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Owego Firefighters Prepared to Quit En-Mass on Tuesday

Traci Taylor

Since the death of Owego Firefighter Matt Porcari, the active firefighters of the Village of Owego Fire Department have been working to have safer standards, including more comprehensive training and firefighting tactics.

According to Owego Assistant Fire Chief Mark Warfle, despite the department’s push for new safety plans, “the village board has had a lack of desire to accept the plans encompassed in the Standard Operating Procedure developed by the fire department and the firefighters are fed up.”

In a press release, Assistant Chief Warfle stated, “The village board has become entangled in the politics of outdated and unsafe firefighting techniques, which are supported by a group of non-responding, untrained individuals and social members who possess political savvy but not concern for the firefighters who actually answer calls.” In other words, the fire department has had it “up to here” with being ignored and are ready to walk away rather than continue to put themselves in harms way.

Chief Warfle also told WBNG that Owego Mayor Kevin Millar is the only person interested in implementing the new safety plans and also noted that “the active firefighters are fighting for safety and not willing to have another incident like Captain Porcari’s.”

The board is planning to review and revisit the updated manual on Tuesday, but if they turn it down, the Owego Fire Department will lose several members as many have vowed to quit.

Several of my closest friends are firefighters and I can tell you that their first instinct is not to run when things get tough, but to roll up their sleeves, bite the bullet and protect and serve their communities. For the Owego firefighters to have come to the point that they’re ready to walk away from their life’s calling; from what is one of the most important things in life to them, says a lot and is, I’m sure a decision that wasn’t easy to make. I don’t know both sides of the story, but something doesn’t seem right that a good number of firefighters are ready to just walk away.

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