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Grand Island Fire Company News 2011

Grand Island Fire Company, Inc. Website

For Emergencies Dial 9-1-1 or 773-7508
To contact the Fire Company Dial 773-4334

Firematic Officers 2011: Fire Chief Kevin M. Koch; Deputy Chief Matt Osinski; 1st Assistant Chief Christopher Soluri; 2nd Assistant Chief Mark Sadkowski; Captains Edward Krecisz, Shawn Kephart & Omar Sortino; EMS Captain Robert E. Cleveland & Jeremy Pullano; Day Captain Greg Butcher; Fire Police Captain Don Portik

Administrative Officers 2011: President Tammy Jo Gorman, Vice President Donald Turner, Secretary Laurie Berry, Treasurer Steven L. Morgan, Financial Secretary Anthony Mastantuono, Line Secretary Nicole Gerber and Sgt.-at-Arms David Khreis.

Board of Directors 2011: Chairman Stephen M. Stouter, Vice Chairman Greg Butcher, Paul D. Gorman, Secretary Raymond Pauley, Mark T. Kowzan, Michael D. Braun, David C. Tolejko

Owner Discovers Concealed Fire in Island Home - December 2011

#1 Area of concealed fire after floor was opened up - #2 Smoldering area after floor was opened up - #3 Ryan Ayers soaking down area with water/foam mixture
Chuck Berlinger Photos

By Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer

   Grand Island Firefighters responded to a Stony Point Road structure fire at 12:33 p.m. Thursday, December 8, reported by the owner, Kevin Hall, who discovered smoke coming from his basement.
   When Engine #4 and LT #6 and fire suppression crews arrived on location within two minutes, smoldering embers were found in flooring and support beams under a first floor fireplace according to Fire Chief Kevin Koch. Although this fire was localized, extinguishment presented problems because some flooring and part of a concrete foundation had to be removed to expose the extent of fire penetration, he noted.
   GIFC Fire Investigator Chuck Berlinger reported that long term heat transference caused drying of the wood next to the base of the fireplace (pyrolysis) and ignition eventually occurred. This condition is usually prevalent in older construction dating back to the 1940s-1950s or before, which happened in this case involving a 1945 build. Fortunately, this hidden fire was discovered early enough so that structural damage was limited to approximately $10,000 and there were no injuries or worse.
   Meanwhile, GIFC Engine #5 and a mutual aid contingent from Sheridan Park VFD remained on standby at fire headquarters throughout the entire operation.
   All participating units returned in service at 3:13 p.m. after extensive overhaul was completed.

Koch Returns for Second Term as GI Fire Chief - December 2011

By Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer

   Kevin Koch returns for a second term as chief of the Grand Island Fire Company after running unopposed in 2012 elections, held at fire headquarters on Wednesday, December 7.
   Koch will be joined by Deputy Chief Matt Osinski, 1st Assistant Chief Chris Soluri, 2nd Assistant Chief Mark Sadkowski, Fire Captains Ed Krecisz, Shawn Kephart, Omar Sortino, Day Captain Peter McMahon, Fire Police Captain Don Portik, AMS Captain Jon Cinelli and a second appointed EMS Captain Jeremy Pullano.
   Tammy Gorman was successful in attaining her third term as president and will be assisted by Vice President Don Turner, Line Secretary Nicole Gerber, Recording Secretary Laurie Berry. Reed Wright was returned to the Board of Review and Robert "Butch" Meyer will continue to serve as Benevolent Assoc. Trustee. Dave Khreis was also returned to the position of Sgt.-at-Arms.
   Dave Tolejko was returned to another three-year term on the Board of Directors, and Jeremy Pullano begins his first term.
   Tony Mastantuono Sr. is serving as Financial Secretary and Communications Supervisor Steve Morgan is holding the position of treasurer.
   In addition, several delegate positions were also filled.
   Congratulations to these dedicated GIFC volunteers who have joined an impressive 2012 leadership team.

Island Driver Injured in Three-Car Collision - December 2011

By Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer

   GIFC rescue personnel responded to a three-car MVA which occurred shortly after 7 p.m. Wednesday, November 30th on Grand Island Blvd. in front of the S & G Mart - Sunoco station. Fire Chief Kevin Koch reports that EMTs and medics were already involved in two other EMS emergencies when this call was received.
   Richard Whiting, 91, and his wife, Rosemary, 89, of Williamsville claimed no injuries, as did Rick Ponzi and his wife, Beverly, 57, of Sanborn, NY. Meanwhile Laura Kondziella, 17, of Grand Island was treated for non life threatening injuries and transported to Women & Children's Hospital for precautionary follow-up.
   All GIFC units returned in service at 7:35 p.m. according to Chief Koch.

Emergency Responders Targeted by Extremists - November 2011

By Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer

By Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer

   Buffalo Police Captain Gregg Blosat conducted a special terrorism exercise for members of the local fire and police services, as well as Grand Island town officials at GIFC headquarters on Monday evening, November 28, 2011.
   "Stay Alert, Stay Alive" was the resounding theme throughout this informative presentation which covered the ever-present dangers of domestic and international terrorism. Blosat stressed that first responders are a primary target of those fanatics who intend to inflict maximum damage and loss of life. During the past decade or so, such acts have cropped up everywhere indiscriminately and must be recognized as part of the tremendous burden faced by those who have dedicated their lives to community protection. First responders must be alert for unusual or suspicious objects encountered during an emergency response. Hidden hazards such as VBIED (vehicle borne improvised explosive devices) booby traps, pipe bombs, chemical weapons such as RICIN, etc. must be identified and isolated by establishment of a safety zone ASAP so that mass casualties can be minimized or totally eliminated. He also noted that first responders face increased dangers from unstable chemical compounds and their reactions that are associated with illegal 'METH' labs where a medical emergency or explosion may require their presence. Such contaminated environments will hamper potential lifesaving or firefighting efforts since first responder safety is considered a paramount priority. "You can't help someone else if you become an additional victim."
   A 'hands on' demonstration of hazardous devises and explosive scenarios highlighted the precautionary lesson for all first responders: be aware of your surroundings at all times, exercise restraint under any and all suspicious circumstances, and your chances of saving the lives of others as well as your own will be that much greater.
   In addition, a valuable resource on this subject is a publication by the IAFC (International Assoc. of Fire Chiefs) entitled "Terrorism Response For Fire Chiefs", etc., 2nd edition, which is available on line.

Fire Destroys Parked Vehicle - November 2011

By Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer

   Grand Island firefighters responded at 11:18 a.m. Monday, November 14, 2011 to a report of a car on fire in front of San-Dees Pub, 1570 Ferry Road.
   GIFC Capt. Greg Butcher reported that the parked 2000 Ford Focus was "fully involved" when Engine #5 and fire suppression crews arrived on location within two minutes. The engine compartment fire was apparently caused by an electrical malfunction and resulted in an estimated $2000 damage, which would amount to a "total loss," according to Butcher.
   There was no fire extension to nearby buildings and no one was injured.
   All GIFC units returned in service at 11:34 a.m. according to Capt. Butcher.

Occupants Escape Injury In Two-car Collision - November 2011

By Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer

(top) Front end damage to one of impacted vehicles
(bottom) GIFC firefighters and medics finish patient evaluation and other on scene duties

   Grand Island Fire Company rescue personnel responded shortly after 2 p.m. Tuesday, November 8 to a two-car MVA on Whitehaven Road near Grand Island Blvd., across from the Getty gas station.
   Fire Chief Kevin Koch stated that there were no serious injuries involved, despite front end vehicle damage that occurred. Kathryn Tyczymski, 22, of Williamsville declined hospitalization after evaluation by GIFC medics for a minor should problem. Two passengers, 5 and 7 years old, were not injured. George Anderson, 72, of Grand Island, also claimed no injuries.
   All GIFC units returned in service at 2:34 p.m according to Chief Koch.

