Grand Island Fire Company News 2005

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Firematic Officers 2005: Fire Chief Gregory J. Butcher; Deputy Chief Kevin M. Koch; 1st Assistant Chief Matthew Osinski; 2nd Assistant Chief Christopher Soluri; Captains John Wenner, Jeff Loder, and Scott Duscher, Ed Krecisz, and John Wenner; EMS Captain P. Sean Manning, EMS Captain (appointed) Jeremy Pullano; Day Captain Paul D. Gorman; and Fire Police Captain Donald Portik.
Administrative Officers 2004: President Reed Wright, Vice President Tammy Gorman, Sgt.-at-Arms Dave Khreis, Treasurer Peter Coppola, Line Secretary David W. Cole and Financial Secretary William Wilson.
Board of Directors: Chairman Michael P. Dallessandro, Vice Chairman Kevin M. Rustowicz, Secretary Raymond Pauley, Paul D. Gorman, Mark T. Kowzan, Steven M. Stouter, David C. Tolejko.

Alert News Carrier Helps Rescue Homeowner - 2005

Joseph Reines with his mother, Kathy Raines
By Ray Pauley

   December 26, 2005 . . . When twelve-year-old Joseph Reines was making his rounds earlier today, he knew that something was wrong when he noticed that an eighty-one-year-old customer had not gotten the paper he had left in her front door on Christmas morning. When he went around to the side door and heard loud pounding and screams for help, he immediately ran home and had his mother call the Erie County Sheriff's Department. Minutes later, at 9:04 a.m., Grand Island Fire Company Rescue Personnel received the call for possible forcible entry at a Love Road residence to free a trapped victim.
   GIFC Assistant Chief Matt Osinski reported that Mrs. Audry Yehle was discovered wedged between a rear stairwell and back door, but was still conscious and able to unlock it. Assistant Chief Chris Soluri then squeezed between her and the partially opened door so that GIFC Paramedics could provide treatment for weakness and dehydration. Although there was no indication of life threatening injuries, Mrs. Yehle had reportedly fallen on Saturday, and if she had not been discovered when she was, there could have been tragic consequences. She was transported to Kenmore Mercy Hospital for follow-up medical attention.
   Joseph was thanked by GIFC officers for his quick thinking, resolute actions, which contributed to a relatively 'happy' ending to this Christmas holiday emergency. The Fire Company's Senior Assistance Program will visit Mrs. Yehle to determined future needs and possible resource referral. The program was established in March 2005.

Early Morning Fire On Webb Road - 2005

Photo by Ray Pauley - Click for larger view

Photos by Dan McMahon - Click for larger view
   Grand Island Fire Company volunteers responded at 6:08 a.m. Friday, December 16, 2005 to a reported fire at 1866 Webb Road. Heavy smoke was showing from an attached garage when the Fire Company arrived on location. Fire Chief Greg Butcher gave the order to tone the call out as a working fire. Occupants, Mr. and Mrs. Donald Richards, were accounted for and outside. A FAST team from Town of Tonawanda, an engine and crew from Tonawanda, an Erie County fire investigator, and an ambulance were called to the scene.
   Sally Richard, 79, was given precautionary treatment at the scene, and transported to Kenmore Mercy Hospital by the ambulance for further evaluation. A second ambulance was dispatched to the scene for standby. National Fuel and National Grid also responded to the fire. Damage was estimated at $40,000.00 to the structure and $20,000.00 to the contents. A preliminary report by the Erie County Sheriff's Department Fire Investigators indicated that the probable cause was an overloaded garage heating device.
   Firefighters, who shut off the gas to the house and the electric to the meter, worked with two 2 1/2" lines to fight the fire. All GIFC units with the exception of the fire chief were back in service at 7:52 a.m.

Butcher To Lead Firefighters in 2006 - 2005

By Ray Pauley
   Greg Butcher was returned as Fire Chief for the coming year, as Grand Island Firefighters selected a new leadership slate during December 7th annual elections.
   Butcher, who ran unopposed for a fourth term, will be joined by Deputy Chief Kevin Koch, 1st Assistant Chief Matt Osinski, and 2nd Assistant Chief Chris Soluri. Firematic captains are John Wenner, Scott Duscher, and Dave DiSanto. Don Portik continues as Fire Police Captain and Sean Manning was returned to the critical position of EMC Captain.
   Dave Tolejko and Mark Kowzan were returned to the Board of Directors for additional three-year terms.
   Mike Braun is the new Fire Company president and will be assisted by Vice President Jeremy Pullano. Other administrative positions filled were Recording Secretary George Christensen, Line Secretary Dave Cole and Sgt. At Arms Dave Khreis.
   Reed Wright gained a seat on the Board of Review, and Omar Sortino was elected for the first time to the Benevolent Association. Several delegate positions were also filled.

Firefighters Respond To Car/Pedestrian MVA - 2005

By Ray Pauley
   Grand Island Fire Company rescue personnel responded at 6:19 p.m. Monday, December 12, 2005 to a report of a pedestrian hit by a vehicle in the vicinity of 1514 Bedell Road, near the intersection of Jamestown Road.
   GIFC Units arrived on location within two minutes and found Patricia Arcouet, 67, lying in the roadway, according to Chief Greg Butcher. GIFC paramedics, led by EMS Captain Sean Manning, immediately initiated ALS procedures for a critical trauma patient. These intensive but unsuccessful life support efforts continued as Mrs. Arcouet was transported by Mercy Flight to the Erie County Medical Center for further medical attention.
   Meanwhile, a New York State Police Accident Investigation team conducted an on scene inquiry into this unfortunate fatality, while the road was closed to traffic.
   All GIFC units returned in service at 7:01 p.m.

2005 Training Boost For Fire Company - 2005

Chief Butcher and County Legislator Chuck Swanick discuss equipment (radio) upgrades while standing next to Engine #3 at Fire Headquarters.

By Ray Pauley
   Chief Greg Butcher reports that the Grand Island Fire Company has continued to improve its 'state of readiness' through specialized training for emergency dispatchers, as well as BLS and ALS providers. What happens to your 911 call for help is critically important because the GIFC must be fully prepared to handle over 1500 Fire and EMS incidents yearly. Consequently, frequent training upgrades will insure that a solid core of community protection professionals is available on a 24-7 basis, he stressed.
   Communications Supervisor Steve Morgan points out that fire company dispatchers are the first link in your call for emergency assistance and must provide immediate life saving intervention, and more. To increase their capabilities, these EMDs (Emergency Medical Dispatchers) have recently received accredited EFD (Emergency Fire Dispatcher) training from the National Academy of Emergency Fire Dispatchers. A unified fire protocol, combined with the latest in caller interrogation and response prioritization, was incorporated into a new Fire Priority Dispatch System for "hands on" application.
   Meanwhile, EMS Captain/Paramedic Sean Manning coordinated a series of intensive BLS and ALS recertification courses, so that GIFC providers could sharpen necessary life support skills. BTLS (Basic Trauma Life Support) training was presented by GIFC Medical Director Dr. Lee Ruotsi, so that twenty-four paramedics and advanced level EMTs could obtain a two-year recertification.
   The GIFC also hosted an AHA (American Heart Association) CPR course for forty-three students, which was a further extension of community based training started in 1995. Such exposure to multiple life saving topics thereby established a quality partnership between local care providers and the public they serve, Manning noted.
   EMT original and refresher courses commenced during April 2005, and were completed on November 17th, providing students with a three-year certification in pre-hospital emergency care. Several successful participants have over twenty years each as active EMTs, and should be commended for their lifetime achievement, he stressed.
   An ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) recertification course was also made available to doctors, nurses, physicians' assistants, paramedics and their providers who received a two-year certification. Dr. Ruotsi and Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center training coordinator Karen Franco were joined by GIFC instructors Manning, Stephen Stouter, and Robert Cleveland, who covered a wide spectrum of ACLS topics, including use of diagnostic tools, treatment priorities, AED application, etc.
   Chief Butcher emphasizes that a winning combination of modern equipment, specialized training, and "a lot of hard work," has kept the GIFC one of the best community protection providers in New York State. In addition, a 2005 expansion project at Fire Headquarters will add a new dimension in protective resources that are required to cover the needs of a growing community, he noted. This success by your GIFC "volunteer" team has become a reassuring reality for many years, and will continue into 2006, he stressed.

