We have been informed that we had made an error in our endorsements. We completely forgot that the top four candidates would go on to face each other in the fall. With everything we do here, from the live covering of calls to the election questions, getting the webpage done, to a new issue we are trying to address with the local school districts, we forgot how the election field narrows.
As such, we will be updating and correcting our previous post and the webpage to reflect this error. Being that it is the top four candidates who move forward, we have now added Aaron Clemons and Lisa A. Ruggiero for the four-year seat on council. We apologize to everyone for our error, but we are human, and we make mistakes.
These are our picks of the candidates for the Watertown City Council 2021 election.
Please vote for
Patrick Hickey for the 2-year seat.
Cliff G. Olney III for the 4-year seat.
Robert T. Schorr for the 4-year seat.
Aaron Clemmons for the 4-year seat.
Lisa Ruggiero for the 4-year seat.
Note, we will have follow-up questions and answers that may appear here later, as the candidates get the time to answer them.
This was an exceedingly difficult field of candidates for us to decide upon this year, as there are a lot of candidates who would make great council members. We do not want to, in any way, minimize or negate the platform of Jason Traynor. He has a great vision for our city and the fire department. We applaud him for running because it takes a lot of courage to do so.
We want to point out that our endorsements are not based on whether or not the candidates answer our questions the way we want them to. If you read the answers of all of the candidates, you will see that some of our candidates do not agree with some of what we asked them.
We are posting the question and answers to those questions from every candidate that we received a response from. If we did not receive a response, you will see that as well. We received responses from Patrick Hickey, Cliff G. Olney III, Jason Traynor, Lisa L’Huillier Ruggiero, and Aaron Clemons. Anyone who answers these questions and the follow up questions, we will post them as soon as we get them. We did get told, by candidate Doug Rice that we didn’t matter to him, he had “other media opportunities” to pursue, than to answer questions from us, the North Countries newest news organization. You will see his full response.
WE ARE NOT ENDORSING:
Amy Horton: she is a close friend of the current mayor and would continue his agenda against the WFD.
Benjamin Shoen: is friends with Compo, as such would support Smith and be a member of team Smith.
Michelle L. Capone: is friends with Smith and Compo, so she would absolutely be a member of team Smith, would support Smith.
Doug Rice: is friends with Compo, as such would support Smith and be a member of team Smith. He also has the same mentality of Smith, that you can solve the WFD problems by seeing what other cities do, and that would never work for Watertown. He has a dirty campaign manager, who runs dirty campaigns. Plus, he has an air of being better than everyone else, something that is NOT wanted or needed on the city council, we have enough of that already.
|Patrick Hickey||Cliff G. Olney III||Jason Traynor||Doug Rice||Lisa L’Huillier Ruggiero||Robert T. Schorr||Aaron Clemons|
I am the founder and CEO of Red Lights For Firefighters LLC. We are a news media site, covering live news events regarding or involving first responders. I created the website and other social media pages which are dedicated to promoting first responders and their departments. They are also for the support of the first responders and to bridge the gap between the first responders and the community. We are sending you these questions both to your email and Facebook, to be sure you receive them.
We started this question-and-answer series during the 2017 city council elections. We decided to keep it going for this year’s council races. These questions are what the voters want to hear about and have asked us about over the years. We have changed and modified our questions from the 2019 elections. We would like your input on these questions that everyone will get. Some of the questions we are asking are things that have already happened, but they are still affecting the fire department today. Please read each one of these questions, as information on another question or line may be relevant to the other questions. The Watertown City Fire Department may be referred to as W.F.D.
Please elaborate your answers to each question if you can, you are not limited to the space provided here. Thank you for your time and thoughtful consideration of the following issues.
1) What is your standing on The Watertown City Fire Department (W.F.D.) and its firefighters’ contract, or lack of a contract with the city which has been going on for about seven years?
2) How do you feel about the minimum manpower staffing of 15 firefighters? Do you think the W.F.D. should keep 15? Should they go with less manpower, or do you feel they need to go higher with manpower?
3) Do you feel the citizens and firefighters will be safe at less than the current level of 15 members on W.F.D.?
