Grand Island Fire Company News 2004

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Firematic Officers 2005: Fire Chief Greg Butcher; Deputy Chief Kevin Koch; 1st Assistant Chief Matt Osinski; 2nd Assistant Chief Christopher Soluri; Captains John Wenner, Jeff Loder, and Scott Duscher; EMS Captain Sean Manning; EMS Lieutenant Joseph Torregrossa; and Fire Police Captain Donald Portik.
Administrative Officers 2004: President Reed Wright, Vice President Tammy Gorman, Secretary Stephanie Noyes, Sgt.-at-Arms Dave Khreis, Treasurer Peter Coppola, Line Secretary David W. Cole and Financial Secretary William Wilson.
Board of Directors: Chairman Paul Gorman, Dave Tolejko, Michael Dallessandro, Bill Wilson, Paul Gorman, Ray Pauley, Skip Mrkall and Robert Meyer Sr.

Weather Related Hazard Damages Office Complex - 2004

By Public Information Officer Ray Pauley

   Grand Island Firefighters, shortly before 11 a.m. Tuesday, December 21, 2004, responded to a fire alarm activation at 2680 Grand Island Blvd., former site of the Nova Health Care business office. The building is for sale and is presently unoccupied, according to GIFC Chief Greg Butcher.
   Investigation disclosed that a water pipe had burst in the ceiling of a front office space, which became flooded, with large icicles hanging from the broken ceiling tiles. Several thousand dollars in damage to the plumbing, ceiling and flooring occurred, according to maintenance workers who subsequently commenced a massive cleanup operation.
    Chief Butcher noted that this is an unfortunate example of what can happen when outside temperatures dip into the single digits, and certain precautions have not been taken. Although residents usually protect themselves against hypothermia and similar problems, homeowners must also protect their property against the ravages of winter. Many water pipes run through outside walls which may be poorly insulated and particularly vulnerable to plummeting temps. Thawing frozen pipes with blow torches has often led to fire damage and/or total destruction of a home. There is nothing worse than seeing someone lose their home during the Christmas holidays, he added.
   It is also suggested that those "snowbirds" who travel south for the winter, designate a responsible key holder to periodically check homes in order to head off potential problems before they develop.
   Although cold weather can be fun for some, it can also turn into an expensive proposition for others if cold weather dangers are ignored, he stressed.

Island Fire Fighters Receive FEMA Grant - 2004

Click photos for larger view.
Left: Views of the old style bottle and unit along side the new lightweight unit. (right) Chief Greg Butcher, Chairman of the Board of Directors Paul Gorman and Town Supervisor Peter McMahon announcing the Grant Award.
Dan McMahon photos
By Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer

   Fire Chief Greg Butcher, Monday, December 13, 2004, confirmed that FEMA has given final approval for a 2004 Grant, in the amount of $188,000 (net), for "total replacement of an aging Scott Pak system."
   Chief Butcher states that the newest, light weight Scott bottles will provide firefighters with a much safer work environment when facing hostile breathing situations. Advanced technology will also lower future maintenance costs, while minimizing dangerous on-scene breakdowns. In addition, a compressor and charging/refill system will assure a constant state of readiness, even in the event that Grand Island should become isolated by some catastrophic occurrence, he noted.
   Chief Butcher stressed that total system replacement would not have been possible without FEMA Grant funding, since the Town budgetary contract is essentially utilized for normal operating costs. "Every member of the Grand Island Fire Company is greatly appreciative of the fine efforts of Congresswoman Louise M. Slaughter, and others who have supported the volunteer fire service," he concluded.

Rep. Slaughter Announces $188,317 Grant For Fire Company - 2004

   Washington, DC . . . U.S. Rep. Louise M. Slaughter (D-NY28) announced that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has awarded a $188,317 grant to the Grand Island Fire Company, Inc. The funding will be used to replace the company's current breathing air system.
   "The new, lighter Air Paks purchased with this DHS grant will keep the Grand Island firefighters safer on the job," said Rep. Slaughter, a senior member of the House Select Committee on Homeland Security. "At a time when local budgets are stretched thin, the DHS grant program allows our local entities to purchase vital equipment needed to keep our communities safe. I congratulate the Grand Island Fire Company for their brave service and this new grant."
   "This funding that will allow the Grand Island Fire Company to obtain something that we normally could not afford," said Grand Island Fire Chief Gregory J. Butcher. "For the first time, the fire service is being recognized for how costly it can be. This grant will allow us to replace our outdated equipment, which will make our job easier and less of a burden on the fire fighters."
   The Grand Island Fire Company will use the grant to purchase new Air Paks, a new filling system and a compressor to fill the filling system. The new equipment will be lighter and easier for fighters to use while on the job, ensuring they will not be overwhelmed by the burden of carrying excess weight. Grand Island's breathing apparatus will now be in compliance and consistent throughout their three fire stations.
   The Grand Island grant was awarded through the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program (AFGP), which gives one-year grants directly to fire departments to support the nation's firefighters and the services they deliver. For the 2004 program, Congress appropriated, and President Bush signed into law, $750 million in direct assistance to firefighters to improve the effectiveness of firefighting operations, firefighter health and safety programs, and to establish or expand fire prevention programs throughout the United States. The Department of Homeland Security's Office for Domestic Preparedness (ODP) administers the program, in cooperation with the U.S. Fire Administration.

Island Firefighters Elect 2005 Officers - 2004

By Public Information Officer Ray Pauley
   Greg Butcher was returned to a third term as fire chief, when he ran unopposed during December 1, 2004 Grand Island Fire Company elections for firematic and administrative officers.
   Chief Butcher is joined by re-elected Deputy Chief Kevin Koch, 1st Assistant Chief Matt Osinski, and 2nd Assistant Chief Chris Soluri. John Wenner, Jeff Loder, and Scott Duscher will handle firematic captain duties. P. Sean Manning who was returned to fulfill the critical role of EMS captain, will coordinate a professional team of medical advisors (physicians), paramedics, EMTs and CFRs. Don Portik will continue his duties as Fire Police Captain.
   Steve Stouter and Kevin Rustowicz were newly elected to three-year terms on the Board of Directors, and will join Paul Gorman, Dave Tolejko, Skip Mrkall, Mike Dallessandro and Ray Pauley in providing fiscally responsible management for the GIFC.
   B. Reed Wright returns for his second term as president, with Tammy Jo Gorman joining him as vice president. Dave Cole was also returned as line secretary, Pete Coppola as treasurer, Bill Wilson as financial secretary, and Dave Khreis as Sgt. at Arms. Brett Lynch was returned to a position on the Review Board. Norm Mrkall and Lou D'Orazio were also returned to seats on the Benevolent Association. Several delegate positions were also filled.

