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40 Firefighters Resign in Owego

More than 40 firefighters have resigned in Owego, but that isn't stopping the fire department from responding to calls as usual.
More than 40 firefighters have resigned in Owego, but that isn't stopping the fire department from responding to calls as usual.

While the resignations were approved last week, four new chiefs were hired, all who have previous experience with the department.

The resignations stem from frustrations by some firefighters after the Village Board didn't approve new standard operating guidelines for the department.

New York State recently reworked its public employee safety and health bureau operations manual, better known as PESH.

During a 14 month review process of the department, PESH cited that many of the chiefs were not trained at the appropriate level, which is above the standard of every other serving member.

"The former chiefs that had just left office and the four that were part of the resignation, out of them only one of them got officer training. So they themselves were not trained up to the level that the 2012 said they had to be and that PESH cited us against," said trustee Earl Hartman.

Last month, the Village Board approved the part of the safety manual that was under question, but that did not satisfy those who resigned.

Trustee Anne Lockwood says the loss of 40 members is not hurting emergency response in Owego.

"He said they had seventeen show up last night for one call. Seventeen firemen, that's unheard of. We never have that many. We feel that we're covered, that nobody really has anything to worry about," said trustee Anne Lockwood.

The village board hopes to finish and approve the new manual by next Monday.

Village trustees say there has already been interest expressed among new members looking to join the Owego Fire Department.
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