Pet Alerts Owner to Early Morning Fire - November 2011

by Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer
Chuck Berlinger Photos - Click for larger view

   Grand Island firefighters responded at 4:38 a.m. Friday, November 4 to an alarm of fire at the Country Glen Apartments, 2177 Bedell Road, Grand Island. The occupant, Carl Krysyak, was awakened by his cat, Buddy, who was immediately dubbed "a real lifesaver" by his grateful owner.
   Fire Chief Kevin Koch reported that Engines #2, #3, #4 and #5 responded with fire suppression crews that initiated a speedy interior attack and had the fire out by 4:59 a.m.
   GIFC Fire Investigator Chuck Berlinger stated that the fire originated in a wall between a closet and the bathroom, and damage was estimated at $5000 to the structure and $1000 to the contents.
   There were no injuries reported at the scene.
   Meanwhile, building maintenance workers were notified to insure that all smoke detectors were in complete operating condition.
   All GIFC units, including LT 6 and mutual aid units from Sheridan Park VFD and Brighton VFD, returned in service by 5:54 a.m. according to Chief Koch.

Zero Visibility Causes Series of South Bridge MVAs - October 2011

By Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer

   Grand Island Fire Chief Kevin Koch reports that a series of MVAs occurred on the south bound, South Grand Island Bridge due to sub freezing temps and early morning fog which created zero visibility, as well as slippery "black ice" conditions Sunday, October 30, 3011.
    At 6:50 a.m. a vehicle driven by Gianna Copps, 36, of Niagara Falls, NY collided with a bridge guard rail, causing non life threatening injuries. Two minor children were not injured (passengers) and all were transported to Kenmore Mercy Hospital for precautionary follow-up after evaluation by GIFC medics.
   Meanwhile, at 7:38 a.m. Assistant GIFC Chief Chris Soluri reported that a Rescue vehicle was struck by a car whose driver had lost control. There was minor damage to vehicles involved and no one, including firefighters was injured. Within minutes, another vehicle struck the stopped auto but no injuries occurred.
   Shortly thereafter, a stopped New York State Police vehicle was impacted by another driver who escaped injury along with the trooper. Subsequent MVAs involved the following individuals, all of whom declined hospitalization: Brittany Hofman of Buffalo, Ward Wilson of Lancaster, Michael and Chelsea Firth and their 11-year-old child, Michael Burns of Niagara Falls, Jessica Bailey of Buffalo, and Lisa Knowlton of Grand Island.
   A total of 10 vehicles were involved on the South Bridge, while several other PDOs occurred on the opposite north bound bridge and required no GIFC medical intervention.
   GIFC officials remind drivers that sudden drops in temperatures can create potentially hazardous road conditions, especially on elevated bridges, which require extreme caution during fall and winter driving.
   All GIFC units finally returned in service at 8:54 a.m. according to Chief Koch.

Island Firefighters Handle Three MVA's During Busy Week - October 2011

By Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer

(left) Firefighters prepare to extricate victim from damaged vehicle on Grand Island Blvd. prior to transport
Despite heavy vehicle damage to one of the vehicles involved in Baseline crash, driver declined hospitalization

   Fire Chief Kevin Koch reports that Grand Island Firefighters/Medics handled 233 emergency incidents during the period Of October 18th through October 24th, which included three MVA's and a truck fire.
   Shortly before 10 p.m. on October 18th, GIFC rescue personnel responded to a two-car collision which occurred on Baseline Road near Homeland Road. Both drivers, Shirley Runckel, 83 and Jennifer Andrews, 22, both of Grand Island, were evaluated by GIFC medics but declined hospitalization.
   Shortly after 6 p.m. on October 19th, Grand Island firefighters responded to a reported "truck fire" on Whitehaven Road near Alvin Road. When GIFC firefighters and Engine #4 arrived on location, a "good Samaritan" passerby had already stopped the driver, Christopher Moscati of Grand Island, and applied a hand extinguisher to the fire which was caused by careless transport of a burning charcoal grill. Deputy Fire Chief Matt Osinski reported approximately $200 damage to the pickup truck bed liner.
   Shortly before 1 p.m. on October 21st, GIFC rescue personnel responded to a two-car MVA at 2140 Grand Island Blvd. in front of Tops Market. Michael Murphy, 39, of Niagara Falls, NY was treated for non life threatening injuries and transported to Niagara Falls Memorial Hospital for precautionary follow-up. Tiffany Markel, 30, of Niagara Falls was also evaluated by GIFC medics and transported to Mount St. Mary's Hospital for additional follow-up. Susan Berard, 41, of Niagara Falls claimed no injuries.
   Finally, at 4:13 p.m. on October 24th, GIFC firefighters/medics responded to another two-car MVA on Baseline Road near the Grand Island Plaza entrance. Karen Ernst, 47, of Grand Island denied injuries. Garry Halliwell, 35, of Buffalo also denied any injuries, according to G.I. Fire Chief Kevin Koch.

Island Fire Prevention Program a Huge Success - Oct. 2011

    See Slide Show
Photos: Frank Brusino & Chief Koch; Hose Practice for Tiger Cub "C.J." & Firefighter Rob Soluri; Riley practices "Stop, Drop, Roll"; New York State Police drug sniffing dog; children and "Sparky"; Ride to School winners with Firefighter Dave Dombrowski, (left) Billy Wieberg, Evan Bedell, Kaci Gottler, Julia Eichel and Firefighter Pete Coppola; Other winners with (left) Firefighter Don Portik, Nicholas Pusatier, Joshua Oursler, Haley Coombs and Firefighter Steve Morgan

Story and photos by Ray Pauley

   Several hundred Fire Prevention Open House visitors braved adverse weather conditions to learn more about their Grand Island Fire Company volunteers, equipment, and operational capabilities, on Friday, October 14, 2011 at fire headquarters.
   In addition to a "live" car fire demo, hose practice for kids, display of lifesaving EMS equipment and firefighting apparatus, tools, etc., many other agencies contributed to an exciting and rewarding program. "T.C.," a New York State Police drug sniffing dog, thrilled youngsters with a demonstation of his special abilities. Some of the other participants were the Ellicott Creek VFC Water Rescue Team, Erie County Emergency Services, Wendleville VFD, People Inc., CERT, Masons Child Identification Services, Homeland Security/Border Patrol, NY2GI Amateur Radio Club, etc.
   Fire Chief Kevin Koch made a special presentation of the 2011 Fire Prevention Award to Frank Brusino, who was commended for his leadership role in the CERT (Community Emergency Response Team).
   Meanwhile, during the preceeding week, GIFC Fire Prevention Safety teams visited approximately 1500 elementary and pre-school students, in order to provide fire safety tips, hazard recognition, etc. Sidway Elementary School students were able to come directly to fire headquarters on October 14th to practice "Stop, Drop and Roll," learn more about 911 emergency dispatching, and observe firefighters in their protective gear, as well as exposure to other 'hands on' equipment.
   The highly popular "Ride To School In A Fire Truck" drawing was again held for those students who came to the Open House to deposit entries. Fire Prevention Coordinator Mark Sadkowski also noted that coupons were available for students to obtain a free food item (French fries) from Wendy's Restaurant when a regular purchase was made.
   The GIFC Ladies Auxiliary conducted a special basket raffle in addition to their usual cookout for hungry visitors.
   Thanks to all those who set aside some quality time to meet with their GIFC volunteers and other Fire Prevention participants.

Driver Crashes into
Apartment Building - October 2011

By Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer

Severe windshield damage caused by vehicle impact; (below) 2nd floor balcony hangs precariously due to missing support beam
Click photos for larger view

By Ray Pauley
   Grand Island firefighter/medics responded at 5:23 p.m. Sunday, October 9 to an incident of a car colliding with a structure at 2095 Town Hall Terrace.
   Grand Island Fire Company Chief Kevin Koch reported that all occupants safely exited the vehicle prior to arrival of rescue personnel. The driver, Lawrence Neal, 64, of Buffalo, reportedly lost control of the auto when his foot slipped off the brake pedal. The ensuing crash sheared off a large support post for a second-floor balcony, but there was no collapse involved. Neal and a passenger, Eddie Fields, 38, of the address in question, were evaluated by GIFC medics but claimed no injuries.
   After building maintenance was notified to make emergency repairs, GIFC units returned in service at 5:44 p.m. according to Chief Koch.

Fire Company Fund Drive Underway - October 2011

By Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer

   Chief Kevin Koch reports that the Grand Island Fire Company has commenced its annual Fund Drive, seeking community support to help insure steady growth and updated fire and EMS equipment for future operational needs.
   Fire Company officers stress that everyone's donation, no matter the amount, is important and will always be considered a worthwhile contribution.
   If you have already made a donation, please accept our thanks, if not, you can either mail it in or drop it off at the upcoming Fire Prevention Open House at fire headquarters, 2275 Baseline Road at Grand Island Blvd., between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Friday, October 14.
   Chief Koch and all members of the GIFC thank each and every one of you for your continuing support.

