New York state briefs

Staff reports

State opens health plans to volunteers

ALBANY —  Health insurance plans offered to municipal employees are now available to volunteer firefighters and ambulance companies.

The new legislation, recently signed into law by the Gov. David Paterson, is viewed as a way to bolster recruitment and retention of valuable volunteers.

In recent years, volunteer companies have reported problems in recruiting new volunteers and retaining those already on the job.

“It’s a potentially powerful recruitment and retention pool,” said state Sen. George Winner, R-Elmira, who co-sponsored the legislation. “It could make a real difference.”

The Fireman’s Association of the State of New York estimates it would cost taxpayers more than $5 billion annually to replace volunteers with paid firefighters and EMTs.

According to FASNY, the number of volunteer firefighters has declined from 140,000 in the early 1990s to fewer than 90,000 today. The number of volunteer EMTs declined from 50,000 to 35,000 during the same time period.

10 homeless after house fire in Canandaigua

CANANDAIGUA — A house fire that police believe was started by a 6-year-old playing with a lighter sent five people — including one firefighter — to area hospitals on Sunday.

Officers and Canandaigua firefighters were sent to the home at 29 Green St. at about 11:30 a.m. and found that three adults and three children who were home at the time had made a safe escape.

One of the adults — January Andrews — and the children, however, were taken by ambulance to Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester. Andrews and two of the children were treated for possible smoke inhalation, while the third child suffered what appeared to be minor burns, said Sgt. Dean Spychalski. Officials at Strong Memorial Hospital this morning said January Andrews was treated and released.

City firefighters arrived at the scene within one minute of the 911 call, Canandaigua Fire Chief Matt Snyder said. They found “very, very heavy smoke and some fire,” he said. “Within a couple minutes of their arrivals, the fire basically flashed over and we had fire out several windows and out the front door.”

A city firefighter suffered burns on his neck and face and was taken to Thompson Hospital, where he was treated and released. Another firefighter was treated at the scene for a cut on his hand, Snyder said. Both have returned to duty.

The home was gutted and boarded up.

The American Red Cross and Salvation Army were sent to the scene to help the residents. All 10 were put up in temporary housing at a Canandaigua motel, Snyder said.

Crime prevention Web site focuses on campus safety

BRIGHTON — There’s a new way to combat crime on college campuses. With the help of Lee Struble, director of public safety at Monroe Community College, universities can get the latest tips on crime prevention online.

Struble created a Web site through the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (IACLEA).

Struble has been a member of that association for more than 20 years. The Web site is his latest project as chair of the association’s crime prevention committee. The site helps consolidate crime-prevention information and allows colleges and universities to pull information to add to their own home pages.

Theft is the most common and challenging problem on campuses, Struble said, but it’s often preventable.

“Students have to lock their doors, and keep their possessions safe. You have a lot of students at college that just haven't learned to do that at home,” said Struble. “There are a lot of people in a small space. Somebody could wander into a room, and wander out with someone else’s things.”

Other crimes include harassment, cyber crimes like credit card and identity theft, and rape. Struble said the Web site will be constantly updated as different types of crime occur to keep students and campus security on top of trends. He encourages students and parents to check frequently for updates.

Struble worked in the public safety departments of Rochester Institute of Technology and Nazareth College before going to MCC. He said area schools are proactive about crime prevention and have the latest technology available.

As stated on its Web site, the IACLEA is an international association that advances campus public safety by providing educational resources, advocacy and professional development services. It has over 2,000 individual members and 1,100 colleges and universities around the world, including Africa, Australia and England. Struble says the next step will be to offer an online crime-prevention course.

For more information about the Campus Crime Prevention Center, visit

Boy rescued from East Canada Creek

DOLGEVILLE — Members of the Dolgeville Volunteer Fire Department Sunday rescued an 11-year-old boy who was stranded in the middle of East Canada Creek. Firefighters received the call at about 5:02 p.m. and found the boy in swift water off Van Buren Street.

According to Dolgeville Fire Chief Roger Cromer, fireman Matt Mahardy donned a life jacket and after attaching a life line to himself, jumped into the water and swam through swift currents to reach the boy and stabilize him until other firemen could launch their rescue boat.

After a combined effort firemen were able to retrieve Mahardy and the boy from the creek unharmed, said Cromer.

“Reportedly, the boy was playing along the edge of the creek and slipped on slippery rocks and was swept out into the middle of the creek where, luckily he managed to regain his footing and hang on until firemen arrived,” said Cromer.

The department responded with their 4x4 rescue truck, boat and equipment van with rescue ropes and gear.

Thirteen Dolgeville firefighters and one Salisbury firefighter responded to the call.

“It was good thing Matt Mahardy was as physically fit as he is or he probably would not have made it through that current to reach the boy,” said Cromer, adding that no injuries were reported and that all ended well.