Comptroller Publishes Updated Report on the Fire Service in New York
Read the new report on the fire service in New York State here:
Comptroller Proposes More Transparency for Fire Protection Districts
From the Office of the New York State Comptroller
Thomas P. DiNapoli
DiNAPOLI PROPOSES MORE TRANSPARENCY FOR FIRE PROTECTION COSTS
New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today proposed changes to the process for local communities that contract out their fire protection services to incorporated volunteer fire companies. DiNapoli’s legislation would require any incorporated fire company to submit an itemized statement of the estimated costs of providing fire services prior to contract negotiations with any town, village or fire district.
“Many communities rely on the efforts of volunteer fire fighters to protect residents and their property,” DiNapoli said “My legislative proposal would help ensure that the public is aware of the costs of providing fire services before contracts are signed and creates a more standardized process across New York that implements best practices.”
DiNapoli’s legislation is supported by the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York, the Association of Fire Districts of the State of New York and the New York State Association of Fire Chiefs.
His office also released a report to help New Yorkers learn about the different ways that communities offer fire protection services to residents. New York’s system for providing fire protection is complex. It can lead to lack of civic understanding, limited participation in budget hearings and special elections, and not enough oversight of financial operations.
The report notes:
- As of December 2015, there were 886 fire districts in the state.
· All 62 cities and many of the state’s villages have municipal fire departments.
· There are over 90,000 volunteer and about 18,000 paid career firefighters throughout the state.
· Ninety-four percent of fire district revenues come from property taxes.
· Because fire companies are private entities, they are not subject to many of the laws that apply to municipalities and fire districts.
Between 2011 and 2015, the Comptroller’s office audited 194 fire districts and 113 fire companies. DiNapoli’s office trained approximately 1,200 fire officials across the state in the last three years on financial matters.
Attached is the Legislative Memo related to the new legislation:
Attached is actual proposed text of the legislation:
Regional Director Election Results
The State Association gathered on March 10th for their Board Meeting at the Saratoga Casino Hotel and to count the ballots for regional director for region 1. A number of people oversaw the election including Counsel Joe Frank. The results of the balloting was between three candidates and the count from highest to lowest was Norm Petricca, Joyce Petkus, and John Erickson. Norm and Joyce will be sworn in at the Annual Meeting being held at the Desmond from April 20th to the 22nd.
We wish the best for departing Director John Erickson and we thank him for his service to the State Association.
So You Want to Form a Fire District? – Guidance Document
Forming a Joint Fire District, or New Fire District
Fire District Surplus Property Limits Go Up!
The Governor signed bill S 5858-B on 11/14/16, which relates to the sale of surplus real or personal property. The fire district may now sell or otherwise dispose of real and personal property of the district no longer necessary for any of its use or purposes if valued at less than $100,000 but not below $20,000 by resolution which will be subject to a permissive referendum. If the value of the real or personal property is less than $20,000 a proposition is not needed, simply a resolution of the Board to declare the property surplus. Over $100,000 a resolution by the Board and a voter referendum is required. The amounts in Section 176, subdivision 23 of Town law were previously $50,000 and $10,000.
Capital Area Officers for 2017
- Capital Area Election Results as of the meeting on November 10th. You missed the refreshments again!!
- President John Meehan
- 1st Vice President Tom Rinaldi
- 2nd Vice President Alan Hodges
- 5 Director’s Positions Tom Wood (Northumberland), Les Bonesteel (Burnt Hills), Joyce Petkus (Greenfield), Don Kugler (Greenfield), Ed Woehrle (Niskayuna #1)
We want to wish a fond farewell to John Goddard of the Burnt Hills Fire Department who will be moving out of the area to take a position with the State of North Carolina. We congratulate John but will also miss his input and dedication.
Include fire sprinklers in the code
By David Quinn and Jerry Deluca
In February 2014, one person died of carbon monoxide poisoning in a Long Island restaurant. The state Legislature acted with the appropriate urgency, and two years later, a law is on the books requiring the installation of CO detectors in all commercial properties. This is an excellent example of public officials taking advantage of existing, widely available technologies to improve the public safety.