Three Injured As Vehicle Plunges Into Niagara River - 2004

Accident scene showing guard rail which was sheared off and dragged almost to the water's edge
By Public Information Officer Ray Pauley - Click photo for a larger view.

   Grand Island Fire Company Rescue Personnel responded at 1:18 a.m. Friday, November 26, 2004 to a report of an MVA at Ransom and East River roads, where a car, reportedly traveling at a high rate of speed, had sheared off a guard rail and plunged down an embankment and forty to fifty feet out into the Niagara River. The occupants managed to escape from the partially submerged wreckage and made their way to a relative's residence in the 700 block of Ransom Road where they sought emergency 911 assistance.
   GIFC Assistant Chief Matt Osinski confirmed that the 22-year-old driver, Kevin White of Indiana, was treated for a minor hand injury. Thomas Williams, 24, of Grand Island was treated by GIFC paramedics for a neck injury, stabilized and transported to the Erie County Medical Center for further medical attention. The third occupant, Jose Palma, 22 of Grand Island, was treated for severe head lacerations and also transported to the Erie County Medical Center.
   GIFC Fire Police assisted Erie County Sheriff's Department accident investigators at the scene, according to Assistant Chief Osinski, and all GIFC units returned in service at 2:10 a.m.

Apartment Complex Fire Dislodges 18 Families - 2004

Jodi Robinson Photo - Click photo for larger view
By Public Information Officer Ray Pauley

   Grand Island firefighters responded at 5:39 p.m. Wednesday, November 17 2004 to a report of "smoke in the building" at an apartment complex located at 2240 Center Court South.
   Heavy smoke was encountered when the first GIFC units arrived, and an evacuation of occupants was completed during search and rescue operations, according to Chief Greg Butcher. Although fire suppression efforts were successful, and the fire was declared out at 6:53 p.m., extensive overhaul was required. Meanwhile, mutual aid engine companies from Sheridan Park, Kenmore, Kenilworth and the City of Tonawanda fire departments assisted at the scene and provided standby duty at Fire Headquarters. During that time, EMS personnel handled a medical emergency on East River Road.
   Chief Butcher indicated that a preliminary investigation pointed to an electrical problem originating in a first floor garden apartment area as the probable cause. The fire then spread upward to the second floor, causing considerable damage, estimated at approximately $500,000.00.
   There were no reported injuries and the American Red Cross is now assisting tenants with emergency housing and other needs.
   All firefighting units returned in service at 9:18 p.m., according to Chief Butcher.

Huth Road Students Win Rides To School On Fire Engine - 2004

Click for complete view.
Twenty Grand Island students were winners of the “Win a Fire Engine Raffle” held by the Grand Island Fire Company during Fire Safety Week. Students were picked up from their homes and driven to school in a Grand Island fire engine. Shown on the Engine in the picture are three lucky winners from Huth Road Elementary School. They are Anthony Grana, Tim Wender and Emily Sommer, as some of their classmates look on.

No Letup In Island MVAS - 2004

Click photos for larger view
Severely damaged vehicles in October 6th and October 8th I-190 incidents
By Public Information Officer Ray Pauley
   Grand Island Fire Chief Greg Butcher reports a disturbing trend in motor vehicle incidents, which have shown a marked increase over the past several weeks. After handling nine MVAs during September alone, GIFC firefighter/paramedics were faced with four more in a six-day period during early October.
   GIFC Rescue Personnel responded at 10:34 a.m. October 5 to a two-car collision at 2024 Grand Island Blvd., near the Webb Road intersection. Ruth Beiring, 68, and Anthony Alli, 51, both of Grand Island, claimed no injuries and declined hospitalization.
   GIFC Rescue Crews proceeded to the northbound I-190 near the Long Road interchange at 11:43 a.m. October 6 where a three-car pileup had occurred. Beth Cain, 42, of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Jad Maouad, 37, of Amherst, and Sarah Gresing, 22, of Buffalo, were evaluated at the scene by GIFC paramedics for non-critical injuries, and hospitalized for follow-up medical attention.
   GIFC personnel again proceeded to the I-190 at 3:22 p.m. October 8 where a vehicle had been "sandwiched" between two dump trucks on the North Bridge. Cheryl Gansen, 45, of Cheektowaga was extricated from her vehicle and stabilized by GIFC paramedics before transport to Erie County Medical Center for additional medical attention.
   GIFC firefighters responded at 3:29 a.m. October 10 to a MVA/truck fire at 2801 Long Road. Edward Kopra, 17, of Grand Island, was treated for minor injuries, including smoke inhalation, after a reportedly stolen truck he was driving caught fire and crash. He was hospitalized at Erie County Medical Center as a further precaution. During the interim, a Brighton VFD HAZ Mat team provided mutual aid assistance in determining that the Erie Interstate vehicle in question contained no hazardous materials.
   Chief Butcher is hopeful that this trend can be reversed as drivers become more safety conscious, with the advent of inclement weather and fewer travelers on the roadways.

