Grand Island Fire Company News 2002

Grand Island Fire Company, Inc. Website

2001 News

For Emergencies Dial 9-1-1 or 773-7508

To contact the Fire Company Dial 773-4334

Firefighters Give Santa A Lift

Lack of snow on Christmas Eve 2002 was all the reason Santa needed to hitch a ride around the Island with Grand Island firefighters. Children in the picture on the right were gathered at Karen and Firefighter Mike DeMartin's home on Marilyn Drive. Their children Collin Michael and Allison are shown far left and center respectively. (Click children for larger view)
Fred Claus Photos

Schimminger To Install Island Fire Officials
By Ray Pauley (GIFC Information Officer)

   New York State Assemblyman Robin Schimminger will install newly elected 2003 Grand Island Fire Company officers at Fire Headquarters on January 11, 2003, according to Greg Butcher who will take over the chief's postion.
   He characterized Schimminger as a "steadfast" supporter of the volunteer fire service, who recently assisted the GIFC in retaining EMT/Paramedic recertification as a core provider. As a result, Wayne Osten, Director of the N.Y.S. Dept. of Health - Office of Health Systems Management, concluded that the GIFC "has the requisite skills and credentials" to assure high quality instruction in the core curricula. GIFC's existing program will therefore translate into the best services possible for N. Y. residents requiring emergency care.
   Chief elect Butcher further states that EMS services will continue to be given "top priority" by the trained professionals who dedicate themselves to community protection on a 24-7 basis.

Emergency Response To Terrorism:
A Realistic Challenge For Firefighters

By Ray Pauley (GIFC Information Officer)
   During a December 16, 2002 training seminar at Grand Island Headquarters, Steve Stouter, Project Coordinator for Buffalo's Metropolitan Medical Response System, advised Firefighters that they will be an integral part of "the first line of defense," in the event of a local terrorist attack.
   All first responders must be prepared for mass casualties, that would be expected after a biological, nuclear, incendiary, chemical, or explosive event, he stressed. Firefighters, paramedics, law enforcement officers, ambulance personnel, etc., must all be acutely aware of attendant risks to their own health and safety, he added. Universal precautions and/or more stringent measures must be adherred to, so that emergency workers do not become unwitting victims themselves, therby further complicating the existing problem.    Mobilization of available community resources is an essential first priority, that will be a joint local, state and federal effort. On scene emergency providers can then concentrate on problem identification, communication, triage, treatment, isolation/decontamination, victim transportation to a targeted medical facility, etc., knowing that they will not be "alone in the trenches" for long, and that additional help is on the way.
   According to Stouter, the U.S. Dept. of Justice and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), are "committed to continuing the critical involvement of the people we are mandated to help, the fire and emergency services professionals at the municpal and county levels." It is therefore reassuring that the full resources of our government are solidly behind our local volunteers, and others, who have never wavered in their selfless dedication to community protection, he noted.
"letter" for Federal Emergency Management Agency letter.

Grand Island Fire Company 2003 Officers Announced

Fire Chief Elect Greg Butcher
By Ray Pauley (GIFC Information Officer)
Grand Island firefighters selected 2003 administrative and firematic officers during annual elections held at Fire Headquarters December 4, 2002.
   New Fire Chief Greg Butcher ran unopposed. He will be joined by Deputy Chief Kevin Koch, 1st Assistant Chief Matt Osinski and 2nd Assistant Chief Chris Soluri. In a closely contested race for captain, George Wenner, John Wenner and Dave Amato prevailed. Bob Cleveland continues as EMS Captain, and Don Portik enters his first year as Fire Police Captain.
   Dave Tolejko returned to another term on the Board of Directors. He was joined by Past Chief Skip Mrkall, who was elected to his first term on the board.
   Mike Dallessandro was also unopposed in his return to the office of president. Vice President Brett Lynch, Recording Secretary B. Reed Wright, Treasurer Peter Coppola, Financial Secretary Larry Hagerman, Sgt. at Arms Dan Cole, and Line Secretary Dave Cole were also successful administrative candidates.
   Brett Lynch was also elected to a seat on the Review Board, while Gary Roesch continued to hold a position on the Benevolent Association.    Several delegate positions were also filled.

McMahon Saves Tot In Respiratory Distress
Mother Gives Thanks To Island Firefighters

By Ray Pauley (GIFC Information Officer)
   Christine Munoz was looking forward to Thanksgiving dinner at her parents' Grand Island home, but never imagined that a near tragic medical emergency would soon disrupt this family gathering. Shortly after 1:30 p.m. on November 28, 2002 Grand Island Fire Company rescue personnel were summoned to the Foxcroft Lane residence, when her eighteen-month-old child was found to be in respiratory distress.
   GIFC EMT Peter McMahon, first to arrive on location, found "PJ" Munoz turning blue and unable to breathe. Quick back blows by McMahon, dislodged a foreign object, and restored breathing, according to Paramedic Chris Soluri, who then initiated oxygen therapy and other supportive measures. The child was then transported to Childrens Hospital for further medical attention. "PJ" was treated for a collapsed lung and severe congestion, and discharged a day later, on November 29, 2002.
   The mother later stated, "God bless all the firefighters who helped my child, and gave me something special to be extremely thankful for." Her mother, Judith Colucci, joined in by voicing her appreciation for "those great guys who knew just what to do for my grandson."

Drivers Injured In Two-Car MVA

Left photo shows the Malecki vehicle flipped over onto its roof.
Right photo is the Steeb vehicle where it came to rest in nearby ditch.
Click photos for larger view

By Ray Pauley (GIFC Information Officer)

   Grand Island Fire Company rescue personnel responded shortly after 12 p.m. on Thursday, November 21, 2002 to a two-car collision at the intersection of Baseline and Staley roads.
   When GIFC units arrived on location, it was determined that both drivers had already escaped from their badly damaged vehicles, according to Chief Skip Mrkall. Marcia Malecki, 58, of East River Road, whose vehicle had landed upside down after rolling over, was treated by GIFC paramedics for rib and knee injuries, and transported to DeGraff Hospital for further medical attention. Edgar Steeb, 82, of Buffalo was treated for a cut over the eye and other superficial injuries and hositalized as a precautionary measure.
   On scene medics were convinced that the use of seat belts by both drivers prevented more critical, life threatening injuries.
   All GIFC units returned in service at 12:38 p.m. according to Chief Mrkall.

Fire Company Issues Homeowner Alert

By Ray Pauley (GIFC Information Officer)
   Thanksgiving is not only an opportunity to count our many blessings. It is also a signal for many to prepare for their annual trek to southern climes. Grand Island Fire Company Supervisor of Communications Dan McMahon points out that this annual "snowbird" migration can create problems unless the homeowner takes certain precautions.
   Most residents don't think twice about disconnecting electric appliances, turning down thermostats, or stopping mail delivery. But, even though relatives or friends may be checking your property, the GIFC should be able to contact a reliable keyholder, in the event of a sudden emergency, such as fire, gas leak, etc., he noted.
   If you have changed addresses, or plan to be away from home for an extended period of time, please contact the GIFC Dispatch Center at 716-773-4334, to provide current information. GIFC firefighters/paramedics will then be able to extract critical information from a confidential 911 data base, if necessary, and travelers will have that much less to worry about.
   Meanwhile, have a safe and happy holiday season.

