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Grand Island Fire Company News 2014

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 2015: Fire Chief Matthew Osinski; Deputy Chief Christopher Soluri; 1st Assistant Chief Mark Sadkowski; 2nd Assistant Chief Omar Sortino; Captains Daniel Mathes, Ryan Ayers, Jon Cinelli; EMS Captains Jon Cinelli & Jeremy Pullano; Fire Police Captain Don Portik and Day Captain Kevin Koch

Administrative Officers 2015: President John Podlucky, Vice President Don Turner; Treasurer Anthony Mastantuono; Financial Secretary Nicole Gerber; Secretary Ambria Tim and Sgt.-at-Arms David Khreis.

Board of Directors 2015: Gregory J. Butcher, Chairman, Jeremy Pullano, Vice Chairman, Pete A. McMahon, Secretary, David C. Tolejko, Paul D. Gorman, Peter R. Coppola, Peter Sukmanowski








Driver Injured in Collision - December 2014

Story by Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer
   Shortly after 10:00 p.m. on Monday, December 29th, Grand Island Fire Company personnel responded to an MVA at the intersection of Baseline and Fix Road. Fire Chief Matt Osinski reported that the driver of a minivan, 52-year-old Richard Ryder of Grand Island, collided with a pickup truck containing five Island teens, aged 14-17 years. Ryder sustained upper body injuries, was stabilized by GIFC medics and transported to Kenmore Mercy Hospital. The five teens were evaluated and claimed no injuries.




Island Firefighters Rescue Driver from Icy Niagara River - December 2014

Story by Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer
    At 5:30 p.m. on Monday, December 29th, Grand Island Fire Company rescue personnel responded to a MVA involving a passenger vehicle which veered off the roadway at Ransom and East River roads and landed about 100 feet out into the Niagara River. Fire Chief Matt Osinski stated that the driver, 44 year-old Jeff Silverthorn of Orchard Park was guided to shore by GI Fire Company responders after he extricated himself from his vehicle and found himself in 3 feet of water. He was then treated by GI Fire Company medics for hypothermia and transported by ambulance to ECMC for follow-up medical attention. At 6:35 p.m. the scene was turned over to the Erie County Sheriff Department for a related accident investigation.




Car Drives into Niagara River off Ransom Road - December 2014


WGRZ Story Link (photos courtesy of WGRZ)- Updates as they become available








Driver Hospitalized - December 2014


Story by Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer
   At 1:42 P.M. on Friday, December 26th, Grand Island Fire Company rescue personnel responded to a passanger vehicle accident on Baseline Rd near the intersection of Love Rd.
    Fire Chief Matt Osinski indicated that 19 yr old Kyle Roberts of Tonawanda lost control of his vehicle and crashed into a roadside utility pole that was recently installed by National Grid crews. Roberts was removed from the wreckage, treated for upper body injuries and transported by ambulance to ECMC for additional medical attention.





Fire Discovered by Neighbor - December 2014



Story by Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer
   At 12:26 p.m. on Thursday, December 18th, Grand Island firefighters responded to a residential fire at the Creekside Drive home of Philip Couburn. The fire was reported earlier by an alert neighbor who heard an audible alarm and noticed smoke coming from basement windows. Deputy Fire Chief Chris Soluri stated that when Engines #2,3,4,5, LT 6 and fire suppression crews arrived on location, forcible entry had to be used to gain access as the family was not at home. Although an aggressive interior attack confined the fire to the basement area, smoke damage extended into the upper floors.
    GIFC Fire Investigator Chuck Berlinger indicated that the cause of the fire appeared to be a mechanical malfunction of a gas dryer which ignited clothing and nearby wooden beams. Total damage was estimated at $5000 to the structure and $5000 to the contents. Mutual aid assistance was provided by the Sheridan Park and City of Tonawanda VFD's during firefighting operations.




Matt Osinski Returns as GI Fire Chief - December 2014

Story by Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer
   Grand Island firefighters chose 2015 firematic and administrative officers during annual elections held on Wednesday, December 3, 2014 at fire headquarters. Matt Osinski ran unopposed for his second term as Fire Chief and will be joined by Deputy Chief Chris soluri, 1st Ass't Chief Mark Sadkowski, 2nd Ass't Chief Omar Sortino and Fire Captains Dan Mathes, Ryan Ayers, Jon Cinelli and Fire Police Capt. Don Portik.    John Podlucky starts his first term as President and Don Turner has been selected Vice President. Dave Khreis returns as Sgt-at-Arms. Several other vacant positions will be filled by appointment at a later date. Jeremy Pullano returns to another three-year term on the Board of Directors and Saed Shafie was newly elected to his first term on the Board. Dave Khreis was re-elected to the Board of Review and Robert Meyer returns as a Benevolent Association Trustee. Congratulations and good luck to these GIFC volunteers who have joined the 2015 leadership team.




Slick Roads Cause Major Accident on North Bridge - December 2014

Photo from bottom of bridge

Click photos for larger view

Story and photos by Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer
    At 6:25 p.m. on Thursday, November 27th, Grand Island Fire Company rescue personnel responded to multiple MVA’s on the North Grand Island Bridge, northbound. Ass’t. Fire Chief Mark Sadkowski reported that after a vehicle was t-boned by another driver, approaching vehicles could not stop due to the slippery conditions and slammed into each other and nearby guardrails. When GIFC units arrived on location, the Niagara Falls Fire Department was also on scene for operational support, as up to 56 cars were reportedly involved. Although GIFC responders assisted one entrapped driver in exiting his damaged vehicle, overall EMS treatment was handled by the NFFD, Rural Ambulance and Twin City crews at the scene. A total of 12 patients were transported to local hospitals with relatively minor injuries. The GIFC expedited traffic control and turned over the scene to New York State Police at 8:09 p.m. The bridge was not reopened to traffic until after 10:00 p.m. that evening.




Fire Company Provides Storm Assistance - November 2014


Photos from Lackawanna

Story by Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer
    Fire Chief Matt Osinski reports that GI Fire Company personnel joined many other volunteer fire departments that responded to requests for assistance during the height of the Buffalo metro area storm emergency. At 12:18 p.m. on Tuesday, November 18th, two members with snowmobiles proceeded to the Seneca/Southside area where they spent 13 hours assisting the Buffalo Fire Department and Rural Metro Ambulance service in handling several EMS incidents. At 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, November 19th, Ass't Fire Chief Mark Sadkowski commanded a Special Operations crew to provide the Lackawanna Fire Department with ATV support over a 24 hour period. At 1:20 p.m. on Thursday, November 20th, Ass't Chief Omar Sortino, Engine #3 and Rescue 7 crews provided backup assistance to the Bellvue VFD in Cheektowaga during a nursing home evacuation. At 6:35 p.m. on Friday, November 21st, EMS Capt. Jon Cinelli, Rescue 2 and a four man crew relieved Southline Fire personnel for 12 hours, covering seven incidents, including welfare checks on isolated, snow buried homeowners who could not otherwise be reached. They were teamed up with Sheridan Park volunteers. Chief Osinski stressed that despite such countywide outreach, judicious deployment of resources kept Grand Islanders fully covered for any fire or EMS emergency that might be encountered.