Fire Prevention Winners Of Engine Rides To School Announced - 2004

    A drawing for a fire engine ride to school was held during the Grand Island Fire Company's Fire Prevention Open House on Friday, October 8, 2004. The following students' names were drawn as the winners:
Kaegebein School
Ayannah Ford
Andrew Husted
Andrew Riederer
Gurwind Nijjar
Jaskiran Kaur Dhaliwall
Huth Road School
Aaron Certo
Mia Marie Villani
Emily Sommer
Timothy Winder
Anthony Grana
Sidway School
Andrea Colan
Alexa Rogers
Cassie Shickluna
April Adams
Brandon Surdi
St. Stephen School
Patrick Curtin
Jacob Watz
Katelyn Palamuso
Trevor Palmuso
Amanda Proctor

Brandon Surdi Wins Ride To School On Fire Engine - 2004

Joe Synakowski Photo - Click for complete view.
Brandon Surdi of Love Rd., one of the Fire Prevention contest winners of a trip to school on a fire engine, is shown out in front of his Love Road house with Grand Island Fire Company members just before boarding the big engine in the background. The drawing was held Friday, October 8, 2004 at the Fire Prevention program at Grand Island Fire Company Headquarters.

Paramedics Take Center Stage At Fire Company Inspection - 2004

Click photos for larger view.
By Ray Pauley
(left) Board Chair Paul Gorman and Fire Chief Greg Butcher; (right) Several of the original GIFC Paramedics joined Medical Advisor Rayhill at the Firemen's Memorial on inspection day: (left) Ron McTigue, Jim Linenfelser, Dave Tolejko, Dr. Rayhill, Dan McMahon, Lance Kohn and Charlie Goss (left)

   Town Supervisor Peter McMahon assisted Chief Greg Butcher in conducting an annual inspection of Grand Island Fire Company members at Fire Headquarters on Saturday, October 2, 2004. Chief Butcher also singled out GIFC Paramedics for their steadfast participation in "a program which has spanned twenty-five years of (ALS) lifesaving service to town residents," as of October 2004.
   Medical Advisor Edward "Ted" Rayhill, and several of the original Medics were given special recognition for their lifetime of commitment to this outstanding program. Former EMS Captain Lance Kohn recalled that it took a concerted effort to convince the New York Health Department to approve such an innovative program for volunteers. During the 1970s, many in the EMS field were convinced that "volunteers can't do it." However, considerable hard work and perseverance finally reversed early barriers and "broke the ground" for volunteers, when exceptional training parameters were established by the GIFC and accepted by the state. The end result was a full fledged New York State certified Paramedic Program for the GIFC as of 1979. This "revolution" in on-scene patient care has saved countless lives since then, according to Paramedic Kohn and Chief Butcher. "We owe a huge debt of gratitude to these early pioneers," the Chief stressed.
   Chief Butcher further indicated that GIFC officers will continue to enhance the Paramedic Program as a vital part of everyday community protection.
   Congratulations to these dedicated professionals for their tireless efforts.

Bravery Citation Highlights Fire Prevention Program - Oct. 2004

Click photos for larger view.
(left) Chief Butcher and Courtney Collignon; 5-year-old twins Patrick and Lauren Curtin of St. Stephen School, meet Chief Butcher after winning the fire engine "ride raffle;" (right) Kayla and Ryan Kozek are thrilled with their meeting with Sparky, the fire dog.
(left) Training instructor directs GIFC extrication crew in efforts to free a trapped MVA victim; Mercy Flight crew shows visitors "nuts and bolts" of their life saving operations; (right) American flag is raised between extended GIFC and Sheridan Park ladder trucks
Story and photos by Ray Pauley - Click photos for larger view.

   Lori Collignon stood proudly by as Fire Chief Greg Butcher presented her eight-year-old daughter, Courtney, with a special "Citation for Bravery" at the Grand Island Fire Company's Fire Prevention open house Friday, October 8, 2004. Chief Butcher commended her for "quick thinking actions on May 30th, when she courageously jumped into a swimming pool to save her four-year-old brother from drowning. Courtney's cool headed handling of this life threatening emergency represents the true spirit of fire prevention volunteerism at its very best, and is a tremendous example for others to follow."
   Meanwhile, over 600 visitors enjoyed ALS and auto extrication demos, hose practice for kids, Mercy Flight, Erie County Haz Mat, New York State Police participation, etc. Twenty elementary school students were elated winners of a special "ride raffle," which was conducted shortly before the program concluded. During the week of October 11th, they will be picked up at home and driven to school in a GIFC fire engine, according to Assistant Chief Chris Soluri who coordinated fire prevention arrangements.
   The GIFC Ladies Auxiliary also provided hot dog or hamburger combos (at a very nominal cost) for visitors who worked up a healthy appetite and hadn't had time for dinner.
   "Thanks for coming to meet your emergency responders, and we'll see you at next year's program which promises to be "bigger and better," GIFC officers concluded.

Fire Prevention Photos - 2004

Jodi Robinson Photos - Click photos for larger view.
These photos were taken at the Grand Island Fire Company's Open House Friday, October 8, 2004 in celebration of Fire Prevention Week. Shown left are Nathan DeMartin, son of Karen and Mike DeMartin; (center) Zoe Dodd, Natalie Baldassare and a St. Stephen School student; (right) volunteer firefighter Scott Kujawa and child enjoying hose practice.

Fire Prevention Program Highlighted By Fire Engine Rides For Lucky Winners - 2004

Fire Chief Greg Butcher and his friend, "Pluggie" ready to greet fire prevention open house visitors.

By Ray Pauley
   Grand Island Assistant Fire Chief Chris Soluri has arranged school visitations, special commendations, live demonstrations, a unique 'ride raffle,' and much more during Fire Prevention Week which commences on October 4th.
   Firefighters will visit all elementary schools to distribute fire prevention materials and fire safety checklists, to be completed and validated at Fire Headquarters on October 8, so that they may be exchanged for a McDonalds free food item (French fries).
   An open house will take place from 5-8 p.m. on Friday, October 8 at Fire Headquarters, 2275 Baseline Road, where visitors will be greeted by 'Sparky' and 'Pluggie,' special GIFC mascots. Activities will include auto extrication and EMS demos, hose practice for kids, and many opportunities to view equipment provided by other agencies such as the New York State Police, Erie County Haz Mat Team, and Rural Metro Ambulance Service.
   Youngsters will also be able to participate in a unique raffle for a trip to their school in a GIFC fire truck. Five lucky winners will be selected, according to Asst. Chief Soluri. Although this is a 'first' for the GIFC, it has been a popular attraction in other fire jurisdictions, he noted.
   Meanwhile, Chief Greg Butcher will award a fire prevention bravery citation to 8-year-old Courtney Collignon, for saving her 4-year-old brother from drowning during a swimming pool incident on May 30th. "This youngster's cool headed, resolute response to extreme danger, represents the spirit of fire prevention volunteerism at its very best, and is certainly a fine example for others to follow," Chief Butcher note.
   GIFC Dispatch personnel will also be available to update any emergency data base information that is provided by visitors, and confidentiality is assured.
   Non perishable food items will be gratefully accepted for the Grand Island food pantry, which is supported by the GIFC, Neighbors Foundation and other community groups.
   And if you haven't had time for dinner, the GIFC Ladies Auxiliary will conduct a hotdog/hamburger roast, for a modest cost. Don't miss this season ending cookout!

