I-Team: NY Village Fined for Failing to Provide Safe Equipment for Firefighters

The state is taking action after an I-Team investigation revealed out-of-control construction and fire dangers in Rockland County. 

The New York Labor Department has issued multiple violations against the village of Spring Valley for failing to provide firefighters with safe equipment to do their job. 

The I-Team first reported earlier this month that the fire department has been a financial casualty of political infighting in the village for years. 

Volunteer firefighter Aaron Lerer says the violations mean "someone is paying attention."

"It's acknowledgement of the danger we have to deal with and that the people of the village are put through every day," he said. 

Firefighter Amy Atar showed the I-Team the outdated and failing equipment that the department -- the busiest in Rockland County -- often deals with.

"Our radios are broken, this one doesn't work," she said. She also showed a turnout coat that no longer fits her because it was expired. 

It's a two-fold danger for Spring Valley firefighters; they're not only dealing with faulty equipment but having to work in unpredictable conditions. There's an epidemic in the community of landlords illegally converting single-family homes, frequently into tenements for day workers. 

The state Labor Department has hit Spring Valley village officials with violations from unsafe firefighting equipment to no escape ropes. The village could face fines of $200 a day starting next month unless the violations are fixed.

After the I-Team report, board officials did vote to consider a $1.3 million bond for the fire department, but it still has to be approved.  

"This happened because of your report, there's no question," said Spring Valley Fire Captain Justin Schwartz 

The board is supposed to vote on the bond April 12, but firefighters are calling for an emergency meeting before then. The Spring Valley mayor did not issue a formal statement Tuesday, but following the I-Team’s initial report, he blamed board politics for the delay in funding.

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