Thursday, August 12, 2010

Endicott Cited By State

"The truest characters of ignorance are vanity, pride and arrogance"- Samuel Butler

Fire Starter recently reported regarding the no confidence motion approved by Endicott Fire Fighters regarding their Chief, Stephen Hrustich.  In that resolution, approved in December of 2009, the members of the Endicott Fire Department raised multiple incidents of the part time chief's indifference to the health and safety of the fire fighters and the public.  Most shocking was the part time chief's refusal to have routine inspections performed on ladders as required by law.  Instead, he ordered new inspection stickers without actually having inspections performed.

Fire Starter has recently learned that Hrustich's gross abdication of responsibility has led to legal sanction from the New York State Department of Labor, Public Employee Safety & Health Bureau (PESH).  In February of 2010, the Village of Endicott was cited by PESH  for its failure to maintain and inspect fire fighting equipment on at least an annual if not monthly basis.  PESH ordered immediate compliance with the laws and regulations pertaining to fire fighter safety and the findings were ordered posted in a public place.  Of some curiosity to the Fire Starter is the fact that this rebuke has failed to see the light of day until now.

One might think that such an egregious lapse in judgement would have chastened Hrustich.  One would think that the rebuke from PESH would have made clear to the part time chief that cutting corners on safety is unacceptable.

Fire Starter has now learned that Chief Hrustich has caused the Village to again be cited for safety violations.  In June of this year, during regular maintenance of a ladder truck, Hrustich ordered fire fighters to operate forklifts to lift the tower off of the truck.  Hrustich knew full well that the fire fighters were not trained to operate this equipment.  However, again, to save a few dollars, Hrustich placed his men in harms way and ordered them to operate equipment they lacked training and experience to operate.  Thankfully, no one was injured.

In July of 2010, Village was again cited for violations of safety laws and regulations for requiring employees to operate powered industrial equipment without proper training.  This violation was deemed "Serious" in that it presented a real and actual risk of serious injury or death to Village fire fighters.

Time and again Endicott and Johnson City's part time chief has placed money and personal advancement ahead of safety.  Previously, we had to rely on the good faith reports of village fire fighters.  Now we have concrete proof from a state agency tasked with protecting the health and safety of public employees.

It is now time for Mayor Bertoni and the Endicott Village Board to sit up and take notice.  And take remedial action...before someone makes the ultimate sacrifice because of Hrustich's arrogance.

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