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The Times
  • Mabbett takes over as Mohawk fire chief

  • New Mohawk Fire Chief Dan Mabbett says he plans to be accessible to the community and is hoping to recruit new members to the department.

    Mabbett, who took over the chief’s position from Randy Hunt earlier this month, is starting a three-year term as chief.

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  • New Mohawk Fire Chief Dan Mabbett says he plans to be accessible to the community and is hoping to recruit new members to the department.
    Mabbett, who took over the chief’s position from Randy Hunt earlier this month, is starting a three-year term as chief.
    In the past, the terms for chief and line officers have been two years, but the department made a decision to extend them to three-year terms.
    One way Mabbett hopes to recruit new members is to open up opportunities for high school students to join the department. He said he has approached the village board and school personnel with the idea, but will have to take the proposal to the school board before the program can move forward. He said the department has changed its bylaws to allow 16-year-olds to join the department. Teens would have to complete more than 100 hours of basic firefighter training before they would be allowed to fight fires from outside of a burning structure. They must be 18 before they can enter a burning building for the initial assault on a fire. There would also be limits on the hours students could be available.
    Mabbett hopes participants could be graded and earn school credit and he also hopes some of them will want to continue as firefighters with the Mohawk Volunteer Fire Department or another department.
    When he initially joined the Mohawk Fire Department, Mabbett said, there was a waiting list for the 75-man roster. Now there are about 50 firefighters on the roster and there is no waiting list.
    “Everybody’s hurting,” he said. He noted becoming a firefighter requires a great deal of training that takes a lot of time. “It’s hard, intensive training,” said Mabbett. “We’re trying to get people involved. It’s getting harder and harder to get volunteers.”
    On the positive side, he said, becoming a member of the department gives firefighters a second family. There are social functions, such as a banquet and field days as well as the camaraderie among the members.
    He encouraged anyone interested in becoming a firefighter to contact their local department; career departments may have a need for call firemen, he pointed out.
    Mabbett found the recent incident in Webster in which firefighters were ambushed and some killed while responding to a fire disturbing and sad. “Those firefighters were there to serve their community,” he said. “We’re here to serve our community. We’re helpless. We don’t carry guns; we’re there to help the community.”
    He added, “My heart goes out to those families and that department.”
    Mabbett said he has been visiting local businesses to answer questions and discuss any concerns they may have. Starting in January, he plans to schedule regular office hours to meet with residents who have questions or suggestions.
    Page 2 of 2 - The Mohawk Fire Department’s territory includes the village of Mohawk and the town of German Flatts, including a portion of the New York State Thruway.
    “Every call is different,” said Mabbett, noting the department responds to fires, motor vehicle accidents, hazardous material incidents and floods.
    He recommended the public take steps to avoid being involved in an accident or causing a fire. His advice included the following:
    • Motorists should be aware of road conditions and slow down and give themselves extra time when roads are slippery.
    • Be careful with candles; fires are often caused by unattended candles.
    • Avoid overloading sockets and electrical circuits.
    • Make sure smoke detectors are working.
    • Clean out chimneys and wood stoves.
    Mabbett also asked residents shovel out fire hydrants in front of their houses so firefighters don’t have to do the job when they arrive on the scene to fight a fire.
    New line officers for the Mohawk Fire Department include Deputy Chief Jeff Sitterly, First Assistant Chief Roger Neff, Second Assistant Chief Larry Bellstedt, Captain Andrew Monahan, Deputy Chief Chaplain Ken Palmer and Lieutenants Karl Yadow, Steve Scott, Dan Mabbett Jr. and Dave Greene. Serving as training officers are Joe Crisino, Ken Palmer, Dan Jones and Andrew Monahan. Department secretary is Tom Brown.
    “We’ve got a good bunch of line officers,” said Mabbett. “Our goal is to all work together. This is a team effort.”
    He said the department also receives support from its fire corps, a group of volunteers available to help with chores such as rolling up hoses, washing trucks, answering phones and filling sandbags. He said only he, as chief, or the mayor can activate the fire corps. The ladies’ auxiliary also supports the department’s efforts.

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