Island MVA Causes Power Disruption - 2005

By Ray Pauley

   Grand Island Fire Company Rescue Personnel responded to a one-car motor vehicle accident shortly before 5 p.m. Saturday, November 26, 2005 on Whitehaven Road near White Oak Lane. Fire Chief Greg Butcher reports that Margaret Mount, 60, of Grand Island, lost control of her vehicle, which left the roadway and collided with a power transmission terminal box. He estimated that several hundred homeowners east of Stony Point Road lost their electrical power due to the resulting damage.
   Despite the property damage impact however, the driver had already exited from her car, prior to the arrival of GIFC personnel, and claimed no injuries.
   Meanwhile, GIFC Engine #2 proceeded to the intersection of Whitehaven and Stony Point roads, where a portable generator was set up to operate the traffic signal, which had also been knocked out of commission. A Fire Police crew remained there until 5:49 p.m. according to Chief Butcher.

Motorist Injured In Island Bridge Accident - 2005

By Ray Pauley

   Grand Island Fire Company Rescue Personnel responded shortly after 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, November 23, 2005 to a multi vehicle MVA in the southbound lane of the I-190, on the South Grand Island Bridge.
   Fire Chief Greg Butcher reports that Joseph Warden, 20, of Grand Island, had to be extricated from his vehicle, which was sandwiched between a 'We Care' mini bus and another car, during this sudden rush hour collision. He was treated by GIFC Medics for neck and back injuries and transported to Erie County Medical Center for further medical attention. Eight disabled patients and two supervisory employees on the mini bus were also evaluated but sustained no injuries. The other driver, Paul McKenna, 66, of Grand Island, also claimed no injuries.
   Chief Butcher also noted that GIFC Medics were assisted at the scene by an Erie County SMART Team physician, who responded due to the nature of the incident and number of potential victims involved.
   Although GIFC units returned in service at 9:39 a.m., a major traffic jam continued for an extended period of time.

Fire Company Addition Update - 2005

Jodi Robinson Photo - Click for larger view

   The Grand Island Fire Company's expansion project on the north side of Fire Headquarters on Baseline Road has come a long way since the last photo posted here at on September 26th. (See "September 2005 Update") The addition includes two new truck bays to accommodate specialized apparatus, such as a ladder truck, which is proportionately larger than standard pumpers. This photo was taken Thursday, November 10, 2005.

Fire Chief Issues Carbon Monoxide Alert - 2005

By Ray Pauley

   Grand Island Fire Chief Greg Butcher cautions residents about a seasonal upsurge in household carbon monoxide incidents. Butcher notes that CO related 911 emergencies have been on the rise since October, when furnace, other heating units, and gas fired appliance usage increased.
   CO is known as the "silent killer" because it is colorless, odorless and extremely difficult to detect without proven technological assistance (CO detectors).
   One such emergency occurred on October 26th, when a CO detector activation alerted the Rupert family to a potentially serious health problem at their Redway residence. When Bonnie, 47, began to exhibit nausea, abdominal distress and other symptoms, GIFC firefighters and paramedics responded to the scene. Firefighters determined that there were hazardous, life threatening CO readings of 409 PM and the home was immediately ventilated. Mrs. Rupert was treated by medics and transported to DeGraff hospital for further medical attention. Other occupants were evaluated and advised of precautionary measures to take, including remedial work on the furnace, boiler and flue.
   Although most subsequent CO incidents have resulted from inaccurate/false monitoring, use of such detectors continues to be an indispensable lifesaving method of insuring your personal safety, Chief Butcher stressed. Homeowners should also take other preventative action, such as periodic inspection and/or maintenance of furnaces, flues, chimneys, appliances, etc. by reputable and qualified servicemen. Make sure you are able to enjoy the coming holiday season by reducing risk factors in the home, he urges homeowners.

Damage Limited In Town Hall Terr. Apartment Fire - 2005

By Ray Pauley

   Grand Island Firefighters responded to a reported "structure fire" shortly after 9 p.m. Saturday, October 15, 2005 at the 2063 Town Hall Terrace apartment complex, located across Baseline Road from Fire Headquarters. LaShaundra Bradley had been cooking French fries in her basement apartment when they suddenly ignited on the stove. She fled the building after using flour and then a dry chemical extinguisher to douse the flames.
   Meanwhile, Engines #2, 3, 5 and Ladder 6 proceeded to the scene, and interior attack crews determined that there was no fire extension outside of the immediate kitchen stove area. GIFC Deputy Chief Kevin Koch, reported that the fire was out upon arrival, with an estimated $3000 total damage.
   In addition, the occupant was treated for superficial cuts sustained when she broke a glass door enclosure to gain access to the extinguisher. She declined hospitalization.
   All GIFC units returned in service at 9:52 p.m.

Fire Company Open House Turnout "Biggest Ever" - October 2005
Photos from left: Nathan Wallens, 2 1/2, has an 'up close and personal' encounter with Sparky the fire dog - GIFC firefighters Mark Sadkowski and Shawn Kephart show heavy rescue tools to attentive youngsters - Firefighters use Hurst extrication tool to free victim from simulated MVA wreck
Photos from left: Danya Abdellatif, 12, tries her hand as Nozzleman, with a little firefighter assistance - Students meet firefighter Tom Dewey in full protective gear as he might appear during a rescue attempt.
Ray Pauley Photos
(left) "Pluggie" - (right photo) Erica Seal, 6, looks on as GIFC Chief Greg Butcher presents special bravery citations to Sierra Brooks (front right), Kerry Brooks (top right), and Melissa Morrow (top left) for their lifesaving teamwork in saving Erica from drowning.
Fred Claus Photos - click for larger view

By Ray Pauley
   Students from Sidway Elementary School began to arrive at Fire Headquarters at 9 a.m on Friday, October 14, 2005, where they participated in several fire prevention learning experiences, according to Assistance Fire Chief Chris Soluri. Finding out more about heavy rescue equipment, BLS and ALS lifesaving, emergency 911 'stop, drop and roll' fire suppression were some of the major highlights.
   After these students finished an exchange of questions and answers, and bid farewell to their new firefighter friends, it was time to get ready for over 1,800 Open House visitors. Program participants included the Town of Tonawanda, Wendleville and Ellicott Creek VFDs, Erie County Sheriff's Department, New York State Police, U. S. Border Patrol, and Erie County Department of Senior Services. Activities included "Jaws of Life" motor vehicle extrication, "live" fire demo, smoke house exercise, fire dispatching, etc. Handouts were also available for those who wanted their own fire hat, badge, etc.
   The most popular activity by far, was the 'ride to school in a fire truck raffle' and drawing, which resulted in 24 lucky winners. In addition, four other youngsters were winners in a fire truck model drawing. A schedule for the school rides is being set up for the following week, according to Assistant Chief Soluri.
   Meanwhile, Chief Greg Butcher presented 2005 Fire Prevention and Safety awards to Sierra Brooks, Kerry Brooks, and Melissa Morrow, for their courageous teamwork with GIFC paramedics, in saving the life of 6-year-old Erica Seal, who nearly drowned on August 29, 2005. He noted that their actions exemplified volunteerism at its very best, and represented an outstanding achievement with the community.
   Many of those who worked up an appetite during program activities found the GIFC Ladies Auxiliary 'cookout' really hit the spot on a very busy evening.
   The Grand Island Fire Company thanks all those who supported this event by spending a special day with their local volunteers of the GIFC.
   The following are the 2005 Fire Truck Ride Winners:
Huth Road School Winners
Matthew Madigan, Emily Certo, Joe Egloff, Sam Prispol, Nachalle Kitkowski and Natalie Schultz
Kaegebein School Winners
Austin DiSanto, Matthew Osinski, Brianna Wik, Diamond Sims, Nicholas Capizzi and Magdalyn Chaubry
Charlotte Sidway School Winners
Victoria Aronica, Matthew Siegel, Elizabeth Ishmael, Antonio Calandra, Ryan Frost and Alexander Dodge
St. Stephen School Winners
Victor Freeman Jr., Isabella Ziolkowski, Eric Scalise, Maria Schrettler, Alexander Melisz and Jacob Watz
2005 Model Winners
Ryan Musialowski, Alexander Dodge, Ian Eisenberger and Natalie Schultz

