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George Massarotti: Whitesboro's new fire chief

Observer-Dispatch, Utica, N.Y. logo Observer-Dispatch, Utica, N.Y. 1/20/2020 By H. Rose Schneider, Observer-Dispatch, Utica, N.Y.
a stop sign is covered with snow: Whitesboro firefighters gather at the scene of a car accident on Main Street after they extricated a woman from the vehicle seen in photo. [O-D FILE PHOTO] © O-D FILE PHOTO/Observer-Dispatch/Observer-Dispatch, Utica, N.Y./TNS Whitesboro firefighters gather at the scene of a car accident on Main Street after they extricated a woman from the vehicle seen in photo. [O-D FILE PHOTO]

George Massarotti is stepping up as the new Whitesboro Volunteer Fire Department Chief. A lifetime Whitesboro resident and a member of the fire department for almost four decades, he says that he wanted to follow his father, a firefighter of 50 years.

How long have you been in the Whitesboro Volunteer Fire Department?

I have been a volunteer firefighter with Whitesboro for 38 years, recently retired as a career assistant fire chief with Fort Drum, and currently a fire protection specialist with the New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control. I was an assistant chief for 8 years.

Why did you want to be fire chief?

It's an organization with dedicated men and women who want to make a difference in the community. I also wanted to make a difference, as the fire chief I can help mentor the current and future officers, who will lead the department. I would like to make changes that improve the delivery of services provided by the department, and of course to help my community.

What has been the most impactful call you've been on?

I was the incident commander the night that Police Officer Kevin Crossley was killed in the line of duty. Kevin was also a past member of the department, a friend, and a great person. His death affected many: the entire department and the community. Kevin touched so many individuals in so many different ways. We came together as friends and brother and sister firefighters that night to try and save a friend and brother firefighter.

Why is it important to volunteer, especially with agencies like fire departments?

My father was a firefighter for 50 years. I saw the hard work he did for Whitesboro, trying to make a difference, whether it was manning a handline at a structure fire, helping a resident during a flood, or providing emotional care for a person who just lost a loved one. I wanted to follow my father's footsteps.

The village could not afford paid staff, so stepping up to be a volunteer helps the community and keeps the taxes down.

What are you looking forward to as chief? Any goals for the department in mind?

To continue the programs created by our past Chief Peter Sobel; to improve the way the department delivers services to the community, to advance our training capabilities, and to improve our working relations with the surrounding volunteer departments.

What should others know about the fire department or firefighters in general?

Currently, the volunteer fire service needs more volunteers, so it is important that we all work together. It takes staffing to operate at emergency incidents, having mutual aid enhances the capabilities of the departments. It also improves the services we are providing to our residents, and can reduce the costs to run a fire department.

Contact reporter H. Rose Schneider at 315-792-5013 or follow her on Twitter (@OD_Schneider).

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©2020 Observer-Dispatch, Utica, N.Y.

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