Thursday, October 13, 2011

Hrustich Places Dollars Over Safety

"To constitute depraved indifference, the defendant's conduct must be 'so wanton, so deficient in a moral sense of concern, so lacking in regard for the life or lives of others, and so blameworthy as to warrant the same criminal liability as that which the law imposes upon a person who intentionally causes a crime." -

The Fire Starter has consistently pointed out the indifference of local leaders toward public safety and the safety of their employees. The ranks of fire fighters and police officers have shrunk well below any safe level. Promises of "shared services" have consistently fallen short.  When it comes to shared chiefs, village residents have paid more and gotten far less.  When it has come to "mutual aid" as a cure all, residents have seen slower gross response times and slower effective response times.  All the while, village employees continue to place their lives on the line in ever more dangerous situations.

Joint Fire Administrator Hrustich has repeatedly shown a blatant disregard for the safety of the men who work for him.  He has consistently placed them at unnecessary risk to save a few dollars.  This has taken the form of either under manning or the refusal to provide proper or properly functioning equipment.  Anything to save a few dollars.  And if someone is injured or killed, it's chalked up to "risk management".

Never has this been more apparent than in a recent "river rescue".  Many may recall the young man who recently fell or jumped off the Court Street several weeks ago.  Johnson City was asked to launch its boat downstream to attempt to recover the body. While waters were still elevated and the current still swift, the Johnson City Fire Department launched its rescue boat with the Vestal Volunteer boat as a back-up.

Shortly after launching the rescue boat, the engine sputtered and stalled in the middle of the Susquehanna River.  The fire fighters on board tried repeatedly to get the engine restarted but to no avail.  Brave Johnson City fire fighters were left stranded in the swift current in a boat without power.  The back-up boat from Vestal was launched and the rescue boat was towed back to shore.

It is certainly understandable that machine failures occur.  This is a part of everyday life.  What is not easily understood is the reason behind this failure.

Fire Starter has learned that the engine failed due to the fact that it was being operated with incorrect fuel. Apparently the fire rescue boat requires a high octane airplane type fuel.  Only that fuel is several dollars per gallon more expensive than the run-of-the-mill gasoline purchased at local stations.  So to save a few dollars a gallon, Hrustich ordered ordinary gasoline to be used in the rescue boat.  And the results were predictable.

It is simply appalling that a "leader of men" would place those men in such unnecessary danger.  Fire fighting is dangerous enough without incompetent leaders placing a few dollars over the safety of the public and Village employees.  In votes of no confidence passed by both Endicott and Johnson City firefighters, Hrustich's utter disregard for safety was repeatedly cited.  We have since seen numerous instances where Hrustich's recklessness has placed fire fighters and citizens at grave risk.  There is already one less Endicott resident due to Hrustich's incompetence.  How many bodies must pile up before the elected officials take notice?

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