Fire Commissioner Speaks on the Bond Vote

I met up with Fire Commissioner Chas Thompson at his Day Job at Long Beach Lifeguard Station

I met up with Fire Commissioner Chas Thompson at his Day Job at Long Beach Lifeguard Station

related posts:

Fire Dept $7 mil Plans
Fire Dept Open House #2, at Lido Firehouse
Discourse And Poll: Fire Department Bond Issue
Fire Dept Answers at Civic Meeting

related links to cost estimates for construction :
Ye Olde Firehouse Cost estimate
Headquarters Cost Estimate
Administration Bldg(Command Center) Cost Estimate
Lido Firehouse Cost Estimate
Ye Olde Firehouse inspection Report

After Tuesdays Civic Association meeting with the fire department that got heated at times, I tracked down Fire Commissioner Chas Thompson, as he finished a days work at the Long Beach Lifeguard Station, where he has served for 30+ years. He spoke of the meeting:

“It was a rough night. I think a lot of people were passionate about what they’re trying to say. I agree if you own a piece of property, you should have representation but we don’t make the law, we’re just following New York State code.

“As far as absentee ballots we’ve never had absentee ballots and we are running the same way we always have.

“Then for people to question the integrity of who’s counting the ballots…

The people are all reputable people. They’re members of the Point Lookout Historical Society, Lido Dunes Civic Association and others. We pulled key people from the community so it’s all on the up and up. Its people who know people in the community, so when you come to vote you’re going to know them and they’re going to know who you are. You can’t screw around with an election. Our district secretary is a notary public. She has done elections for 20 years.

Commissioner Thompson explains his personal perspective.

“It is tough enough with the situation. I’m in the 3 places I have: at work here, the beach is in shambles (as he speaks to me from the lifeguards’ temporary trailer), my home (Home damaged and unlivable after Sandy, he’s not expected to move in for many months still) and I’m in Rescue (fire department rescue property destroyed and unusable): so I’m displaced everywhere.”

“Tell me why the plan is good for Point Lookout and Lido”

“I look back to what Pete Zacarria, Lester Koppell and Harold Wondsel did in 1969. They kind of envisioned what it was going to take to build something getting us into the future.

“Now 45 years later we have to look to the future again.

“The fire trucks have gotten alot bigger The cabs we used to have had open back trucks everybody could jump in the back. Ambulances were vans- you could put it in anywhere – now theyre a big box.

“OSHA’s laws and rules govern that we have to have this type of apparatus. We need fire houses that will fit the proper apparatus.”

“OSHA also requires that all the fire houses have showers and proper bathroom facilities and we don’t have that.

“If you go look at the firehouses on the island, if you saw the piece an Firehouses from Channel 2, you know that we’re not asking for one of those big Firehouses.

“In our firehouse, you can just barely fit the rigs in. Sometimes we can’t even fit the racks with everybody’s jackets in there.

“We just need to get the facilities up to something that’s going to last us for the next (foreseeable) years.

“We haven’t floated a bond, or done any expansion work on the buildings since 1973. We’ve been very prudent fiscally.
“We bought an $850,000 tower ladder since then. We bought 2 pumper (trucks) and three ambulances in that time and we haven’t gone to the taxpayers and haven’t raised the tax rate in years.

“So now that the infrastructure must be looked at, we have to go to the taxpayers. We have one shot and we know that.

“If the people over the next couple of days want to come look at the firehouse and see how tight it is, they should. People just assume we are putting these big palaces in. We’re not putting a big palace in.

Fire Department Bond Vote: Tuesday July 9, 2013, 4Pm-9PM @ Point Lookout Headquarters Firehouse and Lido Firehouse.

Fire Department Bond Vote: Tuesday July 9, 2013, 4PM-9PM @ Point Lookout Headquarters Firehouse and Lido Firehouse.

 

Community Space and Ye Olde Firehouse

“There will be a community room in headquarters and it will be the size of the one at Ye Olde Firehouse now.