Recent MVAs Result In Driver Injury - October 2005
Geiger vehicle 'wrapped' around a Beaver Island Parkway tree.
Andrew J. Beyer VI Photos - Click photos for larger view
Christopher Soluri Photos
Story By Ray Pauley

   Grand Island Fire Company Rescue Personnel responded shortly before 4 p.m. Friday, October 7, 2005 to a one-car MVA on the Beaver Island Parkway near Fix Road. Harold Geiger, 71, of Grand Island, reportedly lost control of his vehicle on the rain slick roadway, and was trapped in the wreckage, after colliding with a nearby tree, according to Deputy Fire Chief Kevin Koch.
   Geiger was extricated and treated by GIFC paramedics for a head injury, immobilized, and transported to Erie County Medical Center for additional medical attention.
   Three days later, on October 10th, GIFC firefighters responded to a noon time "freak" accident on the southbound I-190. A passenger vehicle was hit by debris from a tractor trailer which lost part of its roof when it struck the Bedell Road overpass. GIFC Chief Greg Butcher confirmed that Margaret Noel, 54, of Niagara Falls, and the truck driver, Robert Justice, 25, of Georgia, both denied injuries when evaluated by on scene medics. All GIFC units returned in service at 12:28 p.m.

Volunteers Stand For Annual Fire Company Inspection - 2005

   Members of the Grand Island Fire Company stood in full dress uniform for their annual inspection Saturday, October 1, 2005 in front of Fire Headquarters on Baseline Road. Sunshine and a warm temperature prevailed during the 5:30 p.m. inspection, which was followed by refreshments and music in the main hall for the volunteers and their guests. Fire Chief Greg Butcher, who spoke to the membership shortly before the photo was taken, announced that the Grand Island Fire Company responded to more calls than any other volunteer company in Erie County.

Fire Prevention Program Highlights Engine Rides For Lucky Winners -
Open House At Fire Headquarters October 14, 2005

By Ray Pauley

   Grand Island Assistant Fire Chief Chris Soluri has arranged school visitations, special commendations, live demonstrations, fire engine ride raffles, and much more during Fire Prevention Week, which commences on October 10th.
   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 14th, so that they can be exchanged for a McDonald's free food item (French fries).
   An open house will take place from 5-8 p.m. on Friday, October 14th, at Fire Headquarters, 2275 Baseline Road where visitors will be greeted by firefighters and their special mascots, Sparky and Pluggie. Activities will include an auto extrication, live fire and EMS demonstrations, hose practice for kids, and many opportunities to view special equipment provided by law enforcement and other agencies.
   Youngsters will also be able to participate in a popular raffle for a trip to their school in a GIFC fire truck. Six lucky winners from each school will be selected for this 'once in a lifetime' chance to trade their yellow school bus for a big red fire truck on a special day. Assistant Chief Soluri noted that this was the number one attraction at last year's program and will probably top the list again this year.
   Meanwhile, GIFC Chief Greg Butcher will award individual Fire Prevention and Safety citations to Sierra Brooks, Kerry Brooks and Melissa Morrow, for lifesaving teamwork on August 29, 2005, which successfully averted the drowning of a six-year-old Erica Seal. Their fine efforts exemplify the true meaning of volunteerism at its very best, he stressed.
   GIFC Dispatch personnel will also be available to update any emergency data base information that is provided by visitor/residents, with confidentiality assured.
   And if you have not had time for dinner, the GIFC Ladies Auxiliary will conduct a hotdog/hamburger roast at a modest cost. Don't miss this season ending cookout, and the chance to meet the local volunteers who protect your lives and property.

Fire Company Expansion Underway - 2005

Riggers are beginning to erect the steel at Fire Headquarters for the expansion project underway.
Dan McMahon Photo - Click for larger view

   The Grand Island Fire Company's expansion project on the north side of Fire Headquarters on Baseline Road is underway. The addition will include two new truck bays to accommodate specialized apparatus, such as a ladder truck, which is proportionately larger than standard pumpers. The photo was taken Monday morning, September 26, 2005.

Lifesaving Teamwork Averts Pool Drowning - 2005

Erica (left) sits next to her mother Tanya and sisters Elizabeth and Hayleyann, after her harrowing ordeal.
Click photo for larger view
By Ray Pauley

   Tanya and Howard Seal are thankful that alert bystanders and Firefighter/Paramedics teamed up to save the life of their six-year-old daughter, Erica, when she was knocked off a 'volcano' float and sank to the bottom of a backyard pool, shortly before 3 p.m. Monday, August 29, 2005. When Sierra Brooks, 8, discovered her unconscious playmate, she quickly brought her to the surface and yelled for help. Her father, Kerry Brooks, rushed over and moved the victim to poolside where he initiated mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Meanwhile, another (parent) bystander, Melissa Morrow, assisted with chest compressions until Erica resumed breathing and her color returned.
   When Grand Island Fire Company paramedics arrived at the Trails End Road incident location two minutes after 911 emergency dispatch, Erica responded to additional stabilizing ALS treatment and was transported to Children's Hospital for follow-up medical attention. Three days later she returned home to a joyful family reception, stating, "I feel fine now."
   GIFC Assistant Chief Chris Soluri, one of the attending medics, is convinced that prompt, on-scene intervention averted potentially tragic consequences in this situation. He noted that Sierra's swimming ability, Kerry's previous BSA training in rescue breathing, and Melissa's college experience as a Med-Tech, proved to be a winning, life-saving combination. As a result, these individuals will receive 2005 Fire Prevention commendations from GIFC Chief Greg Butcher, during Open House activities on October 14th.

Firefighters Training Center Taking Shape - 2005

(left) GIFC Captain Ed Krecisz cuts up felled trees in the rear of Station #3; (right) Area being cleared for addition behind Station #3.
Click photos for larger view
By Ray Pauley

   September 1, 2005 . . .Chief Greg Butcher reports that a cost-saving "do it yourself" building project that is now underway at Fire Station #3 on Baseline near Fix roads, will result in the creation of a new training center and storage facility which has been needed for a long time.
   Chief Butcher notes that GIFC firefighters have given up considerable 'free' time in order to save 30 to 40% of the total cost involved. He added that generous fund drive donations received from the community during 2005 will also play a significant role in the completion of this worthwhile project.
   "Having our own training center will substantially reduce our reliance upon distant facilities in Tonawanda and Cheektowaga, thus keeping manpower and equipment where it would be needed most in the event of a fire emergency," he stressed. This new resource will go a long way towards maximizing GIFC's overall state of readiness, which is always a top priority. This is particularly critical in view of escalating incident responses during the past six months, which could very well reach or exceed 1500 total for the year 2005. Skyrocketing operating costs such as vehicle fuel requirements and expanding services such as the relatively new Senior Assistance Program, also mandate conservation measures whenever possible, Chief Butcher noted. Localized training will be a positive step in that direction.
   Chief Butcher urges residents to be patient if they should "encounter some minor annoyance from the sound of chainsaws, highlifts, and other equipment in use by your firefighter 'volunteers' who are giving up much of their summertime R&R to insure the best in community protection."

Fire Company Makes Nice Showing In Erie Co. Fair Parade - 2005

   Grand Island Fire Company members represented Grand Island in the annual Firemen's Day Parade at the Erie County Fair Friday, August 12, 2005. Despite the rain, the parade was held under sunny skies. Grand Island was well-represented and looked phenominal.

