Dodson gives final report as five new chiefs sworn into FPFD

Dodson gives final report as five new chiefs sworn into FPFD
Floral Park Fire Department Chief Jeb Dodson gives his final report to the board of trustees on Tuesday, April 19. (Photo by Brandon Duffy)

“Usually the saying is ‘in like a lion, out like a lamb,’” said Floral Park Fire Department Chief Jeb Dodson. “But not in this case.”

The outgoing chief of five years gave one final end-of-year report to the Floral Park Board of Trustees Tuesday night as five new chiefs were sworn in to serve the department. 

Also during the meeting, the village board unanimously voted to approve the $35.4 million village budget for the 2023-2024 fiscal year.

“Tonight I am humbled to be standing before you as the  111th chief of this department,” an emotional Dodson said during his report in front of the full house in the village hall. Dodson, who first joined Alert Engine Co. 1 in 1994, is being replaced by new chief Brian Hamerman. 

The other four chiefs to be sworn into their roles Tuesday night were Sal Arrigo as 1st assistant chief, Gil Luger as 2nd assistant chief, Eric O’Connor as 3rd assistant chief and William Lauria as 4th assistant chief.

Dodson was recently in command of a four-alarm fire in the village Monday morning, where a fire started in the basement of 266 Jericho Turnpike.

After seeing the structure fire Dodson made a mutual aid request that eventually brought over a dozen Nassau County fire departments and over 100 firefighters.

After an initial attack on the fire, Dodson called for an evacuation of all firefighters as the conditions worsened and sprayed water from only the outside, said Nassau County Fire Marshal Michael Uttaro. 

There were no major injuries to any first responders or civilians, Dodson said. 

Dodson after his report personally acknowledged each member of the town board and village staff, thanking the officials for their support of the fire department and being able to have the discussions that may lead to tough decisions. 

The former chief specifically got choked up when thanking his colleagues.

“I could not ask for a better group of guys,” Dodson said to the five new chiefs. “You had my back at every turn, and that means a lot. Thank you.”

Fitzgerald commended Dodson’s commitment to service to both the village and the department.

“Thank you for being a great example of what a good neighbor should be,” Fitzgerald said. 

The $35,429,702 village budget represents a $1,566,407 increase from the current year, a 4.5% rise in spending.

The budget’s tax levy has an increase of 2.83%, which exceeded the state’s applicable tax cap of 2.12%, which the board unanimously voted to override ahead of the budget vote. 

General funds amount to $32.6 million for the upcoming fiscal year.

For the village’s library and pool, the budgets are $1.56 million and $1.22 million, respectively. 

The tax rate per $100 of assessed valuation for homeowners will be $14.67, which Mayor Kevin Fitzgerald said in a letter to the village amounts to an increase of $157 in village taxes for an average homeowner with an assessed value of $37,694. 

The next Floral Park Board of Trustees meeting will be held on Tuesday, May 2.

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