Three Occupants Escape Fiery Blaze On Alt Blvd. - 2004

The garage was fully involved when firefighters arrived. - Click photo for larger view
By Ray Pauley (GIFC Information Officer)

   Grand Island Fire Company dispatchers received an emergency call at 2:34 a.m. Sunday, September 12, 2004, for assistance from an alert neighbor who discovered a garage on fire at the James Laible residence on Alt Blvd. Meanwhile, three occupants were awakened by detector alarms that were activated by infiltrating smoke, and made good their escape.
   When GIFC personnel arrived on location with Engines #2, 3, and 4, the garage was fully involved, and flames had spread through an attached breezeway and into a roof vent, according to Assistant Chief Chris Soluri. Two 1 3/4" attack lines were used by fire suppression crews, but "hot spots" persisted in several enclosed areas, according to Soluri. Additional mutual aid contingents from Brighton, Ellwood, Sheridan Park and Kenmore VFD provided FAST team support and backup duties.
   After overhaul was successfully concluded, it was determined that total damage to the structure and contents amounted to approximately $75,000.
   GIFC Fire Investigator Chuck Berlinger and his Erie County Sheriff's Dept. counterpart, Det. Mahoney, indicated that the fire originated in the garage near some electrical equipment, although the exact cause has not yet been determined.
   All firefighting units returned in service at 6:11 a.m.

Fire Company Continues Cost Saving Policies - 2004

Fire Chief Butcher proudly shows off Engine #5 after it was given a new life through a successful "remount" project.

Click photo for larger view.
By Ray Pauley
   Fire Chief Greg Butcher recently disclosed that a cooperative effort with the Grand Island Fire Company Board of Directors has resulted in appreciable savings through the 'rehabilitation' of an aging pumper and rescue vehicle.
   Engine #5, a 1985 Pierce 'Class A' pumper, received a new cab and chassis, which more than doubled its lifespan, according to Chief Butcher. This "remount" saved the GIFC over $100,000, considering escalating 'new' vehicle costs that were avoided in this particular instance. Likewise, a 1988 Young rescue squad truck also received a cab and chassis "remount," at an approximate savings of $60,000.
   Although rejuvenation of existing equipment is not always possible, such money saving projects will be pursued whenever feasible, according to Chief Butcher. Such responsible financial planning will alleviate operational burdens so that the highest levels of community protection are maintained, he stressed.

Senator Byron Brown Assists Fire Co. - 2004

"Pluggie" looks on as GIFC Fire Chief Greg Butcher receives check from Senator Brown.
By Ray Pauley - Click photo for larger view.

   When State Senator Byron Brown arranged a 2003 Fire Prevention grant for the Grand Island Fire Company, he promised Chief Greg Butcher that he would be back. Senator Brown kept his word by returning on August 16, 2004 with a $2500 check for additional funding needs.
   Senator Brown was treated to a first hand demonstration of "Pluggie," the automated fire hydrant, a recent fire prevention acquisition. "Pluggie" is an invaluable teaching tool for tour groups, school visitations, and special events such as the October 2004 Fire Prevention Open House, according to Chief Butcher.
   Chief Butcher is hopeful that county, state and federal legislators will continue to provide grant funding which will further enhance GIFC community protection efforts.

Two Injured In Fun Center Fire - 2004

Remnants of burned out go cart show extensive fire damage.

Click photo for larger view.
By Ray Pauley
   Grand Island firefighters responded shortly before 10 p.m. Saturday, July 31, 2004 to a "racetrack fire" at the Island Fun Center, 2660 Grand Island Blvd. Witnesses indicated that a stalled go cart was being refueled when it unexpectedly burst into flames.
   Within two minutes, Engine 5 and a firefighting crew arrived on location to find a go cart fully involved in flames, according to GIFC Chief Greg Butcher. Although the fire was extinguished with foam in 19 minutes, the go cart was a total loss, which amounted to approximately $4000.
   The driver, Mark Beck, 36, of Cheektowaga, was treated at the scene by GIFC paramedics for first and second degree burns and transported to the Erie County Medical Center for additional medical attention. The employee, Nathan Fuss, 18, of Amherst, was treated for superficial burns to the hand and face but decline hospitalization.
   Kevin Judge, owner and manager of the Fun Center, stated that this was the first fire emergency that he is aware of during the past ten years. He praised his employee who had immediately grabbed a fire extinguisher from a nearby pole to beat back the initial flames until 911 help arrived. Meanwhile, the injured driver had rolled around on the ground to quickly put out his burning clothing. Kevin also thanked the GIFC for their swift response and timely EMS assistance, which kept things under control
   All GIFC units returned in service at 10:36 a.m., according to Chief Butcher.

Residence Damaged By Freak Accident - 2004

NIMO crews working to correct power outage to homes in the 2300 block of Long Road.
Dan McMahon Photo. Click for larger view.
By Ray Pauley

   Grand Island firefighters responded shortly after 10 a.m. Monday, August 2, 2004 to a "basement fire" at the Long Road residence of Keith and Cheryl Kostek. A passing truck apparently snagged overhead power lines, which caused a temporary electrical surge, affecting nearby homes. When Cheryl attempted to turn on garage lights, she received a non-lethal shock. Meanwhile her husband noticed smoke coming from the basement and immediately called for GIFC assistance.
   Engies 3 and 5 and fire supression crews arrived on location within three minutes, according to Chief Greg Butcher. The home was then ventilated when it was detemine that damage was confined to the basement electrical panel, and there was no extension to the structure itself. Total damage was estimated at $2500 and fire personnel remained on scene until power was cut by Niagara Mohawk repair crews.
   Mrs. Kostak was evaluated by GIFC paramedics, but decline hospitalization.
   All GIFC units returned in service at 10:50 a.m., according to Chief Butcher.