4) Should the city utilize the Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response/S.A.F.E.R. grants for hiring new firefighters or not?
5) Who do you feel should dictate what the W.F.D. does or does not do? Do you think the council, mayor, or city manager should decide what the fire department and firefighters do or do not do? Or should the fire chief and his staff make the decisions on what the fire department and firefighters do?
6) Should the city manager, the mayor, and the council members participate in a program called Fire Ops 101, which allows government officials and members of the media to better understand what it is like to be a firefighter and to experience what the job actually entails and the demands of the job? Conducting a FIRE OPS 101 event exposes participants to the smoke, the adrenaline rush, and the physical stress and strain firefighters and emergency medical personnel face while protecting communities across the United States and Canada.
7) Should the city have allowed the contract dispute to go to arbitration or should they have settled the contract in a civil and timely manner, as they do with all the other departments in the city?
8) Should the city be cutting the W.F.D. positions or not?
9) Should the city be required to fill any open positions in the fire department that have either been left vacant or those that will become vacant with retirements, etc.?
10) Should the city reinstate firefighters into the code enforcement bureau? Why or why not?
11) Should the city reinstate the prior law that allowed code enforcement and the W.F.D. to do annual inside inspections of all residential buildings? Why or why not?
12) Should the city reinstate the prior law that allowed code enforcement and the W.F.D. to do annual inside inspections of all commercial buildings? Why or why not?
13) Should the city bring back public safety education officers? Why or why not?
14) Should the city go back to charging for false alarms like they used to do that helped cut the number of calls the W.F.D. responded to, which worked well previously to reduce false alarms due to malfunctioning alarms? Why or why not?
15) NYS has smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector laws currently on the books that dictate what rental units should have in them. What should the city do to make sure these laws are followed? What would you do to ensure these laws are followed?
16) The following seven questions are regarding fire sprinkler systems. We would like to point out two alarming facts about the city of Watertown. One is its lack of sprinkler legislation. The second is regarding incidents that have happened and the consequences of those incidents.
In 1989, Watertown had no legislation requiring fire sprinklers in its own Watertown Housing Authority Apartments. Because of a fire at Midtown Towers, around six residents died. Only after those deaths did the city require fire sprinklers, and only in their own properties. With no residential sprinkler systems, a family of five died on Myrtle Ave in 2019. Today’s structure fires give you less than three minutes to escape a fire, without sprinkler systems installed.
17) Should the city pass a law, ordinance, or regulation that mandates automatic sprinkler systems in all new homes built in the city? Why or why not?
18) Should the city pass a law, ordinance, or regulation, that mandates retrofitting of automatic sprinkler systems for older rental apartment buildings and rental units in regular homes as well? Why or why not?
19) Regarding automatic sprinkler systems installation and retrofitting, the cost is a lot less than it has been and there are low-interest loans and grants the homeowners can obtain to cover the cost. Plus, the city can assist those who may have trouble covering the cost with community block grants or other sources of funding if they went that route. Would you support a law, ordinance, or regulation, for sprinkler mandates if there was assistance for some homeowners who may need it? Why or why not?
20) If an automatic sprinkler system law, ordinance, or regulation is passed, should the city choose not to raise the property taxes on the homes that are retrofitted to comply with the law or ordinance, so that it appeases those who must spend money for the retrofitting?
21) Should the city utilize community block grants or other sources of funding to help those property owners who would not be able to obtain low-interest loans by other means? Why or why not?
22) Should the city create local law, ordinance, or regulation, mandating fire sprinkler systems in all commercial structures, without any grandfather clauses?
23) In 2017 Congress passed legislation to help with the cost of installation of sprinklers for small businesses. Section 179 of the IRS Code allows small businesses to write off the full cost of commercial fire sprinklers as an expensive up to 1.04 million.
“Tax Incentive: Small Business Section 179 Section 179 of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code allows small businesses to write off the full cost of commercial fire sprinkler systems as an expense of up to $1.04 million. This benefit enables many small businesses to immediately recover the costs of the upfront investment. Those who borrow money to pay for a project can fully deduct the interest expense of the loan.”
