Exclusive: Babylon Town cancels contract with North Amityville Fire Department
The North Amityville Fire Department will not be responding to calls for the foreseeable future after the Town of Babylon canceled its contract with the fire department.
The town cited concerns about staff shortages and delays in response times that could impact residents' safety.
Babylon Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer says the problems at the fire department began several years ago when allegations of financial mismanagement, sexual harassment and violence were leveled against the fire company's board members and other members.
The town brought in a human resources consultant to look into the allegations and issues. Officials say that for example, a call for a woman with difficulty breathing took more than an hour on Jan. 5.
A clear pattern of prior and ongoing retaliation against members were among the findings of the consultant.
"There was a range of conflicts and performance difficulties that impeded the fire company's ability to recruit new members. It impacted the performance and the mindset of the existing members and it also caused some existing members to leave," says John Coverdale, a consultant for the Center for Workplace Solutions.
Schaffer says only six members are left to respond to emergency calls.
All 911 calls to the department will now be redirected to neighboring fire departments. They include North Lindenhurst, Copiague, East Farmingdale and Amityville.
Schaffer says the only way North Amityville will answer emergency calls in the future is if the fire company allows a receiver to come in to clean house.
Shaffer says the board members may also face criminal charges stemming from the allegations of financial improprieties. He says the findings of a joint investigation by the Suffolk D.A. and state comptroller are expected to be released soon.
Board member Aquinas Nelson tells News 12, "The supervisor did the right thing for now. Hopefully, we can re-group to get the department back to the way it was."