Family Escapes Fast Moving Residential Fire - November 2014

Photo by Kerry Lanthier

Photo by Mary Stewart

Story by Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer
   At 8:19 p.m. on Saturday, November 22nd, Grand Island firefighters responded to a reported structure fire at the Palumbo residence on Broadway. The owners 24-year-old son discovered smoke in the second floor bedroom area, immediately called the GIFC for assistance, and escaped from the building with two other family members. Fire Chief Matt Osinski reports that heavy smoke was encountered when Engines #2, #3, #4, LT 6 and fire suppression crews began to arrive on location. The interior fire was then attacked from below and above when the roof was cut open for ventilation, and was brought under control with 40 minutes.
   GIFC Fire Investigators Chuck Berlinger, Mike DeMartin and their counterparts, Erie County Sheriff's Deputies Merboth and Kuhlmey later determined that the fire originated in the kneehole space on the second floor and is considered accidental. Total damage was estimated at $50,000 to the structure and $30,000 to the contents. Mutual aid assistance was received from the Sheridan Park and Kenmore VFD. The Palumbo family has obtained temporary housing at a local hotel. Mrs. Amy Palumbo stated that “the firefighters were great and were there within minutes” to help.




Three Islanders Hospitalized in Carbon Monoxide Incident - November 2014

Story by Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer
    At 9:12 a.m. on Sunday, November 16th, Grand Island Fire Company rescue personnel responded to a report of CO exposure involving a Countryside Lane family. Deputy Fire Chief Chris Soluri stated that 31 year-old Mackenzie Hassan had earlier found her 6 year-old son unconscious in his bedroom and immediately contacted the GIFC for emergency assistance. At the instruction of a GIFC dispatcher, her son and an 11 day-old infant were removed from the contaminated environment while responders began to arrive on location. Ass’t Fire Chief Mark Sadkowski and Omar Sortino then determined that dangerous, life threatening levels of CO had reached 460 PPM. It was noted that prolonged exposure to such escalating levels could very well have resulted in more serious consequences such as tragic fatalities.
    The exact cause of this CO buildup has not yet been determined by National Fuel representatives who were also called to the scene. The mother and two sons received oxygen therapy from GIFC medics and were transported to Women and Children’s Hospital for further medical attention. The father, 33 year-old Angelo Pascucci had refused treatment but accompanied family members to the hospital. Deputy Fire Chief Soluri stated that although a CO detector was present in the home, it was not functioning at the time. He urged all homeowners to check smoke and CO detectors for proper operating condition and replace any unit if necessary. He added – a $20-$30 investment is a small price to pay to insure a lifesaving advantage during any such emergency.




Kayaker Rescued from Niagara River - November 2014

Story by Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer
    Shortly after 8:00 a.m. on Saturday, November 8th, Grand Island Fire Company rescue personnel responded to a distress call for a man in the Niagara River near a boat dock area at 4552 East River Rd. A neighbor, June D’Angelo, had noticed a duck hunter whose kayak began to take on water and sink when she alerted her husband Dan as well as the GI Fire Company. The boater, in heavy waders, struggled to reach the end of a dock, where he held onto pilings to keep from drowning. Meanwhile, Dan D’Angelo threw him a rope and guided him into shallow water as GI Fire Company rescue crews arrived on location.
    Deputy Fire Chief Chris Soluri reported that 36 year-old Jon Korzen of Grand Island was helped to shore by responders, treated for hypothermia due to 15-20 minutes of exposure to cold water temps, and transported by ambulance to Kenmore Mercy hospital for further evaluation. The Erie County Sheriff Department Marine Unit later recovered the Korzen water craft and shotgun which had drifted about 1/8 mile downstream. Fire officials indicated that Korzen was extremely fortunate that Mrs. D’Angelo had looked toward the river when she did and responded as she did, since there were no other boaters or hunters in the vicinity at the time.




Rollover MVA Results in no Serious Injuries - November 2014

Firefighter Tim Krecisz and Fire Capt. Kevin Koch inspect rollover wreckage.

The Martin vehicle showing front end damage.

Story & photos by Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer
    Shortly after 8:00 a.m. on Monday, November 3rd, Grand Island Fire Company rescue personnel responded to a two car collision at the intersection of Broadway and Stony Point Roads. The force of the impact flipped one vehicle over on its side but the occupants escaped as GIFC units arrived on location. The driver, 17 year-old Jillian Wohlfehrt of Grand Island, crawled out of a car window and claimed no injuries. Her passenger, 17 year-old Alvra Fike, also of Grand Island sustained a head injury and was taken to Women and Children’s hospital by her parent for follow-up evaluation. The other driver, 60 year-old Mary Martin of Grand Island, sustained a lower extremity injury, was stabilized by GIFC medics, and transported by ambulance to Kenmore Mercy hospital for additional medical attention according to Deputy Fire Chief Chris Soluri.




Live Fire Demonstration is Highlight of 2014 Open House - October 2014

Flag raised between GIFC and Sheridan VFD ladder trucks.

Live Fire demonstration.

Birds eye view from ladder truck of Sidway students.

From left: Chief Matt Osinski, Matthew Case, Angela Bender, William Bender and Asst Chief Omar Sortino.

Four year-old Sophie and Deputy Shawn Young.

Eight year-old Morgan coached by Firefighter Egloff in hose practice.

Story and photo by Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer
   Over 1500 Sidway Elementary school students and fire Prevention Open House visitors flocked to fire headquarters on Thursday, October 9th, to learn more about their GIFC volunteers, fire and EMS equipment and overall operational procedures. Morning and afternoon student sessions emphasized “Stop, Drop and Roll” exercises, 911 dispatch familiarization, EMS lifesaving demos, firefighter use of protective gear, and specialized fire truck tools and equipment.
   Evening Open House visitors viewed a spectacular “live fire” demonstration as a simulated living room fire erupted into a blazing inferno within a scant few minutes, a stark reminder of the urgency of exiting a burning structure without delay. It was pointed out that the burning of man-made materials creates poisonous gases such as hydrogen cyanide which can kill without warning.
   In addition to fun stuff such as hose practice for kids, many agencies contributed to the program, including the NY State Police, Erie County Sheriff Department and helicopter, Erie County Haz Mat team and bomb squad, ICE Swat team, Border Patrol, Coast Guard Marine Unit, Ellicott Creek VFD, Sheridan Park VFD, Grand Island Town Police, Mercy Flight and Child Ident Program.
    Fire Chief Matt Osinski presented special commendations to William Bender, Angela Bender and Matthew Case for their quick thinking actions on September 14, 2014, when they rendered assistance to a motor vehicle accident victim in the Niagara River. Erie County Deputy Sheriff’s Bradley Girdler and Brandon Stott were also honored for their quick thinking actions on September 22, 2014 for their valuable assistance to the GI Fire Company in extricating a motor vehicle accident victim from smoke filled wreckage.
    Ass’t Fire Chief Omar Sortino, program coordinator, reports that winners of the “Ride to School in a Fire Truck” drawing will be scheduled for pick up during the school week of October 20th. A big thank you to Wendy’s Restaurant for providing French fry coupons to students who completed fire safety questionnaires, the GIFC Ladies Auxiliary and all those who set aside some quality time to meet with their GIFC volunteers and friends.




Grand Island Fire Company Holds Annual Inspection - October 2014

Volunteers assembled for Inspection.

Norm Mrkall Sr. (right) receives special recognition from Chief Matt Osinski.
Photos by Karen DeMartin - Click photo for larger view

Story by Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer
    On Saturday, October 4th, Grand Island Fire Company firefighters, medics, EMTs and cadets reported to fire headquarters for their 2014 "state of readiness" inspection by Fire Chief Matt Osinski. Chief Osinski commended his volunteers for their unwavering dedication which was described as the "key factor" in the GIFC long standing community protection success. He noted that this fine record has been supported by many lifesaving accomplishments during 2014. The most recent CPR "save" was administered to a 14 year-old and undoubtedly turned a looming tragedy into a heart warming success story.
   In addition, GIFC past Chief Norm Mrkall Sr. received special recognition for 60 years of outstanding firematic and administrative achievements. Town Supervisor Mary Cooke expressed the unqualified gratitude of Town officials and the community at large for the exceptional emergency coverage of the GIFC.