Island Fire Company Passes 2011 Inspection - October 2011

By Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer

(left) GIFC firefighters standing for inspection - (right) Flag presentation by Sue McMahon to Chief Koch as her husband, Dan McMahon, past commander of the GI Post 9249 looks on
Click photos for larger view
By Ray Pauley
    Fire Chief Kevin Koch, along with Town Supervisor Peter McMahon, conducted a "readiness" inspection of Grand Island Fire Company firefighter/medics on Saturday, October 1 at fire headquarters.
   Chief Koch commended these members for demonstrating their unwavering willingness to fulfill community protection duties which have amounted to 1137 emergency responses to date. Supervisor McMahon echoed these sentiments by stating that response alone doesn't tell the full story since extensive training, preparation, and related efforts consume many more man hours that usually go unrecognized.
   Also in appreciation of first responders and their critical contributions, an American flag was presented to the GIFC by Grand Island VFW Post 9249 Ladies Auxiliary Past President Sue McMahon on behalf of the New York State Council.
   It is comforting to know that these ready, willing, and able "volunteers" of the GIFC community protection team will always be there to come to the aid of their friends and neighbors.
   Thanks again for past, present, and future service.

CERT Leader Receives 2011 Fire Prevention Award - October 2011

By Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer

    Fire Chief Kevin Koch is pleased to report that Islander Frank Brusino will receive a special Grand Island Fire Company commendation during the upcoming Fire Prevention Open House at fire headquarters, 2275 Baseline Road, between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. Friday, October 14.
   Frank has been designated the 2011 award recipient for his long-term leadership role with the Grand Island CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) of the Citizens Corp Council. "His longstanding participation represents the true spirit of volunteerism at its very best."
    Recognition of his exceptional acts of community service goes well beyond the confines of Grand Island itself. Thanking him for his personal achievements at Kleinhans Music Hall on April 20, 2004, U.S. President George W. Bush noted that "the true strength of the country lies in the hearts and souls of our citizens. See, Frank represents the strength of America because he volunteers to make the community in which he lives a better place."

'Sparky' and 'Pluggie' Await Oct. 14 Open House Visitors - September 2011

By Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer

   Fire Chief Kevin Koch reminds all Islanders that 'Sparky' the fire dog and 'Pluggie' the fire hydrant are anxiously awaiting to greet visitors at the October 14th Fire Prevention Open House at GIFC fire headquarters, 2275 Baseline Road and Grand Island Blvd.
   Assistant Chief Mark Sadkowski, program coordinator, states that many agencies will contribute firefighting and EMS equipment, etc. that will be on display from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on that special Friday. "Live" fire demos, hose practice for kids, etc. will add to the thrilling atmosphere of simulated emergency situations, he noted.
   Firefighter education/safety teams will also visit elementary schools as well as pre-schools during fire prevention week October 9-15 to stress this year's NFPA theme, "Protect Your Family From Fire." Students will receive tips on how to recognize and handle various life threatening emergencies. Meanwhile, Sidway Elementary School students will travel directly to fire headquarters on October 14th to participate in special fire prevention exercises.
   The ever popular 'Ride To School In A Fire Truck' drawing will also be repeated this year, with six winners from the following schools: St. Stephen, Huth Road, Kaegebein, and Sidway.
   In addition, the GIFC Ladies Auxiliary will conduct their greatly appreciated hot dog/hamburger cookout as well as a special basket raffle.
   Don't forget to set aside some quality time on Friday, October 14 to meet your Grand Island firefighters/medics and their many friends.

Island Fire Company Hosts Community Outreach Program - September 2011

Extinguishers used by CERT students in live fire pit exercise at Fire Headquarters
Click photo for larger view

By Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer

   Fire Chief Kevin Koch reports that the Grand Island Fire Company is currently hosting a CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) program that is being provided by Border Community Services - Special Emergency Response Volunteer Initiative for Community Empowerment of Niagara University.
   Chief Koch noted that several individuals have dual GIFC and Cert membership. Steve Stouter and Nicole Gerber represent both organizations and act as instructors in the CERT program which commenced weekly sessions at fire headquarters on September 15th. Participants will learn disaster preparedness techniques related to fire safety, light search and rescue, and disaster medical operations. Using the training learned in the classroom and during live exercises, CERT members are prepared to protect their home and assist their neighborhood or workplace following an event when professional responders are not immediately available for help.
   The wrap-up for this CERT training will occur on November 5th when a special disaster simulation will take place, according to instructor Nicole Gerber. Congratulations to this group of concerned citizens for their willingness to develop important community safety protocols.

Island Structure Fire Confined to Garage - September 2011

Fire Investigators Berlinger and DeMartin inspect the area where fire originated after exposure to a dangerous fire pit.
Click for larger view

By Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer

   Grand Island firefighters responded shortly before 11 a.m. Sunday, September 11, 2011 to a "structure fire" at the East River Road home of Russell Banas. An alert neighbor reportedly discovered the Banas garage on fire and immediately called 911 for emergency GIFC assistance.
   GIFC Deputy Chief Matt Osinski states that when he was joined by Engine #4, Ladder Truck #6, and fire suppression crews minutes later, an exterior attack had already been initiated by residents and an ECSD Deputy, Scott Kuhlmey, who is also a Lancaster, NY fire company officer. Dep. Chief Osinski states that the heat was of such intensity that the next door neighbor's home sustained $1500 damage to vinyl siding.
   After extinguishment and "mopping up" operations were concluded, damage was estimated at $10,000 to the garage area and $1500 to the contents. GIFC Fire Investigators Chuck Berlinger and Mike DeMartin determined that the cause was improper placement of a fire pit containing hot coals next to the outside garage wall.
   Mutual aid assistance was provided by a City of Tonawanda standby crew at GIFC headquarters and a Sherican Park VFD FAST team which responded to the scene.
   There were no injuries reported.
   All participating units returned in service at 11:44 a.m. according to Deputy Fire Chief Osinski.

Island Firefighters Extend a Helping Hand - August 2011

By Ray Pauley

   At 6 a.m. Sunday, August 28th, a Grand Island Fire Company "special detail" joined with 22 other WNY volunteer companies that attended a briefing at Erie County Emergency Services Center in preparation for storm relief duties in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene.
   GIFC firefighters Chuck Berlinger, Greg Butcher, Dave Dombrowski, and Tony Mastantuono were led by Assistant Chief Mark Sadkowski to Cobleskill, NY where an Incident Command Center had been established. They were subsequently assigned to Schoharie, NY which is approximately 25 miles west of Albany, NY and was heavily damaged when raging floodwaters from Schoharie Creek overtook a local dam. They are designated a storm emergency firefighter "strike team" which provides fire and EMS coverage when called upon by local authorities who have been stretched well beyond their normal limits.
   These GIFC volunteers are expected to return from their shared duties on Friday or Saturday (Sept. 2-3) for some well deserved rest. Despite the appalling devastation encountered, these selfless acts by many within the fire service 'brotherhood' will hopefully make a difference in raising up and rebuilding those communities that have been so cruelly victimized.

Multi-Agency Search of Niagara River Unable to Locate Victim - August 2011

By Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer

   The New York State Police requested assistance from the Grand Island Fire Company at 5:41 p.m. Thursday, August 25, 2011 in conducting a search for a victim who was observed jumping off the North Grand Island Bridge by a passing motorist.
   According to GIFC Deputy Chief Matt Osinski, the Fire Company Marine Rescue Unit was joined in the ensuing search by NYSP, Border Patrol, ECSD, and U. S. Coast Guard watercraft. An extensive Niagara River search was undertaken up to the 'point of no return' warning marker but the reported victim was not located.
    As a result, this incident was turned over to the NYSP at 7:24 p.m. and all GIFC Units returned in service. Police agency follow-up was commenced since this was considered a "credible" report when initially received.