Island Medical Plant Damaged By Fire - 2005

By Ray Pauley

   Grand Island Firefighters responded at 11:31 a.m. Tuesday, August 16, 2005 to an alarm of fire at American Pharmaceutical Partners, 3159 Staley Road.
   GIFC Chief Greg Butcher confirmed that Engines #2, #3, #5, Rescue #1 and Ladder #6 responded to the scene due to the potential for a major incident. Interior attack crews encountered smoky conditions in the first floor mechanical room - south, where a confined space fire was quickly extinguished. Chief Butcher indicated that a welder's torch accidentally ignited an oil based lubricating product near manufacturing machinery. Damage to these contents was estimated at approximately $10,000.
   When the building was completely ventilated, all GIFC units returned in service at 12:17 p.m.

Household Damage Limited By Quick Firefighter Response - 2005

Wall and floor damage which occurred in the vicinity of 55-gallon, salt water aquarium, which was uninhabited at the time of this accidental fire

By Ray Pauley
   Grand Island Firefighters received an alarm company report shortly before 11 a.m. Friday, August 5, 2005, of a "fish tank on fire" at the Caicedo residence on Colonial Drive. A visiting relative, Elena Cavrera, 72, had already fled the premises, and was later evaluated for smoke inhalation, but appeared symptom free and declined hospitalization.
   Chief Greg Butcher confirmed that the interior of the home was filled with heavy, acrid smoke when firefighting units arrived on location. The first floor blaze was quickly extinguished with dry chemicals and a minimal amount of water which was provided by Engines #2 and #3.
   The interior was then ventilated, and it was determined that a living room floor and wall had become engulfed in flames when aquarium electrical equipment had shorted out and started a fire. Damage was estimated at $1000 to the structure and $1000 to the contents, according to Chief Butcher, although cleanup costs have not yet been established.
   All GIFC units returned in service at 11:22 a.m. according to Chief Butcher.

GIFC Headquarters Expansion Benefits Entire Community - 2005

GIFC Board member Ray Pauley looks on as Chairman Mike Dallessandro (far right) and Chief Greg Butcher (center) undertake a ceremonial 'ground breaking' at Fire Headquarters.

By Ray Pauley
   Board Chairman Mike Dallessandro reports that the Grand Island Fire Company will soon embark upon the most ambitious expansion project since 1992, when a new dispatch center and administrative facilities were added to Fire Headquarters. An August 2005 groundbreaking will usher in a new multi-faceted dimention in the delivery of EMS and firefighting protection for the community, he stressed.
   Fire Chief Greg Butcher echoed these sentiments when he pointed out that two new truck bays will now be able to accomodate specialized apparatus, such as a ladder truck, which is proportionately larger than standard pumpers. These new quarters will also insure a central location for such equipment, as recommended by ISO (Insurance Service Organization) representatives. Such organizational placement of firefighting resources will also help to keep town fire insurance rates at acceptable levels.
   There is also general agreement that a tax exempt, low interest loan financing through the First Niagara Bank of Grand Island has been a definite plus in maintaining forward progress without interferring with day to day operational needs. Long overdue roof replacement, code compliance for an oil/water separation system, and other necessary upgrades were equally important components of this visionary plan.
   In considering the GIFC's accomplishments since its inception in 1938, this current expansion project can easily be viewed as another huge step in an extraordinary 'blueprint' for success. All those who are partners in this undertaking, and who support the betterment of Grand Island, extend best wishes and good luck to our EMS/Firefighting volunteers.

Island Firefighters Handle Tops Hazmat Incident - 2005

By Ray Pauley

   Grand Island Firefighters responded shortly after 6 a.m. Tuesday, August 2, 2005 to a reported "gasoline leak" at Tops Gas Mart, which is adjacent to Tops Market, 2140 Grand Island Blvd.
   GIFC Chief Greg Butcher confirmed that large amounts of speedy dry and containment dyking was used to neutralize approximately fifty gallons of gasoline, which had leaked from a station pump. A safety perimeter was established and DEC (Dept. of Environmental Conservation) representatives also responded to the scene, due to the extent and nature of the problem.
   Station manager Brenda Blazevich stated that she had shut down all pump operations and immediately called for 911 emergency assistance when the problem was first discovered by an earlier customer. Ms. Blazevich identified the cause as a ruptured pipe fitting below pump #7, which caused spillage of about 315 gallons of gas. Fortunately, most of this leakage went into an underground overflow sump area where the hazard was reduced and retrieval is later possible. She praised the quick action of responding firefighters who "did a great job." She also indicated that a Sentinel Services crew was handling cleanup of the premises, which was expected to take several hours.
   All GIFC Units returned in service at 9:15 a.m. when the hazard was eliminated, according to Chief Butcher.

Gasoline Spill - 2005

Dan McMahon Photos - Click for larger view

   Tuesday, August 2, 2005 . . . Grand Island Fire Company personnel spent a long morning at the Tops Express Gas Station at 2140 Grand Island Blvd. on Tuesday, August 2nd. The company, called to the station for a reported gasoline spill at about 6 a.m., immediately began containing the spill with special absorbent pads. Fire Chief Greg Butcher estimates about 315 gallons of gasoline spilled on the ground and near by grass before the pumps were shut down. The majority of the spill was contained in a specially built sump system. It all began when a patron started filling a truck and equipment inside a metering pump malfunctioned. The DEC was called and arrived at about 9 a.m. to access the spill, and a pump repair service was also requested. Firefighters were back in service at 9:12 a.m.

GIFC Rescue Personnel Handle Series of Boating Accidents - July 2005

(left) GIFC Don Portik simulates a victim being stabilized on a backboard prior to removal from water for necessary treatment
(middle) GIFC Marine Unit 1 returns to shore after a practice rescue mission
(right) Firefighter Kerry Lanthier operates a portable (floating pump) used for boat fires in the Niagara River and remote dock areas
Story and Photos by Ray Pauley - Click photos for larger view

   Chief Greg Butcher reports that GIFC Rescue Personnel have responded to three separate boating accidents within the past fourteen days, which resulted in evaluation/treatment of five injured victims.
   Shortly before 6 p.m. on July 10, 2005, Joseph Mash, 54, of Grand Island, became the victim of a "freak" accident when he became tangled in a rope, was pulled overboard and run over at least twice, by the unmanned boat. He was rescued and brought back to shore by a companion boater, Thomas McDonald. He was then evaluated by GIFC Medics for lacerations, rib and internal injuries, and transported to Erie County Medical Center for follow-up medical attention.
   During the early morning hours of July 23rd, GIFC Rescue Personnel responded to a reported collision of two boats near the south Grand Island Bridge. John Henshaw, 47, of Grand Island, was evaluated for a head laceration but refused hospitalization. Scott Hickok, 35, of Grand Island, was treated by GIFC Medics for a head injury, was extricated from his boat, immobilized and transported to the ECMC for further medical attention.
   Finally, at 4:40 p.m. on July 24th, two swimmers were being towed on an inflatable "hotdog" tube, when they were suddenly tossed out and banged heads. They were brought into an East River Road dock by the towboat, according to GIFC Assistant Chief Chris Soluri. Tina Doherty, 30, of Buffalo was immobilized for a head and neck injury. Raymond Koenne, 19, of Tonawanda was given ALS treatment by GIFC Medics for a head injury and temporary loss of consciousness. Both were transported to Kenmore Mercy Hospital for further attention.

Fire Company Responds To Snapped Power Pole - 2005

Jodi Robinson Photos - Click for a larger view.

   The Grand Island Fire Company responded to the area of Whitehaven near Baseline road at 2:19 p.m. Monday, July 25, 2005 where it was reported that a pole was about to come down. Upon arrival, firefighters found that a pole was partially sheered off at the ground and proceeded to close the road from Trinity Church to Baseline. Erie County Sheriff's deputies also responded to the scene.
   The Fire Company was called five minutes later to a report of a controlled burn which was getting close to a garage on West Park Court. Firefighters extinguished that blaze and were back in service in short order. Meanwhile Niagara Mohawk representatives arrived at the Whitehaven Road incident to begin rectifying the problem.