Contractor Disrupts Island Utilities

Mike Cali Photos

GI Police Officer Dick Stoll and GIFC Fire Police Officer David Cole finish traffic control duties at Grand Islnd Blvd. and Whitehaven Rd.
George Wenner Photo
Click photos for larger view

By Ray Pauley (GIFC Information Officer)

   A contractor digging a trench for new sewer pipes 10:36 a.m. Tuesday, November 19, 2002 accidently ruptured a four-inch gas supply line at Grand Island Blvd. and Whitehaven Road.
   Responding Grand Island firefighters quickly established a safety zone, diverted traffic from the scene, and notified National Fuel Gas, according to Deputy Chief Greg Butcher. Repair crews arrived on location twenty-four minutes later and initiated shut down procedures, to bypass the damaged line. Disruption in service affected Kaiser Funeral Home, Chamber of Commerce building and Pritchard and Kennedy-Rogoza Attorneys firm, among others in the Town Center, for about three hours.
   Principal Frank Cannata of Sidway Elementary School also reported a "strong odor of gas" at his location, 2451 Baseline Road. GIFC Assistant Chief Matt Osinski determined that a brisk NW wind had carried the odor about one half mile from the original incident to the school site. Since there were no detectable gas readings inside the school, and no immediate fire or life hazard, Principal Cannata decided not to evacuate students at that time.
   Subsequently, at 2:30 p.m. the same contractor knocked down power lines at Grand Island Blvd. and Whitehaven Road, according to GIFC Assistant Chief Kevin Koch. Tops Market and St. Stephen Parochial School lost power, along with several other nearby commercial and residential properties. This problem was turned over to Niagara Mohawk Power crews within twenty-minutes, and GIFC units then returned in service.
   Shortly thereafter, at 3:06 p.m., firefighters were called to a fire in the St. Stephen's Church rectory, 2080 Baseline Road. Assistant Chief Kevin Koch determined that the insulation covering an emergency generator exhaust system had ignited, creating dense smoke conditions inside the structure. The smoldering insulation was removed by firefighters, who then ventilated the building. No one was in the rectory at that time and there were no injuries. Smoke damage was estimated at approximately $500 to the contents, according to Assistant Chief Koch, and all GIFC units returned in service at 4:07 p.m.
Editor's Note: According to the Town Engineering Department, the gas and electric lines were not properly marked by the utilities.

Fire Company Inspection - 2002

Click individual photos for a larger view.
Barbi Lare Photo
The Grand Island Fire Company held its annual inspection of fire apparatus and uniforms on Saturday, October 5, 2002 at Fire Headquarters.

GIFC Open House 2002 A Big Hit For All

Kelly and Mark Palamuso with their children, Katelyn, Justin and Trevor, enjoying various exhibits and equipment in the Town Hall parking lot.

Katelyn Palamuso, 3, is not quite sure whether she should get any closer to 'Sparky' during her up close and personal meeting.
Click photos for larger view

By Ray Pauley (GIFC Information Officer)

   Deputy Chief Greg Butcher described Grand Island Fire Company's October 19, 2002 Fire Prevention Open House at Fire Headquarters as "one of the best ever."
   Visiting youngsters were thrilled to meet 'Sparky' the fire dog, and to check out a real fire truck, both inside and out. They were also able to examine the interior of a Mercy Flight helicopter, while seated at the controls. Other exhibitors included a Brighton VFD ladder truck, J-FIRE smokehouse trailer, New York State Police 'roll over' simulator, Erie County Sheriff's Dept. Command Center, Rural Metro Ambulance Service and representatives from the ATF and Border Patrol. Program highlights also included a GIFC "Jaws of Life" auto extrication and victim rescue, as well as GIFC Paramedic dispays of life saving equipment, such as the AED.
   Firefighers also handed out children's fire helmets, fire safety stickers, and validated fire prevention checklists that students had received in school.
   Refreshments served by the GIFC Ladies Auxiliary, also hit the spot after a rainy morning failed to dampen youthful enthusiasm.
   All in all, parents and kids alike had a busy but enjoyable afternoon, commented Fire Prevention Chairman Nate Harpster.

Island Firefighters Attend FDNY Memorial Service

GIFC attendees (from left) Bill Weis, Chief Skip Mrkall, Peter McMahon, Gail Lazenby, Norm Mrkall and Dave Tolejko taking photo.

Memorial 'cross' at Ground Zero

By Ray Pauley (GIFC Information Officer)

   A delegation of six Grand Island Firefighters attended the October 12, 2002 memorial service for fallen FDNY 'heroes' held at Madison Square Garden.
   A parade of flags down 8th Avenue contained one flag for each Firefighter lost during the past year, including all 343 lost at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Representatives from Australia, Italy, France, Mexico and Canada were some of the many from far and wide, who voiced their heartfelt sympathy and solidarity with their brother firemen, subjected to this horrendous tragedy. One of the largest contingents was from Toronto, which numbered seven hundred strong.
   Each family received four medals, attesting to the bravery of their lost firefighters, and the FDNY also created special brass plaques for firehouses, proclaiming that "this heroism will live forever."
   After visiting the Ground Zero site itself, GIFC Board Chairman Gail J. Lazenby voiced the sentiments of other attendees by stating "it's truly an honor to be here," and something that will "never be forgotten."

Alert Neighbor Spots House Fire

By Ray Pauley (GIFC Information Officer)

Grand Island firefighters responded at 4:23 p.m. Sunday, October 20, 2002 to a report of a structure fire at 1390 Ransom Road, which was discovered by a neighbor, Albert Harvey who noticed smoke and flames coming from a chimney area.
   When GIFC Deputy Chief Greg Butcher arrived on location minutes later, heavy smoke was billowing out of the second floor eaves, and a "working fire" was declared. Engines #4, 5 and 6 soon arrived, and fire suppression crews mounted an aggressive interior and exterior attack, using two 1 1/2" lines. As a result, the fire was extinguished within fifteen minutes, and total damage to the attic, roof, wall and siding was limited to an estimated $20,000.
   The owner/occupant, Joel Kennedy, arrived home during firefighting operations, and there were no injuries at the scene. GIFC investigators determined that major cracking and separation of mortar and chimney blocks had created voids that allowed hot embers to come into contact with, and ignite, wooden building materials. The cause was therefor listed as accidental.
   All GIFC Units returned in service at 5:25 pm. after extensive overhaul was completed, according to Deputy Chief Butcher.

Island Firefighter Receives FASNY Education Grant

Tammy is "ready to roll" behind the wheel of Rescue Truck #7.

By Ray Pauley (GIFC Information Officer)

   Grand Island Firefighter Tammy Jo Gorman was recently awarded a prestigious $3500 educational grant by the Firemans Association State of New York, which will help her to complete a B. A. degree at Niagara University where she is a senior. She joined the Grand Island Fire Company on April 3, 2002, is a certified EMT and has three years prior experience as a firefighter at Niagara Fire Company #1. Tammy is married to Paul Gorman, a past GIFC Chief and current member of the Board of Directors. Their two youngsters are "thrilled" that mom and dad both serve together in the fire service.