Residence Damaged By Lightning Strike - 2004

By Ray Pauley (GIFC Information Officer)

   Grand Island firefighters responded shortly before 5 a.m. Wednesday, July 14, 2004 to "an alarm of fire" at the Giordano residence on Colonial Drive, which occurred during an intense thunderstorm.
   The owner, Tom Giordano, reportedly heard "a loud bang" and discovered that lightning had started a fire in an outside wall of the garage, after striking a nearby tree, fence and power lines. GIFC Chief Greg Butcher reported that firefighters quickly extinguished the blaze with a 1 3/4" hand line, thereby limiting damage to approximately $1500 to the structure.
   All GIFC Units returned in service at 5:28 a.m., according to Chief Butcher.

Seven Injured In Four-Car Collision - 2004

By Ray Pauley (GIFC Information Officer)

    Grand Island Fire Company personnel responded shortly after 11 a.m. Thursday, July 8, 2004 to a four-car MVA on Baseline Road and Broadway.
   Seven occupants were evaluated and/or treated for non-critical injuries, according to GIFC Chief Greg Butcher. Lisa Jenkins, 41, of Grand Island, was treated by paramedics for head and neck injuries, and transported to Kenmore Mercy Hospital for further medical attention. Her six-year-old son was treated for a leg laceration, and seven-year-old daughter for a forehead injury, and both were transported to the hospital by their father as a precaution.
   Catherine Busch, 39, of Grand Island, was treated for neck, stomach and extremity injuries, and also transported to KMH for additional follow-up. Her 14-year-old and 3-year-old daughters were treated for facial injuries and accompanied her to KMH.
   Christine MacKinnon, 78, of Mississauga, Ontario, claimed some neck pain but declined treatment, and was referred to her private physician.
   All GIFC units returned in service at 11:42 a.m., according to Chief Butcher.

Three-Car Crash - 2004

Dan McMahon Photo.
    Grand Island Fire Company personel responded to a three-car accident at Baseline and Broadway Thursday afternoon, July 8, 2004. A car traveling south on Baseline stopped to make a left turn onto Broadway at which time a second car was unaware of the stopped vehicle and hit it and a third car followed suit. Injuries were minor.

Island Marine Unit Assists In River Search - July 2004

GIFC Marine Rescue Boat 'dries out' after return from river search.
By Ray Pauley (GIFC Information Officer)

   Grand Island Fire Company Marine Unit Rescue Personnel responded shortly before 10 p.m. Sunday, July 4, 2004 to a mutual aid request for water rescue assistance from the Niagara County Sheriff's Department.
   GIFC Marine Unit 1 and its crew assisted North Tonawanda Dive Team members and the Erie County Sheriff's Department marine boat in conducting a search for a person reportedly sighted in the Niagara River off the River Road waterfront/boat launching area. GIFC Assistant Chief Chris Soluri indicated that torrential downpours hampered search efforts, which were suspended after 1 1/2 hours when nothing was found. Authorities believe that the purported eyewitness may have mistaken a floating object such as a (tree) log for a person in the water.
   GIFC units returned in service at 11:23 p.m.

Five Injured In 'Chain Reaction' MVA - June 2004

Gutsu vehicle 'sandwiched' in between Metro bus and the Boss passenger vehicle.
By Ray Pauley (GIFC Information Officer)

   Grand Island Fire Company Rescue Personnel responded shortly after 4 p.m. Tuesday, June 22, 2004, to the vicinity of 2231 Grand Island Blvd., where a Metro bus and two passenger vehicles had collided.
   According to Fire Chief Greg Butcher, a vehicle driven by Oleg Gutsu, 36, of North Tonawanda, rear-ended the Metro bus and was then hit from behind by another auto driven by Michael Boss, 45, of Grand Island. Both drivers denied injuries and declined hospitalization. Oleg's wife, Yelena, 32, was treated by GIFC Paramedics for head and chest injuries and transported to DeGraff Memorial Hospital for additional medical attention. Their three children, ages 5, 7 and 11, were treated for non critical injuries and transported to DeGraff as a precautionary measure. Andrew Serbu, 18, a passenger, was treated for neck pain and abrasions, and also hospitalized. The bus driver, Lynn Timblin, 38, was evaluated but claimed no injuries.
   A hazardous fuel leak had to be neutralized by firefighters after victims had been removed to a safe distance, according to Chief Butcher.
   All GIFC units returned in service at 4:47 p.m.

Eight-Year-Old Saves Drowning Brother - June 2004

By Ray Pauley (GIFC Information Officer)

   Grand Island Fire Company Rescue personnel, shortly after 3 p.m., Sunday, May 30, 2004 responded to a "near drowning" at an outdoor pool at the Holiday Inn, 100 Whitehaven Road.
   When 8-year-old Courtney Collignon noticed that her 4-year-old brother, Cameron, had wandered over to the edge of the pool and suddenly fallen in the deep end, she unhesitatingly dove in and reached him just as he was sinking below the surface. When GIFC Chief Greg Butcher and paramedics arrived a few minutes later, he was safely on shore but shaken, and had resumed breathing, after coughing up a considerable amount of water, according to his grandmother, Lorraine Pickel. She was extremely proud of Courtney's determination and confidence, which was a God's send during this family emergency. She also noted that Courtney is quite at home in the water and has been an avid swimmer since the age of two.
   Although Cameron did not require hospitalization, his sister's quick thinking undoubtedly averted a real tragedy, stated Chief Butcher. Because of her outstanding life saving actions, she will be recognized through a special fire prevention commendation during October 2004, he added. "This youngster's cool headed, resolute response to extreme danger represents the spirit of fire prevention volunteerism at its very best, and is certainly a fine example for others to follow," he concluded.

