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Owego Fire Department Hit Hard by Resignations Over Safety Concerns

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Owego Fire Department Hit Hard by Resignations Over Safety Concerns
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OWEGO, N.Y. -- A major shakeup took place Monday night within the Village of Owego Fire Department. The village Board of Trustees not only elected four new chiefs, they also approved the resignations of dozens of firefighters.

Many threatened to leave the department after the village board delayed approving a new operations manual.

After the death of Owego firefighter Matthew Pocari in 2013, the State's Public Employee Safety and Health Bureau cited the department for several violations pertaining to safety and training.

Last month, the village board approved a portion of the manual that addressed the citations. Still, firefighters walked away.

Current members of the department will be taking the additional training in the coming weeks.

Village leaders said the department was hit hard, but they are looking to the future.

"I am very disappointed, as I said before, it doesn't make any of us happy to lose even one, let alone 19 firefighters or 40 members. But they chose to do it," said trustee Earl Hartman.

"My department is going to be safe and moving forward we have the people to hold the appropriate classes to maintain a safe atmosphere," said the new fire chief, Daniel Gavin.

The village board hopes to approve the rest of the operations manual on June 16.

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