Park Place House Fire - August 2011

By Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer

   Grand Island firefighters responded to a structure fire at 8:36 p.m. Wednesday, August 24, 2011 at 303 Park Place, which had been reported by a neighbor who noticed "heavy smoke coming from the eaves." This home has been under construction by Joel Kruppa, a Niagara Falls firefighter who was not on the premises when the fire erupted.
   Arriving firefighters encountered a fully involved two-story "new build" and immediately initiated fire suppression operations, using Engines #4 and #5, according to GIFC Chief Kevin Koch. However, it was soon discovered that the first floor had become "compromised" when floor joists had burned through and interior attack crews had to be withdrawn. A ladder truck from the Brighton VFD then played a critical role by initiating a second floor attack to bolster firefighting efforts in other areas. Sheridan Park VFD and City of Tonawanda FD also provided mutual aid assistance.
   The fire was declared out at 9:44 p.m. when extensive overhaul was undertaken. GIFC Fire Investigator Chuck Berlinger reports that the fire started in the basement and quickly spread upward, causing heavy damage. The exact cause has not yet been determined according to Berlinger and his ECSD counterparts Steve Merboth and Shawn Hediger. GIFC Fire Chief Koch estimated total damage to structure and contents at $325,000.
   Fire officials also point out that modern light weight construction poses greater danger to firefighters because of its failure potential.
   It was also noted that GIFC personnel handled two other emergencies during this fire, a cardiac arrest on Whitehaven Road and a defective dimmer switch (fire) on Adel Lane.
   There were no injuries reported at any of these incidents and participating units returned in service by 10:55 p.m.

GIFC Responds to Sunday Morning Alarm - July 2011

LT 6 lifts firefighting crew up to check rooftop heating and AC units for possible malfunction
Click for larger view

By Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer

   Grand Island firefighters responded at 9:22 p.m. Sunday, August 21, 2011 to a commercial alarm of fire at Walgreens Drug Store, 2320 Grand Island Blvd.
   Fire suppression crews and equipment, including Engines #3, #5, Ladder Truck #6, and Heavy Rescue #1, arrived on location within two minutes, but found "nothing showing" according to GIFC Chief Kevin Koch. A subsequent search of the structure, both interior and exterior, uncovered no fire hazaard. It was later determined that the fire alarm system was activated by a defective detector.
   All GIFC units returned in service at 10:03 a.m. according to Chief Koch.

Grand Island Fire Company EMS Program
Bolstered by Recruitment and Training - August 2011

By Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer

    EMS Capt. Cleveland (left) discusses a cardiac related protocol with Medical Director Krawczyk during an August 8th training session at fire headquarters.
   Fire Chief Kevin Koch reports that the GIFC has reached a record number of qualified BLS and ALS providers as a result of vigorous recruitment and training policies.
   A recent May 2011 EMT class increased the ranks of NYS certified EMT practitioners to 54. Likewise, the number of GIFC paramedics has increased to 14, as of 2011. Former member Jon Cinelli rejoined the GIFC on June 2, 2010, bringing with him a solid 22 years experience as an active medic. Steve Morgan, as a relatively new paramedic, is also a nationally registered EMT-P. Ryan Shea has completed an exhustive medic (college) program and will soon take NYS certification exams. Bob Cieri, Scott McCormick, and Don Turner are currently enrolled in a similar program. Adrian Pilliod will commence training during Sept. 2011, and these dedicated individuals will soon be contributing as well.
   Specialized in-house instruction by GIFC medical staff has also provided this life support team with the most advanced treatment techniques available. On August 8, GIFC Medical Director Chris Krawczyk explained updated WREMAC (Western Regional Emergency Medical Advisory Committee) treatment protocols to an attentive group of EMS teammates. Patient management guidelines included frequently encountered cardiac related problems, medical and trauma situations, pediatrics, etc. The resounding theme was that "the goal of prehospital care is to have the patient receive definitive care in as timely and safely a manner as possibe." These protocols also serve as a basis for "continuous quality improvement" through the application of integrated BLS and ALS treatment guidelines. This message is reinforced by eight GIFC Medical Advisors (physicians) and seven NYS Training Instructors, under the leadership of line officers, EMS Capt. Bob Cleveland, and Senior NYS Instructor Lance Kohn.
   Another part of this important continuity of care formula is Greg Butcher, former GIFC chief and present member of the Board of Directors, who was recently appointed to the NYSAFC's (NYS Assoc. of Fire Chiefs) EMS Oversight Committee.
   Consequently, GIFC officials on every level, stress that this comprehensive system of professional advancement will continue to strengthen EMS capabilities for the betterment of the entire community.

Firefighters Recognized for Special Contributions - July 2011

(left) Dan McMahon (with President Gorman and Chief Koch) receiving GIFC 50-year service award as well as a special commendation from FASNY (Fireman's Association State of New York)
(right) Assistant Chris Soluri receiving 15-year service award

By Ray Pauley
Public Info Officer

   Several Grand Island firefighters were recently recognized for a lifetime of significant community service accomplishments during a Saturday evening event at GIFC headquarters.
   President Tammy Gorman and Chief Kevin Koch commended Danny McMahon for 50 years of service within the GIFC, which included terms as a firematic officer, an original paramedic, member of the Board of Directors, financial offices, and 14 1/2 years as Supervisor of Communications. Nevertheless, Dan commented in reflection that he wasn't sure where he would fit in when he first entered the fire service, but always appreciated the opportunity he was given to "serve and protect." It is quite clear that he more than exceeded everyone's expectations.
   Norm Mrkall I and Bill Weis were also singled out for their combined total of 92 years of outstanding service to the community. Both of these highly respected individuals served on the Board of Directors which guided the GIFC through its formative years with the utmost regard for fiscal responsibility. Their input is considered a major factor in the GIFC's successful advancements to date.
   In addition, Assistant Chief Chris Soluri received 15 years of service recognition which he was unable to accept previously.
   Life member Jack Hugill received a 35-year service award for his long term dedication to the GIFC.

Island Firefighters/Medics Face Heavy Warm Weather Workload - July 2011

By Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer

   Fire Chief Kevin Koch reports that Grand Island Fire Company firefighters/medics handled 22 EMS and fire/rescue incidents within a three-day period on July 20, 21 and 22, while having to cope with extreme weather conditions as well.
   This hectic pace began at 6:39 a.m. on July 20 when a "sick person" was treated and hospitalized. Other EMS incidents followed at 7:35 a.m., 9:13 a.m., 10:10 a.m., 5:57 p.m. and 6:05 p.m. During the interim, firefighters handled a 2:03 p.m. alarm problem at Kaegebein Elementary School and a 6:22 p.m. gas leak on Grand Island Blvd.
    On July 21, the day started with a 9:20 a.m. EMS call at Marigold Manor, and continued with EMS calls at 5:33 p.m., 9:55 p.m., and 11:09 p.m.
    Finally, on July 22 at 12:07 a.m., GIFC medics handled an EMS call at the Holiday Inn. Subsequently, additional EMS incidents took place at 12:08 a.m., 7:04 a.m., 9:24 a.m. (MVA), 10:43 a.m., 10:49 a.m., 1:16 p.m. (MVA), 1:50 p.m. and 7:44 p.m. Meanwhile, at 1:29 a.m., firefighters investigated a Holiday Inn alarm of fire which was determined to be a system malfunction.
   Despite these increased challenges, GIFC 'volunteers' have demonstrated that they are able to provide the highest level of fire and EMS protection, and will continue to do so at all times, stressed Chief Koch.

Boathouse Fire Destroys Pleasure Crafts - July 2011

By Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer

Progression of fire and GIFC suppression operations
Emily Dahlstrom photo - Click for larger view
   Grand Island firefighters responded shortly after 8 a.m. Saturday, July 16 to a reported "structure fire" at 4851 East River Road. Grand Island Fire Chief Kevin Koch states that when Engines #2, #3, #5 and fire suppression crews arrived on location, they encountered a shoreline boathouse fully engulfed in flames. A 1974 sixteen foot Starcraft outboard, as well as a 17 ft. Bayliner tied to the dock were also heavily involved. Although the fire was knocked down and under control, within 8 minutes, the boathouse, two vessels, and part of the wooden dock were considered a total loss, with total damage estimated at $53,000, according to Chief Koch. The cause was given as an electrical short circuit which ignited the Starcraft's gasoline supply line.
   Meanwhile, a Sheridan Park VFD ladder truck assisted at the scene, and a City of Tonawanda FD crew remained on standby at GIFC headquarters during fireground operations.
   The U. S. Coast Guard and NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation were also notified of this incident.
   All participating units returned in service at 9:42 a.m. according to Chief Koch.