Sadly, the state Code Council has not demonstrated the same urgency. For some time now, the council has bowed to pressure from home builders’ associations and resisted the inclusion of residential sprinkler systems in New York’s home building codes. This comes in spite of the fact that sprinklers are proven, life-saving technology, and are integrated into the national standard code. The council has, in fact, actively removed the sprinkler requirement from New York’s code, harming the public safety.
If enacted, the sprinkler requirement would apply only to new one- and two-family homes, as well as new town houses. The cost of sprinklers would be approximately $1.65 per square foot — not insignificant, but a small price to pay for protecting one’s home and family, and one that is partially offset by a more favorable home insurance rate. An average home in the Capital Region of approximately 2,000 square feet would cost about $3,300 to equip with sprinklers — often less than the cost of a granite counter-top in the kitchen, and less than what is sometimes paid for a lawn sprinkler system.
This is not just an abstraction: 75 people have already died in 2016 in residential house fires, and we are about to enter winter, when fires typically spike. That is 75 deaths too many, made all the more tragic when a solution is readily available. According to the National Fire Protection Association, 85 percent of all fire deaths occur at home, and the presence of sprinklers cuts the risk of dying by approximately 80 percent.
The New York State Association of Fire Chiefs, the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York, along with our sister associations, the Association of Fire Districts of NYS and the NYS Fire Coordinators Association, are constantly striving to reduce the number of fires and fire deaths. We hold fire prevention classes, inform the public about the benefits of smoke alarms and hold open houses at fire stations, but there is only so much we can do. Those in power must act to protect the public, and fire sprinklers are unquestionably effective in doing so. How many more people must die before public safety takes precedence over profit?
- David Quinn is chief administrative officer of the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York. Jerry DeLuca is executive director & CEO of the New York State Association of Fire Chiefs.
New Homes Burn Too!!
Connecticut Child Dies in Recently Built Home
A six-year-old girl from Connecticut recently died in a fire in a home built only months ago. Her mother is in serious condition. The incident negates persistent claims made by fire sprinkler opponents that smoke alarms and other safety features “offer adequate protection from fire” and home fire sprinklers are not necessary since “today’s fire deaths and injuries are happening in older homes.”
Built by a local Habitat for Humanity chapter this year using lightweight construction materials and occupied by the family in July, the Connecticut home had at least one working smoke alarm, according to news reports. Moreover, had this home’s construction followed requirements found in all U.S. model building codes—specifically, a requirement to sprinkler new dwellings that has appeared in every edition of these codes since 2009—it should have been sprinklered.
Mirroring action occurring across North America, sprinkler opponents in Connecticut have made a convincing—and oftentimes inaccurate—pitch to state and local decision makers that have kept fire sprinklers out of new homes. “Nobody is dying in new homes from fires,” stated Bill Ethier, CEO of Connecticut’s Home Builders and Remodelers Association, in a 2015 essay penned in response to proposed legislation to sprinkler the state’s new homes. (His full essay is attached to this blog post.) “Sprinklers in new homes will not save the lives proponents claim. “[This technology] is an astronomical cost to save a life.”
“This type of logic is misguided and infuriating,” says Jim Pauley, NFPA’s president and CEO. “Time and again, our data proves the majority of America’s fire deaths are occurring at home, old and new alike. Research also confirms that fire sprinklers are a cost-effective component to new homes that can eliminate these tragedies. They are the solution to our home fire problem. To assume that fire sprinkler requirements are merely an unwanted burden to homebuilders with minimal benefits to society places little value on the little girl who sadly passed away, the more than 2,500 others who die each year from home fires, and the thousands of others injured annually by these incidents.”
Pauley is not alone in promoting safer homes in Connecticut and elsewhere. “You have an 80 percent rate of getting out of a house fire with smoke alarms and sprinklers and only a 50 percent chance with smoke alarms alone, so there’s a big difference there,” Keith Flood, chair of the Connecticut Fire Sprinkler Coalition, told a Connecticut news station following the recent fire. He is currently working with the coalition to secure home fire sprinkler requirements in his state. “Our opinion is that this may have been a different scenario if the house had sprinklers in it.”