Does this make supporting creating local legislation mandating fire sprinklers a better idea, when it will not hurt small businesses?
24) Should the city pass a law or ordinance to require above a stove/oven fire extinguisher known as Range Hood or Cooktop Fire Suppressors? Because of the possibility that the February 14th house fire on Myrtle Ave was cooking-related, these types of devices, along with properly placed and working smoke detectors and whole house automatic sprinkler systems may have saved that family. You can see these devices here: Range Hood, Cooktop Fire Suppressors from StoveTop the FireStop and Auto-Out
25) What do you think should be done with the W.F.D. fleet? Considering that the cost of metal continuously rises all the time and the cost for each piece of apparatus goes up, do you feel that it is wise to put off the equipment repairs and replacements? Each engine/pumper price starts out at about $500,000 and goes up from there, and the ladder truck cost for a 100’ platform is over $1,000,000 and goes up.
26) Everyone talks about the W.F.D. cost being almost 20% of the city’s budget when the Watertown Police Department (W.P.D.) amount is over 20% of the budget as well. The W.P.D. cost the city $425,516 more, with four fewer staff. The W.P.D. budget is 21.30% of the full budget and the W.F.D. is 20.28% of the full budget. The W.F.D. has 69 full-time personnel W.P.D. has 65 full-time personnel. Everyone looks at the W.F.D. budget with a microscope, yet they do not with the W.P.D. budget. Shouldn’t they be treated the same?Yellow highlight higher, green highlight lower.
Police Department. The department is staffed with 62 sworn officers and three full-time civilian personnel.
The City of Watertown Fire Department provides emergency and non-emergent services for the citizens of Watertown and the larger regional area with 69 uniformed personnel.
27) How do you feel about the issue that has been previously brought up in the city government about the idea that W.F.D. members should be required to live in the city? Why or why not?
28) If the W.F.D members are required to live inside the city, shouldn’t the same requirement be made for all other public services departments in the city? Why or why not?
29) Did you support the council’s and mayor’s decision to take the rescue truck off the streets, selling the truck, and potentially ending EMS service by the WFD?
36) Why are you running for the city council? Who, if anyone, encouraged you to do so, and why did they think you would be a good candidate?
37) Why do you think you will be a good candidate to serve the people of Watertown in a city council seat?
38) What do you think of when you consider the term “serving the people of Watertown”? Why?
Your views and opinions will be posted on our website Red Lights For Firefighters LLC and Facebook pages Red Lights For Firefighters LLC, Red Lights For Firefighters - State, National & World First Responders Info , Red Lights For Firefighters - News, Health and Safety and group Friends of Red Lights For Firefighters . This will be in no way an endorsement for any candidate at this time. Thank you in advance for your time. Red Lights For Firefighters administration
Follow-up questions that we came up with after the original ones were sent out. I know many do not like or want to see more government, but in many instances, less government has NOT been the answer people were looking for. The federal government deregulated electricity, natural gas, telephone, TV cable, cellphones, and on and on. Yet, in not one instance, have you seen a cost reduction, but in actuality, prices have gone up substantially after the deregulations started. We for one do not want a government that is bigger or even more intrusive. But facts are facts, without laws, ordinances, or regulations mandating things we have suggested, including automatic fire sprinklers, properties will continue to burn, people continue to be injured and die, which is what we do not want to have happened.
30) The city had the chance to go to 24-hour shifts and did not do so. If they had done so, when it was originally brought up, they could have saved a lot of money, between 4 million to over 6 million dollars in savings. That money could have been used to pay for every WFD apparatus replacement and then some. The city would save money by having less overtime and the firefighters would enjoy a better quality of life. Do you feel the city should switch to a 24-hour shift? Why or why not?Yellow highlight higher, green highlight lower.
Look at the above proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Again, the WPD, with less staffing has a higher budget, by as much as $1,022,336 more than the WFD, which has more staff. You will also notice both have significant overtime, which easily could be reduced if they hire more staffing.
|Police Lieutenant (5)||$539,114|
|Police Sergeant (7)||$633,413|
|Police Detective (8)||$648,248|
|Police Officer (45)(a)||$3,300,386||$5,121,161|
|Deputy Fire Chief||$103,814||$213,814|
|Battalion Fire Chief (4)||$314,437|
|Fire Captain (17)||$1,080,799|
|Firefighter (47) (a)||$2,734,096|
|Out of Rank $20,000||$4,149,332|
Above you will see the pay differentials and staffing levels. As in previous budgets, the chief of police and police captain makes more than their counterpart in the fire departments.