Fire Chief Notes Increase In MVAs

Damaged SUV sits in front of tractor trailer, which was also involved

By Ray Pauley (GIFC Information Officer)

   Grand Island Fire Chief Skip Mrkall reports that seven of the 21 emergency calls handled by firefighters from September 27 through October 1, 2002 were motor vehicle related.
   GIFC Rescue Personnel responded at 10:54 a.m. on Friday, September 27th to a multi-car MVA at the intersection of Stony Point and Bedell roads. Fortunately, this was a PDO (property damage only) call, with no reported injuries. Five minutes later at 10:59 a.m another MVA was reported at Tracey and Ransom roads, but GIFC services were not required. At 11:44 a.m. on the same date, a two-car collision occurred in front of the U. S. Post Office, at 2391 Baseline Road. Scarlet Garman, 29, of Grand Island was treated for neck and shoulder injuries, and hospitalized. Lisa Grybel, 34, and a two-year-old child denied injuries, and declined treatment. Subsequently, at 4:25 p.m. GIFC Rescue Personnel responded to a multi-vehicle MVA on the I-190 near the South Bridge Toll Barrier. Douglas Deitzman, 47, of Grand Island was treated for a neck injury and hospitalized. Other persons involved had already left the scene, according to GIFC Deputy Chief Greg Butcher.
   On September 29th at 12:17 p.m. a tractor trailer reportedly 'rear ended' a vehicle operated by Mrs. Kane of Lockport, NY. An eleven-year-old boy, one of four children in the car, was transported to St. Marys Hospital as a precautionary measure. Later, at 3:34 p.m., Gary Gonzalez, 50, of Grand Island lost control of his motorcycle on Whitehaven Road near Alvin. He was treated for rib injuries and transported to Erie County Medical Center for further medical attention.
   Finally, at 10:34 a.m. on Tuesday, October 1, GIFC Rescue Personnel responded to a multi-vehicle accident in the northbound lane of the I-190, at the North Bridge, which involved two SUVs and a tractor trailer. Joseph Rafai, 55, of Buffalo, NY was treated for head, neck and back injuries, and transported to Kenmore Mercy Hospital. Another driver, Anthony Vega, 38, of Niagara Falls, NY was given ALS treatment by GIFC Paramedics, for head, neck and knee injuries, and transported to the Erie County Medical Center. The truck driver claimed no injuries.
   Chief Mrkall also pointed out that firefighters handled two other simultaneous emergencies during the above incident. An EMS call was already in progress at the Island View apartments on Baseline Road for a female resident with breathing problems. Meanwhile, a fire alarm at 2326 Fix Road was received at 10:40 a.m. but responding firemen determined that this was an alarm malfunction, and manpower shorages were avoided.

Fire Prevention Open House Set For October 19, 2002

MVA 'victim exrication,' as seen in this GIFC emergency response, will be one of several 'live' demonstrations.
By Ray Pauley (GIFC Information Officer)
Members of the Grand Island Fire Company will hold open house from noon to 3 p.m. on Saturday, October 19, 2002 in fire headquarters, 2275 Baseline Road and the adjacent town parking lot. GIFC Fire Prevention Chairman Nate Harpster is coordinating multi-agency participation including Mercy Flight, Erie County Sheriff's Dept. 'Air One,' ECSD's Command Post, Brighton VFD ladder truck, J-FIRE Smokehouse, New York State Police Roll-Over simulator, Rural Metro Ambulance Service and representatives from the ATF and Border Patrol. Special demonstrations will be on-going.
   Meanwhile, school visitations by Grand Island firefighters will remind students how to respond in real EMS and fire emergencies. Practicing EDITH (Exit Drills In The Home), 'stop, drop and roll,' maintaining smoke detectors by testing and changing batteries, being able to identify household hazards, knowing the 911 emergency phone number and when to use it, are some of the points that firefighters will stress. Students will also 'meet' firefighters in full protective gear, as might be encountered during actual rescue efforts. Likewise, these youngsters will be urged to stay down low, beneath toxic smoke and gases, if they cannot safely exit the building. It is also noted that hiding in closets or under beds is a 'no no,' since it will take firefighters that much longer to find them.
   Sidway Elementary School students will have a special opportunity to visit Fire Headquarters on Friday, October 11, 2002 to obtain first hand knowledge about firefighters, their equipment, the "Big Red Trucks," dispatching, and related operations.
   All students will receive Fire Prevention checklists to be filled out, brought to Fire Headquarters for verification signature by any firefighter, and then redeemed at McDonalds Restaurant on Grand Island, for a free food item.
   Chief Skip Mrkall, officers and members of the GIFC would like to spend some time with residents, their children, and other visitors who want to learn more about the 'nuts and bolts' of community protection.

Refuse Disposal Truck Causes Power Outage

Shattered utility pole lies on ground near entrance to Cinderella Camp Site.
By Ray Pauley (GIFC Information Officer)
   Grand Island firefighters responded to a call of "wires down" shortly before noon on Friday, September 20, 2002 at the Cinderella Camp Site, 2797 Grand Island Blvd. The driver of a BFI refuse disposal truck reportedly attempted to turn around at that location, but snagged primary power lines and snapped a supporting utility pole. The driver was not injured, according to GIFC Chief Skip Mrkall.
   Immediately upon arrival, firefighters established a safety perimeter and requested Niagara Mohawk Power Company assistance, due to the extreme electrical hazard. Meanwhile, Grand Island fire police assumed emergency traffic control duties at the intersection of Bedell and Grand Island Blvd. and Bedell and Baseline roads where signals had been knocked out by the local power outage, which had extended for several blocks. NMP line crews were on location within fifteen minutes and power was restored shortly thereafter.
   All GIFC units, including fire police contingents, returned in service by 12:42 p.m. according to Chief Mrkall.

Firefighters Assess Emergency
Response At Islandview Apartments


(left) Roll call is taken in designated safety zone, after fire drill evacuation of residents. (right) Fire Chief Skip Mrkall discusses fire emergency planning with Site Manager Carol Zander.
By Ray Pauley (GIFC Information Officer)
   While a group of Grand Island Firefighters toured the Islandview Apartment complex at 2136 Baseline Road on Saturday, September 14, 2002, Chief Skip Mrkall met with Site Manager Carol Zander to discuss emergency planning and preparedness, in the event of a fire incident.
   Maintenance Supervisor Jim O'Sullivan explained that the entire facility is fully sprinklered, along with an extensive fire detector system, internal and external alarms, and fire company standpipe connections for increased water pressure, if needed. Hydrant locations, building access routes, utility shutoffs and fire exits were also pinpointed for firefighters, who might have to assist with lifesaving evacuation, as well as fire suppression.
   A 'life' fire drill also demonstrated that residents were familiar with evacuation plans and the need for 'roll call' accountability, to insure that everyone had safely exited the building.
   Town of Grand Island Fire Inspector and Code Enforcement Officer Kevin Koch disclosed that by January 2003, senior citizen housing and others, must comply with New York State Law relating to fire safety and evacuation plans. Quarterly fire drills are an essential part of these mandates, according to Koch. For more information about legal requirements, call Koch at 773-9600, ext. 645.

Driver Injured In Two-Car MVA

Driver Robin Vertino is stabilized on a backboard by GIFC Paramedics Rick Pelham and Dan McMahon.
By Ray Pauley (GIFC Information Officer)
   Grand Island Fire Company Rescue Personnel, shortly before 8 a.m. Wednesday, September 4, 2002 responded to a two-car collision at the intersection of Baseline and Staley Road.
   Assistant Chief Kevin Koch reported that the force of impact ripped a wheel off one vehicle driven by Robin Vertino, 47, of Love Road, Grand Island. She was treated by GIFC paramedics for neck and shoulder injuries prior to her transport to Kenmore Mercy Hospital for further medical evaluation. The other driver, Iris Rivera, 40, of Whitehaven Road and a five-month-old and three-year-old children, sustained no injuries and declined hospitalization.
   All GIFC units returned in service at 8:20 a.m. according to Assistant Chief Koch.

