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Lynbrook rift over use of village gas during Sandy

Lynbrook Village Hall is located at 1 Columbus

Lynbrook Village Hall is located at 1 Columbus Dr., and also houses the village police department. The village was incorporated March 15, 1911. Credit: Fran Berkman

A rift has grown between Lynbrook Village's Board of Trustees and some members of its fire department over the trustees voting to give themselves access to village gas in the days after superstorm Sandy.

The trustees passed a resolution in early November that allowed the mayor and the four trustees to use village gas in their personal cars to "cope with" the "emergency conditions" caused by the storm.

The village was hit hard by Sandy and the long lines at commercial gas stations made it difficult for trustees to fuel their cars so they could respond to residents' needs, said Alan Beach, a trustee and deputy mayor.

But some Lynbrook Fire Department members took it as a slight that firefighters were not offered the same courtesy, department members said.

Rescue Hose, Ladder And Bucket Co. 1, one of six companies in the department, sent a letter in November to the trustees to "express our concern and displeasure regarding the gasoline situation following the storm," according to a copy obtained by Newsday.

"Members of the department were offered little to no help by the village while village officials were fueling their personal vehicles" with village gas, said the letter, authored by company secretary Danny Neri.

Beach, who said he used village gas to fuel his car after the resolution passed, said the fire department's criticism was baseless. Trustees needed the gas because they were working out of their cars at all hours in the days after Sandy, he said.

Beach added that the trustees repaid the village for gas they used, and that the use of the gas did not affect the village's ability to fuel the fire department's trucks.

"There were trees down, people without electricity, seniors with problems, trees through people's homes," Beach said. "I'm really very annoyed that they would even comment on this, because that's our job."

Lynbrook's 225-member volunteer department is funded by the village. It differs from many on Long Island in that it is not run by a special district.

Steve Grogan, a former captain of the department who serves as its spokesman, declined to address the tension between the volunteers and the village. Fire Department Chief Anthony DeCarlo said he does not consider the trustees and the department to be at odds.

The department's only statement on the issue is that Lynbrook firefighters "responded to over 180 fire and emergency calls during and after the storm" and fire trucks never had a problem getting gas, Grogan said.

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