The Proposed Budget that city manager Mix has the deputy fire chief, but no new firefighters. Yet, the police budget has four new police officers, that they claim were laid off last year, but they reported to the media, that two would be hired back due to retirements. That means they are hiring extra police officers, yet no new firefighters.
From the 2020-2021 adopted budget that were not filled:
Deputy Fire Chief (Vacant), this is tentatively being filled in this year’s budget.
Fire Educator (Part-time, Vacant)
Everything above was pulled directly from the currently proposed budgets or past adopted budgets, except that which is underlined, which is ours.
31) We updated the budget numbers to show how the cost of services for the WFD and WPD has changed over the years. WFD is getting less money with the last three budgets, and the WPD is getting more. Overtime is also going up, and yet the city only hired four more WPD officers and hired no WFD firefighters. Do you think it is a wise idea to keep overtime high? Why or why not?
32) The city had the chance to go to 24-hour shifts and did not do so. If they had done so, when it was originally brought up, they could have saved a lot of money, between 4 million to over 6 million dollars in savings. That money could have been used to pay for every WFD apparatus replacement and then some. The city would save money by having less overtime and the firefighters would enjoy a better quality of life. Do you feel the city should switch to a 24-hour shift? Why or why not?
33) Recently an article on WWNY TV states and I quote, “Watertown budget session Saturday sees personnel additions to city departments. However, council felt the proposed salary of $157,000 was too high. So, they came to an agreement to promote a current captain to do more administrative tasks. The city has not appointed any deputy fire chief, which was requested by city manager Ken Mix, and backed by the fire chief himself and not the union. This is a direct quote from the proposed 2021-2022 budget, The Deputy Fire Chief position has been re-instated. A Department the size of Fire needs more than one management employee to oversee it. As a comparison with our other large departments, the Police Department has two management employees, the Water Department has four and Public Works has five. The city decided to instead, create a nonexistent position of an admin captain, which will be a union job, falling under union rules and not to a non-union position. The addition of an Administrative Captain, instead of a Deputy Chief, will eventually create more problems without solving the issue it is designed to alleviate; namely the lack of administrative personnel in the WFD. Do you feel the WFD should or should not have a deputy fire chief?
34) The WPD has a police captain, which is the same rank as the deputy fire chief, yet no one has suggested eliminating that position to save money, even though the captain of WPD makes more money than the deputy chief would by $8,512, which excludes all of the benefits to included above and beyond pay. (These include payments made into the retirement system, health insurance, etc.) Should the city give the same consideration to the WFD, especially considering all the other departments have more than one management position?
35) There are several non-toxic and safe fire-resistant coating that can be applied to any combustible porous surfaces, including, but not limited to, wood frames, wood truss, drywall, carpeting, and other surfaces. One, in particular, No-Burn, was created by firefighters and creates no toxic fumes upon heating. Shouldn’t all new or any modified structures, especially commercial structures and at the very least, apartments have their combustible porous surfaces be treated with a safe fire-resistant coating? The addition of a fire-resistant coating to combustibles, would greatly decrease property damages and increase your likelihood of escaping a structure fire, especially when combined with automatic fire sprinkler systems. Would you support the creation of a law, ordinance, or regulation that mandates a fire-resistant coating? Why or why not?
We have added in the URL’s for all the PDF’s we have sent out to the candidates separately and in a rar file.
All PDF's in one file
City Learned The Hard Way Sprinklers
Excerpts from NIST Report English
Facts About Home Fire Sprinklers
Fire Sprinklers Fast Facts
From the IAFF’s Article On Staffing.
Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC) Consumer Brochure 2018
Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC) Developer Incentives
Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC) Flashover Chart 2018-v2
Home Fire Sprinkler Incentives Fact Sheet
Injuries And Smoke Inhalation
International Association of Fire Fighters Safe Fire Fighter Staffing Critical Considerations
Living With Sprinklers Brochure
Making the Case for Sprinkler Infographic
Modern homes burn 8 times faster than 50 years ago
More Information On Why Sprinklers Are Important
National Institute of Standards and Technology - NIST Report Shows Crew Size Matters
NFPA 1710 Tip Sheet 2016 Edition
Sprinkler Myths and Facts
Tax Incentive Fact Sheet
Water Purveyors Brochure
Where Sprinkler Have Been Recorded To Have Stopped Fires
Information on No Burn protectant, which was a question to the candidates.
Top Performing White Fire Resistant Paint Class A Fire Retardant Sprays Paints Sprays Manufacturer – No-Burn, Inc
Intumescent Coatings or Paints
No-Burn is a leader in passive fire protective coatings. Our intumescent coatings provide the code-compliant, life-saving protection you need for new and existing residential and commercial construction.
Fire Retardant Coatings
A leader in passive fire protection, No-Burn is the manufacturer of best-in-class fire retardant coatings, all with Class A or Class 1 designations.
No-Burn Fabric Fire Protection
No-Burn Fabric Fire Protection significantly deters ignition of fabrics when exposed to high heat and flame. This fire retardant coating can be applied to a variety of natural and synthetic materials, to protect everything from carpet to curtains, and complies with commercial interior finish requirements or International Building Code and the National Fire Protection Association codes and standards.
For a transparent or tinted finish, No-Burn Original is the sensible choice, perfect for new or existing buildings. No-Burn Original limits flame spread and smoke developed, providing Class I or Class A fire protection for exposed wood and finish carpentry in commercial interiors satisfying interior finish requirements or International Building Code and the National Fire Protection Association codes and standards.
No-Burn Christmas Tree Fire Gard
No-Burn Christmas Tree Fire Gard is specifically formulated to protect against accidental holiday fires. When applied to fresh-cut trees, wreaths or garland, No-Burn Christmas Tree Fire Gard provides ignition or flame protection that won’t discolor your decorations.
Intumescent and Fire Retardant Coatings have gained the attention of the construction industry. Applied in common and unique applications alike, coatings are versatile and permanent elements of the building.
Residentially, No-Burn protects your project’s attic and crawlspace insulation and first floor wood framing. Commercially, No-Burn is a component in interior and exterior rated assemblies and conditioned and unconditioned locations where wood framing, sheeting and spray foam insulation are installed.
You get code-compliant passive fire protection that is easy to apply and third-party tested and validated. No-Burn protects materials and substrates within the interior and exterior of your building project.
Thermal and Ignition Barriers for Spray Polyurethane Foam Insulation
To comply with building codes, spray polyurethane foam insulation requires a thermal or ignition barrier to protect against fire and combustion. No-Burn Plus ThB and Plus XD are certified and approved for application over the leading brands of spray polyurethane foam insulation.
I-Joist Floor Assemblies
In residential home construction, I-joists are often utilized to frame first and second floors. I-joists on the first floor, or basement ceiling, require a fire protective or fire resistant barrier. Learn how No-Burn Plus provides code-compliant, live-saving protection for this application.
Exterior Wall Assemblies
Many occupancies or types of construction, including stores, office buildings and multi-story residential housing units require fire-rated exterior wall assemblies. Achieve a 1, 2 or 3-hour exterior wall assembly rating for your application with No-Burn Plus ThB fire protective coating.
Fire Retardant Treated Wood Alternatives
While Fire Retardant Treated (FRT) Wood is often specified in commercial construction projects, this wood can be cumbersome to procure and costly to use. Learn how No-Burn Plus as an intumescent coating is cost-effective and a code-compliant equivalent for FRT wood that can be used with conventional lumber and sheeting.
Flame Spread Classification
How do fire ratings and flame spread classifications work, and what fire rating is required for your application? Learn how No-Burn’s line of passive fire protective coatings meet Class 1 and Class A fire ratings for interior finishes.
More information, including product PDF's
Red Lights For Firefighters LLC. is locally owned, operated, and created in America, using American workers.