Private Citizens and Sheriff's Deputies to Receive Fire Prevention Commendations - October 2014

Story by Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer
    Grand Island Fire Chief Matt Osinksi reports that several individuals will receive special life saving recognition at this years Fire Prevention Open House which will take place at fire headquarters, 2275 Baseline Rd., from 5:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, October 9th. Ass't Chief Omar Sortino, Fire Prevention Chairman, indicates that three individuals, William Bender, Angela Bender and Matthew Case will receive commendations for "their quick thinking actions on September 14, 2014, when they rendered assistance to a motor vehicle accident victim in the Niagara River until emergency responders arrived on location."
    In a separate incident, Eric County Deputy Sheriff's Bradley Girdler and Brandon Stott will be honored for "their valuable assistance to the Grand Island Fire Company in extricating a motor vehicle accident victim from a smoke filled wreck on September 22, 2014." This timely intervention in both instances represents the true spirit of fire prevention volunteerism at its very best. Congratulations to these fine individuals for their outstanding contributions in service to others!




Grand Island Fire Prevention Open House - September 2014

    This year's Grand Island Fire Prevention Open House will take place on Thursday, October 9th from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. at fire headquarters, 2275 Baseline Rd. During the week, firefighter/EMS teams will visit Grand Island elementary schools to offer fire safety tips for home, school and workplace. Students will also receive entry blanks for the popular “Ride to School in a Fire Truck” contest. Eight youths from each school will be selected for this thrilling event. Another highlight of the program will be a “live fire” demo to show visitors how fast and hot a blaze can develop after ignition in a household setting. The GIFC Ladies Auxiliary will provide refreshments, including a hot dog roast at a nominal cost. They will also have a special basket raffle. Come out and meet your GIFC firefighters and medics.
   The Grand Island Traffic Safety Advisory Board will be holding its annual traffic safety information display at the Fire Company Open House. At that time the NYS Police will be present to meet the public and display their traffic safety vehicles.




Niagara Falls Couple Rescued from River - September 2014

   Grand Island Fire Company participated in the rescue of a Niagara Falls couple on Tuesday, September 23rd at approximately 1:30 p.m. The couple was ejected from their vessel in the East Niagara River near Stony Point Road after losing control while trying to turn. After being picked up by another boater, the couple was taken to the GI Fire Boat dock and treated by medics for exposure. GIFC Marine Unit #1 and the Erie County Sheriff's boat crew were able to take control of the unmanned boat and bring it ashore.




Island Firefighters Pull Driver From Niagara River - September 2014

Fishing boat at left, Marine Unit 1 at right.

Story & photo by Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer
    Shortly after 9:00 a.m. on Sunday, September 14th, Grand Island Fire Company rescue personnel responded to a report of a vehicle and occupant in the Niagara River, off East River Road, just north of the South Grand Island Bridge. An East Amherst resident, Bill Bender, was drift fishing in the river with his daughter Angela and her boyfriend Matt Case, when they discovered a man sitting in 2 feet of water near the riverbank where his car had landed after careening off East River Road. They immediately called 911 to alert the Grand Island Fire Company and moved in closer to assist the victim, 62 year old William Lewak of Rochester, NY.
   Meanwhile, the daughter climbed up to the roadway to flag down responding GIFC units since heavy brush blocked any view of the exact location. Rescuers then rigged safety ropes down the 40 foot embankment, entered the water and brought Lewek to a nearby docking area, using the Bender watercraft. During this operation, GIFC Marine Unit 1 was standing by should additional assistance be needed. Lewek was transferred to a waiting Twin City ambulance where treatment for hypothermia was initiated and then transported to Erie County Medical Center for further medical attention.
    When Bender was thanked by GIFC officers, he stated that “I’m just glad I was in the right place at the right time” to help this guy out. All GIFC units returned in service by 9:53 a.m.




Car Crashes Into Deli - September 2014


    No one was injured at the Island Deli and Meat Market, 2488 Grand Island Blvd. when a car crashed through the front plate glass window on Thursday, September 11th. Island resident Denise Ann Finch accidentally hit the accelerator at approximately 3:30 p.m. and fortunately was not injured. Fire Chief Matt Osinski noted the "crash caused considerable structure damage" to the building.




MVA Involving School Bus Causes No Serious Injuries - September 2014


Story & photo by Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer
    At 3:52 p.m. on Tuesday, September 9th, Grand Island Fire Company rescue personnel responded to a traffic accident involving a school bus and a passenger vehicle on Pin Oak Circle. Ass’t Fire Chief Omar Sortino confirmed that school bus #69 contained 14 kindergarten and 1st grade students from Sidway Elementary school who were being returned home. One six year-old youngster was evaluated by GIFC medics for a minor head bump and was released to the care of her father. Ther were no other children injured. 37 year-old Billy Bailey of Niagara Falls, driver of the auto was uninjured, as were two female passengers.
All children were picked up by their parents and GIFC units returned to service at 4:47 p.m.




Emergency Coverage Starts with Early Morning Mutual Aid - September 2014

Clean up at South Bridge

Story & photo by Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer
   Fire Chief Matt Osinski reports that there was no rest for weary Grand Island firefighters after they handled a mutual aid call for assistance from 12:18 a.m. through 3:20 a.m. on September 4th in connection with an explosion and fire at Praxair Research & Development in Tonawanda, NY.
   Their workload continued at 8:22 a.m. when FIFC rescue personnel responded to an MVA involving a motorcyclist on the South GI Bridge, southbound. At least two other traffic accidents occurred in the same vicinity but TCA ambulance crews had already begun patient treatment and GIFC units were released after the scene was secured.
   Meanwhile, at 8:55 a.m., Engine #4 and fire suppression crews had to negotiate heavy bypass traffic caused by the series of I-190 MVA’s, to respond to a “fryer fire” at Wendy’s Restaurant, 1685 Grand Island Blvd. While the building was being evacuated, the limited fire was extinguished by an Erie County Deputy Sheriff.
   Subsequently, at 10:50 a.m., the GIFC was again called out to the I-190 for another MVA involving a truck and two passenger vehicles. Although there were no injuries, a 25 gallon diesel fuel spill had to be contained until the DEC arrived for a final evaluation, according to Deputy Fire Chief Chris Soluri.




Mutual Aid Provided By Island Marine Unit - August 2014

Click photo for larger view

Story by Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer
    At 3:09 p.m. on Monday, August 25th, the Grand Island Fire Company received a mutual aid request for assistance from the City of Tonawanda Fire Department for a pier on fire near the old Renaissance Bridge over the Erie Canal. When the GIFC Marine Unit arrived on location, a 12" x 12" x 12 foot wooden plank was found in smoldering condition and was hosed down using a high powered deck gun. This partially destroyed beam was then secured by rope and pulled to shore to eliminate any navigational hazard to local boaters. The GIFC Marine craft and crew of OIC Jon Cinelli, Chuck Berlinger, Tim Krecisz and Peter Coppola returned to their berth at 4:15 p.m.




Miracle League Ballgames Fun for Everyone - August 2014

Firefighters Benoit and Egloff oblige those who eagerly sought a cool down.

