Chelsea IrizarryAug 23, 2018, 10:48 pmAug 24, 2018, 1:40 pm

Setauket fire officials vote to create paid firefighter positions

The decision is a solution to a rising number of emergency calls

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SETAUKET — In a unanimous vote, the Setauket Fire Department Board of Commissioners decided to officially make four firefighting jobs paid.

The department has four fire protection coordinators with firefighting experience. On Thursday night, the district changed their title to firefighters since, under state Civil Service Law, they were not allowed to respond to calls under their previous title. They will work in shifts, with three on duty at any given time.

“They would make $27 for eight hours a day, five days a week. A total of $56,160 annually,” said Setauket Fire District Commissioner Jay Gardiner.

Setauket officials said the decision came due to rising number of emergency calls. Additionally, it’s hard for volunteers to leave their jobs and respond to calls. It’s something the Setauket department started doing with their EMS personnel years ago.

But some in attendance Thursday evening feel this decision will cause a drop in volunteer morale. Ken Larsen, a member of the Setauket department, read a letter on behalf of Tom Gulberansen, an old field resident.

"The commissioner and districts have paid so much attention to paid staff, but what about the volunteers that have been keeping Setauket safe?" Larson said.

This comes weeks after Garden City voted to eliminate their paid firefighters.

Setauket officials say they have no plan to eliminate volunteer firefighter positions, making Setauket one of the only departments on the island with paid firefighters.

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