Brian Kenny touts need for paid firefighters in Manhasset-Lakeville Fire Department

Brian Kenny touts need for paid firefighters in Manhasset-Lakeville Fire Department
Manhasset-Lakeville Company No. 2 Firehouse, located on Community Drive East, Manhasset. (Photo by Brandon Duffy)

Brian Kenny, who is running for Manhasset-Lakeville Fire and Water District commissioner as a write-in candidate, is calling for adding paid firefighters to the Manhasset-Lakeville Fire Department.

He is a volunteer firefighter for Company No. 2 in the Fire Department. A volunteer since 1960, Kenny is running against Brian Morris, who is seeking a fifth term. 

The Manhasset-Lakeville Fire and Water District, which covers Manhasset, portions of Great Neck and North New Hyde Park, serves more than 45,000 residents.

In an interview with Blank Slate Media, Kenny, 80, said he is entirely focused on the fire aspect of the position, specifically recruitment and retainment. He cited a different social climate for volunteering and the increased financial standing of incoming residents as reasons for recruitment issues.

“Things are different from years ago,” Kenny said. “I know that other departments throughout the nation experience the same issues, although to different degrees.” 

If elected, Kenny said, he would seek to turn the department into a hybrid mix of paid firefighters and volunteers. Kenny said that keeping a small number of firefighters on staff reduces the response times compared with when volunteers have to leave their homes. Also, Kenny said if a firefighter doesn’t live in the village or district, responses can be delayed. 

“A few seconds, minutes can be the difference between life or death,” he said. 

The department, according to Kenny, has over 180 members and responds to well over 1,500 calls a year. He said he wants to implement a system similar to one in New London, Connecticut.  For the three fire stations there, four groups of 16 paid firefighters work shifts one group at a time. 

Kenny said that his concerns are shared with a number of fellow volunteers. However, he said that he is one of the only ones willing to admit it and do something to help fix the Fire Department he has been with for decades.

“I love this Fire Department as much as anything,” Kenny said. “The last thing I want to see is anything happen to it, or it not be the best it could be.”

Voting for Manhasset-Lakeville Fire and Water District commissioner will take place at the Company No. 1, 3, 4 and 5 firehouses on Dec. 14 from noon to 9 p.m.

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