FDNY fire academy Chief Frank Leeb seen here working a...

FDNY fire academy Chief Frank Leeb seen here working a fire forEast Farmingdale as he stretches a hose line while attempting to extinguish a fire on Route 110, in East Farmingdale, Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2017. The Farmingdale Fire Department and the North Amityville Fire Co. were sent as mutual aid to assist. It took about 30 mintues to get the fire under control. Credit: Newsday/Steve Pfost

The Town of Babylon and the North Amityville Fire Co. Inc. have agreed to hire a high-ranking member of the FDNY to oversee the shuttered fire company’s operations, bringing members a step closer to once again answering emergency calls.

The town has chosen FDNY Deputy Assistant Chief Frank Leeb for the job, at an annual salary of $45,000. Leeb, who has been with the FDNY for 30 years and chief of the FDNY’s fire academy for the past two years, is a longtime member and former captain of the East Farmingdale Fire Company. According to FDNY spokesman James Long, Leeb does not require a waiver or approval for the work with North Amityville.

"My 35-plus years of being in the volunteer fire service certainly affords me to know the nuances that entail the volunteer fire department, whether that be in response, in training and recruitment, in all different aspects, so I think I’m well-suited to examine a system," said Leeb, 52, of West Babylon.

Babylon notified North Amityville on Jan. 7 that it would redirect the company’s emergency calls to four neighboring departments due to not only the fire company’s "lack of timely response time, but allegations of mismanagement of funds, sexual harassment, violence" and the company’s "failure to act upon these allegations."

The town had been set to contract with the largely volunteer fire company for nearly $3.2 million this year. Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer said he would not restore the contract until a receiver was put in place to oversee the company’s finances and operations.

The fire company also has agreed to name the town’s human resources consultant, John Coverdale, as part of the receivership. Coverdale’s salary has not been finalized, said town spokesman Kevin Bonner. He said Coverdale was paid $160 per hour by the town for past work.

Other experts, such as an outside accounting firm, will be brought in too, Schaffer said.

"I’m happy with the way things are moving and it’s quicker than I had thought," Schaffer said, crediting the "resiliency of the members" that he said "speaks volumes to how much they care about their community."

On Jan. 31, North Amityville Fire members voted to oust board members Jimmie McGruder, Jeff Dixon and Thomas Hampton and install Jerome Moore, Rashada Delaney and Larry Krumenacker in their place. The members agreed to keep on board member Aquinas Nelson and also Sean Rasdall, who had been elected by the membership in December. Chief Thomas Nelson, who had been suspended by the board, and 11 members whom the board dropped from the roster in early January were reinstated.

Nelson said the company is about to approve nine volunteers who had been waiting to join and plans to hire 10 to 15 EMTs.

"I think it’ll be a good fit," Nelson said of Leeb, noting that most members already know him. "We’ve been working the last three weeks to get everything that we need in place, and everyone is just hungry to get back on the trucks and answer the calls."

The Copiague, North Lindenhurst and Amityville fire departments, along with the East Farmingdale Fire Company, will be paid $80,000 each for answering North Amityville’s calls in January and February, Schaffer said. The money will come out of North Amityville’s budget, he said.

The town will hold a public hearing at 3:30 p.m. March 1 on restoring North Amityville’s contract.

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