Sheridan Park Commissioner Elevated To State Fire Post

By Ray Pauley (GIFC Information Officer)
   Randall J. Rider, a life member of the Sheridan Park Volunteer Fire Company, was recently elected Second Vice President of the New York State Association of Fire Districts, which represents over 725 fire districts within the state. The objective of the Association is "to devise practical ways and means of obtaining greater economy and efficiency in administering fire districts and concurrently providing for the welfare and better government of fire districts and the volunteer fire service throughout the state."
   Rider has pursued a lifetime of community service with the SPVFC, which spans a thirty-four-year period. His many outstanding achievements include various firematic officer positions, service as Past President, life member of SPVFC and SPVFC Exempt Firemens Association, life member of the Erie County Volunteer Firemens Association, and Western New York Volunteer Firemens Association, as well as Erie County Volunteer Fire Police Association, member of the Judges and Police Conference of Erie County, and member of the Erie County Disaster Preparedness Advisory Board.
   In addition, Rider was elected to the Board of Fire Commissioners of Sheridan Park Fire District #4 in 1988, and is currently serving as its chairman.
   Three sons, Brett, Randy and Robert, have also followed this strong family tradition of volunteerism, and are active in the fire service.
   Congratulations to our brother firefighter, Randall Rider, who has reached another significant milestone in the volunteer fire service.

Driver Injured In Two-Car MVA

Adams vehicle showing severe front end damage.

Firefighters work to free victim from auto wreckage
By Ray Pauley
   Grand Island Fire Company Rescue Personnel, shortly after 7 p.m. on Sunday, August 4, 2002, responded to a two-car collision at Staley Road and Grand Island Blvd.
   GIFC Chief Skip Mrkall reported that extrication was initiated as soon as Firefighters arrived on location, in order to free the driver, Kathleen Adams, 25, of Rochester, NY, from her extensively damaged vehicle. Meanwhile, she was immobilized by paramedics, and given ALS treatment for neck and leg injuries and transported to St. Mary's Hospital for additional medical attention.
   The second driver, Patrick McGuire, 38, of Grand Island claimed no injuries and declined treatment.
   All GIFC Units returned in service at 7:41 p.m. except for a contingent of Fire Police handling traffic control duties.

Fire Company Medics Handle Allergic Reactions

By Ray Pauley
   Grand Island Fire Company Paramedics have encountered six separate incidents of allergic reactions, resulting from insect bites or other causes during an eight-day period from July 26-August 2, 2002.
   A twenty-three-year-old firefighter was treated by paramedics on July 26th for a severe breathing disorder brought about by a seafood allergy. She was hositalized briefly and released.
   A twenty-three-year-old visitor from North Carolina was treated on July 27th by medics for severe reactions to a "bee" sting and hospitalized in stable condition. Several hours later on the same date, a seven-year-old child was brought to Fire Headquarters by family members, received treatment, and was then taken to Childrens Hospital for additional medical attention.
   An eight-year-old Grand Island girl sustained multiple hornet bites on August 1st and was evaluated by medics, but did not develop any serious reaction, and the family declined hospitalization.
   A 33-year-old female resident developed an allergic reaction on August 2nd, following a "bee" sting, and was hositalized after treatment. Subsequently, on the same date, a 21-year-old female sustained a hornet bite on the northbound I-190, was treated by medics and hospitalized.
   GIFC medics point out that certain individuals may be more sensitive to insect bites, etc. than others, and could go into anaphylactic shock, which is a true medical emergency, if untreated. Anyone who develops a skin rash (hives), swelling, fever, light headedness, difficulty breathing, in relation to an insect bite, should seek immediate 911 assistance. Those who have a known history of severe reactions, should consult their family physician, to determine whether they should carry an EPI kit (epinepherine) with them at all times, for self administration of life saving medication.
   Fire Officials also note that hornets (yellow jackets), wasps, spiders, etc. become unusually aggressive during hot summer weather, and will sometimes attack without warning. 'Ground' hornets are particulary dangerous because children at play can accidently step on a nest area, which will likely provoke an immediate attack. Common wasps also build their 'paper' nests in many concealed places, such as inside swing sets, fence posts, etc. and will attack if disturbed. Although the hard working honey bee gets a bad rap for bee" stings, he is hardly ever the primary culprit, but will sting if stepped on or harmed in any way. In order to minimize the painful or deadly consequences of such bites, use extreme caution when working, playing or relaxing outdoors. A professional exterminator may also be called to remove nests from your property.

Is A Career In Emergency Communications In Your Future?

Potential (dispatcher) recruits listen intently as GIFC Communications
Supervisor Dan McMahon explains radio procedures in the Dispatch Center.
By Ray Pauley
   Learning about the 'nuts and bolts' of Grand Island Fire Company telecommunications was of particular interest to a group of local residents who recently visited Fire Headquarters for a recruitment briefing on the role of dispatchers in community protection.
   Potential 'recruits' were told by GIFC Communications Supervisor Dan McMahon that Public Safety Dispatchers are a "vital link" between the 911 caller and GIFC personnel who respond in any fire or EMS emergency.
   Qualified dispatchers must learn CPR and complete training in EMD (Emergency Medical Dispatching), as well as an APCO course in basic telecommunications. Computer aided dispatching also requires certain computer skills which can be learned through on the job training preparation.
   The ability to prioritize information received over the phone, select the appropriate agency for response, give proper instructions in a life threatening medical emergency (immediate intervention pending arrival of GIFC Paramedics), or fire emergency, and keeping track of responding manpower and equipment, is a necessary part of the job, he stressed. These multi-dimensional tasks become easier to handle as the dispatcher becomes more experienced, he added.
   As salaried employees of the GIFC, dispatchers will handle up to three thousand 911 calls annually. Approximately eleven hundred of these will be GIFC related, while the balance will be transferred to other agencies such as the Erie County Sheriff's Dept. or New York State Police. Because the Public Safety Dispatcher is well trained, dedicated, self confident and self disciplined, he or she should be able to overcome any stressful situation encountered. "There is no question that a good dispatcher can make a tough situation easier for responding firefighters or paramedics," McMahon concluded.
   Those who are truly interested in pursuing a community service career as a Public Safety Dispatcher may call Comm. Supervisor McMahon at 773-4334 for further details.

Is A Career In Emergency Communications In Your Future?

   The Grand Island Fire Company is sponsoring a job search for interested, qualified individuals with a desire to become a Fire Company dispatcher. An informational meeting will take place 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 24, 2002. Those interested in a career in emergency communications are urged to attend, and are asked to call the Grand Island Fire Company at 773-4334 to register for this informational meeting.

Boater Drowns While Swimming Off Anchored Craft

   Grand Island Fire Company Rescue Personnel responded at 3:32 p.m. Sunday, June 30, 2002 to a "missing boater" call, in the Niagara River in the vicinity of 4760 East River Road.
   Shortly thereafter, GIFC Marine Unit 1 was launched from the Sandy Beach Park Club dock and proceeded to the incident location to initiate a search and rescue operation. Meanwhile, several private boaters were attempting to locate the victim, a 30-year-old Buffalo firefighter, who had reportedly disappeared while swimming near his anchored boat. A gilfriend, and the victim's eight-year-old son, were picked up by nearby jet skiers, and returned to shore. GIFC Capt. Chris Soluri, who had assumed Incident Command, received additional assistance from the Erie County Sheriff's Department which dispatched Air One, two rescue boats and an Underwater Dive Team; a Niagara County rescue boat; and the U. S. Coast Guard.
   The victim's body was recovered at 5:30 p.m. by the ECSD divers, about one hundred yards down river from the anchored boat's location.
   A family member was also treated at the scene for complications related to this unpredictable tragedy. In addition, the Buffalo Fire Department Chaplain, and a priest from St. Stephen's R. Church of Grand Island, provided spiritual comfort to the distraught family.
   All GIFC units, as well as supporting contingents, returned in service on or before 7:36 p.m. according to Capt. Soluri.

