GREECE, N.Y. -- The fire police are an important line of defense, protecting firefighters and law enforcement as they respond to an emergency.
In the North Greece Fire District, an important part of the job is traffic control.
In just a matter of minutes, a fire police vehicle is able to get to a scene and set up the equipment.
“If we’re at a major intersection, the more things we can set up to protect our officers, our fellow EMS and firefighters – the better," said North Greece Fire Police Captain Keith Meyer. "The more explanation with our equipment we can do, the better it is for everybody.”
It’s all to maximize safety, keeping the public away from a fire, debris or crime scene.
“That’s our principal job: Safety," said North Greece Fire Police Lt. Jim Dill. "To keep the public safe from the firefighting and the incident. And to keep the people in the incident safe from the public.”
But those traffic barriers and signs may still not be enough to stop some citizens from questioning the fire police.
“We had somebody drive on the sidewalk – and we stopped them, and we asked what they were doing, and they had to go pick up a friend," Meyer said. "And this was at a fatal accident. It’s just unbelievable sometimes what people think they can or should do.”
Fire police members say ignoring their warnings risks causing another emergency – when first responders already have one on their hands.
And the area has had several recent emergencies on its hands, including when a Lake Shore Fire Department vehicle fatally struck 13-year-old Dominic Cook earlier this month.
“Recently, unfortunately Greece has had some pretty horrific accidents," Meyer said. "Normally most fire police agencies leave after the fire trucks go. Here in North Greece, we go a step above that, we want to remain on scene to protect the law enforcement.”
But Meyer says the sacrifices they make are worth it.
“We’re coming from home. We’re leaving the turkey on Thanksgiving, we’re leaving Christmas. We don’t get paid. Sometimes we’re on-scene five, six hours. The guys do it. They don’t complain too much. But we’re out there in the heat, in the snow, in the rain," said Meyer. "And we all do it because we want to work for this department, and we want to protect safety for the public."