Damage Limited in Anchor Marine Fire - July 2011

By Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer

   Grand Island Firefighters responded shortly after 9 p.m. Friday, July 15 to an activated fire alarm at Anchor Marine, 1501 Ferry Road. Grand Island Fire Chief Kevin Koch reports that when Engines #5, #3, LT 6 and fire suppression crews arrived on location, light smoke was encountered within the interior of the main building and office complex. Shortly thereafter, a small fire was discovered in the mechanics room and was extinguished after being confined to the room of origin.
   The cause was given as combustibles stored too close to an ignition source (hot water tank), and total damage to building contents was estimated at $1000.
   A mutual aid FAST team from Sheridan Park VFD and standby crew from the City of Tonawanda FD were called in as a precaution.
   Fire officials were quick to point out that several thousand dollars in damage was avoided because a working alarm system provided the GIFC with ample response time.
   All units returned in service at 10:01 p.m. after ventilation of the structure was completed.

Planes, Skydivers, Fire Engines Make Mesmer Event Huge Success - July 2011

By Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer

Host Bob Mesmer stands near one of the many air group planes on display.
Click photo for larger view
   Bob Mesmer was joined by several hundred friends, neighbors, and members of Chapter 46 of the EAA (Experimental Aircraft Assoc.) for a Wednesday evening of fun, food, and thrills at his Love Road residence and airfield.
   In addition to 23 single engine planes which landed at regular intervals, much to the delight of onlookers, eight "whirlybirds" (copters), including Mercy Flight and the U.S. Border Patrol, also made their appearance. Young and old alike stood transfixed when six skydivers soared to the nearby landing strip under perfect weather conditions. Kids also got "fired up" over Grand Island Fire Company's Engine #5 and a quick demo of how a firefighter dons his personal protective gear, which included a breathing mask and SCBA tank. A rescue vehicle - R 7-2, rounded out the GIFC equipment display.
   Anyone interested in EAA membership can visit the www.EAA46.org website. As in the past, those in attendance were reminded that you don't have to be a pilot to join EAA, "you just have to love aviation."

GI Marine Unit Rescues Stranded Boaters - July 2011

By Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer

   Grand Island Fire Company Marine Rescue personnel responded at 11:23 p.m. Friday, July 8 to a call for assistance from the U. S. Coast Guard for a "watercraft in distress" near Strawberry Island in the Niagara River.
   GIFC Assistant Fire Chief Chris Soluri coordinated efforts to locate the vessel which was found stranded in shallow shoals offshore from Strawberry Island because of a mechanical breakdown. Although one of the three Buffalo, NY boaters was a diabetic, he was not in need of EMS treatment according to GIFC paramedic Jon Cinelli.
   All of these individuals were then turned over to the USCG and GIFC MU-I rescuers returned in service at 1:11 a.m. on Saturday, as well as a Rural Metro Ambulance crew which had been on standby at the foot of Sheridan Drive.

Island Firefighter/Medics Treat I-190 MVA Victims - July 2011

By Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer

   Grand Island Fire Company rescue personnel responded at 4:34 a.m. Sunday morning, July 10 to a one-car MVA on the I-190 northbound, near the Baseline Road overpass.
   Assistant Fire Chief Chris Soluri states that Amber Parwulski, 24, of Buffalo was ejected from the vehicle when it struck a guardrail with tremendous force. She was treated by GIFC medics for traumatic injuries and transported to ECMC by Mercy Flight for follow-up medical attention. The other occupant, Robert Toth, 40, of Kenmore was also treated for multiple injuries of lessor severity and transported by ambulance to ECMC.
   All GIFC units returned in service at 5:20 a.m. according to Assistant Chief Soluri.

Skills, Safety, and Survival - A Firefighters Blueprint for Success - June 2011

By Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer

Fully involved vehicle fire presents trainees with a challenging "live fire" exercise
(right) Graduates assembled at GIFC headquarters for their final completion ceremony
By Ray Pauley
Public Information Officer
Photos by Edith R. Thompson and Scott Shaw
   If you ask Drill Instructors Mark Butler or Tom Partridge what constitutes a "good" firefighter, they are quick to point out that there is no easy answer. Preparation however, is undoubtedly a key factor in assuring the indiviudal firefighter's professional development. The new "blended learning" Firefighter 1 training course is therefore a prime example of such educational opportunity.
   In response to this challenge, fifteen firefighters from four WNY volunteer companies commenced such training on March 28, 2011 and successfully completed a rigorous "hands on" schedule on June 23, 2011. This developmental process included use of ground ladders, forcible entry, ventilation, hose practice in vehicle and structure fires, confined space awareness, salvage, Haz Mat skills, communication, etc. while using proper personal protective gear and SCBAs. Safety and survival were always paramount considerations throughout. Trainees were also required to complete many hours of individual homework assignments as a basis for meaningful advancement. As a result, all class members graduated on June 24 as follows: Jeremiah Anderson, Jourdain Benoit, Keith Doyle, Edith Racz Thompson, Galen Dell, Scott Shaw, Saed Shafie, Tim Krecisz, Dan Mathes, Steve Lamarco, and Ryan Mock of the Garnd Island Fire Company. Also Sarah Mahaney and Vincent Chu of Getzville VFD, Scott Snyder of Swormsville VFD, and Darin Sporski of the Seneca Home VFD.
   Congratulations to these successful FF1 graduates who are now much better equipped to fulfill their critical community protection duties.

Fire Co. Douses State Park Mulch Fire - June 2011

By Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer

Ground crews extinguished widespread fire using hose lines from Engine #4
Click for larger view
   Grand Island firefighters responded shortly after 7 p.m. Monday, June 13, 2011 to a report of a large mulch/brush fire at Beaver Island State Park.
   Assistant Fire Chief Chris Soluri reports that when Engines #3, #4 and fire suppression crews arrived on location, they encounter approximately 1500 square foot of smoldering and burning mulch (grass clippings) in a dumping area adjacent to the golf course parking lot. A prolonged operation involved spreading out the refuse so that water and foam could penetrate effectively. NYS Parks and Recreation also provided a bobcat hi lift to assist. Two hours later, after several water refills and relays between pumpers, the entire operation was successfully concluded.
   Soluri noted that although spontaneous combustion is a distinct possibility, an exact cause of this isolated burn has not been determined.

Family Escapes Serious Injury in Plaza MVA - June 2011

By Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer

   Grand Island Fire Company rescue personnel responded at 9:27 a.m. Saturday, May 28th to a one car MVA in the Grand Island Plaza at 2401 Grand Island. Blvd.
   According to GIFC Assistant Chief Chris Soluri, the driver, Heather Hurley, 35, of Grand Island, turned around for a split second to check out a commotion involving four children in the back seat, then lost control and crashed into a steel post supporting the plaza sign. The four children ages 11, 9, 9 and 8, sustained only a few minor "bumps and bruises" and were not hospitalized. The driver was also evaluated by GIFC medics but claimed no injuries in this "freak" accident.
   Fire officials point out that even a few seconds of driver inattention can have disastrous consequences for all those within the vehicle. Under different circumstances on a heavily traveled roadway, more serious injuries could have likely occurred, they noted. Drivers should always operate a vehicle with due diligence "like their lives depend on it," it was stressed.

Island Firefighters Celebrate 73 Years of Community Service - May 2011

New "rookie" members (left) Steve LaMarco, Scott Shaw, Dan Mathis, Chief Kevin Koch, Tim Krecisz, Ryan Mock, and Training Officer Matt Osinski

By Ray Pauley
Public Info Officer

   President Tammy Gorman welcomed firefighters, spouses, town officials, and special guests to share in the 73rd anniversary celebration of the GIFC, which took place Saturday, May 21, 2011 at Fire Headquarters.
   Although there were no 70-year life memberships to award this year, 18 members reached individual milestones within the GIFC. The most notable was Mike Meyer, who was applauded for 65 years of continuing service. In addition, Tracey Lynch accepted a 15-year award for her husband, Brett, who unexpectedly passed away this year.
   President Gorman also introduced 2011 new "rookie" members Tim Krecisz, Dan Mathis, Ryan Mock, Steve LaMardo, and Scott Shaw, who represent the future of the GIFC.
   Board of Directors Vice Chairman Greg Butcher noted that the state of the GIFC is "sound," although quite different than 73 years ago. Membership has more than doubled to a current total of 121, and 23 pieces of emergency equipment cover community protection needs. An expanding paramedic/EMS program, member recruitment, professional training, and 911 dispatching capabilities are second to none in Erie County. In addition, a major investment in firefighter safety has been initiated to comply with new, unfunded NYS mandates to prevent entrapment at a fire scene. Finally, station #4 is in the planning stages and will ultimately provide expanded fire and EMS coverage for the Whitehaven/East River Road area and beyond. This ongoing transformation bodes well for the future of all concerned, he stressed.
   Ladies Auxiliary President Nicole Butcher also promised continued support for the entire GIFC membership.
   Congratulations to our GIFC volunteers for their special lifetime contributions.