Story and photo by Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer
   "Take me out to the ballgame" is a familiar refrain to the players, coaches, family members and special guests who flock to Grand Island Miracle League field every Sunday afternoon for plenty of excitement. Employing the "buddy" system, each player has a designated helper to guide them through the playing field to their ultimate destination - home plate. Cheers from the crowd were frequent, loud, and one coach stated that the games have become so popular in western New York that additional teams will have to be added for the 2015 season.
   Recently, Grand Island Fire Company Engine #4 and Ladder Truck #6 arrived to add a little pizazz to the day. Firefighters Pete Coppola, Jourdan Benoit, Chuck Picone, Nick Egloff, Scott Shaw, Ray Pauley and Cadet Ben Shaw soon made friends with players and spectators as well. At the conclusion of the sporting activities, many players, "buddies" and coaches received a cool down hose spray. A fitting end to a highly enjoyable afternoon.




Island Firefighters Gear Up Their Mass Casualty Incident Readiness - August 2014

FF/EMT Ambri a Tim applies head/neck stabilization prior to relocation to triage area.

Group of “walking wounded” patients await transport.

Story and photos by Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer
   Bearing in mind that MCI’s have become a unique challenge for all emergency service providers, the Grand Island Fire Company has recently accelerated training to help contend with such an ever-present threat. Accordingly, on Monday, August 25th, GI firefighters and EMS personnel responded to a simulated explosion with “many” injuries at the Nike Base Park on Whitehaven Rd. Ass’t Fire Chief Mark Sadkowski confirmed that this drill involved 22 firefighter/medics, Engine #4, Rescue 7-1, Heavy Duty Rescue #1 and Utility #2. When arriving units established scene safety, determining that there was no fire or other hazards, 18 victims were located and this was declared an MCI.
   Fire Capt. Dan Mathes assumed operational comm, while medics Steve Stouter and Jon Cinelli coordinated interior EMS activity. Consequently, all victims were properly identified within 4 minutes, and 7 minutes later, all were evaluated, received basic treatment and removed from the building to complete the triage process. Finally, after 20 minutes, the first victim was transported to a designated hospital and all others followed.
    Ass’t Chief Sadkowski noted that Boy Scout Troop #630, leaders and family members generously provided the “victims” for this special MCI drill. Whether an accidental or intentionally caused, MCI’s can create havoc at schools, malls, sporting events or any other place where large numbers of people congregate. In any event, your GIFC volunteers will continue to maximize community protection capabilities for each and every life threatening eventuality.




Grand Island Fire Cadet Attains Eagle Scout Rank - August 2014

From left: Parents Scott & Patricia, Ben and Evan Shaw.

Story and photo by Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer
   On Friday, August 15th, a special Eagle Scout Court of Honor was conducted at Grand Island Fire Headquarters for Benjamin Shaw, an active Fire Cadet who has excelled in scouting, sports and community service. Scoutmaster Scott Swagler of Troop 630 noted that Ben organized a group of peers, adults and children in constructing two storage lockers for the Grand Island Soccer Club at Sidway School and Veterans Park. This special Eagle Scout project typified Ben’s commitment to the advancement of sports activities for local youth. Ben’s brother Evan is also an Eagle Scout and as an indispensable mentor, helped guide Ben’s program to a successful conclusion. As a Fire Cadet with the GIFC, Ben has also received considerable support from Evan, a Senior Cadet and his father Scott who is an active firefighter. Congratulations to Ben for his outstanding accomplishment and good luck with future aspirations.




Raging Inferno Destroys River Oaks Bathhouse - August 2014



Story by Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer
    At 1:14 p.m. on Tuesday, August 12th, Grand Island fire fighters responded to a structure fire at the River Oaks Golf Course, 201 Whitehaven Road. Several emergency 911 calls were received from passersby who noticed flames and smoke coming from an isolated bathhouse, located near the 16th hold off Deerwood Lane.
    The building was “totally involved” according to Fire Capt. Kevin Koch, who assumed incident command as Engines #2, #4, LT #6, and R-7-2 arrived on location with fire-fighting crews. Since there were no life hazards or exposures to contend with, fire suppression operations were suspended until National Grid was able to cut off power which posed a danger to on scene fire-fighters. Subsequently, at 2:38 p.m. the fire was declared out, with total damage estimated at $40,000.
    Grand Island Fire Investigator Chuck Berlinger and his ECSD counterparts have not yet concluded their inquiry into the exact cause. Sheridan Park VFD provided standby mutual aid assistance at GIFC headquarters during firefighting operations. There were no firefighter injuries and all participating units returned in service at 3:11 p.m.




GI Fire Company Joint Training Exercises - August 2014

Marine units from GIFC, Erie County Sheriff and Niagara Falls Ontario Fire Department.
Jon Cinelli photo.

Story by Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer
    Fire Chief Matt Osinski reports that the Grand Island Fire Company has recently participated in several joint training exercises which have enhanced future fire protection and lifesaving capabilities for everyone involved. On July 22nd, the GIFC Marine Unit joined with the Erie County Sheriff Department and Niagara Falls Ontario Fire Department Marine Crafts for coordinated training in the west branch of the Niagara River. Ass’t. Chief Omar Sortino stated that the establishment of such working relationships will help to insure maximum operational success in future water related emergencies. Other GIFC crew members who participated were EMS Capt. Jon Cinelli, Fire Captain Dan Mathes, Lt. Ryan Ayers, Lt. Tim Krecisz and Lt. Chuck Berlinger. Capt. Cinelli noted "the NFFD was impressed with our ability to pump water and fight fires from our deck and our ability to lay the front platform into the water to assist in removing any casualties."
    On August 4th, Fire Chief Osinski met with the Sheridan Park VFD at the Town of Tonawanda training tower for a joint school bus extrication exercise. Fire fighter Dave Khreis arranged this generous bus donation through the Grand Island Central School District, so that realistic lifesaving conditions could be duplicated. This simulated emergency situation gave participants “a tough nut to crack” according to one GIFC fire fighter, because of substantial safety construction which was encountered.




Fire Destroys River Oaks Rest Room - August 2014

Click photo for larger view

Photo by Jodi Robinson
   An early afternoon fire on Tuesday, August 12th destroyed the the rest room at the end of the 16th hole of River Oaks Golf Club. Numerous fire trucks and fire fighters were on hand to keep the flames in check.




Lightning Strikes Tree near Love Road Residence - August 2014

Tree struck 15 feet from home.

Story and photos by Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer
   At 6:25 p.m. on Saturday, August 2nd, Grand Island fire fighters responded to a reported lightning strike at a Love Rd. residence. Within minutes, Fire Police Capt. Don Portik arrived on location and was advised by the occupant Gladys Benzing that she was startled by a tremendous flash while watching TV and thought her house had been struck. Fire Capt. Shawn Kephart later determined that a backyard tree had been struck with such force that several pieces of bark had flown over the rooftop and landed in the street two houses away. Except for some smoke infiltration and loss of telephone service, there was no damage to the home itself. All GIFC units returned in service by 7:14 p.m.




Three Hospitalized in I-190 Auto/Tractor Trailer Collision- July 2014

Story by Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer
   Shortly after 10:00 p.m. on Tuesday, July 22nd, Grand Island Fire Company rescue personnel responded to a two vehicle MVA which occurred northbound on the I-190 between Long Road and Burnt Ship Creek. Fire Chief Matt Osinski reported that a vehicle driven by Diana Pennington of Niagara Falls, collided with a tractor trailer and was wedged underneath it, trapping the three occupants. NY State Police officers were able to remove a six year-old from the vehicle as GI Fire Company emergency crews arrived on location. The driver and an adult passenger, Vito Crisafuilli, were removed from the wreckage by a heavy equipment extrication team which had received specialized training at a FDIC course earlier this year. Chief Osinski commented that “such advanced training really pays off when lives are at stake”. Both adults were treated by GIFC medics for traumatic injuries and transported by ambulance to ECMC for further medical attention. The six year-old appeared to have no serious injuries but was also sent to ECMC as a precaution. The Sheridan Park VFD provided mutual aid assistance at the scene, handling traffic control, etc. All participating units returned in service at 11:07 p.m.