Fire Company Response At Record Pace - 2005

By Ray Pauley

   Chief Greg Butcher reports that recorded incidents for the Grand Island Fire Company will far exceed the one hundred mark for the month of July. During the week of July 4th through 10th alone, firefighters handled fifty-two emergencies, which included nine contacts through the relatively new SAP (Senior Assistance Program).
   Chief Butcher notes that MVAs have also increased proportionately, although there have been no fatalities involved. One of the most recent occurred at 10 a.m. Friday, July 15th on the Beaver Island Parkway near the Stony Point-Buffalo "split." Harry Illenz, 30, of Gasport, NY, whose vehicle was reportedly struck in the rear, denied any treatable injuries. The other driver, Michael Moran, 25, of Amherst, NY, was treated by GIFC medics for head, neck and back injuries and transported to Kenmore Mercy Hospital for additional medical attention.
   Chief Butcher cautions all drivers to "drive defensively" and keep alert at all times since even a few seconds of inattention can lead to costly property damage and/or painful personal injury.

Firefighters Respond To NOCO Fire System Activation - 2005

By Ray Pauley

   Grand Island Firefighters, shortly after 1 p.m. Thursday, July 14, 2005, responded to a fire system activation at the NOCO service station, 1898 Whitehaven Road.
   GIFC Chief Greg Butcher reports that Neil Reddien, 22; Jeannie Morrison, 22; Linda McGuire, 60; Julie Dee, 34, all of Grand Island, and Mary Crawford, 26, of Niagara Falls, were evaluated for possible breathing/respiratory problems related to dry chemical powder exposure. McGuire was transported to Millard Suburban Hospital as a precautionary measure.
   Store Manager Jill Redenbach stated that technicians have not yet determined the cause of this accidental discharge of approximately 32 fire suppression nozzles covering all station fuel pumps. Nevertheless, she indicated that all customer expenses related to this unfortunate incident (medical, vehicle cleaning, etc.) would be fully covered by the NOCO Corp.
   All GIFC units returned in service at 1:35 p.m.

MVA On South State Parkway - 2005

Dan McMahon Photos - Click for a larger view.

   The Grand Island Fire Company EMS squad responded to a two-car motor vehicle accident on the ramp to the South Grand Island Bridge, near Red Jacket just before 10 a.m. Friday morning, July 15, 2005. One patient was treated for possible back, neck injuries due to hitting the windshield and was transported to the hospital for evaluation and treatment. The accident is under investigation. Fire Company units were back in service at 10:31 a.m.

NOCO Gas Station Incident Covers Everyone, Everything in White - 2005

By Teddy Linenfelser
Jodi Robinson Photos - Click for a larger view.

   Numerous passers-by, seeing what was reported as a white cloud engulfing the NOCO station at Whitehaven and Grand Island Blvd., called to report the sight to the Grand Island Fire Company at 1:12 p.m. this afternoon, (Thursday, July 14, 2005). A loud, explosive sound came from a gas pump when a customer attempted to cancel her transaction when the pump would not work properly. It was at the same time the white explosion occurred, covering her with the dry chemical, she said.
   Five people were treated by Grand Island Fire Company personnel for inhalation of dry chemical extinguishing material and one was transported to Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital for evaluation. The actual cause of the deployment of material is unknown. NOCO representatives believe it could have possibly been heat related. Among those calling the Grand Island Fire Company for assistance were State Police who witnessed the incident as they were passing by. Fire Chief Greg Butcher took command of the call, one of numerous calls the Company responded to so far today.

Fire Company Draws Crowd's Attention July 4th - 2005

(left) "Rookie" firefighters pull antique hose cart in traditional red longjohns, while engaging in a friendly water competition with some of their uniformed brothers.
(right) Grand Island firefighters proudly carry the company banner in front of their marching unit.
      Ray Pauley Photos - Click for larger view

   The Grand Island Fire Company was well represented in the Independence Day parade. Just before the parade got underway an EMS crew was called out for an ill residence, however, all uniformed men and equipment made an extremely nice appearance. The highlight of the contingent's march was the new rookie class pulling the antique hose rack near the reviewing stand only to be soaked by firefighters at the ready with hoses. The Rookies were also prepared and gave the members of long standing a good drenching.

Island Firefighters Handle Heat Related Emergencies - 2005

By Ray Pauley

   Grand Island Fire Chief Greg Butcher reports that a prolonged heat spell, reaching temperatures as high as 95 degrees, has contributed to a noticeable increase in EMS incidents.
   Richard Smith, 80, of Buffalo, NY collapsed on June 27th while golfing at Beaver Island State Park. He was given stabilizing ALS treatment by GIFC paramedics, prior to hospitalization. Chief Butcher points out that physical exertion and the heat factor can be a deadly combination if adequate body hydration is not maintained. He advises all who are active to pace themselves and drink plenty of fluids during hot weather. Frequent "rest" breaks will also help to stave off trouble.
   GIFC medics treated an 18-month-old child on July 2nd for dog bite puncture wounds, sustained when an East Park family pet suddenly attacked her when disturbed. Further medical attention was obtained at Women's and Children's Hospital. Chief Butcher notes that any pet can react unpredictably under stressful conditions such as extreme heat, and should be handled accordingly.
   GIFC medics on July 5th evaluated a 15-month-old Marilyn Drive child for a possible allergic reaction caused by an insect bite. Hospitalization was declined by family members when no adverse reactions were detected during examination. Chief Butcher cautions that flying insects proliferate during extreme heat and aggressive tendencies also increase. Using safe insect repellant is one way to obtain some sort of body protection.
   His final words of advice are to enjoy your summer months but avoid the various pitfalls that you may encounter. Prevention is a key to achieving such enjoyment without painful consequences, he stressed.

Chlorine Possible Cause of Garbage Truck Fire On Fairview Court - 2005

Dan McMahon Photo and Story

   Grand Island firefighters were called to a reported garbage truck on fire at 9:40 a.m. Tuesday, June 28, 2005 on Fairview Court. While there were no reported injuries and no damage to the vehicle, a 6-foot ball of flame rolled from the back of a Waste Management garbage truck as the WM employees opened the back of the hopper. According to firefighters on location chlorine seemed to be the chemical inside the truck causing the ball of flame. The container was believed to be picked up at an earlier stop along their route. After firefighters used water to cool the trash inside the truck, it proceeded to an off-Island site for unloading.

Firefighter/EMTS Sharpen Lifesaving Skills - 2005

(left) GIFC Firefighter students Mark Sadkowski, Shawn Kephart and Omar Sortino practice clearing of an infant's airway as Erie County EMS Instructor Lynn Ribbeck observes. (right) Instructor Frank Nati demonstrates proper monitoring of carotid pulse, while positioning head for emergency breathing as Firefighter Laurie Lute and other students look on.
By Ray Pauley

   Grand Island Fire Company EMS Captain Sean Manning knows from past experience that 'hands on' training is a must for all life saving practitioners. Accordingly, GIFC Chief Greg Butcher has placed 'state of the art' BLS and ALS resources at his disposal for Basic EMS and EMS recertification courses which are sponsored by the Erie County Health Department, EMS Division, and are conducted at Fire Headquarters.
   Training Coordinator Manning notes that approximately thirty-five students are spending several evenings each week strengthening their proficiency at "head to toe" patient assessment, airway management, bleeding control, CPR and AED use, treatment of shock, as well as related skills, vital to the patient life support continuum.
   Besides the GIFC, Manning notes that many other volunteer fire departments are represented in the classroom, and their ultimate success will translate into first rate EMS services for their respective communities in Western New York. Safety issues were vividly brought to mind when one student's training was interrupted by a sudden call to active military duty.
   These dedicated volunteers will conclude their intensive training regimen in November 2005.