Firematic Officers 2002
Fire Chief Norman J. "Skip" Mrkall II, Deputy Chief Greg Butcher, 1st Assistant Chief Kevin Koch, 2nd Assistant Chief Matt Osinski, Captains George Wenner, Christopher Soluri, Sean Manning, EMS Captain Robert Cleveland and Fire Police Captain Chuck Berlinger.
Administrative Officers 2002: President Mike Dallessandro, Vice President Brett Lynch, Secretary Kristen Koch, Sgt.-at-Arms Daniel Cole, Treasurer Peter Coppola, Line Secretary David W. Cole and Financial Secretary Lawrence L. Hagerman.
Board of Directors: Chairman Gail J. Lazenby, Larry Hagerman, Bill Wilson, Paul Gorman, David Tolejko, Ray Pauley and Robert Meyer Sr.

Island Students Honored For Fire Prevention Ideas

(left) Julia and Kyle proudly display their certificates while standing beteen GIFC Chief Mrkall (left) and Fire Prevention Lt. Nate Harpster.

By Ray Pauley (GIFC Information Officer)

   Two fifth grade students in the Huth Road Elementary School class of Michele Graziano, were recent winners in a statewide essay contest, sponsored by the Firemen's Association of the State of New York.
   Juia Figliotti took first place for an insightful essay which expained how the community and schools "can work together" to insure fire safety for the prevention of injury, death, and the loss of property.
   Kyle Spratford placed third overall, for his essay which stressed valuable fire prevention techniques, in the home and at school.
   Fire Chief Skip Mrkall was so impressed with the individual effort put forth by these students that he arranged for further recognition by the Grand Island Fire Company. Consequently, on June 19, 2002 during an "up close and personal" meeting with Chief Mrkall, they both received certificates which attested to "exemplary performance" amongst their peers, in the area of Fire Prevention.
   "These youths should be commended for setting an example of thoughtful responses to an emergency situation, which reflects the true spirit of volunteerism in our community," he added.

Two Teens Injured In Three-Car Collision

Keen vehicle with severe front end damage
By Ray Pauley
   Grand Island Fire Company Rescue Personnel responded shortly before 3 pm. Thursday, June 20, 2002 to a multi-car MVA at Baseline and Staley Roads.
   Six occupants of the involved vehicles were evaluated and/or treated by GIFC paramedics for non-critical injuries, according to Deputy Chief Greg Butcher. Glenn Retnet, 18, of Grand Island, and a sixteen-year-old passenger were treated for shoulder, neck and back injuries after their vehicle landed in a roadside ditch. They were transported to Children's Hospital of Buffalo for further medical attention.
   Lynn Santillo, 31, of Grand Island, and her four-year-old daughter declined on scene treatment.
   Tiffany Keen, 17 and her passenger, Nicole Shanor, 17, both of Grand Island, also claimed no injuries, and were advised to consult their family physicians.
   All GIFC units returned in service at 3:16 p.m. according to Deputy Chief Butcher.

Fire Company Lauded For EMS Contributions

(left) Councilmen Dan Robillard and Kevin Rustowicz, Supervisor Peter McMahon, GIFC EMS Captain Bob Cleveland and Counilman Dick Crawford.
By Ray Pauley (GIFC Information Officer)

   Town Supervisor Peter McMahon, at Monday's Town Board meeting, designated May 19-May 25, 2002 as EMS Week on Grand Island, after recognizing members of the Grand Island Fire Company for "their many hours of selfless community service." GIFC EMS Captain Bob Cleveland gratefully accepted the town proclamation on behalf of "those volunteers," who provide life saving services on a daily basis.
   Cleveland noted that "first rate" EMS capabilities require "a lot of hard work and continual preparation." According to Cleveland, within the last six months, BLS and ALS training has included sessions in CPR, Injury Prevention For Emergency Personnel, Water Rescue, as well as special presentations on Bio Terrorism, Advanced Cardiac Life Support, Basic Trauma Life Support, and Pediatric Advanced Life Support.
   Fourteen Paramedics and 13 EMTs became recertified, while seven members qualified at the Intermediate EMT level. Angela Amato, Nate Harpster, Kevin Koch, Jim Sugar, George and John Wenner and Bill Wilson can now do "just about any sort of life support," except administer drugs, according to Capt. Cleveland.
   Their recent accomplishments reflect the "thousands of hours of specialized training and continuing education, which enhances their lifesaving skills," as so aptly stated by the Town Board.

Better Than Ever After Sixty-four Years

   Over 140 firefighters, spouses, guests and town officials celebrated 64 years of community service, by the Grand Island Fire Company during an anniversary dinner dance, at Fire Headquarters on May 18, 2002.
   Board Chairman Gail J. Lazenby noted that although the GIFC might be 64-years-old, it has "the heart and spirit of a teenager." He reviewed significant accomplishments over the past year, which included purchase of a Zoll EKG monitor/defibrillator, replacement of a Marine Unit Rescue Craft with a new Zodiac Mark 3-ZR Boat, refurbishing of 'old' Utility 1 vehicle into a 'new' Utility 3 van for Fire Police equipment, Paramedic and EMT recertification, recruitment of two new 'rookie' classes for membership rejuvenation, and several other operational improvements.
   President Mike Dallessandro also gave special thanks to 17 members who have contributed to the overall success of the GIFC. These members were recognized for their years of service as follows: 10 years - Al Glessner, Jerry Pullano, John Wenner, Greg Butcher; 15 years - Dr. Lee Ruotsi, Bob Aronica, Mike DeMartin; 20 Year Life Membership - Rick Pelham; 25 years - Greg Zilliox, Bill Weis, Clay Clark; 35 Years - Herb Kranzmnn, Gary Roesch; 45 years - Larry Hagerman, Dick Byron; 62 years - Ken Maurer.
   Larry Hagerman expressed his appreciation, when he received a special presentation axe, as a token of gratitude for his long term service as Financial Secretary and member of the Board of Directors.
   As Chairman Lazenby noted, the GIFC has been around a long time, but is "alive and well," and continues to give its very best in EMS and fire protection, and will never lose sight of this goal.

Firefighters Kick Off 2002 Fund Drive

By Ray Pauley (GIFC Information Officer)

   By now, most Island residents have received Grand Island Fire Company fund drive letters, asking for contributions which will help to offset "extraordinary" expenses, and/or purchases, according to Board Chairman Gail Lazenby.
   One such unforeseen expense was the recent replacement of a Marine Rescue Unit (boat), which had sustained damage during February 2002. Approximately $8000 was needed to acquire a new Zodiac Mark 3-ZR inflatable boat, so that water rescue efforts would not be compromised, he noted.
   Generous fund drive donations in previous years have kept GIFC firefighting and EMS capabilities "second to none" in the western New York area. GIFC Paramedics have been able to work with "state of the art" ALS equipment such as a $15,000 cardiac monitor/defibrillator. Training and outfitting new personnel is also an expensive proposition. Four new firefighters recently accepted into the ranks, will require personal protective gear, at a cost of $1200 each. This does not include home receiver radios and pagers, which will add considerably to the total investment.
   Since escalating operational costs have outpaced normal budgetary allotments in many instances, annual fund drive contributions "have become increasingly important," he stressed.
   Consequently, each and every member of the GIFC, greatly appreciates the steadfast community support, which continues to enable them to provide the very best in fire and EMS protection.
New Zodiac Marine Unit, which stands ready for water rescue emergency response.

