Thursday, August 11, 2005

Where's The Fire?

Fire Hydrants On The Fritz In Town of Hempstead

Apparently, the Town of Hempstead is not only lax in the areas of Code Enforcement, zoning/land use, and in generally maintaining a quality of life to which we would like to become accustomed (or at least one commensurate with the amount of property taxes we pay), they also seem to have a problem maintaining fire hydrants in working order.

According to a report in Newsday [Broken Fire Hydrants a Hot Campaign Topic], several hydrants in Oceanside were either broken or had no water pressure, hindering fire fighting efforts and placing life and limb in peril.

While a lack of water pressure - especially in the heat of summer - and a broken hydrant now and again, would not in themselves be unusual or, for that matter, newsworthy, it appears that this isn't the first time these particular hydrants have been down, with incidents having been reported to the Town of Hempstead as far back as 2003.

Now, its one thing for the Town to carve out an exception to its own zoning laws so that a store owner along Long Beach Road can hang an outrageous sign or eliminate a dozen parking spaces, but when the lives of our firefighters and building occupants are put in jeopardy, we've got a real dilemma on our hands. When local firefighters - our first line of defense in the community - are heard to complain that "the Town dropped the ball," you know that something is terribly wrong.

This all fits well, of course, into the Town of Hempstead's Band-Aid approach to issues ranging from illegal apartments to "downtown" beautification - if someone complains loud enough, we'll react - until the next time the same problem rears its ugly head.

Newsday quotes a 15-year veteran of the Oceanside Fire Department, Stephen Capobianco, who was reported to have said, "Firefighters are resilient. They work around problems. But if you know there's a problem and you don't do anything about it, you're putting them at undue risk."

And where's Town Supervisor Kate Murray as fires rage and water trickles? "Not available to comment," says Town spokesman, Mike Deery.

That about sums it up for the way the Town of Hempstead, in its reactive rather than proactive mode, handles the issues - from the life-threatening to the simply annoying - that impact upon every aspect of our quality of life. They know there are problems. They just choose to do nothing about them, all the while telling us what a wonderful job they're doing for us at Town Hall. Yes, they do nothing quite well, thank you, and we foot the bill. Let's hope that no firefighter, in O'side or elsewhere, has to pay for the Town's "good job" with his or her life!

1 comment:


    Levinson: Fire Safety Lax Under Murray

    Oceanside - Hempstead Town Supervisor candidate Harvey Levinson today blasted Kate Murray and the Town of Hempstead for failing to adequately implement basic fire safety measures.

    In the past two weeks, there have been fires at both the Town of Hempstead’s Malibu Beach Club and the Town of Hempstead’s sanitation transfer station in Oceanside.

    Last week’s sanitation fire was the second at the transfer facility in less than two years. On September 8th, 2003, fire broke out but the Town’s hydrants were not able to adequately provide water to extinguish the fire. Despite having nearly two years to remedy the problem, no water pressure was available to firefighters working to put out last week’s blaze.

    “Kate Murray has failed to implement basic fire safety measures to protect residents and firefighters. After two years, it is simply unacceptable to still not have water in the Town’s fire hydrant,” said Levinson.

    Levinson was joined by community leaders Rob Solomon, Chris Bechtle, County Legislator Jeff Toback, and Steve Capobianco, a 15 year veteran of the Oceanside fire department.

    “Kate Murray has dropped the ball on this, and put people’s lives in danger as a result,” said firefighter Capobianco. “There’s no excuse for this type of gross negligence on Murray’s part.”

    As a result of the Town’s failure to supply adequate water, firefighters had to resort to using a hydrant on Long Beach Road, the area’s main thorough fare. Traffic was diverted for nearly three hours, causing delays, inconvenience and harm to local businesses. In addition, the road is the main evacuation route for area.

    “Long Beach Road is the central corridor for our area. Instead of shutting down traffic, the Town should have done its job and prevented this situation in the first place. They’ve had two years to fix the problem, but Murray has done nothing,” said Rob Solomon, candidate for County Legislature.

    Nassau County Legislator Jeff Toback agreed.

    “Local businesses here suffered as a result of Kate Murray’s failure to implement a basic safety measure. Families were unnecessarily inconvenienced. We’re just lucky that no one was hurt as a result of the Town’s inaction,” said Legislator Toback.