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Garden City Park Fire Commissioner Race a Contest Between ‘Friends’

Carl Wood challenging Ken Borchers for lone open seat on three-member board.

Ken Borchers (l) and Carl Wood (r). Photo credit: Composite
Ken Borchers (l) and Carl Wood (r). Photo credit: Composite

The 2013 election for Garden City Park Fire Commissioner will be between two men who before the race considered themselves friends: incumbent Ken Borchers and challenger Carl Wood.

“It’s nothing major, I mean, that’s how I feel now,” Wood said before the election.

“I didn’t see it coming because we were friends and I don’t see any (reason) that he has to run,” Borchers, 51, said.

A member of the department for 32 years, Borchers has served for the past six years and two terms as one of the three commissioners of the Garden City Park Fire and Water District.

“I’m just going to continue to ensure that the safety and the service and the efficiency to our community exists and we keep upgrading our water supplies and we maintain the strongest firefighting services that we have,” he said in making his case to be elected for another three-year term. “I had gone up thought the ranks, I was an officer before so I just felt that I’d like to take it to a different level and I figured there were other ways that I could help the community out and I just figured I could better do the department and trainings and district spending and finances so I chose to run.”

Borcher’s wife is also a member of the department’s ladies auxiliary. They have been married for 22 years and have an 18-year old daughter that is also a member of the junior fire department and is attending Adelphi University after having graduated from Herricks High School.

Wood, an employee of the New York Port Authority for the past 31 years as a plumber and in the fire pump station, has been a Garden City Park resident “on and off” since 1991, returning in 2011 to the unincorporated area of New Hyde Park. He has three children: two daughters and a son ranging from 17 to 23 in age. He is campaigning as an advocate for EMTs in the department.

“There’s nothing really to change in the rest of the fire department,” Wood said. “Mainly I’ve always done things for the community. The fire house is making some decisions and we’re losing all our EMS personnel.”

“We’ve probably had, probably in the last two years, more membership than I can ever remember,” Borchers said in dispute.

Currently, EMTS have to make 25 percent of fire calls and 25 percent of rescue calls.

“Maybe they could lose something else but not get thrown out of the department, get penalized somehow, just we’re losing too many young EMTs,” Wood said, believing that a lowered quota would be helpful or to only make 25 percent of rescue calls only.

“It has been in existence for 112 years so we have approximately 115 members that abide by all these rules and regulations so I don’t see it being a problem,” Borchers said in response. “If you lower the standards... first of all... if it’s not broke, then why fix it? And if you lower the standards it could also work against you because people could look at it even though they’re volunteering their time, they have to make a less and less percentage and they might now show up. They’re showing up and we don’t have any problem getting any EMT services out. He’s complaining because his daughter was an EMT for 9 months and she didn’t make any of her quota so the chief had asked her to resign.”

Wood said that he “didn’t care that they wanted her to resign because she was turning down overtime at her job to try to make her calls to try to stay on,” explaining that the issue was she would only make 30 percent of calls combined.

“She was like maybe 19 percent of one and 12 percent of the other,” Wood said. “She didn’t want to resign because she felt she was helping the community because she was even driving her own car to a call. But they don’t have enough people and they don’t have enough drivers so she wanted to stay but she ended up going out and resigning. I just feel that the quota is too high and I want to sit down with the chief and try to change it. It’s not just my daughter, it’s a bunch of them. The state pays for these (EMT) cards and then they’re losing them; instead of our community getting the benefit of this, they’re leaving and going to hospitals.”

When asked about a recent incident involving a fire department member at the 2013 Celini Lodge festival, Wood said that “I don’t really have a hand in in but they’re trying to make like I do, but I really don’t know anything.”

Regarding the nine-decade old water district, Wood, who is state-certified in back-flow prevention, said that he wants to go after groundwater polluters in particular.

“I’m just talking about (when) you drive around in some ... areas and there’s oil on the roads and there’s antifreeze and it’s slippery,” he said. “I would like to have the benefit of the doubt that it’s safe for the community.”

In addition to continuing efforts at getting upgraded equipment for the department and more training for fire personnel, Borchers touted efforts in the water district for upgrading filtration system for impurities in well water on the north side by Denton Avenue and the department’s efforts of clearing out pump stations.

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