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Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York
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Former chief feels volunteer fire department was shortchanged by Hidy and McGowan

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MASSENA - Former Massena Volunteer Fire Department Chief Thomas C. Miller said he feels like the community’s volunteer firefighters were not given the credit they deserved for their role in the village’s PPC (Public Protection Classification) score being lowered.

A PPC score is calculated by the ISO (Insurance Services Office) and takes into account several factors related to a community’s ability to protect itself against fires and for the first time the village has seen its score, which is based on a scale of 1-10, with the lower the score the better, drop from a 5 to a 4.

Mayor James F. Hidy and professional firefighters Foreman Ken McGowan recently discussed the steps that had been taken to improve Massena’s rating.

“I don’t think the volunteers got enough credit for the work they had done,” Mr. Miller, who was chief at the time this report was completed, said.

Mr. Miller said he and other officers from the department put between 300 and 400 of work into paperwork and preparing for the ISO review.

While Mr. Hidy and Mr. McGowan referenced the department’s volunteers, Mr. Miller said he feels like the volunteer firefighters deserved more than a token mention.

“We could have sat back, done nothing, got a 5 and everyone would have been happy,” Mr. Miller said.

Mr. McGowan had acknowledged the work of the firefighters. “I know the volunteers and career firefighters put a lot of time and effort into this report.”

Mr. McGowan had also noted he felt like the village’s score was boosted by having career firefighters available to dispatch crews to emergency scenes, which when coupled with the fact Massena has volunteer firefighters scattered throughout the community, benefits the personnel score.

Mr. Hidy also mentioned the volunteers in his comments, noting the partnership between volunteers and paid firefighters gives Massena one of the best fire departments in the county.

“I’ve always said that if you compare us to other communities, having paid professional firefighters partnering with volunteers provides us with an enormous advantage when it comes to fire protection,” he said.

“It gives us the ability to respond to emergency situations within seconds compared to other communities who must rely solely on volunteers, who must first respond to the fire hall for apparatus before responding to the scene.”

Mr. Miller also said he felt Mr. Hidy and Mr. McGowan “jumped the gun” by speaking to the press about the report prior to the final report being issued and made available to the community.

Mr. Miller said that he was waiting to receive a copy of the report and was then planning to speak to the media, something he said he was still planning to do.

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