Town Board hires Zitek as Riverhead’s second fire marshal

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Jamesport Fire Department volunteer and now the town's Chief Fire Marshall Craig Zitek.

The Riverhead Town Board hired a new chief fire marshal Wednesday night, giving the town two fire marshals for the first time since Scott Dovonski resigned at the beginning of the year.

The Town Board, at its regular meeting on Wednesday night, hired Craig Zitek of Jamesport as its chief fire marshal effective March 5.

Mr. Zitek, a former Jamesport Fire Chief, is also a former town fire marshal whose position was eliminated in the 2011 town budget as a cost-saving measure.

The board, in preparing that budget in late 2010, eliminated six full-time positions and seven part-time positions, citing what Supervisor Sean Walter said was a multi-million town budget deficit.

At the time, fire fighters from numerous local departments jam-packed the Oct. 19, 2010 Town Board meeting to urge the board not to cut what was at the time the third fire marshal position.

Riverhead Fire Chief Nick Luparella said at the time that, in addition to investigating fires, the fire marshals also much inspect commercial businesses and proposed commercial businesses to ensure that fire escapes are clear, sprinkler systems work and that other fire codes designed to ensure the public’s safety are being met.

“Can you real put a price on safety and the lives of the people who live, work and visits where firefighters protect and serve in this community?” Mr. Luparella said at the time.

The board eliminated the third fire marshal post and went with two fire marshals until Mr. Davonski resigned, at which point Dave Andruszkiewicz became the town’s only fire marshal. Because of this, board members said Mr. Andruszkiewicz has been on call 24 hours a day, and on Wednesday, the board approved a contract amendment to pay fire marshals what’s known as “standby pay.”

Under the CSEA contract amendment, fire marshals who are designated to be on standby would be payed at a rate of one hour of straight pay for every eight hours on standby shifts.

Riverhead now has two fire marshals, which fire departments felt was still not enough, since the town has a lot of commercial development that must be inspected, and commercial applications that must be reviewed by the fire marshal. The Riverhead Fire Department also said it had its two highest number of calls ever in the past two years.

In neighboring towns, Southampton Town have five fire marshals, East Hampton two and Southold one.

[email protected]