Six Hospitalized in Island MVA - May 2011

By Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer

    Grand Island Fire Company rescue personnel responded shortly after 10 a.m. Monday, May 23, 2011 to a two-car collision at the intersection of Stony Point and Whitehaven roads. All of the injured were occupants of a minivan which flipped over onto its roof from the force of impact, according to Fire Chief Kevin Koch.
   The victims had to be extricated from the vehicle and GIFC paramedics then treated all six Niagara Falls residents for non life threatening head, neck, and extremity injuries. Paul Staie, 53; Georgiana Staie, 62; Arca Margra, 84; and Tim Awan, 47; were transported to ECMC for additional medical attention. Nancy Adams, 60 and Cheryl Cimini, 61 were transported to Mt. St. Mary's Hospital for precautionary follow-up. The other driver, Cheryl Dulak, 65, of Grand Island, claimed no injuries and declined hospitalization.
   All GIFC units returned in service at 10:59 a.m.

Your EMS Providers - "Everyday Heroes - May 2011

Town Supervisor Peter McMahon thanks EMS Capt. Cleveland for GIFC community service efforts while Assistant Chief Mark Sadkowski (left) and "Ted" Rayhill (right) look on.

By Ray Pauley
Public Info Officer

   National EMS Week will take place from May 15 through May 21, with May 18th designated as Emergency Medical Services for Childrens Day. This year's theme, "Everyday Heroes," applies to a vital network of first responders, hospitals, emergency treatment physicians, NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) workers, and public health providers. Such a 'safety net' is a vital part of the entire health care system, according to Frederick Blum MD, president of the ACEP (American College of Emergency Physicians).
   During a special EMS appreciation event of May 14, organized by EMS Capt. Bob Cleveland of GIFC headquarters, Town Supervisor Peter McMahon praised these 'hometown heroes' for untiring dedication to their community. "Ted" Rayhill MD, the GIFC's first medical director, also commented on the tremendous EMS accomplishments that he was privileged to participate in over the past 30 plus years. All those in attendance were urged to keep their lifesaving goals high and attainable.
   Thanks again to our special EMS volunteers for their continuing lifetime of service.

Two Vehicles Lost in Island Garage Fire - May 2011

By Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer

Click for larger view
   Grand island firefighters responded shortly before 3 p.m. Sunday, May 15, 2011 to a reported "structure fire" on the Stony Point property of Theodore Kose.
   When GIFC engines 2, 3, and 4, and fire suppression crews arrived on location within five minutes, they encountered a fully involved three-car garage containing an F-250 truck and a 1988 Ford Mustang, reported Fire Chief Kevin Koch. Despite ferocious fire conditions fed by many flammables, the blaze was knocked down and under control 20 minutes later, with damage estimated at $85,000 to the building and $90,000 to the contents.
   Meanwhile, mutual aid assistance was received from the City of Tonawanda Fire Dept., and Brighton and Sheridan Park VFDs.
   GIFC Fire Investigator Chuck Berlinger and his ECSD counterparts have not yet determined an exact cause.
   There were no firefighter injuries reported.
   All participating units returned in service by 6:03 p.m. after extensive overhaul was completed.

Firefighters Battle West Oakfield House Fire - May 2011

By Gregory Butcher

Click for larger view
   Grand Island Fire Chief Kevin Koch reports that at 12 midnight on Thursday, May 5, 2011, Grand Island 911 received a call from the residents at 2438 West Oakfield Road stating that their house was on fire.
   Chief Koch was the first to arrive assuming command and reporting heavy fire conditions coming from an attached garage. Fire crews were able to contain the fire to the garage, with smoke damage throughout the house. Fire officials estimate the damage at $60,000.
   Mutual aid was rendered by a FAST team from Sheridan Park Fire Company and the City of Tonawanda Fire Dept. A standby crew from Brighton Fire Company was requested at Grand Island Fire HQ.
   Chief Koch also reports that all residents of the home escaped the fire unharmed. The cause of the fire is still under investigation at this time.

Don’t Let Missing Numbers Compromise Your Safety - April 2011

By Ray Pauley
Public Information Officer

   Grand Island Fire Chief Kevin Koch points out that missing or incomplete house numbers can create an unnecessary delay for firefighters and emergency medical personnel who are responding to a 9-1-1 emergency. Searching for a correct address on a dark & rainy night is an additional burden for responders if the homeowner has failed to maintain properly visible street numbers, he noted.
   Town and school officials join Chief Koch in urging residents to do a “Spring check-up” to insure that numbers are in place and clearly readable from the street. This extra precaution will enable all those who serve the community to better perform their critical duties, he stressed.

Grants Help Island Firefighters Maintain "Cutting Edge" - March 2011

Chief Koch (left) displays new TNT cutting tool while thanking Allstate representative Phil Mastantuono for generous grant support.

By Ray Pauley
Public Info Officer

   Fire Chief Kevin Koch is pleased to report that continuing support from local organizations and individuals has enabled the Grand Island Fire Company to keep pace with growing needs for upgraded extrication equipment.
   The Allstate Insurance Company has increased its 2011 grant award to $1000. An additional $1000 contribution has also been received from Island resident Dr. Jared Barlow. These funds have helped secure a new TNT "Brute Force" cutting tool which can handle tough vehicle extrication jobs involving tempered steel auto components, etc., according to Chief Koch.
   Incorporating such modern technology into our day to day operations will insure that the GIFC can continue to meet the increased demands of all aspects of community protection, he noted.

Island Fire Cadet Awarded Emergency Services Scholarship - March 2011

Fire Chief Koch congratulates Cadet Shaw who proudly displays replica of scholarship (check) award
   Grand Island Fire Chief Kevin Koch is pleased to report that Cadet Evan Shaw was recently chosen as the recipient of a $1000 Arthur E. Cosgrove Memorial Scholarship. Shaw is one of six successful applicants county wide who exhibited exceptional community involvement in the emergency services field of Fire or EMS.
   Shaw is a senior at Grand Island High School and has been a Cadet with the GIFC since July 29, 2009. He looks forward to pursuing college studies in bio-medical engineering as well as expansion of EMS duties when he becomes a full fledged GIFC 'recruit' later this year.
   Chief Koch expects that future contributions by Shaw and others in the Cadet program will certainly strengthen ongoing community protection capabilities of the entire GIFC. Good luck to Evan and all other individuals who are striving to fulfill this 'magnificent obsession' of volunteer service to others.

Residential Fire Results In Fatality - March 2011

(left) origin of the fire
Photos by Ray Pauley/Chuck Berlinger - Click photos for larger view

By Ray Pauley
Public Information Officer

   The Grand Island Fire Company responded to a structure fire at 3998 East River Road shortly before 8 a.m. on Monday, March 7, 2011 which had been reported by a neighbor.
   GIFC Chief Kevin Koch reported that when Engines #2, 3, 4, 5 and fire suppression crews arrived on location, heavy smoke conditions were encountered. A four-man search and rescue team located the 79-year-old occupant in an upstairs bedroom and removed her from the home. She was apparently overcome by smoke/toxic atmosphere and resuscitation was not possible. The fire was 'knocked down' and brought under control at 8:20 a.m.
   Meanwhile, mutual aid contingents from Sheridan Park VFD and Brighton VFD assisted at the scene, while a City of Tonawanda crew remained on standby at GIFC headquarters throughout firefighting operations.
   Chief Koch reported that the fire originated in a first floor laundry room and caused an estimated $40,000 damage to the structure and $30,000 to the contents. GIFC Fire Investigator Chuck Berlinger and his ECSD counterparts determined the cause as the furnace exhaust pipe igniting the surrounding wooden structure which had dried out over the years and became combustible. An Investigator from the NYS Office of Fire Prevention and Control from the State Fire Academy in Montour Falls, NY was called in to assist.
   One GIFC firefighter sustained a back injury at the scene and was relieved of duty.
   All participating fire units were returned in service by 9:34 a.m. according to Chief Koch.
    See 3/4/11 Buffalo News Story

Home Undamaged In Hot Water Heater Fire - March 2011

By Ray Pauley
Public Information Officer

   Grand Island Firefighters responded shortly before 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 2, 2011 to a reported structure fire at the Carter Drive residence of Nanci Backland.
   Fire Chief Kevin Koch reported that smoky conditions were encountered when Engine 5 and fire suppression crews arrived on location within three minutes. The fire was located in a basement hot water heater which had malfunctioned and ignited oil leakage in the lower burner area. It was put out with a dry chemical extinguisher before it was able to spread to the building or contents. No damage was listed. All GIFC units returned in service at 5:28 p.m. after the home was properly ventilated, according to Chief Koch.

