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Rye Brook Sues Port Chester Over Firefighter Layoffs

Dozens of protesters wore red shirts during a rally May 3 that said: "Say 'NO' to Firefighter Layoffs." The Village of Rye Brook filed a lawsuit against the Village of Port Chester on Tuesday claiming a breach of contract for firefighter services.
Dozens of protesters wore red shirts during a rally May 3 that said: "Say 'NO' to Firefighter Layoffs." The Village of Rye Brook filed a lawsuit against the Village of Port Chester on Tuesday claiming a breach of contract for firefighter services. Photo Credit: Jon Craig
William Romaka, first district vice president of the International Association of Fire Fighters, spoke during a May 3 rally outside Port Chester Village Hall.
William Romaka, first district vice president of the International Association of Fire Fighters, spoke during a May 3 rally outside Port Chester Village Hall. Photo Credit: Jon Craig

This story has been updated.

RYE BROOK, N.Y. -- The Village of Rye Brook filed a lawsuit against the Village of Port Chester on Tuesday over its May 2 board vote to eliminate the paid fire department and eight career firefighters.

One of Port Chester's career firefighters was regularly assigned overnight to a firehouse in Rye Brook, according to the villages' signed contract.

The lawsuit claims a breach of contract due to those lost shared services, Rye Brook Mayor Paul S. Rosenberg said in an email to village residents.

"We are saddened that we needed to take this extraordinary step, but our Board of Trustees felt it was necessary to ensure that the Village of Rye Brook receives the fire services it is paying for and agreed to," Rosenberg said in his email.

"When it comes to emergency services and inter-municipal agreements, we take our responsibility to Rye Brook residents very seriously," Rosenberg wrote.

Port Chester's vote to unilaterally disband the Port Chester paid firefighters who staffed the Rye Brook firehouse between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. "has resulted in our small Rye Brook fire department staffing the firehouse 24 hours a day, which is not sustainable in the long term," Rosenberg said. "We hope that Port Chester will is honor its contract, and reinstate the paid overnight firefighters. Upon that occurring, Rye Brook is prepared to sit down with Port Chester at any time to resolve all other issues."

Rye Brook has no other choice but to go to court and seek a court order which would mandate the reinstatement of the Port Chester "paid" firefighters, Rosenberg said.

"We will be in front of a judge tomorrow afternoon," Rosenberg told Daily Voice late on Wednesday evening.

In an earlier letter, Rosenberg said Port Chester's 5-1 vote, as reported here by Daily Voice, forced Rye Brook to rely on full-time fire coverage by volunteers.

Port Chester officials have estimated the annual savings at $600,000 for salaries and benefits. Here is Port Chester's press release announcing the budget cuts.

During a rally outside Village Hall , William Romaka, first district vice president with the International Association of Fire Fighters, predicted the firings will prompt long, costly litigation.

Return to Daily Voice for updates.

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