In a December 5 interview, Peters said simply that she disagreed with Facompre’s charge about her recording of meeting minutes. She confirmed that her office did not contain a scanner. “I work for the Board of Fire Commissioners,” she said. “They dictate what I do. I’m not a freelance web designer. I post what the BFC asks me to post.” Referring to audited vouchers, Peters said, “Each month the BFC reviews a ‘warrant list’ of paid bills. I would have no problem posting that if the BFC asks me to.” Meanwhile, Peters added, in recent months she has been organizing files of fire department policies, some of which are 30 years old, into binders for the five companies. The first company captain to receive a binder was Facompre, she noted.
Facompre also recommends that Company No. 5, which is based at the western end of the hamlet and is known as the rescue squad, consider a contingency plan to form a nonprofit corporation that could charge residents with health insurance a fee for emergency ambulance service, which to date has been provided free. In the candidate’s view, such an arrangement would yield two major benefits: an assurance of continued ambulance service should Ametek Rotron discontinue its practice of allowing employees who are rescue squad members to respond to calls during working hours; and an annual revenue of as much as $250,000, some of which the fire district could allocate to smaller, outlying companies, which otherwise face pressure to raise supplemental funds on their own. Relieved of some of that pressure, the companies could devote more of their time to activities like recruitment and training.
(According to Densen, Company No. 5 could charge for its services only if it withdrew from the fire department and moved to create a new ambulance district, which would be subject to approval by the Town Board. In such a scenario, said the chief, the members of Company No. 5 would relinquish their eligibility for LOSAP benefits.)
“Right now the companies each get $9,500 a year from the fire district,” said Facompre. “I would like to increase that to $12,000 in the first year (of my plan) and $15,000 thereafter. In Company No. 4, we spend about $30,000 a year for all purposes. I would like to provide at least half of that total from fire district funds.”
Mike Lourenso. A 15-year member of Company No. 2 (Wittenberg) who also serves with Company No. 5, Lourenso is the only candidate with previous service on the BFC. Following an unsuccessful run for a BFC post in 2007, the retired NYPD detective squad sergeant was elected in 2008 to complete the term of fire commissioner Bill Van Kleeck, who died while in office. Lourenso’s bid for a full term in 2011 failed when he was defeated by Carberry.
Lourenso, 69, is a longtime Woodstock resident who has more than 40 years of experience in the fields of emergency services and public safety. He is a certified first responder, having completed a required 100-hour course, and an instructor in first aid and CPR. He teaches a safe driving course offered through the Woodstock Public Library and is co-director of the Good Neighbor Food Pantry, which, he noted, has been serving an ever-growing clientele in tight economic times.
The former commissioner and current candidate cites “keeping our firemen safe and our taxes down” as major goals that he would pursue if elected. “I want to keep the district budget under the 2 percent cap, while also keeping our fire department well-equipped,” he said.
Company No. 5, the rescue squad, is operating efficiently and providing optimal service to the town’s taxpayers, in Lourenso’s view. He opposes any plan, such as Facompre’s, to convert the squad to a paid service, which would require Company No. 5 to withdraw from the fire department and purchase its own ambulances and other equipment. “It is more economical as it is now,” said Lourenso, noting that only the rescue squad’s paramedics receive compensation for their services, which sometimes are lifesaving. “On a (fully) paid basis the (rescue squad’s) service would no longer be free to the public. Billing and accounting would cost the taxpayers more money.” The candidate noted that a paid ambulance service has proved expensive for Kingston.
Lourenso favors the BFC’s current administrative structure in which Peters functions as both the secretary and treasurer of the district. “Why make two positions out of one? Judy Peters does a great job. She is very competent,” he said, crediting Peters with helping the district to obtain a $250,000 grant for safety equipment. Lourenso also applauded the performance of the fire department’s chiefs, who, he said, are doing a good job.
Like Dougherty and Facompre, Lourenso acknowledges the challenges involved in recruiting and retaining volunteer firefighters. “We want to keep our volunteers, but retention is getting harder,” he said. The former New York City police detective endorses recruitment and retention incentives such as those emphasized in the statewide FASNY program, including tuition reimbursement and local property tax considerations, as well as the fire district’s LOSAP benefits.
Lourenso emphasized the importance of collaboration by the BFC’s five members. “You have to work with the other commissioners in order to change things. You need a quorum to get something passed. I have the qualifications for the job. I just hope that people come out and vote.”
Duncan Wilson. A retired IBM automated-equipment specialist, Wilson, 87, has lived in Woodstock for 57 years and served in its fire department for 55 years, as a longstanding member of Company No. 1. His positions in the Woodstock department have included chief and assistant chief, as well as captain and lieutenant. As a fire commissioner, said Wilson, he would strive “to be fair to the public and to have better communication within the fire department. I would work to protect the firemen and see that things are done right. I would not be (on the BFC) to upset anything, just to make a good fire department.”
Wilson has been active for decades in firefighting affairs at the municipal, county, and statewide levels and travels widely to attend the meetings of various organizations in the Hudson Valley and elsewhere throughout the state. He is a past or present member of the New York State Fire Chiefs Association, Ulster County Fire Advisory Board, Ulster County Fire Chiefs and Line Officers Association, and International Association of Arson Investigators, to cite just a few organizations. For the last five years he has conducted an annual seminar in his capacity as a training officer for the Ulster County Fire Police Association.
In 2010 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Hudson Valley Volunteer Firefighters Association (HVVFA), which he has served as a director. Wilson previously received the Alf Evers Award in recognition of his extensive work as a volunteer in Woodstock, for organizations including the Little League, Boy Scouts, Michael G. Gillman Memorial Scholarship Committee, and a senior citizens club.
“I go to a lot of meetings,” said Wilson, citing the 24 he attended in May as a typical monthly total. His work as a director of the HVVFA entails his presence at meetings in Rockland, Putnam, Westchester, Sullivan, Greene, and Ulster Counties. He also remains active in the New York State Fire Police, a force that provides traffic and crowd control services at emergency scenes and events.
Wilson ran unsuccessfully for a BFC seat in 2008.