Fire Company Celebrates 66 Years Of Service - 2004

Fire Company Service awards were presented to (left) Norm Mrkall (50 years); George Christensen, Luigi D'Orazio and Robert Brennan (40 years) and Peter Coppola, Mark Kowzan and Paul Gorman (20 years - life memberships).
Nicole Butcher Photos
By Ray Pauley, GIFC Information Officer

   President B. Reed Wright welcomed Grand Island firefighters, wives/husbands, town officials, and special guests, to celebrate 66 years of community service, during an anniversary dinner held at Fire Headquarters on Saturday, May 15, 2004.
   Board Chairman Paul Gorman highlighted many recent accomplishments, including cost saving 'remounting' of Engine #5 and Rescue 7-2, purchase of a reconditioned Ladder #6 truck, advanced firefighter training, and a new 'rookie' class.
   The year 2004 also marked a special milestone for the GIFC Paramedic Program, which reached its lifesaving 25th year. As one of the 'founding fathers,' Medical Director Ted Rayhill, MD, put it, "this Emergency Medical Response Service was a dream come true." He considers its formation, not only a personal and professional triumph, but a model for others in the EMS field to emulate. Many lives have been touched by these ALS responders, who will always be there to lend a helping hand, he stressed.
   Chief Greg Butcher also gave special thanks to 24 GIFC members who have given many years of outstanding service to their friends and neighbors on Grand Island. Peter Coppola, Mark Kowzan and Paul Gorman received one of the most prestigious awards, their 20-year Life Membership. Special recognition was also given to Norm Mrkall I, who has achieved 50 years of active membership. Many innovative advancements occurred during Norm's tenure as a past chief, board chairman and day captain, according to Chief Butcher. "We owe these individuals a huge debt of gratitude for their unwavering commitment to the safety and security of all residents," he concluded.

Islanders Learn CPR Techniques - May 2004
By Ray Pauley (GIFC Information Officer)

   Fire Chief Greg Butcher, on May 2, 2004, welcomed 20 local residents to a 'community' CPR course, sponsored by the Grand Island Fire Company, on the basis of AHA (American Heart Association) guidelines. He noted that family members, friends or others who are present during a cardiac related emergency, can provide life saving assistance to the victim, if they are properly trained. Immediate intervention is considered a critical factor in survivability, he stressed.
   Training coordinator Sean Manning, and his crew of GIFC paramedics, conducted 'hands on' situational instruction, which concentrated on recognition of specific symptoms and appropriate response to choking, stroke, cardiac arrest, etc. Checking a victim's pulse, clearing and maintaining an airway, and providing artificial breathing and chest compressions (CPR), will help to insure that a "chain of survival" has been established, according to Manning. More extensive ALS (Advanced Life Support) methods can then be initiated by responding paramedics, who will arrive on location a few minutes later.
   Chief Butcher indicated that similar training will be available in the future, and a 'community' First Aid course has already been scheduled for June 19, 2004. For further information, contact the GIFC Dispatch Center at 773-4334.

Island Firefighters Handle Car/Cycle Fatality - 2004

Photos show the 2003 Honda shadow motorcycle and the 1994 Lincoln, vehicles involved in the fatal crash.

Dan McMahon Photos. Click photos for larger view.
By Ray Pauley
   Grand Island Fire Company Rescue Personnel responded to a motor vehicle/cycle collision, which occurred at 4:26 p.m. Wednesday, May 5, 2004 on East River Road in Buckhorn State Park, according to Chief Greg Butcher.
   The motorcycle operator, traveling west on East River Road, reportedly swerved in front of an oncoming car in the opposite traffic lane, and sustained critical injuries. The victim, Nina C. Hurley, 48, of Grand Island, was treated by GIFC paramedics, but intensive ALS efforts were unsuccessful at the scene. The driver of the car, Angelo Pascucci, 22, of Niagara Falls, claimed no injuries and declined treatment.
   All GIFC units returned in service at 4:52 p.m., except for Fire Police who assisted with traffic control while State Police investigators pursued their inquiry into the circumstances.

Island MVAs On The Rise Again! - 2004

Click photos for larger view.
AJ Beyer Photo                                                Dan McMahon Photo.
(left) Accident on the Parkway at Fix Road. (right) Accident at Whitehaven Road and Grand Island Blvd. Click photos for larger view.

   Grand Island Fire Chief Greg Butcher reports that Rescue Personnel have had to handle eleven MVA incidents since April 1, 2004. Although there have been no fatalities involved, one driver, Robbie Toth of Grand Island, was seriously injured on April 9th, when he lost control of his vehicle, which sheared off a utility pole and landed on its roof, on Fix Road near Alt Blvd.
   The most recent MVA occurred at 10:46 p.m. on April 28th, when two cars collided "head on" at the intersection of Grand Island Blvd. and Whitehaven Road. One driver, Jesse Oliver of Buffalo was evaluated by GIFC Paramedics, exhibited no life threatening injuries, but was transported to Buffalo General Hospital as a precautionary measure. The other driver, 23-year-old John Leszczak of Grand Island, denied injuries and declined treatment.
   Several hours earlier, at approximately 3 p.m. GIFC Rescue Personnel responded to a two-car collision at Beaver Island Parkway and Fix Road. GIFC Paramedics treated the 17-year-old driver, Andrew Missert of Grand Island, for a back injury, and he was transported to Erie County Medical Center for additional medical attention. The second driver, 17-year-old Brendan Conway of Grand Island, denied injuries and declined hospitalization. A 16-year-old female passenger was immobilized at the scene and transported to Erie County Medical Center for further treatment.
   Chief Butcher is hopeful that drivers will be more successful in employing "defensive driving" skills, so that this disturbing increase in MVAs can be reversed.

Driver Critically Injured In Vehicle Rollover - April 2004

Click photos for larger view.
Butch Meyer Photos.
A.J. Beyer Photos. Toth vehicle, shown trapped between trees and fire hydrant after flipping over onto roof. Click photos for larger view.

