NY volunteer firefighters voice training concerns, chief resigns

Rensselaer Volunteer Fire Department Chief Bill Hummel resigned after previously telling firefighters they would not be able to fully perform interior firefighting duties

By FireRescue1 Staff

RENSSELAER, N.Y. — Concerns over a lack of proper training and equipment sparked a group of volunteer firefighters to express their frustration at a recent council meeting.

According to Rensselaer Volunteer Fire Department firefighters such as a 30-year veteran Gene Hilstro, the city has made it harder to be a volunteer firefighter by not providing the necessary tools, Spectrum Local News reported.

Another volunteer firefighter, Michael Stummel, said lack of communication is also an issue.

"There's no communication between the department and the volunteers," Stummel said. "It's hit or miss. You either have to be there when something comes up or else you know nothing about."

RVFD Chief Bill Hummel, who recently told his firefighters they would not be able to fully perform interior firefighting duties due to a recent investigation that found their training was not up to par, informed firefighters before the meeting that he was resigning from his position.

Rensselaer Common Council president Rich Mooney said city officials “respect the volunteers” and plan to work with them to fix the training and communication issues with monthly meetings.

"It's unfortunate that this happened, this came to light,” he said. "Unfortunately we can't change what did happen in the past or not happen. But going forward we are going [to] have a policy in place, a plan in place, so the volunteers do get their training."

Mooney added that volunteer and paid firefighters are going to have to work together, as they are both vital to the city.

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