpayers $50,000. Aside from the obvious safety and fiscal concerns are the details. The Devil in these details is that Ladder 12 is a specially constructed vehicle. Its length is shorter than the standard hook-and-ladder truck. The narrow streets in West NR necessitate this special vehicle. Ladder 12 can maneuver where other ladder trucks can't. This truck is so "special" the doors on the Webster Ave. Firehouse had to be altered to accept Ladder 12. The other detail is that the West End has older homes on very small lots, many multi-family dwellings that are overcrowded and rife with illegal occupancy. So you have 100+-year-old homes packed with overcrowding on tiny lots and the administration has seen fit to close down the firehouse that serves this area.

I know first hand about increased response time. One evening in 1999, a few days before Christmas, my father-in-law, Joseph Candrea, came running in from our garage clutching his chest. It was clear he was having a heart attack. While I did what I could to calm him down and keep him alert my wife called 911. The NRFD did an amazing job attempting to revive him but a higher authority had plans for Pop. I relive this night every year before Christmas and wonder. You see, at that time the Webster Avenue Firehouse was closed for renovation. The Webster Avenue Firehouse is 3 blocks from our home on Charles Street. The NRFD had to respond from the Harrison St. Firehouse. I reviewed the tapes and indeed the NRFD responded within the 4-minute timeframe but it would have been less than 2 minutes from Webster Avenue. So you see, I wonder if the decreased response time would have extended Pop’s life?

Is anyone out there willing to accept the responsibility of duplicating this scenario and losing another life for 3 cents per day? I’m not asking the citizens to accept higher taxes I am asking the citizens to rise up in outrage that the administration can’t cover 3 cents per day to ensure public safety.


I agree--3 cents a day is nothing compared to a human life. But I ask you, why can't the employees kick in a few bucks to help the City stay within the tax cap? Firefighters make $82,000 a year. That is not chump change. If they prefer to work with fewer people rather than kicking in a few bucks, the choice is theirs. But don't ask the middle and class families to keep coming up with the money year after year. Many people don't make anywhere near that and are struggling to survive. It is time to cap these salaries until the economic conditions in this country improve.

It happened the first day,Ladder 12, 1/3rd the Ladders in the city is closed.Whether or not you believe it but with this comes a lower rating for the Fire Dept which will mean higher homeowner insurance rates.No politician told us that.Its true,so we will be paying one way or another.Also ive been told by the guys that when the Ladder is not in service,no other town will come to N.R. for Mutual Aid.Apparently overtime has been used up by Deputy Chiefs, not the Fireman.The Chiefs apparently have their own Union and they have nobody policing their overtime,they can pretty much rack up all they want,when they want.One Chief,name not mentioned,works so much that another Chief and him almost came to blows about his greed.All this comes from a very good inside source who has been spot on so far with his facts.Also for you Westenders,closing the slowest house on Pinebrook is no chance because thats where the Mayor and City Manager live.This brings up a point,why do we need a City Manager? If Managing the city is his job he has failed miserably.Why isnt his job on the line?I say close the North End house,its the slowest and screw the Politicians.

Bramson and Strome come out and blame this whole economic mess on outside factors. The truth is that this country and every government right down to NR is to blame. It was the fed who created the mortgage meltdown and allowed energy costs to reach all time highs which, when coupled with the loss of US jobs, crippled the country.

On Bramson's watch, we have, and continue to have, personnel costs that have spiraled out of control. No one at the City level deals with the issue despite the warnings for many years. Commonsense dictates that if salaries and healthcare go up, and the City can't generate the revenue because of half-baked development practices, then they have to cut staffing. Sad but true.

Now we have Republicans on council who are most likely going to circumvent the tax cap. That is a mistake. NR needs to suck it in and get greater contributions from their employees, it needs to work with the state to change flawed civil service and arbtration rules, and it needs to stop giving away real estate to developers.

I feel sorry for the people that willlose their jobs, but they needto blame their union leaders and irresponsible government for this. Pushing the burden year after year on property owners is wrong. It is adding to the reduction in property values,it pushes the middle class out of NR, it is keeping new people from moving here.

The Fireman's Prayer
"When I am called to duty, God, wherever flames may rage;
Give me the strength to save some life, whatever be it's age.
Help me embrace a little child before it is to late;
Or save an older person from the horrors of that fate.
Enable me to be alert, and hear the weakest shout,
and quickly and efficiently put the fire out.
I want to fill my calling and to give the best in me;
To guard my every neighbor and protect his property.
And if according to Your will I am to give my life,
Please bless with Your protecting hand,
My children and my wife"

the gallant Gabrielle Giffords, a confirmed liberal with the heart of a lion has initiated a movement in Congress for a 5% reduction or kickback in Congressional salaries to address the debt. Yes, it may be symnbolic, but dammit, you got to take a first step before you set off on your journey.

Just as telling, there is a group of millionares and billionares in Washington now urging reform. One particularly impressive guy is a billionware and was homeless several decades earlier (early 80s). He says simply that there are plenty of opportunities in any business plan to find money for significant savings; one definition of this is to save firefighter jobs; another to get business people to control school district financing.

How much more can I say? Chuck Strome is talking like a manager from a previous century when he says "there is no more fat." Yeah there is Chuck, it might like in sharing the pain among exempts, cutting a layer or two of supervision, deferrng or cancelling some other operating expense. It is there period end of story.

I spoke to counsel for a legislator from the democratic party who gave the same of song and dance about equity in school board representation. These people dont understand that we are in 2011 and that the world isn't all shiny happy people living in perfect little white picket fence housing.

So, its clear to me that the battle is one that points out what must be done in sharing pain, changing existing legislation that works against council district represesntation, managing by City Code or changing it.

Fighting yesterdays battle is fruitless and useless. Newt Gingrich is as much of a corrupt load as Charlie Rangel. Herman Cain is as out of touch as Nancy Pelosi. There is no premium on being incompetent or incomplete in 2012 where ideology is concerned. Politics and politicians are shifty and verbal and need to be challenge compassionnately but coherrently. And, I would expect the same from a Byron Gray or a Martin Daly. Everybody hurts so everybody gives. However, the first responsiblility of a community is to protect and preserve its citizens. If Byron understands and signs up for that, bring everything up to strength and code, fund it, but make sure that inequities in fire and police contracts and affairs is made whole.

What the hell else is there to say?