West Seneca changes its approach to emergency response

May 13, 2019

West Seneca is disbanding its Community Emergency Response Team and some team members are not happy with the development.

Emergency personnel in West Seneca are often called out to help with flooding issues.
Credit WBFO file photo

A town reorganization placed Chief Daniel Denz in charge of emergency preparedness and he announced the change to individual CERT members.

CERT previously provided backup support in emergency situations, like running the town's emergency operations center.

"Our plan is to man that with volunteer fire men who have extensive training in incident command structure," Denz told WBFO News. 

According to Denz, with the new approach "we have more control over as a government agency that reduce our liability issues and such. So, that is our plan to do that now."

CERT Team Leader Dennis Schultz says there was no notice the town was disbanding the group until members received the letter from Denz and Disaster Coordinator Eric Conley.

Schultz says the volunteers backed first responders as they need help

"We get called in when they become overwhelmed," Schultz said. "There are certain things that we are doing that I don't think the fire department is willing to do, such as run Union fire halls and their shelter that they just built at their brand new fire hall," Schultz said.

Schultz says the CERT operation cost the town little to nothing since they were all volunteers, mostly purchased their own supplies, and took care of their own training and supplied training to others.

The West Seneca School District let CERT operate out of a room in one of its building, as it volunteered the room used as the emergency operations center.