05/12/11 12:08am

BEVERLEA WALZ PHOTO | Fire Department officers at a 2007 awards ceremony at the Pridwin when Danny Rasmussen, center, was honored as fireman of the year. From left, William Rowland, Ron Jernick, Legislator Ed Romaine, Barry Ryder and Earl Reiter.

First Assistant Fire Chief Danny Rasmussen was elected the new Shelter Island Fire Department chief on April 7. Second Assistant Chief John D’Amato was elected  first assistant and Captain William Anderson III second assistant chief.

Departing Chief William Rowland will step down in June. He became acting chief following the resignation of Earl Reiter in the summer of 2009 and was later elected chief.

Incoming Chief Rasmussen volunteered in 1999, shortly after graduating from high school. He has been a firefighter of the year and has been honored several times for putting in the most training hours. Presenting a proclamation of “Daniel Rasmussen Day” by the Suffolk County Legislature in 2007, Legislator Ed Romaine observed of his service as a fireman at such a young age that “he has just taken to it.”

Chief Rasmussen and his assistant chiefs will be formally installed on June 4 at the department’s annual awards dinner at the Pridwin Hotel.

Chief Rowland is a veteran of the department. In 2008, he became only the third responder in the tri-state area to deploy a special fire suppressant in a working fire on Penny’s Path. The device, pioneered in Europe, had been available only since 2007, and the fire department had purchased one for each of the three chiefs’ vehicles. “As I opened the door,” he recalled, “I hoped to hell this thing works.” It did, eliminating the need to send volunteers into a high-risk situation.

02/23/11 11:50pm
The town’s Shore Road (left) along Crescent Beach and the one in the village of Dering Harbor.

TED HILLS PHOTOS | The town’s Shore Road (left) along Crescent Beach and the one in the village of Dering Harbor.

When an automatic fire alarm goes off on Shore Road, the Shelter Island Fire Department is dispatched by an emergency operator in Southold to the nearest cross streets: Stearns Point and Prospect.

But the fire may be all the way over on the opposite side of the Island, on Shore Road in Dering Harbor, as was the case for an automatic alarm in late January. And it’s happened before.

It’s a problem Arthur Bloom, the Village of Dering Harbor’s fire marshal, is trying to get the Town of Shelter Island to fix. The simplest solution, Mr. Bloom told the Town Board earlier this month, would be changing the names or the numbers on the Shore Road that’s on the west side of the Island, between West Neck Road and Rocky Point. But Police Chief Jim Read says the problem could be addressed by the Southold emergency operator. Or that Dering Harbor should make the name change for its road, not the town.

For several years, all 911 and automatic alarm calls have been directed to the Southold Police Department, which serves as the Public Safety Answering Point or PSAP for Shelter Island police, fire department and ambulance.

As Mr. Bloom explained it, the dispatcher receives the address from the alarm company and punches it into a computer. The computer spits out the cross streets, and “100 percent of the time, we get the cross streets of Stearns Point and Prospect,” Mr. Bloom said of local responders, even when the alarm originated in Dering Harbor.

“We have met with dispatch, and there seems to be a difference of opinion about how to fix this,” Mr. Bloom told the Town Board. “I’ve decided to offer you the chance to do an easy and permanent fix.” Either rename Shore Road on the west side of the Island to “West Shore Road,” he said, or add 100 to each house number on that road.

There are about 20 developed properties on each of the Shore Roads in question, but several on the west side have been merged into commercial property, he said, reducing the impact of a change there.

Mr. Bloom said that he had contacted every private alarm company serving Dering Harbor to inform them that emergency calls to the Southold PSAP must refer to the Village of Dering Harbor address. But the problem persists, he said.

Mr. Bloom told the Town Board that a dispatch tape he had listened to clearly indicated an alarm for a Dering Harbor address, but the computer-generated cross roads reported by the Southold dispatcher directed local responders to the west side of the Island.

Chief Read said at the board meeting that he wanted to look into the issue before the board took any action. The problem, he commented, could be addressed at the Southold end. And if it came to changing a road name, why shouldn’t the smaller municipality be the one to do it, Chief Read asked.

Village Mayor Tim Hogue told the Reporter this week, “We’ve lived with this situation for quite a while — let’s see what Chief Read comes up with,” and in the meantime he suggested taking a look at the history of how the road names came to be.

“The fire department feels that one way or another this has to be fixed,” Mr. Bloom said, and that a change on the Crescent Beach road would be less onerous. A letter to that effect was sent from the fire commissioners to the Town Board.