Fire district promises action on OSHA compliance

REPORTER FILE PHOTO | OSHA mandates were on the agenda at the Shelter Island Fire Commissioners’ meeting Monday night at the Center firehouse.

Shelter Island Fire Commissioners will take action to ensure the district is compliant with federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration requirements rather than suffer costly fines for failing to meet standards.

But at Monday night’s meeting of the commissioners it was decided to delay a decision until the commissioners’ February 25 meeting on what route they’ll take to bring the district up to snuff . The delay is to further review a quote received from a consultant to identify shortfalls the department might have meeting OSHA mandates and provide training in procedures the federal agency  demands. The bill from the consultant would start at about $9,500 and could run as high as triple that amount.

John Costa of John Costa Associates in North Carolina visited the district in December and submitted an estimate of between $4,000 and $7,000 to identify problems and then up to $10,000 to hire the firm to bring the department into compliance with the federal safety regulations.

The $10,000 would cover training of 25 department members and support staff in OSHA procedures. But based on OSHA requirements that at least 95 percent of the department staff and volunteers be trained, another 50 people would likely have to be trained at a cost of about $400 per person. Then there would be the added cost of preparing someone within the department to do the training going forward — both to train new members and keep veterans up to date on changing procedures.

Chief John D’Amato agreed to work with Mr. Costa to get a handle on how the costs would add up and whether there is room for negotiation. Second Assistant Chief Greg Sulahian agreed to check on training courses offered by Eastern Suffolk BOCES that might provide that aspect of the program without cost to the fire district.

The action Monday night came on the heels of the neighboring Orient Fire District undergoing a recent inspection that could result in fines to that district unless shortfalls in meeting requirements are met quickly. But for Orient, violations were relatively minor, according to Commissioner Larry Lechmanski.

“We can say we’re proactive, not reactive,” if an inspection occurs while the OSHA compliance process is under way, Mr. Lechmanski said.