N.Y. fire district got 9 fines totaling nearly $179,000 after it stopped operating

Vly-Atwood Commissioner John Cirone said state officials don't seem to realize that notices were issued to a district that had already ceased responding to calls due to staffing issues


William J. Kemble
Daily Freeman, Kingston, N.Y.

MARBLETOWN, N.Y. — Vly-Atwood Fire District officials received nine state Department of Labor fines approaching $178,977 after the district stopped operations.

Commissioner John Cirone made the observation during a phone interview Tuesday, saying that state officials don't seem to realize that nine violation notices issued over a three-month period beginning April 2021 were given to a district that had already discontinued responding to calls.

"We not in a position to correct any of the problems," he said.

"We even rewrote the bylaws to exclude any firematic people from the company," Cirone said. "A letter was put out to everybody that they would no longer respond."

Vly-Atwood officials, who plan to dissolve the district on June 30, discontinued responding to calls in June 2021 after months of being unable to respond to many emergency calls because the district didn't have enough members.

State Department of Labor inspections that had begun on Oct. 1, 2020, resulted in the first violation notice being issued on April 13, 2021, at $35 per day for not having a "written certification verifying that a hazard assessment" had been conducted.

The second violation, with a $70 per day fine, began accumulating penalties on May 4, 2021, for failing to develop a risk assessment to determine "what circumstances" would require the use of escape ropes.

On June 9, 2021, the next three violations were set at $7 per day for failing to provide "effective information and training on hazardous chemicals" for the use of hose and line cleaners; $56 per day for failing to have a written respiratory protection program; and $70 per day for not having a control plan for dealing with exposure to bloodborne pathogens.

In July 2021, violations were issued at $56 per day for failing to inspect self-contained breathing apparatus; $70 per day for failing to conduct training for exposure to blood borne pathogens; $70 per day for training on workplace violence; and $70 per day for not having enough training session to assure firefighters were adequately prepared.

Cirone said that attempts to correctly go through the system to address the notices, including from the district's lawyers, were sent to the state without success.

"We sent many letters trying to cover ourselves ... but it didn't matter what was sent to them. They completely ignored it," he said.

Supervisor Richard Parete said the town has attempted to intervene but was "told that we don't have standing to do anything" even though the municipality will be responsible for finding coverage when the district dissolves.

State Department of Labor officials were not immediately available Tuesday for comment.

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(c)2022 Daily Freeman, Kingston, N.Y.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service
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