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Findings by recent audit discussed by fire board

August 22, 2012
By DAVE O’CONNOR - CORRESPONDENT (comments to , Westfield Republican / Mayville Sentinel News

WESTFIELD - There will be no Westfield Firemen's Exempt Association meetings held at the Village of Westfield fire hall for the foreseeable future, according to Board of Fire Commissioner's Chairman Barry Underwood.

"It's a dead issue and that's that," Underwood proclaimed at the fire commission's Tuesday, Aug. 7 meeting.

Underwood cited the recent New York State Comptroller's audit of the local fire department as reason enough to completely separate fire department and Exempt business, including business meetings.

Article Photos

Photo by Dave O’Connor
Standing water pools on a roughly 50 by 50 foot portion of the driveway in front of the Village of Westfield Volunteer Fire Hall on Clinton Street, which the village, fire department and fire commission believe is the result of a two and a half inch settling of the concrete surface. Repair is estimated to cost $10,934.

"Keeping the two entities apart must be the highest priority," he said.

The comptroller's audit was critical of the very close ties between the department and the Exempt fraternal group. Keeping the two completely separate was part of the changes recommended by the auditors. The department has agreed to make all the recommended changes, many as soon as this month.

"To summarize, the department has agreed to take corrective action and has agreed to move forward," Underwood said.

Last March, the fire commission banned joint fire department and Exempt meetings at the fire hall, but department members twice voted to restore the sessions arguing that the membership of the department was about 80 percent duplicated in the Exempts.

The audit also recommended fundraising activities be kept separate, and any fundraising material make clear which organization would benefit.

Underwood praised the work of fire department treasurer Jud Storms during the recently held Ox Roast, saying Storms did a "fine job." It was revealed the bell jar and chuck wheel games grossed $1,850.21 during the roast.

Storms was not present, but Underwood said the fire commission will expect a monthly treasurer's report starting with the September session.

Underwood also announced Jim Pacanowski will no longer be in charge of the fire department's website. In the past, Underwood has complained about what he regards as a lackluster web presence by the department.

"I ain't gonna let this go another month," he said.

Pacanowski was not at the meeting.

Commissioners okayed a so-called "permissive referendum" as the legal prelude to replacing a 50 by 50 foot area of concrete in the fire house driveway. Such a referendum consists of a legal ad stating what is to be done and the estimated cost. If there are not a "significant" amount of complaints during a 30-day period, the referendum item is deemed approved.

Currently the cost of replacing the concrete is estimated at $10,934. The concrete, less than two years old, has reportedly settled improperly and is two and a half inches lower than it should be, resulting in standing water and ice accumulation, according to firemen attending the meeting.

To keep costs, down the fire department will rent necessary equipment and the village will provide labor. Some present at the meeting expressed the opinion the original contractor should help out since the work was done less than two years ago.

Department members expressed thanks for the donation of 96 cases of 16-ounce water bottles by an anonymous donor. The Cascade Hose Company announced it recently received a $286 donation from the Cummin's Engine Employees' Combined Charity Fund.



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