For years, former Irvington firefighter and current Irvington Volunteer Ambulance Corps. (IVAC) member, Nikolai Kabelev has threatened to create a second fire company in the village.
The second company would still serve the Irvington Volunteer Fire Department, however—in Kabelev's view—his company would have different rules and a different culture.
"We would like to address the unsatisfactory state of affairs with the Irvington Fire Company Inc. that at this point has monopolistic control over the access to the municipal fire department to the volunteers," he said Monday at a public Board of Trustees meeting.
. Kabelev said that he'd been the brunt of a number of disparaging comments, but that the one he finally brought to the chief and the village was a remark made at a parade, in which the accused company member made insinuating remarks about Kabelev and the chief, "that were of a sexual nature," Kabelev said.
A little more than a month ago, Kabelev received a letter in the mail asking him to turn in his fire-fighting equipment because without being a member of a municipal fire company, one can't identify as a member of that municipality's fire department.
"Firefighters who prefer the culture of the new fire company will be able to vote with their feet and join that company," said IVAC's Nancy Adler before the board of trustees on Tuesday. "Residents who prefer that their donations go to benefit the fire department and not just a fire company organized as a social group will vote with their donations."
As part of the proposal for the second fire company, Kabelev has pledged "a new standard of service that we believe has never been enjoyed in our village by its residents, its administration and its firefighters...[this company] would limit spending to only providing grants to the village of Irvington to purchase fire/rescue equipment...and fund training."
As a member of the current fire company,
"This [new] company would not spend ay money on any form of benefits for its members," Kabelev said.
Kabelev said there are already two active Irvington firefighters who have who have vowed to be charter members of the second company if it's incorporated.
"We also have unofficial support from other members who are concerned to go public," he said. "They [current] company has told them not to discuss this with anyone outside, and they are afraid to say they will join until the new company exists."
Ellen Lewit, captain of IVAC, said she came to Monday's meeting to support Kabelev—not as an IVAC member, but as a taxpayer.
"Nyq has wonderful ideas about transparency," she said. "I believe there are too many secrets held within the current company."
Lewit said she was extremely angry and disturbed when she learned recently that the money she'd donated to the Irvington Fire Company over the years had been spent on social events—not on training and equipment.
"I had no idea my donations had nothing to do with fire-fighting," she said. "That the fund-raising letter was written with the village heading was misleading."
IVAC member and Dobbs Ferry resident David Elkins also came to show his support for Kavelev.
"I agree with what Nyq is trying to do," Elkins said. "I think a little partying and some social events are okay, but this is too much—especially when the department requests equipment and the company turns down its request for funds."
Adler reinforced Kabelev's statement that the two fire companies—if Kabelev's is incorporated—would "be working side by side with the same Village-supplied equipment. This is the way these same firefighters have worked together all along until just recently when the Village enforced Nyq Kabelevs’ resignation from the Fire Department," she said. "To me it seems grossly unfair that anyone should have to tolerate prejudice and sexual abuse at the existing fire company just to be a member of the fire department."
Kabelev has launched:
1) A campaign website.
2) A Twitter account
3) and A Facebook page.
"We look forward to making this an open process with the board," he said. "We hope this can provide a constructive solution that would provide the best possible benefits to the people of Irvington."
Find Kabelev's complete draft proposal to the board in the media section above.