“If it wasn’t for Ye Olde Firehouse this would definitely go through. It’s an 81-year-old building. The infrastructure itself – the wiring, the Floors, the walls are antiquated. If we are to put the building up to code, since 51% of it has to be rebuilt, it has to be up to modern codes… hurricane resistance and be ADA compliant – meaning an elevator. With the kitchen there, the whole thing will have to have the Ansul (expensive commercial exhaust and fire suppression) system. It will have to now have not just bathrooms, but fully handicapped accessible bathrooms. It’s very expensive and it’s going to be from $2-$3 million

“One of the points that Point Lookout Homeowners Inc. put out in their mailings was that local people were willing to do the work”

“Well they quoted one (contractor) saying (one thing), and when that person found out he was the person being quoted he (was extremely upset his name was being associated with that). You can’t be quoting things that aren’t right.

Lido Firehouse

“People need to see and know the facts at Lido Firehouse. That’s an old building we can barely fit fire apparatus in there.
Come down and see the fire apparatus clears the top of that building by just inches. We want to rectify that for the people with more room upstairs not only for the firemen but to service the public in the future as well.

Command Center…. engage

“Do you think it was a mistake to call the new building the ‘command center’. My take is it’s offices but the name makes people think you are putting the dashboard from the Starship Enterprise in there”

“It’s more of the district building. If you look at the plans, we have the district offices, a meeting / conference room and the Chiefs office that is the upstairs at Ye Olde Firehouse now.

“It is going to be elevated to a little bit higher. I would’ve called it the district offices AND command center.

followLogo400

“Did anybody do a cost analysis of what it will cost the residents of District to not do anything? In many Civil and Energy projects there’s usually a line in the proposal of what will cost to not do the project. Did anybody in the district do anything like that that you know of?”

“I don’t recall anything like that coming up so probably not.

“I think we put together a solid plan. It’s not extravagant. Like Carolyn Gussoff (CBS 2) said, theres no 5 star kitchens no marble floors. We’re asking for a little more space and… showers to make the building right for the firemen and also serve the public.

“The community room upstairs will be open to the public. Whether we are able to rent it as a hall or not, we don’t know. There are a lot of variables right now and we will not know until we get it passed.”

Someone asked at the meeting about the fire department budget and where he could find info like the budget.

Here is that info:
Lido Point Lookout Fire District Annual Budget.
(All can be found at Pllfd.org) check the “public files” section

“It is the third lowest budget in Nassau County” he said.

“It has been brought up at the meetings that lower volunteer numbers is a problem, so what is the fire department doing to try and bring in the younger generation to volunteer?”

“It’s a problem currently across the United States and Nassau County. We are not that bad off. We don’t call for mutual aid often.

We have been to Long Beach 70 times this year (to give them mutual aid) because they’ve requested our help.
So we’re okay right now but we have programs like the open house, education in schools. We have the junior firefighter program where we develop kids like Sean Gibson, Josh Littlefield and Harrison Weitz.(see Fire Dept Open House #2, at Lido Firehouse)

They’ve come out of this program and they’ve all gone for accelerated training, taking a 12 week course, each week going for different aspect of firefighting. They took two solid weeks in May – there were 4 or 5 from our department. We now have a bunch of them that are in the EMT class we run. If you join the department you don’t pay for it or for refreshers every three years when you have to refresh. We had a class in Lido where we had 30 people and 16 or 17 were from our department.
“These are people giving their time to take this class so they have the skills, and get the license to take care of people in the community.

We have an open house every Sunday. The firehouse door is always open. Come in, they will show you around and what it’s all about.

Whether this issue passes or not, there were alot of people that didn’t know much about the fire district and we met a lot of good people in the community.

In Long Beach they are starting the NET (Neighborhood Emergency Team) program. It’s a way to get the public and civilians involved and have them trained and on hand in an emergency, like Superstorm Sandy. Have you heard about this and are there any plans in our area.

“Its certainly something for us to look into, and the community in Point Lookout and Lido could be involved.

People are worried about the amount of this bond, what can you tell them?

“Have you figured out what your assessment was? Mine is only going to be about $120 a year. It’s not as much as people think it is. I truly think that we’ve done our homework.

“We came up with a plan that we feel is right. And we’re hoping that the taxpayer is going to feel that way, too.”

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