Nassau County officials on Monday vowed to accelerate the rebuilding of a Woodbury police precinct destroyed by fire, as investigators continued to work to determine the cause of the blaze.
Chris Boyle, a spokesman for County Executive Bruce Blakeman, said the county executive “plans to expedite the rebuilding process” of the Second Precinct and has already begun discussions with legislative leaders.
“The Legislature will expeditiously consider any proposed plans and funding for reconstruction of the Second Precinct,” said the legislature’s Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello, who leads the majority Republican caucus. “Our priority is to get a new state-of-the-art precinct in place as soon as it can be accomplished.”
Officials did not provide an estimated dollar amount for the construction of a new police precinct. Blakeman said previously that the building was “not salvageable.”
“The Minority Caucus remains unwavering in its commitment to equipping the Nassau County Police Department with the resources it needs to optimally serve and protect our communities,” said William Biamonte, chief of staff for the legislature’s minority Democratic caucus. “In conversations with County Executive Blakeman, Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams has affirmed the caucus’ support for taking all necessary steps in the legislature to fast-track the reconstruction of this crucial law enforcement facility.”
Meanwhile, Nassau County Chief Fire Marshal Michael Uttaro said Monday that the cause of the fire has not yet been determined.
“It appears to be an accidental fire, with an undetermined origin from the kitchen area,” said Uttaro.
Uttaro said he had “nothing releasable” when asked for details about what investigators have learned about what transpired before the fire was reported, including whether anyone was cooking.
The two-story brick building on Jericho Turnpike did not have a fire alarm or sprinkler system, but was not required to because it was built in 1969, decades before the New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code was created in 1984, Uttaro said.
“Usually if it’s predated the code and they’re not required, most often times, if it’s government or private, these systems aren’t voluntarily put in,” said Uttaro. “As a fire prevention person, we always advocate for it, but obviously when it comes to budget, money does play a factor.”
Police department spokesman Det. Lt. Richard LeBrun declined to answer questions Monday.
The fire at the department’s Second Precinct was reported at 10:12 p.m. Saturday. The Syosset Fire Department arrived at 10:17 p.m. Six members of the police department were inside the precinct at the time and were treated for smoke inhalation at Nassau University Medical Center and later released.
Nassau County Legis. Joshua Lafazan (D-Woodbury) said any move to fund a new precinct on an emergency basis would be done at the discretion of Nicolello.
“The fire was a tragedy and unfortunate,” Lafazan said. “But given the circumstances now, I’m hoping we can come together in a bipartisan manner with a state of urgency to give the community the state-of-the-art precinct it deserves.”