67 Years Of Progress For Island Fire Company - 2005

By Ray Pauley

   Board Chairman Mike Dallessandro identified "personal sacrifice" as the key ingredient in continuous forward progress by the Grand Island Fire Company when he addressed over 150 firefighters, spouses, guests and town officials, during the 67th anniversary celebration at Fire Headquarters on May 22, 2005.
   Intensive training requirements and escalating emergency response workloads could not be handled by the 'volunteers' without a special personal commitment on their part, he noted. This is especially crucial because 85% of the nation's fire departments are volunteer, and save their communities many millions of dollars annually. Such community service is taken to an extreme level because "even a routine response can turn deadly, due to unforeseen circumstances." The GIFC has strived to keep one step ahead of any worst case scenario by promoting responsible, cost effective growth. Acquisition of an additional Marine Unit for water rescue, ATV for off road emergencies, and a 2005 Headquarters building expansion project will help to insure top rate Fire and EMS protection for our community.
   President Reed Wright and Chief Greg Butcher recognized several members who have contributed a combined total of 325 years towards the success of the GIFC. Chief Butcher gave special thanks to Don Portik and Dr. Roger Kaiser, who have reached their notable milestone of Life Membership. (Click
Years of Service Report 2005)
   Once again, the staunch support of the Ladies Auxiliary was demonstrated by President Nicole Butcher who presented the GIFC with a substantial contribution towards the Firefighters Memorial.
   Finally, a heartfelt thank you to town officials and the community at large for standing firmly behind their GIFC, and making all of Grand Island a better place to live.

Fire Company Responds To 2-Car MVA With Injuries - 2005

   Grand Island Fire Company Emergency Medical Personnel responded to a two-car, motor vehicle accident at Whitehaven and Baseline roads at 1 p.m. Sunday, May 22, 2005. It was reported that two people sustained injuries and two ambulances were immediately dispatched to the scene. One patient had to be extricated from a vehicle. The victims were transported by ambulance to DeGraff Hospital at 1:20 p.m. and ECMC at 1:30 p.m. when all Grand Island units returned in service.

Fire Company Responds To Transformer Fire - 2005

    The Grand Island Fire Company responded to a reported transformer fire in the area of 5740 East River Road, at the corner of Baseline Road at 7:34 p.m. Saturday, May 21, 2005. The caller reporting the alarm stated that the transformer was sparking. Exact location was Pole #3547 on Baseline just north of 3533 Baseline Road. It was determined that there was no immediate hazard and Grand Island Fire was back in service at 7:44 p.m. Niagara Mohawk was alerted and responded to the incident immediately.

EMT Basic and Recert Training now Available - 2005

By Ray Pauley

   Fire Chief Greg Butcher reports that, commencing May 5, 2005 the Grand Island Fire Company will host basic EMT (Emergency Medical Technician), as well as EMT Recertification courses, which are sponsored by the Erie County Dept. of Health, EMS Division.
   EMS Capt. Sean Manning, training coordinator, states that classes at GIFC Headquarters will cover a six-month period from May 5 through November 17, 2005, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7-10 p.m. (approximately 121-122 days), and may involve some Saturdays. Students must purchase the Brady tenth edition Emergency Care textbook, costing about $60. There is also a fee for those participants who are not members of a Fire/Ambulance Agency or a Municipal EMS Service Employee.
   Manning emphasized that successful completion of the course(s) requires attendance at all sessions and achievement of a passing grade. EMT-RECERT students will have the option to take written and practical challenge exams, and be excused from sessions that they successfully challenged. However, CPR sessions are mandatory for all students.
   Course applications may be obtained through the Erie County Division of Fie Safety at 716-681-7111, Fax 681-5256, or - prior to the deadline of May 5, 2005.

Firefighters Committed To "Respondsmart" Driving - 2005

The class of volunteer firefighters listens intently as instructor Mike Dallesandro makes a point.

By Ray Pauley
   Seventy firefighters from eighteen volunteer companies participated in a "Respondsmart" fire apparatus defensive driving program presented by Instructor Mike Dallessandro at Grand Island Fire Headquarters, Saturday, March 26, 2005.
   Besides his continuing service with the GIFC, Mike's position as the transportation supervisor of a large WNY school district gives him a unique appreciation of driver safety. He pointed out that emergency vehicle operators have an extraordinary responsibility to exercise the utmost care during incident responses. Statistics show that there are 15,000 apparatus accidents annually, and 37 firefighters were killed during 2003 alone. Reducing line of duty deaths "one driver at a time," is the primary goal of such training, he noted. Development of safe driving habits are especially critical when operating fire apparatus which could weigh over 18,000 pounds, and require much greater stopping distances than a passenger vehicle. Utilizing techniques such as safety buffer zones, anticipation of what another driver might do, intersection slowdowns/stops, recognition of potential road hazards, etc. are some of the driver skills which will help to prevent accident involvement, injury or death.
   A personal commitment to "Respondsmart" driving is an absolute must if firefighters expect to fulfill their community protection duties without placing themselves in additional jeopardy, he stressed. Likewise, the public is an equal partner in promoting and practicing safe driving habits, and should yield to emergency vehicles using warning lights and siren. Sharing the roadways in a responsible manner is a "win win" situation for everyone, he concluded.

Island Firefighters Initiate Senior Assistance Program - 2005

GIFC Lt. Adrian Pilliod prepares for weekly 'senior' assistance contacts.
By Ray Pauley

   Chief Greg Butcher reports that the Grand Island Fire Company commenced a new senior assistance program during March 2005, because of concerns over the welfare of 'senior' EMS patients. Follow-up visits will help to determine individual progress, well-being, and the need for appropriate supportive referrals, he emphasized.
   Firefighters have volunteered extra time to make weekly visits, whenever indicated, by using Fire Company utility vehicles, while dressed in uniform, so that they can be easily identified. Lt. Adrian Pilliod, who is coordinating these efforts, indicates that Barb Gannon of the Golden Age Center, is also providing valuable assistance. He noted that many seniors need to be made aware of available services such as Life Line emergency communications, Meals On Wheels, etc., which can come in handy during a crisis period. Visiting firefighters can help to arrange for such resources if the need presents itself.
   Chief Butcher notes that 'senior' patients will no longer be "lost from view" after initial 911 treatment, since this welfare oriented program will help to fill in any aftercare gaps that may arise. He has already received multiple contacts from seniors and family members who have expressed their appreciation for this "extended connection" with GIFC firefighter/paramedic caregivers.
   "Good luck to these volunteers who continue to serve their community in every possible way."

Homeowner Injured In Early Morning Fire - 2005

By Ray Pauley

   Grand Island firefighters responded shortly before 6 a.m. Monday, March 28, 2005 to a structure fire at 1711 West River Road. Homeowner Richard Fuerle sustained second degree burns of both hands when he attempted to put out a mattress fire in an unoccupied second floor bedroom, according to GIFC Chief Greg Butcher.
   Engines 2, 3, 5, and Heavy Rescue #1 were dispatched to the scene, along with 25 firefighters, who extinguished the blaze within ten minutes. Estimated $4000 damage was confined to the room of origin. GIFC Fire Investigator Chuck Berlinger indicated that a faulty electrical outlet appeared to be the accidental cause.
   All GIFC units returned in service at 6:52 a.m. after ventilation and overhaul were completed.

Morning, Noon & Night - No Letup For Busy Island Firefighters - 2005

By Ray Pauley

   The expression "never a dull moment" certainly seemed to reflect life in the day of a firefighter, this past Tuesday, March 22, 2005 according to GIFC Chief Greg Butcher.
   Beginning shortly before 10 a.m., a crew assembled at Fire Headquarters to commence senior assistance contacts in the community. Chief Butcher explained that concerns over the welfare of 'senior' EMS patients prompted him to initiate this program of follow-up visits, to determine individual progress, well-being and possible referral for available resources.
   Two and one half hours later, residential contacts were concluded, and firefighters began to 'set up' tables, chair etc. for an American Red Cross blood drive at Headquarters.
   Meanwhile, essential equipment demands had to be met. A crew inspected and cleaned several EMS backboards, while others traveled to Station #3, where 02 cylinders were filled. During the late afternoon, two other firefighters stopped in to complete some necessary floor repair work.
   Later on, three simultaneous incidents had to be handled within an hour and ten-minute period. At 8:41 p.m. rescue personnel/paramedics responded to an EMS emergency on Havenwood Lane, which resulted in the hospitalization of an 80-year-old patient. Twenty minutes later, firefighting units responded to a transformer fire at the intersection of Baseline and Staley roads, which caused a widespread power outage in the south section of the Island. An in-house emergency generator had to be used at Station #3, so that overhead doors could be operated and apparatus be made available as needed. Four minutes later, Engines 3, 5, Ladder 6, Rescue 1 and Rescue 7-2 responded to a call of smoke in the interior of the Wilson Farms store at 1787 Love Road. Firefighting crews quickly extinguished a fire in one of the rooftop HVAC units, which caused approximately $2500 damage, according to GIFC Deputy Chief Kevin Koch.
   All GIFC men and equipment finally returned in service at 9:50 p.m. after another busy day for island firefighters.