Legislation Passed to Help Eliminate Zombie Homes
Legislation that will give local officials new resources to quickly attack the scourge of abandoned, foreclosed ‘zombie properties’ has been signed into law, and takes effect in September. But a new hotline is already in operation that allows residents to report unsightly, abandoned homes to the State Department of Financial Services. If you know of a foreclosed home, either call the hotline at (800) 342-3736, or file an online complaint through the link below. This includes fire districts/departments they are a hazard for your firefighters.
Move Over Law Expanded To Cover Volunteers
- Governor Cuomo signed legislation expanding New York State’s “Move-Over” Law to volunteer firefighters and ambulance workers. The measure (S.7938/A.8702-A) requires drivers to slow down and move over a lane when approaching a vehicle with flashing blue or green lights that are operated by volunteer firefighters or ambulance workers involved in a roadside emergency.
New DEC Rules on AFFF Foam Storage and Use
New DEC Rules on AFFF Foam Storage and Use
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has issued Emergency Rules and has concurrently proposed a Formal Rule Making on the storage and use of AFFF firefighting foam. These actions are being taken to address concerns about the potential environmental and public health impacts of these substances.
DEC adopted an Emergency Rule that modifies the list of hazardous substances in Part 597 to include:
- perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA-acid, Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) No. 335-67-1),
- ammonium perfluorooctanoate (PFOA-salt, CAS No. 3825-26-1),
- perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS-acid, CAS No. 1763-23-1), and
- perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS-salt, CAS No. 2795-39-3)
The effect of these new rules on fire departments is that the fire service can use AFFF until April 25, 2017, for fighting a fire, but should discontinue the use of any Class B foam for training purposes. OFPC recommends use of training foam, Class A wetting agents, or a mild dish detergent verified not to contain materials listed as hazardous substances for the purpose of conducting Class B foam training. Any Class B foam containing these hazardous substances must not be released to the environment after April 25, 2017, and should be properly disposed of.
In addition – if you use AFFF that contains these hazardous substances to fight a fire and more than one pound of a hazardous substance is released to the environment, then the release must be reported to the DEC’s Spill Hotline at (800) 457-7362. In order to determine if there has been a release of one pound or more, you will need to know the amount of foam concentrate that has been used and the concentration of the hazardous substance in the foam. Manufacturers may provide guidance on their websites on how to make this determination, but if this is not the case you should contact the manufacturer of any AFFF in stock to determine the percentage of these compounds it may contain.
Please click on the following links for additional information:
DEC Proposal Link to the Emergency Adoption and Proposed Rule on PFOA substances
State Chiefs and the other fire service organizations will continue monitor this DEC proposal. At the current time there are no funds available to fire departments to replace existing stockpiles of foam or to assist in disposal of old stocks. NYSAFC recommends that any fire department that has stockpiles of this foam not wait until the deadline to replace it.
New Building Code Adopted
- The Codes Division issued a technical bulletin on Friday March 25th which outlines the adoption of the 2015 ICC Codes and the Energy Code.
- The official interim rule date will be April 6 with final adoption on October 3rd 2016, which is a 180 day transition period
- Local governments will be receiving their new code books in early May. If they have submitted their required annual report they will receive a set of books for each registered code official. If they have not submitted their annual report, they will receive one set of books.
- In addition to the books, every municipality will obtain an electronic submission to the codes which will provide computer access to the codes and all of the adopted standards within the code.
- Each municipality will receive a complimentary one year membership to the ICC and they then can be active voting members.
- This membership also provides each municipality with access to the technical services of the ICC, for code technical assistance and interpretations.
- Now the bad news; long time Codes Division employees, Julie Nemeth-Weisser, Ron Piester and Mark Blanke will all be retiring from the Department of State Codes Division at the end of April. A tremendous loss.
Ron Piester has taken a position with the ICC in Birmingham Alabama