Island Firefighters Provide Mutual Aid Assistance - July 2014

Story and photo by Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer
   The Grand Island Fire Company was one of several VFD's called upon to provide mutual aid assistance to the Ellwood VFD early Saturday evening, July 12th, when a hazardous chemical fire broke out at the FMC Corp. on Sawyer Ave. in Tonawanda. GIFC Engine #3 responded to the first alarm at 6:11 p.m. according to Ass't Chief Mark Sadkowski who led a crew of five firefighters. Engine #4 subsequently responded to a second alarm at 6:45 p.m. Meanwhile, a standy crew at GI Fire Headquarters handled two simultaneous EMS incidents. All GIFC units returned in service from FMC warehouse fire at 8:24 p.m. after the large scale blaze had been brought under control.




Driver Hospitalized in Head-On Collision - July 2014

Fire Captain John Podlucky checks damage.

Story and photo by Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer
   At 12:37 p.m. on Friday, July 11th, Grand Island Fire Company resuce personnel responded to a two car MVA at the intersection of Whitehaven and Stony Point Roads. Fire Capt. Shawn Kephart reported that one driver 25 year-old Gavin Gaiser of Buffalo, was treated by GIFC medics for upper body trauma, stabilized and transported by ambulance to South Buffalo Mercy Hospital for additional medical attention. The other driver, 57 year-old Gary Lazir of Grand Island claimed no injuries. Meanwhile, Erie County Sheriff Deputies commenced an on-scene accident investigation and GIFC units returned in service at 1:26 p.m.




Fire Company Contributes to Mesmer Extravaganza - July 2014

Host Bob Mesmer

Border Patrol watercraft.

A Frontier skydiver floating gracefully to the earth.

Story and photos by Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer
   Several hundred islanders attended the annual Bob and Joy Mesmer neighborhood picnic which kicked off between 5 and 6pm on Wednesday, July 9th at Love and Alt Blvd.
   Besides plenty of food and drink, the Grand Island Fire Company provided an engine and rescue vehicle for both kids and parents to enjoy. Additional displays included a Border Patrol watercraft, FBI Swat Team armored vehicle and assorted tactical firearms, Mercy Flight copter, and at least a dozen private planes flown in by members of the EAA (Experamental Airplane Assoc.). A special crowd pleaser was a colorful, Frontier Skydiving exhibition directly over the Mesmer airfield.
   For membership information for the EAA Young Eagles, see Facebook.com/EAA Young Eagles. Most visitors agreed that Bob's generosity matched the size of this event which was described as "the best ever".




Island Driver Injured in Three Car Collision - July 2014

Story by Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer
    Shortly after 4:00 p.m. on Monday, July 7th, Grand Island Fire Company rescue personnel responded to a three car MVA at the intersection of Baseline and Whitehaven Rds. Ass’t. Fire Chief Omar Sortino reported that 67 year old Claudia Tackett of Grand Island was treated by GIFC medics for non- life threatening upper body injuries and transported to Kenmore Mercy Hospital for precautionary follow-up. Two other drivers, 56 year old Julie Fallin of Grand Island and 21 year old Paul Garabedian of Niagara Falls sustained no serious injuries and declined hospitalization. Meanwhile, Erie County Sheriff Dept. deputies commenced an on scene accident investigation and all GIFC units returned in service at 4:39 p.m.




Suspicious Drum Leads to Island Hazmat Incident - June 2014

Offending drum awaiting costly disposal.

Story and photo by Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer
    At 6:50 a.m. on Wednesday, June 25th, GI fire fighters responded to a hazardous materials incident at the Grand Island Town Highway Dept., 1820 Whitehaven Rd. Highway Crew Chief Skip Mrkall explained that employees arriving for work discovered a 55 gallon sealed drum wrapped in black plastic had been left in the outside drop off area where town residents are able to leave disgarded tv's and computers on a 24-7 basis.
    Ass't Fire Chief Mark Sadkowski requested mutual aid assistance from the Brighton VFD Haz Mat team which arrived on scene in approx. 20 minutes. The drum was secured opened, tested, and found to contain a slight residue, probably of a petroleum base product. The drum was then placed into an encapsulating safety container for later disposal. Town Highway Dept. and FIFC officials remind residents to abide by existing rules and make appropriate inquiries if questionable items need to be disposed of.




Driver Hospitalized in Two Car Collision - June 2014


Story and photo by Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer
   At 11:28 a.m. on Friday, June 13th, Grand Island rescue personnel responded to a two car MVA on Whitehaven Road near the intersection of Baseline Road. Fire Capt. Dan Mathes reported that 48 year-old John Kilmer of Grand Island was treated by GIFC medics for upper body injuries, stabilized and transported to Kenmore Mercy hospital for follow-up medical attention. The other driver, 72 year-old Geraldine Benzing of Grand Island sustained minor injuries and declined hospitalization. All GIFC units returned in service by 12:13 p.m.




GIFC Faced with Three MVAs in Six Hours - May 2014

Story by Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer
    Fire Chief Matt Osinski reports that Grand Island firefighters/medics handled three MVA incidents during a six hour period on May 25th & 26th. At 6:41 p.m. on Sunday, May 25th, GIFC rescue personnel responded to a call of a bicyclist hit by a car at the intersection of Broadway and Beaver Island Parkway, 24 year-old Melanie Anderson of Grand Island was evaluated for minor extremity injuries and declined hospitalization.
   At 11:24 p.m., GIFC units responded to a three car “chain reaction” collision at the North Grand Island Bridge toll barrier. One 29 year-old driver who was rear ended, was immobilized and transported to ECMC for further medical attention. Three other patients were treated by Twin City Ambulance personnel and transported to ECMC. One 43 year-old Niagara Falls driver was taken into police custody at the scene.
    Shortly thereafter, at 12:20 a.m. on May 26th, GIFC rescue personnel responded to a a reported motorcycle/deer collision in the vicinity of 3161 Whitehaven Rd. The operator, 23 year-old Jeff Blanton of Grand Island was treated by GIFC medics for non-life threatening abrasions and transported to ECMC for precautionary follow-up. GIFC officials noted that his injuries were minimized by his safety helmet and heavy jacket.




GI Fire Company Celebrates 76 Years of Service - May 2014

Story by Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer
   Town, county and state government officials praised the Grand Island Fire Company for its “proud tradition of community service” over the past 76 years. This anniversary celebration took place at fire headquarters on Saturday, May 17th, and was well attended by family members and special guests, including local fire service officers.
    Board of Directors Chairman Greg Butcher noted that the GIFC has kept pace with increased membership recruitment demands and took in a class of six “rookies” during 2014. Personal sacrifice is nothing new to members of the volunteer fire service who provide over 70% of fire and EMS protection throughout the entire U.S. He concluded that GIFC accomplishments to date would indicate that the township is “in very good hands.”
    President Chuck Picone, Chief Matt Osinski, and Chairman Greg Butcher recognized 13 individuals for years of service within the GIFC.
Five Year: Robert Soluri Jr., Anthony Masantuono, Capt. John Podlucky, Father Samuel Venne
10 Year: Adrian Pilliod, 2nd Assist. Chief Mark Sadkowski
30 Year: Lt. Paul Gorman, Director Peter Coppola, Mark Kowzan
20 Year Life: Chief Matt Osinski, Sean Manning
50 Year: Louie D'Orazio
55 Year: Director Peter McMahon
    Chief Osinski and Medic Sean Manning received the prestigious 20 year “Life” membership award. Lou D’Orazio was lauded for his 50 years of dedicated service, and Pete McMahon for 55 years of outstanding leadership in firematic as well as administrative capacities. Nicole Butcher, President of the Ladies Auxiliary, presented the GIFC with a $500 check in support of future needs. Congratulations again to our local volunteers who have put their personal lives on hold so many times in service to their fellow citizens.