Island Fire Chief Welcomes New Recruits - Feb. 2011

(left) Steve LaMarco, Scott Shaw, Dan Mathis, Chief Koch, Tim Krecisz, Ryan Mock, and Deputy Chief Osinski
Click photo for larger view

By Ray Pauley
Public Info Officer

   Fire Chief Kevin Koch is pleased to report that five new 'recruits' were recently voted into the ranks of the Grand Island Fire Company by the general membership.
   Steve DeMarco, Scott Shaw, Tim Krecisz, Dan Mathis and Ryan Mock have completed basic orientation and have begun a rigorous training regimen, according to GIFC Deputy Chief Matt Osinski, their training instructor. Despite their recruit label, however, these individuals have already had considerable GIFC related experience. Steve LaMarco currently functions as a fire company Chaplain and has now chosen to assume a new role by becoming an active firefighter. Tim Krecisz and Dan Mathis successfully attained the rank of Senior Cadet after completing this special preparatory program. Scott Shaw has entered as the father of Evan Shaw who also participates in the Cadet program. Ryan Mock has returned to the GIFC after limited experience as a former Cadet.
   This new group of "rookies" has exhibited outstanding potential towards fulfilling their 2011 training requirements, according to Instructor Matt Osinski.
   Congratulations to these 'volunteers' who have chosen to pursue a commendable lifetime of community service.

Three Hospitalized in GI North Bridge MVA - Feb. 2011

Click photo for larger view

By Ray Pauley
Public Info Officer

       Grand Island Fire Company personnel responded shortly before 1 p.m. Tuesday, February 15, 2011 to a report of a two-vehicle MVA in the north bound lane of the I-190 on the North Grand Island Bridge. An Allied Waste Services (garbage) truck reportedly collided with a minivan which had slowed down after encountering mechanical problems, according to Fire Chief Kevin Koch. The force of impact propelled both vehicles 50' to 60' down the Niagara Falls side of the bridge, he stated.
   Thirty-one-year-old Angela Anderson and forty-one-year-old Richard Anderson of Hamburg, NY were removed from their vehicle by GIFC personnel, treated for back and extremity injuries and transported to Niagara Falls Memorial Hospital for additional medical attention. Their two children, ages 14 months and 3 months, were safely secured in child car seats and were not injured. The truck driver, Terry Hofschneider, 61, of Amherst, NY was treated for non life threatening injuries and transported to Kenmore Mercy Hospital for precautionary follow-up.
   Thruway maintenance crews cleaned up a hazardous hydraulic fluid spill at the scene which had been reported to the NYSDEC. Meanwhile, traffic was held up for about two hours until vehicle wreckage was cleared away.
   All GIFC units returned in service at 2:46 p.m. according to Chief Koch.

Residential Fire Confined to Second Floor - Feb. 2011

Photo shows 2nd floor interior damage - Click photo for larger view.
By Ray Pauley - GIFC Public Information Officer
   Grand Island firefighters responded shortly after 10 p.m. Wednesday, February 9, 2011 to a report of a "structure fire" at a East River Road home.
   GIFC Chief Kevin Koch reported that Engines #5, 4, 3, 2 and LT 6 arrived on location with interior attack crews who took over fire suppression efforts from the homeowner who had made initial attempts with a garden hose. The fire, which started in a second floor living room, was discovered at about the same time a smoke detector was activated. It was brought under control by 10:45 p.m. and thirteen minutes later was declared out.
   Sheridan Park VFD and Brighton VFD provided FAST team assistance while the City of Tonawanda remained on mutual aid standby at GIFC headquarters during firefighting operations.
   GIFC Fire Investigator Chuck Berlinger stated that a candle apparently ignited papers on a table which eventually spread to nearby furniture. Fire and smoke damage to the upper floor amounted to an estimated $40,000 to the building and $40,000 to contents according to Chief Koch.
   The upstairs garage apartment occupant and all five members of the family, including three teenagers, who resided on the first floor, claimed no injuries except for minor smoke inhalation which did not require hospitalization.
   The homeowners were thankful that everyone survived this traumatic family ordeal and praised GIFC volunteers for their fine efforts which saved most of the property.

"Lost" Hydrants Complicate Island Firefighting Operations - Feb. 2011

(left) Hydrant on Baseline near Whitehaven roads almost completely buried under three ft. of snow
(right) Snow cleared away from hydrant by concerned Fix Road resident
By Ray Pauley - GIFC Public Information Officer
   Grand Island Fire Chief Kevin Koch reports that firefighters responding to fire emergencies can be severely handicapped by heavy snowfalls which have recently buried many local hydrants. He pointed out that precious time can be lost if firefighters must locate and dig out a fire hydrant in order to secure an adequate water supply. Such a delay could turn a controllable incident into a major loss of property, or even worse, a fire related injury or fatality, if an engine's on board supply is exhausted before search & rescue or fire suppression can be accomplished, he stressed.
   Island residents are urged to "adopted a hydrant" by clearing snow away from those nearby so that firefighters will have ready access to a vital water supply if needed. Likewise, business owners who arrange for clearing of adjacent parking areas should take care not to isolate hydrants, thereby compromising their fire protection.
   Helping hands with such hydrant clearing efforts will be greatly appreciated by your GIFC volunteers and make their job that much easier under the difficult circumstances that they may face.

Two Drivers Hospitalized in South Bridge MVAs - Feb. 2011

By Ray Pauley
Public Info Officer

   Grand Island Fire Company rescue personnel responded shortly after 9 a.m. Thursday, February 3, 2011 to three separate MVAs which occurred in the south bound lane of the I-190 on the South Grand Island Bridge. Fire Chief Kevin Koch reported that a total of fifteen vehicles were involved and the accidents apparently resulted from one or more drivers being blinded by the sun's glare.
   GIFC Capt. Greg Butcher directed the extrication of two patients who were involved in a four-car "chain reaction" collision at the top of the bridge. Georgia Robinson, 62, of Niagara Falls was removed from her auto which was jammed up against the bridge railing on the driver's side, treated for a non life threatening extremity injury, and transported to Mount St. Mary's Hospital for additional medical evaluation. Patricia Neyra, 31, of Grand Island was also freed from her heavily damged vehicle, stabilized, and transported to Niagara Falls Memorial Hospital for further treatment. Two other indivisuals denied injuries and refused hospitalization.
   The two other MVAs at the base of the bridge on the Grand Island and Tonawanda sides involved PDO (property damage only).
   All GIFC units returned in service at 10:24 a.m. according to Chief Koch.

