Ogdensburg fire problems

To the editor:

There has been an agreement in place between the Ogdensburg Fire Department and Heuvelton FD since March 1, 2017, which states that OFD will respond to incidents in the Heuvelton Fire District that warrant immediate response. The OFD chief at the time hand wrote a message across the bottom of the agreement, a copy of which was provided by the current captain, which reads “If in doubt, Respond!!” Many businesses along the outskirts of Ogdensburg, as well as some buildings at our high school, would appear to be in Ogdensburg but are actually part of the town of Oswegatchie under the Heuvelton Fire District. OFD also typically responds to fires within a 2-mile radius of the city. It’s obvious our past fire chief was concerned with the safety of our citizens. OFD and neighboring fire departments have a long history of working together for the good of our communities.

On Sept. 20, Ogdensburg’s temporary, part-time city manager and acting fire chief, Stephen Jellie of Tupper Lake, issued a policy change stating that, effective immediately, all requests for mutual aid support outside the city of Ogdensburg must come directly from the St. Lawrence County Emergency Communications Center. The practice of self-dispatching is no longer authorized. He goes on to say that automatic mutual aid agreements will be created with neighboring communities for “certain types of emergencies.” To tell our firefighters to sit back and ignore an emergency situation until they are dispatched through the SLC ECC is unacceptable! Every second counts! 

Since Mr. Jellie’s appointment, it’s my understanding that he has invalidated mutual aid agreements with our surrounding fire departments and removed vehicles from the OFD fleet, including a new SUV that was issued to them to replace an old and unreliable vehicle that provides equipment to off-duty firefighters who respond to an all-call fire. No one has seen this vehicle since shortly after it was delivered.

The citizens of Ogdensburg are strong supporters of our first responders, the people who come to our aid under the worst circumstances, whether it’s a fire, car accident or home emergency. Mr. Jellie has no vested interest in our community. He doesn’t reside in Ogdensburg and therefore isn’t affected by the potential outcome of his decisions. Many think that Mr. Jellie is acting at the bequest of the new mayor. Whether that’s true or not, he’s the one collecting the paycheck, and the responsibility lies with him.

I feel my safety, as well as that of my loved ones, could now be jeopardized due to the actions of Mr. Jellie. This is a public notice being sent to the Adirondack Daily Enterprise to ensure he is aware of my concerns and my intent to hold him personally responsible should anything happen to me, my family or our property due to his actions.

Darcy Larock



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