By Krystle S. Morey
The state Comptroller’s Office said it will not perform an audit on the Granville Hook & Ladder Fire Co.’s finances, as requested by the village.
“We have been in contact with village and fire company officials, but nothing is scheduled at this time,” said Brian Butry, a spokesman for state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.
“This doesn’t preclude us from doing something down the road,” he said, “… because they reached out to us we may consider doing an audit in the future.”
The village asked for the audit into the department’s finances because of concerns about safety and financial liability after an internal investigation revealed that the fire company is carrying “hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt” and lacks proper certification for many of its members and equipment.
The village, meantime, has ordered the Hook & Ladder to “stand down,” meaning it cannot respond to fires until further notice.

The Hook & Ladder Co. Inc. on Quaker Street in Granville

Chief Ryan Pedone of the Engine & Hose Company, the other fire company in the village, said he is confident that his department can pick up the slack.
“Most people won’t notice a change in much of anything,” Pedone said. “When you call the fire department, you’ll still get fire trucks.”
Mayor Brian LaRose said he received a letter from the Comptroller’s Office on June 13, acknowledging the village’s request. The letter, signed by Jeffrey P. Leonard, chief examiner at the office, said the state would take the village’s request under consideration, but it may not have the staff available until late summer or early fall to complete an audit.
The note advised the village it would be contacted if and when the state decides to begin a probe.
“They are short-staffed,” LaRose said. “They will usually weigh the impact that an audit may have before acting on it.”
LaRose said he spoke to Village Attorney Michael Martin, who advised the village make sure it has an accurate financial account for what’s going on at the Hook & Ladder department.
“The village will not do its own audit because we want to avoid any bias,” LaRose said.
The village is looking into hiring an outside agency to perform an audit on the company, the mayor said.
“Rest assured, there will be an audit on the finances of the Hook & Ladder fire department,” LaRose said. “It’s just a matter of who will do it and when.”
If the Comptroller’s Office does decide to do an audit it will send formal notice to the fire company. Then the office will send field auditors to collect and review information. Butry said state will provide the department with a schedule of the auditors’ visit.
Butry said the audit would take up to nine months, from initiation to completion and any recommendations to the village on how to proceed.
Performance audits by the state comptroller’s office look at whether the entity is operating economically and efficiently, the causes of inefficiencies of uneconomical practices, and whether the entity has complied with laws and regulations. Program audits determine the extent to which desired results or benefits are being achieved, and whether the entity has complied with significant laws and regulations applicable to the program.
Because the village ordered the department to stand down, it can’t respond to fires, dispatch trucks or access any of its funds. It can’t even respond to a fire that’s across the road from the Quaker Street station.
This has caused some concern from village residents and business owners.
Ken Towne, manager of the Napa Auto Parts store across the street from the Hook & Ladder fire department, said he’s worried what having one functioning department in the village means.
“The one down the street (Engine & Hose) is always going,” he said. “If we had to wait for even North Granville to get here, it would probably be too late.”
Towne expressed concern about the fire and explosion risks he works around every day.
“We have a lot of chemicals here – propane, cleaning supplies and other fluids,” he said. “If we were to have a fire, it wouldn’t be pretty.”
“They make us have a fire extinguisher, but that won’t do much against a chemical fire,” he added. “Your best bet is to head for the door.”
Marjorie Colegrove, who rents a home four houses away from the Hook & Ladder, said she had a fire last year and Hook & Ladder firemen were quick to respond.
“They were here in no time, because they were right next door,” she said. “I am a little worried about not having them that close.”
With the department shut down, Colegrove said she’s worried that she may not be as lucky next time.
“A lot of people are going to lose their houses,” Colegrove said, mentioning a lot of the older homes, like her own, would burn pretty quickly.
Penny Mattison, who lives on Lee Road in Hebron, spends a lot of time in the village at friends’ houses. She said she’s worried that the Engine & Hose Company doesn’t have the manpower to cover the village if there are multiple fires at a time.
“If they are going out of town, who’s going to take care of the in-town?” Mattison asked, mentioning the schools and the nursing homes that could be affected by the response time in the case of a fire.
Pedone said it takes his firefighters five minutes from the time dispatch calls to when a truck is on the road to a fire. Engine & Hose, which has 32 members, usually sends 10 to 12 firefighters to each fire.
“Between the Engine & Hose Company and the surrounding departments, we can definitely handle it,” he said.
Village Fire Chief Mike Zinn, who oversees all of the fires and emergencies in the village, said “Residents should not worry. There will be no interruption in fire protection in the village.”
Zinn, who is also the assistant chief at the Engine & Hose Company, said there’s no real change in procedure. His department, like others, have always relied on other departments including those in Middle Granville, North Granville, Whitehall and West Pawlet to help with fires.



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