Isle Residence Heavily Damaged by Fast Moving Fire - Jan. 2011

Photo #1 (left) Ladder Truck 6 deposits GIFC crew on roof to begin ventilation procedures
Photo #2 - Firefighters battle upper story fire
Photo #3 - Firefighters working above heavily damaged area above rear deck where fire started
Photo #4 - Interior damage within kitchen
By Ray Pauley - GIFC Public Information Officer
Edith Racz photos - click for larger view

   Grand Island firefighters responded to reports of a "house on fire" in the vicinity of Sheree and Carter Drive shortly after 6 p.m. Monday, January 24, 2011. Multiple 911 calls were received from neighbors who noticed smoke and flames coming from the rear of the Sheree Drive residence of David Bennett who was not at home at the time.
   GIFC Fire Chief Kevin Koch reported that Engines #3, 4, 5 and Ladder Truck #6 arrived on location within five minutes and crews immediately initiated fire suppression operations. The fire had originated on a rear deck but had already broken through into the first floor and roof areas prior to the arrival of GIFC firefighters and equipment. Nevertheless, an aggressive interior attack brought the fire under control by 7:04 p.m. and "mop up" of hot spots was then undertaken.
   Meanwhile, a FAST team from the Sheridan Park VFD proceeded to the scene and another mutual aid contingent from the City of Tonawanda FD remained on standby at GIFC fire headquarters during firefighting operations.
   GIFC Fire Investigator Chuck Berlinger identified the cause as improper disposal of fireplace ashes. Total damage was estimated at $120,000 to the structure and $60,000 to the contents according to Chief Koch.
   One GIFC firefighter was treated at the scene for exhaustion and relieved of duty.
   All participating units returned in service by 9:58 p.m., stated Chief Koch.

Smoke Detectors Warn Occupants of Fire Danger - Jan. 2011

By Ray Pauley - GIFC Public Information Officer
   Grand Island Firefighters responded shortly before 7 p.m. Thursday, January 20, 2011 to a report of "fire and heavy smoke" inside a Schwegler Road home. Smoke detectors reportedly alerted two family members who rushed downstairs to the first floor where they discovered a dining room table engulfed in flames.
   GIFC Assistant Chief Chris Soluri stated that the fire was extinguished by the occupants prior to the arrival of Engine #3 and firefighting crews. Careless use of a candle was pinpointed as the immediate cause which led to an estimated $2500 damage within the room of origin.
   All GIFC units returned in service at 7:19 p.m. after ventilation operations were completed.

Parent Expresses Concern Over School Bus Accident - Jan. 2011

By Ray Pauley - GIFC Public Information Officer
   Grand Island Fire Company rescue personnel responded at 7:20 a.m. Tuesday, January 18 to a report of a child hit by a vehicle at 1191 Ransom Road.
   A twelve-year-old student reportedly attempted to cross the street from his home to the Connor Middle School when a passing school bus knocked him down. His mother saw the accident and immediately went to the boy, who was able to walk to his house where he was evaluated by GIFC medics who found no serious injuries. He was then taken to the Mt. St. Mary's Emergency room by his parents and released shortly thereafter.
   The youth's mother, Kim Yung, has previously voiced her concerns about excessive speed by drivers and the resulting danger to children who must cross Ransom Road during peak traffic hours. Her letter, "A Mother's Plea," appeared on the Isledegrande.com website during November 2010. She plans further contact with Connor Middle School Principal Bruce Benson and Town officials to urge them to address this school safety issue ASAP.

Fire Chief Reminds Drivers of New "Move Over" Law - Jan. 2011

"Move over" law contributes to necessary scene safety for working firefighters and medics as in this MVA rescue scene.
Click photo for larger view
By Ray Pauley - GIFC Public Information Officer
   Grand Island Fire Chief Kevin Koch reminds residents that new V&T legislation, effective January 1, 2011, requires drivers to move over for "stopped, parked, or standing emergency vehicles.
    This revision of Sec. 1144a of the V&T Law requires motor vehicle operations to exercise "due care" while moving into another traffic lane in order to avoid any possible collision. Koch points out that although most drivers know that they must yield the right of way to emergency vehicles, this new legislation will increase scene safety for firefighters and medics who may be in the roadway moving EMS patients, extricating MVA victims, or conducting firefighting operations.
   He urges all MV operators to exercise careful and cautious driving habits and move over to a safe distance as soon as they observe any emergency vehicle on or near the roadway. As such, your cooperation will help GIFC firefighters and medics perform their critical firefighting and lifesaving duties within a safe environment.

Koch Begins First Term As GI Fire Chief - Jan. 2011

By Ray Pauley - GIFC Public Information Officer

2011 Firematic and EMS officers: (top) Bob Cleveland, Chris Soluri, Matt Osinski, Kevin Koch, Mark Sadkowski, Jeremy Pullano; (bottom) Omar Sortino, Ed Krecisz and Shawn Kephart
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Rookie of the Year Jourdain Benoit, flanked by newly elected Chief Kevin Koch, Past Chief Greg Butcher, and Deputy Chief Matt Osinski
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   Erie County Legislator Kevin Hardwick administered the oath of office to newly elected GIFC officers on Saturday, January 8 at fire headquarters. Both firematic and administrative officers were sworn to uphold their future community protection duties. Leg. Hardwick was joined by NYS Senator Mark Grisanti, Town officials, other special guests, and family members, in praising the 24-7 emergency response commitment of these GIFC volunteers, who represent "some of the best in today's society."
   As a special tribute to the traditional fire service "family," Chief Kevin Koch was sworn in by his father, Ken Koch, a past chief of Kenilworth VFD. Kevin will be joined in office by Deputy Chief Matt Osinski, 1st Assistant Chief Chris Soluri, 2nd Assistant Chief Mark Sadkowski; Fire Captains Ed Krecisz, Shawn Kephart, Omar Sortino; Fire Police Capt. Don Portik; EMS Captains Bob Cleveland and Jeremy Pullano, and Staff Aide Greg Butcher.
   Second term President Tammy Gorman will be assisted by Vice President Bret Lynch, Recording Secretary Laurie Berry, Line Secretary Phil Mastantuono, Financial Secretary Tony Mastantuono, Treasurer Dale Mock, and Sgt.-at-Arms Dave Khreis who will also serve on the Board of Review. Norm Mrkall I and Lou D'Orazio will continue as Benevolent Association Trustees.
   Steve Stouter was returned to another three-year term on the Board of Directors and Greg Butcher begins his first term, after lengthy and distinguished service as fire chief.
   Ladies Auxiliary President Nicole Butcher introduced her 2011 officers as follows: Vice President Mary Becker, Secretary Julie Meyer, Treasurer Danielle Soluri, Sgt.-at-Arms Cathy Thomas, Chaplain Arlene Soluri, and Trustees Barb Wilson, Teddy Linenfelser and Mrs. Soluri.
   A special Chief's Award was presented to Rick Pelham for his exceptional 2010 service as a paramedic which extended far beyond the call of duty. In addition, Jourdain Benoit was singled out as "Rookie of the Year" for his outstanding performance during 2010.
   Dale Mock received the 2010 President's Award for his individual initiative and dependability which greatly exceeded required administrative duties.
   "Top Ten" responders for 2010 were led by Ray Pauley with 765 total calls. Others in sequential order are: Rick Pelham, Greg Butcher, Dale Mock, Kevin Koch, Jourdain Benoit, Rob Soluri, Pete Coppola, Pete McMahon, and Tony Mastantuono Jr.
   In addition, new recruits (rookies) who completed an arduous 2010 training program are Jeremiah Anderson, J. Benoit, Bob Cieri, Galen Dell, Keith Doyle, Scott McCormick, and Edith Racz. Board Chairman Stouter noted that these new members have trained for events that they pray will never occur, and in so doing, have willingly joined a worldwide brotherhood of brave men and women volunteer firefighters.
   Congratulations to all those who have accomplished so much during 2010, and good luck to the 2011 GIFC leadership team.

Kitchen Fires - An Increasing Challenge for Island Firefighters - Jan. 2011

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By Ray Pauley - GIFC Public Information Officer
   According to the NFPA Division of Fire Analysis and Research, 40% of all home structure fires and 368 of occupant injuries are caused by cooking equipment. In addition, 59% of those injured tried to put the fires out themselves. Fire Chief Kevin Koch and his Grand Island firefighters are well aware of those life threatening complications when handling these particular fire situations.
   On November 9, 2010 they encountered a fast moving kitchen fire on Carter Drive which caused an estimated $35,000 total damage. The occupants escaped unharmed however.
   During December, firefighters responded to five separate incidents involving kitchen/stove fires as follows: Dec. 1st - Bedell Road - no damage; Dec. 19th - East River Road - no damage; Dec. 24th - Blackmon Road - $400 damage; Dec. 25th - Huth Road - $500 damage; and Dec. 29th - Stony Point Road - no damage.
   So far this year, firefighters have responded to one such fire emergency on January 2 - Enola Road, with no damage reported.
   Although several of these fires were "out on arrival," GIFC officials were thankful that there were no occupant injuries or worse.

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