Three Injured In I-190 MVA

Force of impact compressed Gorski vehicle under rear bumper of tanker truck

By Ray Pauley (GIFC Information Officer)

   Grand Island Fire Company Rescue Personnel responded shortly before 10 p.m. Wednesday, April 17, 2002 to a multi-vehicle collision, in the northbound lane of the I-190 near the Long Road exit. A passenger car driven by David Gorski, 27, of Amherst, NY reportedly ran into another vehicle before crashing into the rear of a flammable liquid tanker truck. A small fire in the truck was extinguished before arrival of firefighters.
   Gorski was extricated from the wreckage, treated by GIFC paramedics for head and leg injuries, and transported to the Erie County Medical Center as a precautionary measure. Two occupants of the third vehicle, Casey and Kent Smith, of Amherst, NY claimed no serious injuries. Kent was transported to NFMMC however, after treatment by medics for back pain.
   All GIFC units returned in service at 10:33 p.m., after the scene was turned over to the New York State Police, according to Chief Skip Mrkall.

New GIFC Firefighters - Ready, Willing and Able

(left) John Young, Ed Krecisz, Carl Aley and Tammy Jo
Gorman stand ready next to Grand Island Engine #3,
waiting for a training session to begin.

By Ray Pauley (GIFC Information Officer)

   During the April 3, 2002 regular monthly business meeting, Grand Island firefighters voted to accept four new members into their ranks. Carl M. Aley, Tammy Jo Gorman, Edward J. Krecisz and John J. Young, have completed a basic orientation, and will now commence an intensive six-month training program. Aley and Gorman have prior EMS and firefighting experience, which will enhance their overall performance, according to GIFC Chief Skip Mrkall.

Volunteers Assure The Best In Community Protection

The following letter by Ray Pauley, Grand Island Fire Company Information Officer, has been submitted to the Buffalo News' "Everybody's Column" in rebuttal to a letter by Capt. Joseph P. Fahey, Buffalo Fire Department, Amherst. For that letter, click
Joseph P. Fahey.

   Capt. Joseph Fahey may be justified in protesting the use of a 'volunteer' fire service in Buffalo, but his supportive commentary is ill advised at best.
   Some volunteer fire departments are better trained, and better equipped than the Buffalo Fire Department, some are not. Others serve their communities well, through unique integration of paid and volunteer members, a system used successfully in the nearby City of Tonawanda.
   Certain VFDs, such as the Grand Island Fire Company, not only provide fire protection, but also ALS (Advanced Life Support), through a skilled team of Medical Advisors (Physicians), EMDs (Emergency Medical Dispatchers), Paramedics and EMTs. These highly trained professionals guarantee immediate intervention in life threatening medical emergencies. An average response time of two to three minutes, in fire and EMS incidents, assures swift fire suppression action, as well as a viable continuum of patient care. Fahey does not address such crucial life hazard situations.
   His implication that BFD companies must be more effective, because "they go to more fires" than volunteers, is certainly not a valid conclusion. This illogical oversimplification doesn't take into account the company's overall state of preparedness, which depends upon many factors, such as individual training, morale, available equipment, incident command officers, etc.
   Mutual Aid arrangements within the volunteer fire service also insures that available resources can be redeployed, as needed, no matter how severe the demand. This type of assistance all but eliminates manpower and equipment shortages, and could be made available to the BFD in dire emergencies.
   In any event, denigration of the volunteer fire service in Western New York, will in no way enhance the performance, and/or survivability of the BFD.
   The real 'enemies' that must be overcome, are a shrinking tax base that has contributed to manpower cuts and station closings; ancient structures, both commercial and residential, which create tremendous fire loads; narrow, barely passable streets that impede response; a decaying hydrant system; equipment replacement needs; etc.
   Hopefully, a fair solution to such areas of mutual concern, will keep dedicated BFD firefighters on the job, so that the citizens of Buffalo do not suffer the consequences.

Couple Injured In Household Accident

By Ray Pauley (GIFC Information Officer)

   When Earl and Betty Marshall decided to move a hot water tank out of their Long Road basement on the morning of March 18, 2002, things quickly got out of hand. Losing their grip as they reached the top of the stairs, the tank broke free and toppled the Marshalls ten feet downward, while causing multiple external injuries.
   Both victims were conscious and responsive, when Grand Island Fire Company Rescue Personnel arrived at 11:36 a.m., according to Chief Skip Mrkall. Betty, 69, was treated by GIFC Paramedics for head, back and extremity injuries, while her husband, Earl, 74, was treated for hand and back injuries. Both patients were transported to DeGraff Memorial Hospital for additional medical attention.
   These unfortunate household accidents are an increasing concern for the entire Fire/EMS service, according to GIFC officials. They note that sound safety precautions are not always adherred to, even though they can minimize personal risks, associated with home repair/improvement projects. Seeking outside help from a reputable contractor is one way "to get the job done in a worry-free atmosphere," they stress. In any event, resident homeowners are urged to use extreme caution in tackling any household chores which involve heavy lifting, ladders, power tools, etc. "Ask for help if you're not 100% sure that you can handle the job yourself," seems to be a good rule to follow, fire officials conclude.

Wind Storm Plagues Island Firefighters

Large, uprooted pine tree which shorted out dangerous
primary lines on Fix Road.

Trampoline hanging from power lines at 742 Baseline Road

By Ray Pauley

Public Information Officer

   Wind gusts of over 60 MPH wreaked havoc all across Western New York on Saturday, March 9 and Sunday, March 10, 2002. Grand Island firefighters handled twelve incidents involving storm related damage and life threatening hazards during a 16-hour period, according to Chief Skip Mrkall.
   Fire officials pointed out that many Islanders had barely recovered from earlier (Feb. 1, 2002) ice storm problems, when faced with "an instant replay" of wires down, power outages, uprooted trees, etc.
   Delayed response time by Niagara Mohawk Power crews, placed additional burdens upon firefighters, who had to set up safety perimeters, for the protection of residents as well as motorists. In one such instance, firefighters remained on location for over three and one half hours, patiently waiting for NMP crews to commence repair of downed and arcing transmission lines near a Fix Road residence.
   One of the more bizarre incidents involved a trampoline, tossed up in the air by a sudden wind gust, which then became tangled in incoming power lines at 742 Baseline Road.
   Fortunately, storm related emergencies dropped off Sunday morning, as peak winds began to die down, according to Chief Mrkall.

Driver Injured In Freak Accident

Taylor vehicle, lodged in brick wall of apartment building

Taylor vehicle in interior bedroom

GIFC Capt. George Wenner Photos

By Ray Pauley

Public Information Officer

   After Paul Taylor, 87, of Grand Island, finished his 'drive through' transaction at HSBC Bank early Saturday afternoon (Feb. 23, 2002), he lost control of his vehicle, which sped into a brick wall of an adjoining apartment complex at 2015 Town Hall Terrace.
   When Grand Island Fire Company Rescue Personnel arrived on location minutes later, they found the victim trapped in his wrecked auto, which had broken through a first-floor window and brick structure. The occupant of the apartment was shocked to find a car halfway into his bedroom, when he arrived home while rescue operations were still in progress. Menwhile, Taylor was treated by GIFC paramedics for facial and head injuries, extricated through the rear hatchback, and transported to Kenmore Mercy Hospital for additional medical attention.
   Fire officials at the scene agreed that "Taylor was fortunate that there was not a total wall collapse," which could have produced much more serious injury.
   All GIFC Units returned in service at 2:21 p.m., according to Chief Skip Mrkall, Incident Commander.

Island Firefighters Remember Fallen NYC Brothers

By Ray Pauley (GIFC Information Officer)

   Grand Island firefighters reached deep down into their own pockets recently, to lend a helping hand to the families of fellow firefighters in New York City, who made the ultimate sacrifice during the infamous 9-11 terrorist attack. These personal contributions, along with generous community donations, were forwarded to Brooklyn Ladder Company #132 and Engine Company #280, by Town Supervisor and Grand Island Firefighter Peter McMahon.
   The letter of thanks from the members of the Brooklyn companies said, "The officers and members of Ladder Company 132 and Engine Company 280 would like to thank you for your generous contribution made to the families of our lost brothers. A tragedy such as the World Trade Center shows us how much support we as firefighters really have. Your unrelenting thoughts and prayers are greatly appreciated. We thank you for your efforts and ask for your prayers to continue for our lost brothers."

