Fire commissioner elections today

John Apicello, Lee Anthony and Ed Frost

The Jamesport and Wading River fire districts will hold contested elections for fire commissioner today, while Riverhead and Flanders both have incumbents running unopposed.

Fire commissioners run the fire district, the taxing entity that runs the fire departments.

All local fire districts elect their commissioners on tonight.

In Jamesport, two seats are up for election. One is vacant due to the recent death of longtime fire commissioner Ed Collins.

Seeking to fill the remaining four years of Mr. Collins’ term are Lee Anthony and John J. Apicello.

Mr. Anthony,  a member of the Jamesport Fire Department since 1973,  was captain of Company Two in 1999 and 2000, having served before that as first- and second-lieutenant. Mr. Anthony has also served as treasurer for the Jamesport Firemen’s Association, which runs fundraising events such as the annual carnival and the 10K run. He also heads the welfare committee, which aids department members who are ill.

Mr. Anthony taught history and economics for 32 years in the East Islip school district before retiring in 2000.

“I feel that my economic background will serve me well in making financial decisions for the taxpayers, without jeopardizing the safety and well being of the firefighters,” he said.

Mr. Apicello, a 37-year member of the department, was a Jamesport fire commissioner from 1980 to 1990. He is retired from LILCO, where he worked for 35 years and held managerial positions.

Mr. Apicello’s son, John K. Apicello, is currently on the Jamesport board of fire commissioners.

“I was on the commissioners from 1980 to 1990 when the district was going through a transition period and I feel lucky to have helped make it what it is today,” John J. Apicello said. “I feel we’re going through another transition period now, and I want to be part of it.”

The transition in the past, he said, involved getting the district to upgrade old equipment. In contrast, he feels the latest transition is that there is a lot of work to do with the new equipment.

Mr. Apicello said he’s also the department’s safety officer and is a past captain and lieutenant in Company No. 2.

“I think the past experience I have and the rapport I have with the chiefs and the members of the department will be valuable,” he said. “I have a deep concern for the safety and well-being of the members, but I also will look out for the taxpayers.”

The second position up for election in Jamesport is the five-year term being vacated by John Andrejack, currently the commission chair. Longtime firefighter Tom Brady is running unopposed for that seat.

Mr. Andrejack said he’s stepping down from as a commissioner to run for the second-assistant chief’s position in the fire department. He is unopposed in this election, in which department members vote. Duffy Griffiths is expected to move up to chief, replacing Scott McKillop, and Sean McCabe is expected to move up to first-assistant chief.

Mr. Andrejack, who served five years as commissioner, said the district has had no tax rate increase over the past four years but was able to add a parking lot to the firehouse property, double the size of the equipment barn across the street from the firehouse, buy five new vehicles, and aquire new equipment such as new bunker gear, scott packs, breathing bottles and an air filling station.

“We did this because we were able to attract almost $500,000 in grants,” Mr. Andrejack said. “And Ed Collins deserves a lot of the credit for that. We’ll be replacing a man who really served the community well.”

Voting in Jamesport will take place from 3 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at the firehouse, 25 Manor Lane.

In Wading River, incumbent commissioner Ed Frost is being challenged by John McManus, a former commissioner.

Mr. Frost, a department member for four years, is currently chairman of the board of commissioners, a position that, in Wading River, usually goes to the commissioner who is serving the final year of his term, he said.

He has also been a member of the Riverhead Town Police Department for close to 18 years and is currently a sergeant and a Police Athletic League administrator. He said that in the past year, the fire commissioners have brought in computer aided dispatching, which allows firefighters to get information on homes before they arrive, such as whether an ill person lives there. The district also this year joined the Suffolk County Purchasing Consortium, which will enable it to get better prices on purchases, he said.

Mr. Frost said his position with the police department involves bidding and purchasing equipment, which is something fire commissioners also must do.

Mr. McManus has been a member of the Wading River Fire Department since 1981, serving as a captain in the department and on the board of commissioners from 1997 to 2003, when he stepped down because he was moving to Huntington.

He has been a firefighter and an emergency medical technician in the fire department and during his police career was in the patrol division. He retired as a lieutenant from the Suffolk County Police Department in 2004, having worked there for 25 years.

Mr. McManus said he moved back to Wading River about four years ago.

“I’m retired, so I have a lot of time on my hands, and the fire department means a lot to me, as do the taxpayers,” he said.

“I’ve dealt with the public my entire career,” he said. “I have experience and I care about the town. It’s a good town with good people and I want to do what I can to help it.”
Voting in Wading River will take place from 1 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at the Firehouse, 1503 North Country Road in Wading River.

In the Riverhead Fire District, longtime incumbent Bill Kelly is running unopposed. Voting will take place from 3 to 9 p.m. at the fire headquarters on 540 Roanoke Avenue. And in the Flanders Fire District, incumbent Brian Williams is running unopposed. Voting there will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. at the firehouse, 19 Firehouse Lane, off Flanders Road.

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