Residents expressed their frustrations with the West Elmira Fire Department Commissioners for how they handled the termination of former Captain William Michalko, at a meeting on Tuesday night.
They also had safety concerns, as a result of 15 volunteer firefighters leaving after his termination.
Michalko told 18 News he was fired without warning back in January, after he took a sick day to go to a funeral for a friend and volunteer firefighter. His own mother did not hold back towards commissioners. “He grew up under you and you. Shame on all of you!” she shouted.
Some residents were frustrated at the commissioners for not giving their side of the story.
“The other side is not getting their story out,” one resident said. “The public is owed the whole deal to understand what’s going on. I hope it’s over soon. This is embarrassing. We are West Elmira. This needs to stop.”
Many of the West Elmira residents in attendance said they fear what the loss of 15 volunteer firefighters could mean for their safety and protection.
“You as the Board of Commissioners are contracted with the town for the safety of our community and allowing this many to walk out and leave us immobile is unacceptable,” Cynthia Manning, a Town of Elmira resident, said.
The commissioner’s said they could not speak on Michalko’s termination. However, they did tell 18 News that they are making up for the loss of volunteers by increasing the amount of paid firefighters from 7 to now 14.