Vacation Not All R&R For Island Firefighter - 2005

Chuck Berlinger exchanges information with Reedy Creek fire chief at the scene.
By Ray Pauley

   Chuck Berlinger and his wife, Linda, eagerly looked forward to their recent vacation trip to Disney World, which is a 'must see' for Florida visitors, young and old alike.
   The peaceful atmosphere of the beautiful Wilderness Lodge also remained unbroken until Chuck noticed bellboys rushing towards a sudden building fire. At that moment, his instincts as a Grand Island Fire Company Investigator 'kicked in,' and he used available firefighting equipment to extinguish a smokey blaze in an outside support beam. His quick action calmed the fears of guests and prevented further damage, pending arrival of Reedy Creek fire personnel.
   It is interesting to note that the Reedy Creek Fire Department was established in 1967 to cover fire and EMS emergencies in The Magic Kingdom, as well as other portions of Orange and Osceola counties. It has three stations, 150 firefighters, EMTs and paramedics, as well as fire inspectors and dispatchers, who are known at "communicators." Three individuals handle approximately 65 emergency calls per day.
   After receiving a heartfelt thank you from the Reedy Creek F.D. chief, Chuck returned to full vacation mode, with no further mishaps to report.

Island Home Lost In Major Fire - 2005

Left photo shows back of structure;
right photo shows Sheridan Park's Engine #3 and Grand Island Fire's Ladder 6
beginning to set up to assist in extinguishing the fire.
Click photos for larger view
Story By Ray Pauley - Dan McMahon Photo

   Grand Island firefighters responded shortly after 11 a.m. on Friday, March 11, 2005 to a report of smoke coming from the Greg Dinsmore residence at 2761 Staley Road which was discovered by passing motorists, who then alerted 911 emergency dispatchers by cell phone.
   The structure was fully involved when GIFC units arrived on location two minutes later, according to Chief Greg Butcher, who assumed Incident Command. Search and rescue efforts disclosed that family members were not at home, and the fire had gotten a "tremendous" head start, as a result. Thirty one GIFC firefighters and four engines handled initial fire suppression, according to Deputy Chief Kevin Koch, who directed fire ground operations. Mutual Aid contingents from Sheridan Park VFD assisted at the scene, while Kenmore VFD provided FAST Team support, and the City of Tonawanda Fire Department provided EMS coverage at GIFC Fire Headquarters. Besides adverse weather conditions, firefighters encountered other problems such as live power lines down at the scene and a partial building collapse which occurred at 12:12 p.m. and required the withdrawal of interior attack crews. Shortly thereafter, the building was declared unstable and hazardous, and demolition was ordered by Chief Butcher after consultation with Town officials.
   Total damage to the structure and contents amounted to $125,000, according to Chief Butcher. Although the fire apparently started on the first floor, at the rear of the home, Erie County Sheriff's Investigator Vincent Pupa has not yet pinpointed the exact cause. Even though no civilians or firefighters were injured, several family pets were reported lost during the blaze.
   Incident Command was terminated at 3:14 p.m. and all firefighting units were released from the scene.

Island MVAs On The Rise - 2005

By Ray Pauley

   Fire Chief Greg Butcher reports that Grand Island Fire Company Rescue Personnel responded to five MVAs during the period February 9 through February 12, 2005.
   Slippery road conditions reportedly contributed to three emergency incidents on February 9, 2005. At 12:16 p.m. a report of a bicyclist struck by a car on the I-190, at the North Grand Island Bridge, was turned over to the New York State Police when no treatment was required. At 12:49 p.m., another reported MVA in the southbound lane of the I-190 was determined to be a PDO (property damage only), with no personal injuries. Shortly thereafter, at 12:55 p.m. a vehicle driven by Robert Austin, 44, of Grand Island, slid off the roadway into a parked car in the 2300 block of Staley Road. He was treated at the scene for hand lacerations and non critical upper body injuries and hospitalized for additional medical follow-up.
   One day later, at 5:56 p.m. on February 10, a vehicle veered off the roadway into a ditch at Baseline and East River Road. The driver, Thomas Gilmore, 81, of Grand Island was given ALS treatment by GIFC paramedics for cardiac arrest and transported to Mt. Saint Mary's Hospital for further medical attention.
   Finally, at 9:43 a.m. on February 12, an MVA at the I-190 and Beaver Island Parkway was determined to be a PDO and all GIFC units were returned in service.

Fire Company Welcomes New Members - 2005

Training instructor Wenner stands (right) with 'rookie' class at GIFC Headquarters, where a busy schedule has commenced in preparation for future duties.
By Ray Pauley

   Grand Island Fire Company Chief Greg Butcher reports that twelve new members were voted into the ranks of the Grand Island Fire Company at the general meeting of February 2, 2005. He noted that this is one of the largest single groups ever to be accepted, and should meet expanding manpower needs for years to come.
   Aaron Berry, Dave Castiglia, Tom Dewey, Ken Groszkowski, Laurie Lute, Anthony Mastantuono, Rick Mazzola, Dale Mock, Jessie Petit, Eric Secord, Pete Sukmanowski and Angela Voss commenced their GIFC orientation on February 5, 2005. Barry and Lute have a total of twenty-one years prior service as volunteer firefighters, Castiglia has previous experience as a USAF Medical Service Specialist, and Secord is an EMT with Rural Metro Ambulance Service. Several others are employed in the private business sector and/or pursue college studies. This exceptional group of individuals will be guided through months of intensive training by GIFC Capt. John Wenner.

Unidentified Odor Results In Evacuation of Child Care Center - 2005

Children and their caretakers assembled in a safety zone outside of Childtime Learning Center as firefighters check interior.
Story and Photos by Ray Pauley - Click photos for larger view

   Grand Island Fire Company Rescue Personnel responded shortly after 3 p.m. Monday, January 31, 2005 to the Childtime Learning Center, 2880 Grand Island Blvd. to investigate a report of a hazardous condition.
   Upon arrival, GIFC Assistant Chief Matt Osinski was advised by assistant manager Renee Johnson that thirty children, aged 18 months to 9 years, were escorted out of the building moments earlier, when a suspicious, acrid odor was detected in a first floor room. Fire fighters ruled out dangerous substances such as carbon monoxide and natural gas when they checked the entire building with an MSA gas analyzer. Further inspection disclosed no apparent electrical for potential fire hazards, and the building was considered safe for occupancy at approximately 3:37 p.m. when all GIFC units were returned in service.

Swanick Provides Funding For Fire Company Hand-held Radios - 2005

   Erie County Legislator Chuck Swanick and Grand Island Fire Chief Greg Butcher unveiled the addition of portable hand-held radios on Thursday, January 27, 2005 at Grand Island Fire Headquarters.
   Swanick provided $2,700 in county funding to enhance firefighters' ability to mobilize and respond to an emergency.
   "Portable radio communications represent a true life-line in the aspect of safety; from interior firefighting, to marine rescues, to standard EMS calls," said Chief Butcher. "With firefighter safety being our highest priority, communication with the dispatch center or the officer in charge is of utmost importance when seconds count."
   Legislator Swanick said, "With first responders being pushed to the forefront in homeland security, these portable hand-held radios will certainly benefit the Town of Grand Island Fire Company."