Salvage Vehicle Destroyed in GI Blvd. Fire - May 2014


Story and photo by Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer
    Shortly before 12 noon on Friday, May 9th, Grand Island firefighters responded to a report of “vehicle on fire” inside a large storage garage at 1865 Grand Island Blvd. This metal structure was formerly part of the Island Pools complex and is now owned by the Harbor Lights Fellowship Church. According to Associate Pastor Vincent Anetrini, he had been performing some salvage work on a passenger vehicle when gasoline accidentally ignited. Since the vehicle was already on a hi-lift, he quickly drove it outside the building in order to limit damage to a parked camper trailer. During this process he sustained superficial burns to his hands but declined hospitalization.
    Fire Chief Matt Osinski reported that Engines #3, #4, LT6, and fire suppression crews arrived on location within 3 ½ minutes and had the fire out within 20 minutes. Sheridan Park VFD and City of Tonawanda Fire Department provided backup mutual aid support. Total damage was estimated at $10,000 to the contents and none to the structure. GIFC Fire Investigator Chuck Berlinger confirmed the cause as accidental ignition of gasoline. There were no firefighter injuries.




CO Threat Closes Business - May 2014

Story by Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer
   Shortly after 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, April 29th, Grand Island Fire Company rescue personnel responded to the activation of a carbon monozide detector at the Hizair Beauty Salon, 1721 Grand Island Blvd. Fire Chief Matt Osinski reported that dangerous levels of CO reached 250 PPM because of an improperly vented furnace. Two employees, 39 year-old Tammy Matlock and 33 year-old Christiana Decker, both of North Tonawanda, were evaluated by GIFC medics for CO exposure, found to be stable and declined hospitalization. Gas service was shut off by National Fuel representatives until further corrective measures are taken and ventilation of the premises was undertaken to rid the atmosphere of CO contaminants. All GIFC units returned to service by 12:09 p.m.




GIFC Meeting Recruitment Challenges - May 2014

From left: Top row: Capt. John Podlucky, Charles Jones, Dakota Bower, Nicholas Egloff and Ass't Chief Mark Sadkowski.
Bottom row: Nathan Tilkins, Adrianne Berndt and Seth Kozek. Click photo for larger view

Story and photo by Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer
   Grand Island Fire Chief Matt Osinski noted that volunteer firefighter recruitment and retention has consistently been given "top priority" by the GIFC, and the results speak for themselves. Likewise, local and national emergency services organizations have recently intensified similar efforts in response to a steady decline in the number of volunteers who handle 70% of firefighting in the U.S.
    The GIFC brought in six new recruits during 2014 as follows; Adrianne Berndt, Dakota Bower, Nicholas Egloff, Charles Jones, Seth Kozek and Nathan Tilkins. These "rookies" are presently enrolled in an intensive 13 week Firefighter I training course which will be completed on or about May 24th. Ass't. Chief Mark Sadkowski and Capt. John Podlucky, training coordinators, indicate that these individuals have displayed exceptional initiative thus far and are expected to make significant contributions when they complete additional EMT training. Good luck to these "rookies" who have chosen to join that special brotherhood of volunteers who serve their community when needed.




Homeowner Creates Training Opportunity for Island Firefighters - April 2014

   

Photos and story by Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer
   Grand Island Fire Chief Matt Osinski reports that firefighter training was given a "tremendous boost" by a generous homeowner whose East River Rd. residence was made available for use prior to a scheduled demolition. He noted that such opportunities are extremely hard to come by but when they do firefighters are given the chance to sharpen their skills in a structural scenario which they would encounter during an actual fire emergency.
   On Monday, April 7th, Ass't. Fire Chief Mark Sadkowski directed search and rescue operations and hose line placement within a smoke filled environment. A Bullex smoke machine created smoky conditions so that firefighters did not have to contend with an actual fire hazard. On Tuesday, April 15th, Chief Osinski and Ass't. Chief Sadkowski directed roof ventilation procedures utilizing ladders, chainsaws, and related equipment. Newer firefighters were thereby given a chance to build up their height confidence in a realistic situation. On Wednesday, April 16th, training evolutions were concluded with further rooftop ventilation, interior search and rescue, as well as wall breaches, which stressed firefighter safety and survival.
    Chief Osinski noted that no "live" fire was involved at any stage and firefighters used full protective gear at all times. In addition, all such drills were concluded by 9:00 p.m. with due consideration for local residents. The GIFC thanks the homeowners for their exceptional generosity and the invaluable community support for your GIFC volunteers.




911 Emergency Dispatchers Lauded During National Public Safety Telecommunications Week - April 2014

Story by Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer
    April 13th through April 19th has been designated NPST week in recognition of the approximately 200,000 emergency services dispatchers who provide a critical link in handling your 911 call for help. This special commemorative resolution was first introduced in congress during 1991 and eventually became a permanent national proclamation.
    There is no better testament to the emergency dispatcher than a well acclaimed 1994 letter by Loveland, Colorado Police Chief Thomas Wagner who observed that “dispatchers are the unsung heroes of public safety who are expected to gather information from highly agitated people who can’t remember where they live, what their name is, or what they just saw. And then, they are to calmly provide all that information to officers, firefighters, or paramedics without error the first time and every time. They care about people and they enjoy being the lifeline of society, that steady voice in a storm, the one who knows how to handle every emergency and does it with style and grace, and uncompromised competence. They are chastened by upset callers, taken for granted by the public and criticized by the officers (responders) and the rewards they get are inexpensive and infrequent, except for the satisfaction they feel at the end of a shift, having done what they were expected to do. It is a unique and talented person who can do this job and do it well. You are heroes and I am proud to work with you.” Grand Island Fire Company officials note that these 20 year old sentiments ring just as true now as if they were uttered yesterday.
    It also bears repeating that the GIFC Dispatch Center is now operating with a new Intrado Power 911 system, a “state of the art” fiber optics installation which greatly enhances emergency services capabilities. Communications Supervisor Steve Morgan notes that this expanded dimension of communications technology assists dispatchers in handling a workload which amounted to approximately 5000 contacts during 2013 (fire, EMS, police, etc.) The end result is a much easier, safer, and effective delivery of community protection services he stressed.




Intense Apartment Fire Results in Occupant Fatality - April 2014

Update: The 81-year-old Grand Island woman who died when she was trapped Saturday evening in her basement apartment on Baseline Road was identified as Delores Bajak, by the Erie County Sheriff’s Department.

Story by Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer
   Shortly before 9:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 5th, Grand Island firefighters responded to a reported “structural fire” at the Grant Court Apartment complex at 2462 Baseline Rd., across from Sidway Elementary school.
   Fire Chief Matt Osinski stated that firefighters encountered heavy smoke and flames pouring out of the front of the building from a basement apartment. A Grand Island police officer and Erie County Deputy Sheriff had already attempted to rescue the 82 year-old female occupant but were unsuccessful due to the oppressive fire conditions. Eight other tenants managed to escape from the burning structure as Engines #4, #2, Ladder Truck #6, and Rescue #1 arrived on location. Fire suppression crews then initiated an aggressive interior attack which had the blaze under control within 22 minutes. Despite these exceptional efforts however, the occupant could not be saved.
   Backup crews from the city of Tonawanda, Brighton VFD, and Sheridan Park VFD provided mutual aid assistance during the firefighting operations. Grand Island Fire Company Fire Investigator Chuck Berlinger indicated that careless smoking was the probable cause of the fire and that in home oxygen use contributed to the intense fire load that firefighters had to contend with. Damage was estimated at $75,000 to the structure and $120,000 to the contents.
    In addition, the American Red Cross is providing emergency shelter to residents that were displaced by the fire. One Grand Island firefighter sustained an ankle injury and was relieved from duty. All participating units were returned in service by 11:02 p.m. except for fire investigators who remained until shortly after 1:00 a.m.




