Babylon severs ties with fire company accused of misconduct

Try calling the North Amityville Fire Company and you'll get a busy signal.

The Town of Babylon declared a state of emergency, canceled its contract with the fire company, and is directing all fire and rescue calls to neighboring departments in the wake of an investigation into the fire company.

Babylon Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer called the findings "outrageous." Allegations include improper use of funds for things like trips to the Caribbean, sexual harassment, violence, and failure to take action on recommendations to fix issues.

"Suffolk police had to be called to company meetings where disagreements led into throwing a table at someone," Schaffer said.

The town has been dealing with what officials call corruption involving the company's board members for years. But tensions escalated last week after the board suspended the chief, terminated 11 members, and left only a handful of members to respond to calls. Response times were exceeding an hour.

John Coverdale is the founder and president at Center for Workplace Solutions. He interviewed board members and other personnel. 

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"What I discovered really is a culture of misconduct, culture of inappropriate behavior, lack of adherence to policies," Coverdale said.

According to the town, other departments call for mutual aid or backup only 5% to 6% of the time. But in 2021, North Amityville had called 35% to 36%, shifting the responsibility of answering calls to other departments.

"They have volunteers who are being knocked out for not going along with the old boys' network who have been running the company," Schaffer said.  

Information from the investigation has been turned over to the Suffolk County District Attorney's office.

Bradley Pinsky, the attorney representing the fire company, responded to the controversy.

"We believe they have allegations and accusations," he said. "We think the facts will prove the company should be returned to service."

The Town of Babylon is open to contracting with North Amityville Fire Company again but first the company would need to hire an outside professional to manage finances and operations. Citing policy, the Suffolk DA's office could neither confirm nor deny if it is conducting an investigation.