   Grand Island Fire Company Rescue Personel, at 6:27 p.m. Friday, April 9, 2004, responded to an auto accident which occurred on Fix Road east of Alt Blvd. The driver, Robbie J.Toth, 34, of East River Road, reportedly lost control of his vehicle, which left the roadway, knocked over a tree, sheared off a utility pole, and landed upside down next to a fire hydrant, according to GIFC Assistant Chief Matt Oskinski.
   Victim extrication was completed 18 minutes after arrival of GIFC Heavy Rescue equipment. Meanwhile, spinal immobilization and related ALS procedures were initiated by GIFC paramedics who were assisted by Rural Metro Ambulance personnel. Mercy Flight arrived at a nearby landing zone on Fix Road, one minute later, and the patient was transported to the Erie County Medical Center Trauma Unit for further medical attention.
   Assistant Chief Osinski reported that all GIFC units returned in service at 7:18 p.m., although they were later recalled to remove trees and other obstructions for Erie County Sheriff's Department accident investigators.

Firefighters Offer CPR Training To Public - April 2004
By Ray Pauley (GIFC Information Officer)

   Grand Island Fire Chief Greg Butcher is convinced that family members and the public in general can provide invaluable assistance in a life threatening cardiac emergency. Although a 911 call for help will send trained GIFC paramedics on their way, timely intervention by those already on the scene is extremely important, he stressed. Public education and training can help to accomplish this goal, he noted.
   Accordingly, in order to insure a successful continuum of treatment for such victims, the GIFC is sponsoring a "community CPR course," from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday, May 2, 2004 at Fire Headquarters, 2275 Baseline Road. A required $20 fee will cover training materials, including a CPR mask for participants. Arrangements may be made by calling a GIFC dispatcher at 773-4334. Certified GIFC instructors will then be on hand to provide attendees with basic lifesaving skills necessary to "make a difference."
   Chief Butcher urged "those who are not prepared to handle a cardiac related life or death situation," to please join their GIFC paramedics, who will share such critical information on May 2.

Sundays Not Always A Day Of Rest For Firefighters - March 2004
By Ray Pauley (GIFC Information Officer)

   Grand Island Fire Chief Greg Butcher reports that firefighters and paramedics handled five emergency calls within a 64-minute period on Sunday, March 21, 2004. The first three were handled with no operational delays even though they occurred simultaneously, within the same 37-minute time fame, he noted.
   At 8:56 a.m., Assistant Chief Matt Osinski and apparatus crews responded to a fire alarm activation at the Holiday Inn, 100 Whitehaven Road. Subsequent investigation disclosed a smoking incident had triggered the alarm, and there was no fire hazard. The alarm system was reset and all GIFC units returned in service at 9:26 a.m.
   Meanwhile, at 9:06 a.m., a 33-year-old Grand Island Blvd. resident was treated by GIFC paramedics for an abdominal problem and transported to Kenmore Mercy Hospital for additional medical attention. All units returned in service at 9:26 a.m.
   During the interim, at 9:12 a.m. a 55-year-old Whitehaven Road resident was treated for an ankle fracture, stabilized, and transported to Kenmore Mercy Hospital for further medical procedures. This emergency situation was concluded at 9:33 a.m.
   Four minutes later, at 9:37 a.m., GIFC medics were called to a Grand Island Blvd. location, where an 82-year-old occupant experienced cardiac related problems. ALS procedures were initiated by GIFC paramedics, and the patient was transported to Mount St. Marys Hospital for additional treatment.
   Finally, at 10 a.m., GIFC rescue personnel responded to a West River Road residence to investigate a CO detector activation. Three occupants were evaluated for exposure symptoms, but declined hospitalization when no hazardous levels of carbon monoxide were found.
   Although weekend R&R interruptions are nothing new to the fire service in general, Chief Butcher noted that GIFC volunteers never lose sight of their 24-7 community protection priorities. Such "rapid fire" response to overlapping emergencies is but another testament to our overall state of readiness, he stressed.

New Recruits Join Fire Company Ranks - Mar. 2004

New members (back left) Mark Sadkowski, Bror Meissner, Justin Hoffman, Adrian Pilliod, Shawn Kephart and Mike DeSanto (kneeling right) watch GIFC Firefighter Ed Krecisz (center) negotiate a confined space maneuver, in full protective gear, as Training Instructor John Wenner (left front) looks on.
By Ray Pauley (GIFC Information Officer)

   Fire Chief Greg Butcher reports that six individuals recently accepted into the Grand Island Fire Company, will strengthen manpower needs during 2004 and beyond. He noted that four of these new members have prior EMS and Firefighting experience, while one is a certified New York State Fire Instructor.
   Mike DiSanto, Justin Hoffman, Shawn Kephart, Bror Meissner, Adrian Pilliod and Mark Sadkowski have commenced an intensive six-month training period in GIFC equipment orientation and operating procedures. In addition, completion of a specialized NYS Firefighter course willl be required, as well as basic EMS training.
   The Grand Island Fire Company wishes good luck to these "rookie" firefighters, who will now strive to become highly proficient firefighting and EMS professionals.

Fire Company Completes Major Cost Saving Project - Feb. 2004

Fire Chief Greg Butcher inspects compartments of Engine #5, shortly after delivery to Fire Headquarters.
By Ray Pauley (GIFC Information Officer)

   When Grand Island Fire Company's Engine #5 was recently re-outfitted with a new chassis and cab, after 20 years of dependable service, substantial benefits were realized, according to Chief Greg Butcher.
   A standing truck committee, Board of Directors and Chief pursued this multi-faceted project for several months, until their coordinated efforts resulted in final completion and delivery by Colden Enterprises during February 2004. Chief Butcher pointed out that major reconditioning actually doubled the lifespan of this engine, which will continue to operate as a first line 1000 GPM pumper "for at least another twenty years." In addition, the GIFC has saved up to $100,000.00 by rejuvenating and reusing an existing vehicle, rather than purchasing a new piece of apparatus at today's inflated market prices, he emphasized.
   Keeping operating costs down through responsible, long range financial planning, will continue to assure 'top rate' community protection, without creating any undue tax burden upon island residents, and is a goal of all GIFC officers, he concluded.

