New Hyde Park resident Stephen Derenze unseated incumbent New Hyde Park Fire District Commissioner Michael Dolan last Tuesday, cementing his first spot on the board of fire commissioners for the next five years. Dolan, seeking his second term, fell 371-149.
“I felt it was time for a change,” Derenze said.
Derenze, a 32-year New Hyde Park Fire Department member, is currently a Floral Park police officer and previously worked for New York City EMS in 1982 and as a part-time paramedic in 1991. He feels the fire department needs a “makeover” when it comes to mobile technology and updated information systems for fire chiefs.
“We need the essentials, like laptops, Internet accessibility for the chiefs and officers,” said Derenze. “I want to see if we can get more grants in on the technology side. They could monitor calls that way as well.”
Derenze feels the district’s paying too much for water and plans to change that once he’s sworn in to his term.
“Hopefully we can get to work on that right away,” he said. “I feel they’re pretty high, at least from what I’ve heard from the chief’s staff and fire commissioners. It’s a large piece of the budget.”
Dolan served the fire department for 46 years and said he fought to “improve transparency in fire district operations and to preserve budgetary integrity,” in a letter to voters. He did not return calls for comment.
“Five years ago, I did not run and ultimately win the Commissioner’s post to be popular,” Dolan said in the letter. “I came to this post to do the work of the residents and taxpayers.
Being a fire commissioner is not just a voluntary job, it’s my passion.”
Dolan Sr. and his son, Michael Jr. were arrested on July 15, 2012 for allegedly stealing 65 smoke detectors from the department on June 21, 2012. He and his son were suspended shortly after the arrest.
Criminal charges against the Dolans were dismissed on Oct. 12, 2012 in Nassau County Criminal Court. However, the incident led the department to call an administrative hearing in January 2013.
Hearing officer Walter Wagner found Dolan Jr. had no knowledge of the removal of the smoke detectors and the younger Dolan was reinstated.
However, Wagner did find that Dolan Sr. was in the wrong for his conduct around the smoke detector issues and recommended he be removed from the department.
Dolan Sr. recently won a lawsuit he brought against the commissioners, challenging his dismissal in February 2013 from the fire department. Dolan Sr. could not be removed as a commissioner (an elected position) except by voters or legislative action.
“I was falsely accused and charged with theft of smoke detectors that I had secured by way of donation from the Nassau County Fire Fighters’ Museum,” Dolan said. “The fabricated charges were withdrawn by the district attorney’s office because charges asserted against me were without foundation and I was exonerated of any wrongdoing.”
The fire department appealed the ruling in March, but lost in the state Appellate Court.