Exposure Incident Affects Holiday Inn Guests - 2005

By Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer

   Grand Island Fire Company Rescue Personnel at 9:40 p.m. Friday, January 28, 2005 to a reported "allergic reaction," affecting several youngsters in the pool area of the Holiday Inn, at 100 Whitehaven Road.
   When GIFC Paramedics arrived on location, they found at least seven youths between the ages of seven and ten years old, exhibiting symptoms of "contact exposure," which involved skin rashes, nausea and vomiting. During the next few hours, 48 persons who had used the pool, were evaluated by Medics and two S.M.A.R.T. team physicians (Specialized Medical Alert Response Team) from the Erie County Medical Center.
   Meanwhile, the Grand Island school district provided a school bus for emergency transportation, in the event that hospitalization was required, according to GIFC Assistant Chief Matt Osinski, who acted as Incident Commander, while coordinating available resources. The Erie County Sheriff's Department and four Rural Metro ambulances were also at the scene to assist throughout the entire operation. In addition, a Brighton VFD Haz Mat team was placed on standby.
   During this incident, a report of "smoke" on the fourth floor turned out to be burnt food, which did not pose a fire hazard to the surrounding structure.
   GIFC Assistant Chief Chris Soluri, who directed paramedic response, indicated that treatment consisted of flushing out the affected areas with normal saline solution. The cause of bodily symptoms was given as "an undetermined substance," according to Assistant Chief Osinski. All those involved were released by Medical Control at the scene.
   All units returned in service at 12:25 a.m. on Saturday, January 29, 2005.

Mysterious Illness Strikes Upwards of 40 Holiday Inn Guests - 2005

By Teddy Linenfelser

   Grand Island Fire Company Rescue Personnel responded Friday evening, January 28, 2005 to a call for a medical emergency involving four 10-year-olds who were ill at the Holiday Inn Grand Island Resort and Conference Center, 100 Whitehaven Road. All had been in the hotel swimming pool area. Also dispatched to the scene were four ambulances and hazardous materials personnel when more Holiday Inn guests complained of nausea and rash. The call for the medical emergency, shortly after 9:30 p.m., eventually revealed upwards of 44 people, mostly children between the ages of 8 and 12 years old. The majority of the children were staying in the hotel while in the area for a hockey tournament. Erie County Medical Center's SMART team (Specialized Medical Assistance Response Team) responded as well a Grand Island school district bus. According to Supervisor Peter A. McMahon, the pool records were checked and the chemical levels were within limits. The incident was caused by “an unknown substance.” Further information may be added to this story as it becomes available.

'Lost' Hydrants Hamper Firefighting Operations - 2005

This hydrant cannot be seen from Baseline Road, since it is obscured by several feet of snow, plowed out of a nearby business.

By Ray Pauley
   Grand Island Fire Chief Greg Butcher urges residents and business owners to clear snow from nearby hydrants that appear to be 'missing,' due to heavy accumulations.
   There is nothing worse than firefighters arriving at the scene of a winter fire emergency, unable to locate a ready water supply, due to buried hydrants, he noted. Although fire suppression crews have a limited amount of water on board their apparatus, 500 to 1000 gallons may not be sufficient in a major incident. In addition, critical search and rescue operations cannot be interrupted to look for hydrants, since saving lives is our first priority, he stressed. Valuable seconds can be lost and risk factors increased if fire personnel must take extra time to locate and then dig out hydrants that should be readily accessible.
   Chief Butcher is hopeful that everyone will follow the example of local Boy Scouts and others who have dedicated themselves to valuable community service projects, such as clearing out hydrants in their neighborhoods. Giving firefighters a helping hand could help to save lives and property in a real emergency, he concluded.

Fire Chief Cautions Homeowners About Indoor And Outdoor Dangers - 2004

By Public Information Officer Ray Pauley

   Grand Island Fire Chief Greg Butcher reports that firefighters have recently encountered household emergencies that go hand in hand with cold weather conditions. He notes that many Islandaers use woodburning stoves and fireplaces to offset rising heating costs, but this can also create unexpected hazards.
   This was quite evident when, on January 16, 2005, Tom Schultz, a Stony Point Road resident, called 911 to report that hot embers from his fireplace had fallen through cracks in the nearby flooring and were "smoldering." When firefighters arrived on location, it was determined that a 2' by 2' section of flooring had to be removed by crews so that the hidden fire could be properly extinguished. Fortunately, the fire had not burned completely through underlying joists, and damage was limited to about $5000, according to Assistant Chief Chris Soluri, who reported no injuries at the scene.
   Outdoor repair and maintenance activities by homeowners during adverse weather conditions are also cause for concern, according to Chief Butcher. Such an emergency arose on January 18th, when 35-year-old Todd Marlin of Baseline Road, fell about 10' to the frozen ground when a ladder slid out from under him, as he was attempting to adjust a rooftop satellite dish. He was treated by GIFC paramedics for head, neck, back, and possible internal injuries, and transported to Erie County Medical Center for further medical attention.
   Chief Butcher urges all homeowners to use "every safety precaution possible" when performing indoor or outdoor tasks, in order to avoid devastating property damage or personal injury.

Fire Company Installations 2005 Officers - 2005
Newly elected Grand Island Fire Company administrative officers for 2005, shown left are (front left) Board Member Kevin Rustowicz, President Reed Wright, Vice President Tammy Gorman, Treasurer Peter Coppola; (back) Line Secretary David W. Cole, Financial Secretary Bill Wilson, Board Member Stephen Stouter.
   Newly elected Grand Island Fire Company Firematic officers, shown right are (front left) 1st Assistant Chief Matt Osinski, Fire Chief Greg Butcher, Deputy Chief Kevin Koch, 2nd Assistant Chief Christopher Soluri; (back) Captains John Wenner, Jeff Loder and Scott Duscher, EMS Captain Sean Manning, and Fire Police Captain Donald Portik.
Dan McMahon Photos - Click photos for larger view
Story By Ray Pauley, Public Information Officer

   Over 120 firefighters, spouses, town officials, and special guests attended the 2005 installation of officers at Grand Island fire Headquarters on Saturday, January 8, 2005.
   Firematic and administrative offices were installed by Grand Island Schools Superintendent Dr. Thomas Ramming, who has a special appreciation of those in the volunteer fire service. Supt. Ramming's father actively served in the Gasport Chemical Hose Company from 1948 through 1998, a fifty-year span.
   Chief Greg Butcher, Deputy Chief Kevin Koch, 1st Assistant Chief Matt Osinski, 2nd Assistant Chief Chris Soluri, Captains Jeff Loder, John Wenner and Scott Duscher, EMS Capt. P. Sean Manning, and Fire Police Capt. Don Portik were installed as 2005 firematic officers.
   President B. Reed Wright, Vice President Tammy Gorman, Treasurer Peter Coppola, Financial Secretary Bill Wilson, Board of Directors Kevin Rustowicz and Stephen Stouter, Board of Review Brett Lynch, Line Secretary Dave Cole, Sgt.-at-Arms Dave Khreis, and Benevolent Association Lou D'Orazio were installed as administrative officers.
   Outstanding achievements by various firefighters were also a highlight of the program. A combined Chief's and President's award was presented to Greg Butcher, Kevin Koch, Paul Gorman, Mike Dallessandro, Dave Tolejko and Peter McMahon for their efforts in bringing the 2004 FEMA grant application to fruition. This $188,000 grant, one of the largest in New York State, will enable the GIFC to arrange for the "total replacement of an aging Scott Pak breathing system." This could not have been possible under annual Town budgetary allotments which are primarily utilized for normal operational costs. Mark Sadkowski was named "rookie of the year" for his outstanding achievements during his first ten months of active service. Dick Byron received a commendation for steadfast contributions to the entire EMS program.
   Special recognition was also given to the top ten responders during 2004. Ray Pauley led this group with 616 emergency responses out of a total of 1139 for the year. Other top responders were Greg Butcher, Kevin Koch, Chuck Berlinger, Chris Soluri, Lou D'Orazio, Joe Torresgrossa, Paul Gorman, Mark Sadkowski and Adrian Pilliod.

If you are a member of this organization, we need your help. GIECOM.Net has partnered with the Connections program to help Grand Island as a community "Get it Together." Please visit our website G-I-Together.ORG and fill out our SURVEY. Every group on Grand Island will have its own FREE web page showing: meeting times and location, contact persons, your Mission Statement and a listing of events. We will also be linking your news events that appear in the local media and on IsledeGrande.Com, Grand Island's E-News Source, to your page, maintaining an archived journal of pictures and news. This is the perfect opportunity for your group to connect with potential new members and the community.

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