The village board voted 5-1 to eliminate the paid fire department Monday night in a tax-saving move. Village trustee Luis Marino, a volunteer firefighter, abstained, and trustee Greg Adams was the lone dissenting vote.
About $600,000 was originally earmarked for the eight positions in the preliminary 2016-17 budget.All eight career firefighters are now on administrative leave, but it’s unclear whether the leave is paid or unpaid, said Richard Corenthal, attorney for the career firefighters.
“The village is gambling with residents’ lives because there is no longer 24/7 fire protection,” Corenthal said. “The residents and the businesses are now at risk.”
Corenthal said they’re looking at legal options.
Sam Virella, the wife of career firefighter Heriberto Virella, was in tears Tuesday morning. She said her husband is the sole provider for their family that includes two children, 5 and 9 years old.
“They don’t realize how this impacts the families,” Sam Virella said. “I can’t even fathom the thought of telling this to my son. He looks up to my husband so much.”
Sam Virella said her husband is out looking for a job Tuesday morning. She said he was a Port Chester volunteer firefighter for 15 years while he worked for an airport and tow truck company.
The career firefighters will hold a rally outside of village hall at 1 p.m. today to protest the village’s decision to cut the paid firefighter positions. She said he passed the firefighter’s test three times and finally became a firefighter last year. His probation period ended in April.