According to yesterday's Press & Sun Bulletin, Mayor Bertoni has now decided that his decision to eliminate EMS in Endicott may require further study. He has been informed that Union Volunteer Emergency Squad does not have sufficient resources to handle increase in volume of calls that this ill conceived plan would require. Apparently careful study is not generally required before making life and death decisions. King John the Dimwitted apparently can just "wing-it" and the consequences be damned. Fire Starter has reliably learned that this is the first step toward an attempt to reduce the entire department to 16 members. This would translate to no more than 4 firefighters per shift (and even fewer with illness, injury or vacations).
However, a close examination of this latest debacle reveals that Bertoni did not take this action alone. His over paid and under worked Joint Fire Administrator Hrustich explained that this action would have no effect on public safety. That is until a few facts were brought forward including UVES' lack of capacity. Despite the "careful consideration" of Hrustich and Bertoni, this simple fact eluded them. Now that questions have been raised, Bertoni is backing off...at least for now. But a bigger question remains. Why didn't Hrustich know this was an issue?
As we have previously pointed out, Hrustich has been under a no confidence vote in both Johnson City and Endicott for nearly 18 months. In both resolutions, the fire fighters expressed grave concern for Hrustich's cavalier attitude toward the safety of fire fighters and citizens. They both criticized his willingness to throw safety to the wind in order to promote himself and his bloated and undeserved $120,000 salary. Both fire departments also criticized Hrustich for his lack of professionalism.
It is with regard to this last charge that fire starter has received some significant information. We have previously reported that Hrustich has made it a habit of trying to direct a fire scene remotely. We have been reliably informed that this goes against all tenets of fire fighting. If you can not actually observe the scene, how can you make life and death decisions effecting fire fighters and citizens? Simply put...you can not.
Another basic principle of fire service is that although you must arrive quickly to emergency scenes, you must do so safely. In January of this year, Johnson City was asked to provide mutual aid to Vestal for a structure fire. Volunteer companies such as Endwell were called upon as well. JFA Hrustich responded from his Tioga County home. With lights and sirens and at a high rate of speed, Hrustich proceeded to pass an Endwell fire truck on the shoulder and nearly forced the rig into the other lane. This is remarkable in that this was not even a fire he was responsible for. When Hrustich arrives on the scene, he would not be in command. This lack of professionalism led to reports being filed with the Endwell Volunteer Fire Company and an investigation is ongoing.
More recently, Binghamton received a call of a man having jumped off a bridge into the river. Various agencies were responded to the river to attempt to retrieve the body. In this instance, Johnson City responded to the river bank. But never missing an opportunity to try and place himself front and center, Hrustich again responded from his Tioga County home. From several reports, he was driving recklessly and at a high rate of speed and nearly T-boned another emergency vehicle from Endwell. All this to arrive at the river bank and watch the water go by. Incidentally, Endicott also responded but due to Hrustich's mismanagement, Endicott's rescue boat has been out of service for over a year and a half. So apparently any glory was going to be found in Johnson City.
Perhaps most shocking in this latter incident is the fact that Hrustich had his two young children in the official village vehicle. While he sped through the streets and placed the public at risk, his two minor children were in the back seat. Apparently, even the safety of his own children is trumped by this pathetic man's ambitions.
In both instances Hrustich acted unprofessional and recklessly. This has been the hallmark of his "leadership". He places others at risk for his own personal glory. And this is the man that Hannon and Bertoni regularly cite to support their reckless and dangerous schemes.
Bertoni plans to slash the department and significantly compromise public safety. For now, the public is watching and Bertoni has backed off. But if it will mean more money for the chief, count on it coming back.
UPDATE: Many were puzzled by Bertoni's statement that "I am not non-amenable to working it out". The Press & Sun Bulletin published the following correction:
The Press & Sun Bulletin inadvertently misquoted Mayor Bertoni in the early edition on May 9, 2011. The correct quote is "I am not non-amenable to displaying my ignorance". The Press apologizes for any confusion.