Fire Company Provides PALS Refresher Class For Paramedics - Feb. 2004

(left) Fire Company Paramedics Steve Morgan and Paul Gorman with instructor Sean Manning (right); Paramedic Lance Kohn (center) and Paramedic Steve Stouter (right)
Dan McMahon Photos

   The Grand Island Fire Company, under the direction of Medical Director Dr. Barbara Stouter and EMS Captain P. Sean Manning, sponsored the first of a two-day PALS refresher class for Paramedics. Fourteen Fire Company Paramedics along with several Paramedics from Rural Metro Ambulance Service were in attendance at the Sunday, February 22, 2004 session in Grand Island Fire Company Headquarters. Covered in the all-day class were the updated guidelines the Company must follow when dealing with the various Advanced Life Support procedures including intubations, and IV access of infants and children. Emergency Child Birth procedures and complications were also covered, and heart monitoring, EKG recognition, along with treatment procedures rounded out the day.

GIFC Receives State Fire Prevention Grant - Feb. 2004
By Ray Pauley (GIFC Information Officer)

   State Senator Byron Brown recently demonstrated his continued and steadfast support of the local volunteer fire service, by presenting the Grand Island Fire Company with a $1000 fire prevention grant (check), according to Chief Greg Butcher.
   Chief Butcher pointed out that fire prevention is a year round committment for firefighters who arrange school appearances, safety presentations at industrial and business locations, participation in community activities such as block parties, and GIFC tours, as well as special open house demonstrations of Firefighting and EMS equipment during every October. CPR and other lifesaving courses are also made available to the public when possible.
   Meanwhile, governmental grants have been instrumental in securing special resources such as 'Pluggie' the robotic fire hydrant, which was recently purchased as a valuable teaching aid for children and others who have not lost their youthful enthusiasm for learning, he noted.
   Chief Butcher is hopeful that additional grant funding will be available through the Erie County legislature and FEMA/Homeland Security sources throughout the coming months, so that community protection responsibilities of the GIFC will be further enhanced.

Byron Brown Presents Funds For Fire Prevention Program

Fire Chief Greg Butcher, State Senator Byron Brown and Fire Company President Reed Wright.
Jodi Robinson Photo

   The Grand Island Fire Company received a check from State Senator Byron Brown on Thursday, February 5, 2004. The money is earmarked for the Company's Fire Prevention Program and Community Relations Program, which Chief Greg Butcher said is "the lifeblood of what we do." Teaching children and adults fire safety year-round through programs such as "Stop, Drop & Roll," "Call 9-1-1," and "Check Your Smoke Detector" campaigns, along with the open house in the fall is a top priority. The Grand Island Fire Company is celebrating its 25th year of its EMS program and that is ranked in the top 10% in New York State.
   An informative article on the Grand Island Fire Company by Grand Island Fire Company Information Director Ray Pauley will be posted soon.

Fire Chief Urges Residents To Help Keep Hydrants Clear - Jan. 2004

This hydrant, cleared by a Fix Road resident, can now be located and used as a ready water supply, in the event of a fire emergency.
By Ray Pauley (GIFC Information Officer)

   Grand Island Fire Chief Greg Butcher reminds residents that they can be of invaluable assistance if they clear snow from nearby hydrants so they are fully accessible during a fire emergency. He noted that disappearing hydrants can create time consuming delays for firefighters, if they must first stop, locate and clear a buried hydrant beore commencing fire suppression efforts.
   Prior "adopt a hydrant" programs have been successfully pursued by the Boy Scouts of America and other groups that are also committed to community service principles, he recalls.
   Chief Butcher hopes that all Islanders wil meet this challenge so that firefighters will have "an extra helping hand" during extreme weather conditions of blowing and drifting snow.

Cell Phones And 911 Emergency Dispatching
By Ray Pauley (GIFC Information Officer)

   Recently retired Communications Supervisor Dan McMahon notes that the Grand Island Fire Company has successfully handled its own emergency dispatching since 1985. Presently, all 911 calls for help are handled on a 24-7 basis by trained EMDs (Emergency Medical Dispatchers), who are able to initiate immediate life saving intervention in a medical emergency, or quickly dispatch firefighters to a burning stucture. Because unnecessary delays are all but eliminated, BLS and/or ALS treatment is substantially enhanced, and property loss by fire is significantly reduced, he pointed out.
   Increased cell phone usage for reporting 911 emergencies, has been a "mixed blessing" however, since the locality of origin is not always the first notified. In many instances, a distant (police) agency communications center will receive the call, and may initiate their own investigation before appropriate GIFC notification is made. GIFC Chief Greg Butcher agrees that an untimely delay could result in a critical community protection lapse. Crucial matters of life and death or loss of one's home should not revolve around a delayed or misdirected cell phone call, they both agreed.
   Better prioritizing and problem identification by all agency dispatch personnel is one solution for this vexing problem. This would ensure an immediate 911 transfer to first responders where indicated. Another is the "tightening up" of cell phone legislation, so that the various providers are responsible for proper relay of vital information.
   Meanwhile, cell phone users on Grand Island can call the GIFC direct at 773-7508, in the event of a 911 emergency.

Fatal Accident On Baseline Road- Jan. 2004

   A two-car accident on Baseline Road near Fix Road resulted in the death of Kathryn Cady, 79, of West River Road. The victim's husband, George Cady, 78, was driving northbound on Baseline when he lost control of his vehicle and crossed into the southbound lane, according to Sheriff's Accident Investigators Michael Summers and James Bauer. The accident occured at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, January 14, 2004. The passenger side, where Mrs. Cady was seated, collided with the front end of the second car driven by Daniel Victor, 17, of Grand Island.
   Grand Island Fire Company Rescue Personnel were called and within four minutes Chief Greg Butcher and GIFC Paramedics initiated ALS procedures on Mrs. Cady. Resuscitation was unsuccessful however due to the extent and nature of trauma sustained by the victim. Meanwhile, her husband was also treated on site for various non-critical injuries and was transported by ambulance to the Erie County Medical Center for additional medical treatment.
   Mrs. Cady was pronounced dead at the scene. Young Victor and his passenger were not injured. Hazardous road conditions reportedly contributed to the MVA, according to GIFC Chief Butcher. The Sheriff's Dept. investigation is continuing.

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