Island Firefighters Coordinate Multi-Agency Rescue Effort

GIFC Capt. George Wenner Photos

By Ray Pauley
Public Information Officer

   Grand Island Fire Company Rescue Personnel responded shortly after 4:30 a.m. Sunday, February 10, 2002 to a report of an MVA, with an occupied vehicle in the Niagara River, off the foot of Bedell Road.
   Jeff Critelli, 18, of Grand Island, managed to escape from the sinking vehicle, and made his way up the embankment, to a West River Road residence, where an emergency 911 call for help was made, according to GIFC Chief Skip Mrkall. He was treated for a head injury and hypothermia, and transported to the Erie County Medical Center for further medical attention, but has since been released.
   Meanwhile, an intensive search and rescue operation was initiated, in an attempt to locate the missing auto, and its Grand Island driver, Travis Hennigar, 19. However, efforts to pinpoint the submerged vehicle's location, were severely hampered by the underwater current, poor visibility, and freezing water temperatures, stated Chief Mrkall, who assumed Incident Command. This major undertaking covered a two-day period, and involved Mutual Aid ALERT participation, including dive teams from Hamburg, North Tonawanda, City of Tonawanda, Erie County Sheriff's Dept., Buffalo Police Dept., as well as rescue boats from the U.S. Coast Guard, Fort Erie and Niagara Regional Fire Dept. Rescue. Additional assistance was received from the ECSD Air One helicopter, New York State Police, New York State Park Police, Marty's Towing, and certain individuals. Chris Cinelli of Grand Island loaned the GIFC an underwater camera to provide visual enhancement. A sophisticated sonar unit, provided by a Buffalo State College technician, proved instrumental in finally locating the vehicle in 12' to 15' of water, late Monday afternoon. During the interim, divers had to be rotated in and out of the frigid river every ten to fifteen minutes, as a safety precaution, to minimize personal risk factors. The divers were closely monitored by GIFC paramedics, in on-scene rescue vehicles, for any possibility of adverse reactions to environmental stress that they faced. Despite the extraordinary effort expanded however, the Hennigar youth was not found during recovery of the damaged vehicle, and continues to be missing.
   Although a vast array of emergency services personnel should be commended for their tireless efforts, the tragic consequences of this MVA could not be entirely overcome, noted Chief Mrkall. Injuries and/or fatalities related to any MVA, will remain a constant concern for the GIFC, as well as all emergency caregivers, he added.

Island Firefighters Handle Nonstop Emergencies

Niagara Mohawk power crews working on primary power lines in the West Oakfield area.

Large tree split in half at an East River Road residence.

Large tree limbs on the ground near historic River Lea in Beaver Island Park.
By Ray Pauley
Public Information Officer

   Forty-one Grand Island firefighters responded to 137 emergency calls on January 31, 2002 and February 1, according to Grand Island Deputy Chief Greg Butcher, who maintained operational control through a 'Storm Command Center' at fire headquarters. The vast majority of these incidents involved storm related problems such as MVAs, wires down, tree branches on arcing wires or trees blocking roadways, transformers on fire or shorted out, traffic signals out of commission, related power outages, etc. Niagara Mohawk Power supervisors were notified of electrical hazards "on a priority basis," as soon as they were identified, he indicated. At the height of storm conditions, 911 calls were being received "at the rate of about five per hour," he added. Because of this onslaught of calls, two additional dispatchers were placed on duty by Communications Supervisor Dan McMahon.
   Hazardous conditions proved equally treacherous for GIFC Rescue Personnel, stressed fire officials. In one such instance, three firefighters were injured when they lost control of their vehicles on an icy overpass, while responding to a multi-car MVA on the I-190. One was treated at the scene for lacerations and abrasions before transport to Erie County Medical Center for followup medical attention. The other two sustained minor injuries that did not require hospitalization, and they remained on duty.
   Board Chairman Gail Lazenby also indicated the GIFC Emergency Operations were coordinated with Town Supervisor Peter McMahon, and various Town Departments to insure maximum utilization of available resources. Mutual Aid assistance from Sheridan Park VFD further helped to alleviate the extraordinary manpower and equipment demands.
   These 'readiness' strategies proved indispensable when firefighters were faced with a structure fire at 22 Riverdale Dr. at approximatly 10:24 a.m. on February 1. A fire in the exterior siding, caused by shorted out power lines, was extinguished before it could break through to the inside of the home. An alert Town employee had already evacuated the occupant, and damage was limited to several hundred dollars, according to Asst. Chief Kevin Koch, who directed fire suppression efforts.
   GIFC Units were also deployed at several major intersections to assist local law enforcement officers with necessary traffic control.
   Paramedics and Rescue personnel were also assigned to make 'welfare' checks on shut-ins and other residents with severe medical disabilities who might require medication or other assistance, stated GIFC Chief Skip Mrkall.
   GIFC Ladies Auxiliary members provided weary firefighters with meals on February 1, when they were on continual standby at Fire Headquarters.
   Chief Mrkall pointed out that firefighters never wavered in fulfilling their community protection responsibilities, even though some of them faced the same household problems, such as loss of power, heat and flooding basements. He is understandably proud of their committment.

Three Hospitalized In Three-Car MVA

Front end damage to Wagner vehicle, which activated air bag (protection) for driver.

By Ray Pauley (GIFC Information Officer)

   Grand Island Fire Company Rescue Personnel responded at 12:45 pm. Monday, January 28, 2002 to a three-car collision in the vicinity of 1770 Grand Island Blvd.
   Irene Wagner, 73, of Grand Island, was treated by GIFC paramedics for non-critical hand, knee and abdominal injuries, stabilized, and transported to the Erie County Medical Center for further medical attention, according to Chief Skip Mrkall. Melissa Barnes, 18, of Lewiston, NY was treated at the scene for lower back pain, immobilized, and transported to Erie County Medical Center, as a precautionary measure. Andrew Gullett, 22, of Grand Island claimed no injuries and declined treatment and/or evaluation.
   All GIFC units returned in service at 1:07 p.m.

Fire Company Installation 2002

Administrative Officers 2002 (seated left) Review Board Member Reed Wright, President Mike Dallessandro, Treasurer Peter Coppola, and Asst. Treasurer Steven Morgan; (top) Director Robert Meyer, Line Secretary David Cole, Financial Secretary Larry Hagerman, Sgt. at Arms Dan Cole and Director Bill Wilson.

From left: Board Chairman Gail J. Lazenby, Fire Chief Skip Mrkall and President Mike Dallassandro.
Barbi Lare photos

   Volunteer firefighters, their wives and guests attended the Grand Island Fire Company's annual installation of its newly elected firematic and administrative officers on Saturday evening, January 12, 2002 in Fire Headquarters. Gail Lazenby, a longtime GIFC member and Chairman of the Board of Directors, served as master of ceremonies for the evening. Debbie Kennedy-Rogoza, attorney for the Fire Company, installed the officers for 2002 and firefighter George "Buck" Wenner presented a 2001 review of the Fire Company in action in a very enjoyable video. The evening included dinner and dancing.

Drivers Injured In Two-Car MVA

GIFC firefighters working to free victims from wrecked vehicles.