Island Firefighters Handle Two Single Car MVA’s - April 2014

Helenbrook vehicle in roadside ditch.

Raepple vehicle wedged underneath guard rail.

Story and photos by Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer
   At 4:47 p.m. on Monday, March 31st, Grand Island Fire Company rescue personnel responded to a one car MVA on West River Road between Fix and Love Roads. Ass’t Fire Chief Mark Sadkowski reported that 72 year-old Marilyn Helenbrook of Grand Island was traveling south on the West River service roadway, crossed over into the opposite lane, hitting a nearby fire hydrant and coming to rest against a utility pole. She sustained no life threatening injuries according to GIFC medics and was transported to Kenmore Mercy Hospital for precautionary medical evaluation.
    At 6:28 p.m. Grand Island Fire Company personnel responded to another one car MVA on the Whitehaven Rd. overpass. 22 year-old Alexis Raepple of Grand Island failed to negotiate a curve on the entrance ramp to the northbound I-190 and crashed into a guardrail and light pole. Fire Capt. Dan Mathes reported that she was evaluated by GIFC medics at the scene but declined hospitalization. The matter was then turned over to the Erie County Sheriff’s Dept. for further investigation. Fire officials noted that in both instances, seat belt use and air bag deployment are credited with preventing more serious injuries.




Damage Limited in Motorcycle Fire - March 2014

Story by Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer
    At 5:00 p.m. on Monday, March 17th, Grand Island firefighters responded to a report of a motorcycle on fire inside an attached garage on East River Rd. The owner Brandon Williaf attempted to start the cycle when is suddenly burst into flames and he immediately called 911 for assistance. Within minutes GIFC Safety Officer Skip Mrkall arrived on location and used a bucket of snow to knock the fire down. Ass’t Fire Chief Mark Sadkowski reported that the Yamaha cycle was then removed from the garage which was then ventilated by additional responders. Damage to the cycle was estimated at $1000, with no structural damage to the garage due to quick thinking by Officer Mrkall prior to the arrival of Engines #4 and #5. All units were back in service by 5:18 p.m.




911 Service System Updated - March 2014

Communications Supervisor Steve Morgan

Story by Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer
   Communications Supervisor Steve Morgan reports that a new Intrado Power 911 system was placed in service at Grand Island Fire Company’s Dispatch Center on February 27, 2014. This enhanced Verizon “state of the art” fiber optics installation represents the culmination of a three year project to upgrade all PSAP’s in Erie County that provide emergency services. As a result, the GIFC now has the capability of instantaneous contact with any fire, police, etc. agency “west of the Hudson”. Morgan noted that "this is especially critical when local mutual aid assistance is required since telephone delays will be all but eliminated."
   Sophisticated mapping capabilities have also become a stark reality which will enable the GIFC to pinpoint the exact location of an emergency victim. No longer will such information have to be passed on through a third party such as in the case of an injured snowmobiler whose location had to be relayed to the GIFC during a prior incident. These advantages and other operational upgrades were explored during intensive training received by C.S. Morgan and Ass’t C.S. Dave Dombrowski through the Erie County CPS. Further training for individual GIFC dispatchers is already underway. Consequently, GIFC officials are in “100% agreement” that this expanded dimension of communications technology constitutes a dramatic improvement that will make your volunteers challenging community protection duties that much easier, safer and effective.




Fix Road Garage Fire - March 2014

Click photo for larger view

Story and photo by Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer
   At 12:35 p.m. on Saturday, March 1st, Grand Island fire fighters responded to a report of a garage on fire at the Shipman residence on Fix Rd. at the intersection of Baseline Rd. Deputy Fire Chief Chris Soluri stated that fire and heavy smoke conditions were encountered next door to GIFC Station #3 where Engine #2 crews began fire suppression operations within one minute of dispatch time. The fire was quickly brought under control with the added support of Engine #4, Ladder Truck #6 and Rescue Truck #1. Extensive overhaul commenced shortly after 1:00 p.m. while a Sheridan Park VFD FAST team stood by at the scene.
   Damage was estimated at $20,000 to the structure and $7500 to the contents according to Deputy Chief Soluri. The cause appeared to be accidental ignition of the building's interior by a wood burning stove which had a faulty vent pipe. Although a frozen hydrant was encountered there was no immediate impact on fire fighting activity since fire engine booster tanks and other sources were utilized effectively. No injuries were reported. All units returned in service at 2:41 p.m.




Island Kitchen Fire - February 2014

Burned oven mitt & pot holder.

Story and photo by Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer
    Shortly before 1:00 p.m. on Monday, February 17th, Grand Island fire fighters responded to a report of “smoke in the building” at the Pontrell residence on Bedell Road. Deputy Fire Chief Chris Soluri stated that there was an accidental ignition of a pot holder which stated to smolder when placed back in a kitchen cabinet after a pot of tea had been brewed. The homeowner applied water to extinguish the small fire, called 9811 for GIFC assistance and evacuated the home. When Engines #3, #4, and Ladder Truck #6 arrived with fire suppression crews, the kitchen area was checked for extension, but fortunately, the fire was confined to the area of origin. Total fire damage was estimated at $750 and there were no injuries reported.




Winkler Drive Vehicle Collision - February 2014


Story and photo by Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer
    At 1:39 p.m. on Saturday, February 15th, Grand Island Fire Company rescue personnel responded to a two car MVA on Winkler Dr. between East River and Staley Roads. Deputy Fire Chief Chris Soluri reported that both drivers were out of their vehicles where they collided “head on” at a sharp curve in the roadway. 87 year-old Chester Fuller of North Tonawanda was treated for a superficial head injury but declined hospitalization. 56 year-old Mike Cope of Grand Island declined evaluation, claiming no injuries.




Car and School Bus MVA - January 2014

Click photo for larger view

Story and photo by Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer
   Shortly after 8:30 a.m., Grand Island Fire company rescue personnel responded to a MVA involving a car and school bus on East River Rd. and Edgewater Dr. An auto driven by 22 year-old Alex Mytinger of Grand Island reportedly collided with the rear of school bus #14, which was stopped with its warning lights flashing. Ten Huth Road Elementary school children were on board but were uninjured. Mytinger was evaluated by GIFC medics but declined hospitalization. The incident was turned over to the Erie County Sheriff's Department and all GIFC units returned in service at 9:10 a.m.




CO Threat Eliminated at Elderwood Health Care Facility - January 2014

Story by Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer
    Shortly after 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, January 25th, Grand Island firefighters responded to a report of a “gas leak” inside the Elderwood Health Care facility at 2850 Grand Island Blvd.
   Upon arrival, Fire Chief Matt Osinski detected dangerous carbon monoxide levels of 350-400 PPM in the basement area. Several search and rescue teams then entered the two story building to take further CO readings and move patients to safe areas. It was then determined that boiler air supply vents had inadvertently been blocked by earlier snow plowing. Removal of this blockage and mechanical ventilation soon corrected the problem and building evacuation for the 86 residents was deemed unnecessary. All GIFC units returned to service at 6:25 p.m. after National Fuel representatives were brought in as a further precaution.