By Ray Pauley (GIFC Information Officer)

   Grand Island Fire Company Rescue Personnel responded at 2:39 p.m. Tuesday, January 22, 2002 to a two-car collision at the intersection of Baseline and Fix roads.
   When GIFC Chief Skip Mrkall arrived on location, he determined that the force of impact had propelled one vehicle twenty feet past the roadside ditch, into a field. The driver, Annette Panepinto, 60, of Grand Island, was trapped on the floor, between the front seat and dash board. She was removed by an extrication crew, while GIFC paramedics treated her for lower extremity injuries. She was then transported to Erie County Medical Center for further medical attention. The second driver, who had just missed a telegraph pole after veering off the roadway, was also removed from her wrecked auto, and immobilized by Grand Island firefighters. Rita Moscoe, 65, of Grand Island was treated for lower leg and ankle injuries and transported to Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital for followup medical care.
   All GIFC units returned in service at 3:16 p.m. except for Grand Island Fire Police, who assisted the Erie County Sheriff's Department with traffic control at the scene.

Teenagers Flee Burning Home

George Wenner photos

By Ray Pauley (GIFC Information Officer)

   Grand Island firefighters, shortly before 6 p.m. Sunday, January 13, 2002, responded to a "structure fire" at the E. Szywala residence, on Riverdale Drive. A seventeen-year-old boy and thirteen-year-old girl fled their home, after discovering a first-floor bedroom on fire, and calling 911 for assistance.
   When GIFC Capt. George Wenner arrived on location within two minutes, flames had already broken through the bedroom windows, and were impinging on the roof area. Incident Commander, Assistant Chief Matt Osinski, coordinated fire suppression efforts, utilizing Engine 6 and Engine 3, as well as available manpower. Meanwhile, Mutual Aid Assistance was obtained from Sheridan Park VFD, which sent a FAST Team to the scene, and Kenmore VFD, which assumed standby status at GIFC Headquarters, throughout the duration of the incident. The fire was "knocked down" and under control within 20 minutes, and a few hot spots were soon eliminated.
   GIFC Fire Investigator Chuck Berlinger indicated that the fire was accidental, and caused by "careless use of a candle." Total damage was estimated at $60,000 to the building and contents. In addition, an adjacaent home sustained approximately $500 damage to vinyl siding.
   There were no injuries, and all firefighting units returned in service at 7:30 p.m. according to Assistant Chief Osinski.

Firefighters Cope
With Weather Related Hazards

By Ray Pauley (GIFC Information Officer)

   Along with other Western New York emergency services personnel, Grand Island firefighters have had to contend with ongoing weather related complications, which "makes their job that much tougher," according to Chief Skip Mrkall.
   Fire hydrants which have "disappeared" under deep snow drifts, is "a serious problem" when a ready water supply is needed in a fire emergency, Chief Mrkall stressed. On December 27, 2001, firefighters responding to a residential fire on Red Jacket Rd. had to dig out a buried hydrant as soon as they arrived on location. Consequently he reminds Island residents and businessmen, that they can provide invaluable assistance by clearing snow from hydrants in their neighborhoods.
   Heavy snow accumulations on rooftops can also create unusual problems, with disastrous results in some instances. Such a scenario occurred on December 28, 2001 when "total roof collapse" of a storage building at Anchor Marine, 1501 Ferry Road, resulted in over $200,000 damage. Fortunately, no employees were in the structure at the time and there were no injuries.
   Weather related driving hazards have also led to an increase in motor vehicle related incidents, according to GIFC officials. High snowbanks, which reportedly obstructed a driver's vision, were believed to have contributed to a New Year's Day MVA at Beaver Island Parkway and Fix Road. In this two-car collision, Nancy Hayes of Grand Island was treated for shoulder, back and leg injuries, while an extrication team removed her from the wreckage. The other driver, James Linenfelser, also of Grand Island was treated for a head laceration and rib injuries. Both victims were hospitalized in stable condition.
   Subsequently, on January 7, 2002, a heavy ice buildup broke free from a Ransom Road apartment building, and fell onto a gas meter. When firefighters determinded that there was no fire or related hazard, gas service was shut down and the matter was turned over to National Fuel representatives.
   Because of the inherent dangers involved, GIFC officials urge all residents to use extreme caution while driving or handling structural, and/or weather related problems, Licensed professionals can provide peace of mind by eliminating personal risk, while restoring safe conditions to your property. However, if you choose to tackle large projects, such as snow removal, pace yourself so as not to overtax your individual limits. If possible, get help from other family members, friends or neighbors. Using simple, common sense precautions, will make it easier for everyone concerned, including your Grand Island firefighters. "Have a safe and happy new year in 2002."

Island Home Sustains Heavy Fire Damage - Dec. 2001

Barbi Lare photo

By Ray Pauley (GIFC Information Officer)>

   When Mark Garfly attempted to start a snowmobile in his (attached) garage at 1514 Red Jacket Road, the engine compartment erupted in flames, and his efforts to push it outside proved unsuccessful. By the time his cell phone call for emergency assistance was properly routed to the Grand Island Fire Company, several neighbors also reported heavy smoke and flames pouring from the building.
   When Grand Island Fire Company Deputy Chief Peter McMahon arrived on location minutes later, he declared a "major working fire" and requested Mutual Aid backup assistance from Kenmore, Sheridan Park, Brighton and Elwood volunteer fire departments. Shortly thereafter, fire suppression crews, using four attack lines from the GIFC Engine #6, had the fire knocked down and under control within twenty-three minutes. GIFC Ass't Chief Kevin Koch, who directed fire ground operations, indicated that the fire was initially so intense, that it had already extended into the attic storage space, and broke through the roof over the garage area before positive results were achieved. He noted that the house itself sustained some smoke and water damage, but was mostly intact. Nevertheless, total structural damage was estimated at approximately $75,000.
   Meanwhile, at 3:51 p.m., while the above incident was still in progress, EMS Personnel responded to a person in distress call at the Grant Court Apartments on Baseline Road. Subsequently at 4:20 p.m., GIFC and Mutual Aid Units covered a Sheree Drive chimney fire, which was concluded at 4:47 p.m., when the hazard was eliminated without damage to the structure or contents.
   Mutual Aid contingents were finally relieved from duty and all GIFC Units returned in service at 5:21 p.m.

Snow Causes Roof
Collapse at Anchor Marine

Barbi Lare photos

By Ray Pauley (GIFC Information Officer)

   Grand Island Firefighters, shortly after 12 p.m. on Friday, December 28, 2001 responded to a "total roof collapse" at Anchor Marine, 1501 Ferry Road.
   Upon his arrival at the scene, GIFC Deputy Chief Peter McMahon determined that heavy snow accumulations had collapsed the roof of Building #4, a 75x100' structure which houses twenty-eight pleasure craft, as well as storage of 10,000 gallons of fuel. There were no employees in the building at the time of the collapse, according to the owner, Chris Weaver whoestimated the value of the building at $200,000 and the value of stored boats "undetermined but considerable." Although the exact extent of interior damage was not known, because of access/safety factors, power to the affected building was shut down to help eliminate any additional hazard, according to Deputy Chief McMahon. He also indicated that the owner had contacted a local contractor for snow removal from other buildings which remained in jeopardy.
   All GIFC Units returned in service when it was determined that there were no apparent fuel leaks or immediate fire hazards.

Fire Company Seeks
Community Help In Clearing Hydrants

By Ray Pauley (GIFC Information Officer)

   Grand Island Fire Chief Skip Mrkall is asking all residents and business owners to clear snow from fire hydrants in their neighborhoods. He notes that heavy snowfall over the past week has created "serious problems" for firefighters who must locate hydrants for a ready water supply in a fire emergency.
   Your help in clearing nearby hydrants will assure that the Grand Island Fire Company will not have additional handicaps to overcome when men and equipment respond to the scene of any fire related incident.

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