Sub-Freezing Temps Hamper Island Firefighters Efforts - January 2014




Story and photos by Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer
   At 10:36 a.m. on Friday, January 24th, Grand Island firefighters responded to a reported “structure fire” at the Melrose Rd. residence of firefighter Mark Kowzan.
   Fire Chief Matt Osinski states that Engine #2, #3, #4, LT#6 and fire suppression crews encountered heavy smoke venting from the building when they arrived on location. Nevertheless, an aggressive interior attack confined the fire to the attached garage area within 18 minutes, despite a frozen hydrant that had to be bypassed. Except for some “minor” extension into the residence itself, structural damage of $50,000 and $75, 000 to the contents, was mostly confined to the garage. The cause was determined to be an accidental ignition of material stored on an electric stove, according to GIFC Fire Investigator Chuck Berlinger. Chief Osinski had high praise for the Grand Island Highway Department employees who helped alleviate severe icing of the roadway and equipment at the scene by applying salt where needed.
    Mutual Aid assistance was rendered by Kenmore, Sheridan Park and the City of Tonawanda Fire Departments. The homeowner was evaluated by GIFC medics for smoke inhalation but declined hospitalization. There were no firefighter injuries.




Grand Island Fire Company Installs 2014 Officers - January 2014


Fire Chief Matt Osinski, Chairman Greg Butcher and President Chuck Picone.

Firematic officers: Kevin Koch, Shawn Kephart, Omar Sortino, Jon Cinelli Chris Soluri, Jeremy Pullano, Matt Osinski, Don Portik, Mark Sadkowski, Dan Mathes, (John Podlucky absent)

Directors: Paul Gorman, Pete McMahon, Greg Butcher, Pete Sukmanowski, Jeremy Pullano, Pete Coppola, (Dave Tolejko absent)

Admin. Officers: Tony Mastantuono, Nicole Gerber, Chuck Picone, Ambria Tim and Dave Khreis, (Mike Dallessandro, Mike Anderson, Jordain Benoit absent)

Rookie Class: Russ Perez, Michelle Jones, Rob Dailey, Fire Chief Matt Osinski and Chris Caruana, (Lena Dombrowski absent)

Ray Pauley photos

Story by Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer
   New York State Fire Training Instructor Mark Butler administered the oath of office to newly elected Grand Island Fire Company officers on Saturday, January 11, 2014 at fire headquarters. Both firematic and administrative officers were sworn to uphold their 2014 community protection duties. Butler was joined by Grand Island Town officials, special guests and family members in praising the selfless dedication of these GIFC volunteers. Board of Directors Chairman Greg Butcher welcomed all those in attendance and expressed heartfelt appreciation for the combined support and sacrifice which makes the GIFC one of the finest in WNY. It was noted that Matt Osinski begins his first tem as Fire Chief and is joined by Deputy Chief Chris Soluri, Ass’t Chiefs Mark Sadkowski and Omar Sortino, Fire Captains Shawn Kephart, Dan Mathes, John Podlucky, Fire Police Capt. Don Portik, EMS Capts. Jon Cinelli and Jeremy Pullano. Kevin Koch was appointed a Day Fire Captain.
   Chuck Picone begins his first term as President and will be assisted by Vice President Mike Dallessandro, Recording Secretary Ambria Tim, Line Secretary Mike Anderson, Financial Secretary Nicole Gerber, Treasurer Tony Mastantuono, and Sgt. at Arms Dave Khreis. Jordain Benoit was newly elected to the Board of Review. Greg Butcher was re-elected to the Board of Directors and Pete Coppola was newly elected to a 3 year term. President of the GIFC Ladies Auxiliary Nicole Butcher introduced her officers as follows; Vice President Heidi Sue McCormick, Secretary Laurie Dombrowski, Treasurer Nancy Amato, Sgt at Arms Haneen Shafie, Chaplain Elaine Clark and Trustees Julie Meyer, Darcy Golde and Barbara Wilson.    Although many firefighter/medics were about to receive awards for 2013 accomplishments above and beyond the call to duty, the real center of attention was 3 year-old Lucas Mondoux, who appeared with his parents John and Cindy to thank GIFC personnel whose efforts successfully resuscitated him during a July 6th drowning incident. Past Chief Kevin Koch presented 2013 EMS Awards to the lifesaving team of John Podlucky, Scott Shaw, Evan Shaw, Shawn Kephart, Don Turner, Rob Cieri, Omar Sortino, Kevin Rustowicz, Chris Soluri and Ambria Tim. GIFC Dispatcher Edie Thompson and ten others provided ancillary support. Three members of an EMS team, Pete Coppola, Pete McMahon and Shawn Kephart were similarly recognized for their successful efforts in resuscitating a victim in cardiac failure on June 29, 2013.
   Don Turner was presented with a 2013 Training Excellence Award by Chief Matt Osinski. New 2013 recruits who successfully completed the rigorous training regimen are Chris Caruana, Michelle Jones, Rob Dailey, Russ Perez and Lena Dombrowski. Recruit of the Year for 2013 is Michelle Jones because of her outstanding initiative and perseverance. A 2013 Presidential Award was presented to Mike Anderson for his “over the top” performance of administrative duties. Nicole Gerber also received a Presidential Award for her tireless efforts as Chairman of the Fund Drive Committee.
   Top ten responders of 2013 were again led by Ray Pauley with 823 calls. Others in sequential order are Rick Pelham, Pete McMahon, Matt Osinski, Kevin Koch, Pete Coppola, Chris Soluri, Dan Mathes, Chuck Picone and Mark Sadkowski. Congratulations to all those who have accomplished so much during 2013 and good luck to the 2014 leadership team.




Damage Limited in Isle Chem Lab Fire - January 2013

Story by Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer
    At 2:24 p.m. on Friday, January 10th, Grand Island fire fighters responded to a reported structure fire at the Isle Chem Research and Development complex at 2801 Long Rd. GIFC Engines #2,3,4,5 and Ladder Truck #6 responded to the scene and an attack crew led by Grand Island Fire Investigator Chuck Berlinger entered the building. Incident Commander Dan Mathes stated that a chemical fire was discovered in a second floor lab. It appears that there was an accidental ignition of pyrophoric metallic compound which was under an exhaust hood. A dry chemical extinguisher was used for fire suppression and material damage was estimated at $20,000. There was no structural damage and no injuries reported.A Brighton Haz Mat team and Sheridan Park VFD crew also assisted at the scene. The City of Tonawanda also provided a standby crew at GI Fire headquarters. All units returned to service by 3:36 p.m.




Polar Vortex Causes Shoreline Damage - January 2013

Story by Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer
    As a result of severe blizzard conditions which caused Niagara River ice jams, Grand Island residents encountered shoreline damage in the vicinity of 4300 East River Rd. Although docks and boat houses sustained the most damage, residential properties in low lying areas were also at risk.
    In addition, the Grand Island Water Dept. reported several water line breaks on January 7th. These occurred due to sub freezing temperatures which caused pressure fluctuations in aging underground pipe lines. Breaks were being repaired on Whitehaven Rd. between First and Second streets, Stony Point Rd. and Riverdale, 2626 Stony Point, Elsie Lane and Fix Road. All were expected to be completed on January 8th. The Grand Island Fire Company was alerted to this situation but no major fire emergencies occurred in those areas. A fire alarm at 7:23 p.m. on January 7th involved an apartment at 2231 Bedell Road and was caused by a faulty detector.
    Fire Chief Matt Osinski reminds residents and business owners to “adopt a hydrant” nearby so that it is clear of snow and accessible to your volunteers for a ready water supply during a real fire emergency.



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