Mitchell Sime; 60 Year Member of Armonk Fire Department By Caroline Silpe
August 17, 2016 Armonk Fire Department member Mitch Sime has served the community for the past 60 years. He became a volunteer firefighter ay age 21 because he had a passion for the safety of his neighbors.
“Armonk was community oriented at that time,” he said. “We all joined as we reached age 21. My friends were in there and everybody was together. Our wives were members of the auxiliary at that time. It was a family affair. Even though we weren’t all related, we were more or less all good friends.”
Carlos Cano, Chief of the Armonk Fire Department, speaks highly of Sime and all he has done for the community. “Mitch has been and still is such an asset to the department. All the knowledge he has of the fire service is unbelievable. When we return from a call, he can tell you who used to live at that address and where are they now, or what used to be there before the new house was built. Mitch is such a humble man. He is funny and especially likes to make fun (in a good way) of all the youngsters in the department. It is a pleasure to be around him.”
Though the close bonds of the members of the Armonk Fire Department have not changed over the years, the type of work Sime does has. “When I joined in 1956, nothing was developed like it is today. We had more grass fires and brush fires than anything else.”
Sime explained that the majority of the fire calls and ambulance calls the department responds to are not for actual fires, but rather are for fire alarms or CO alarms. However, he says that one always has to be careful in the line of duty.
Regarding the worst fire he has ever encountered, the Log Cabin was a popular restaurant in downtown Armonk that burned to the ground in the late 1960s. “We didn’t have the equipment to do much in those days,” Sime said.
When asked if he plans to retire, he laughed and responded, “Oh sure.” But that depends on his health. At 81 years old, he still goes on many calls as he drives the fire engines and ambulances.
Fire Siren Raises Alarm
July 29, 2015 If you call 911 from your Armonk landline, the emergency call goes through to North Castle’s Police Department. The police then call the Westchester Fire Control in Valhalla, who dispatch and activate the siren located at Maple Avenue and Route 22. The siren goes off as a secondary signal for the volunteer members of the Armonk Independent Fire Company and Emergency Medical Service Agency of Armonk and Banksville. If a cell phone is used to call in an emergency, there’s a slightly different route taken for the siren to be signaled.
The North Castle Fire District No. 2 is comprised of about 60 active volunteers who respond to approximately 1,100 calls per year. While the Armonk firehouse is often not occupied when a siren alarms, the volunteers have pagers that also go off. These pages are the first emergency signals sent to volunteers by a radio frequency.
If there is a medical emergency that requires an ambulance or the fire department, and if no volunteer has given an acknowledgment to the call within three to five minutes, the siren is repeated. At times there may also be back-to-back multiple calls, said Bruce Wuebber, Armonk Fire Department Commissioner.
There have been a number of residents who have complained about the siren’s loud noise and questioned its necessity.
The problem of just relying on the pages is multifold. First, a pager operates on a low radio frequency which may cause communication to be lost when a first responder is inside a building or in a dead zone. Weather may also affect the pager’s receiving ability. In addition, if someone is outside mowing the lawn or using another type of noisy equipment, the pager may not be heard. If someone else is on the frequency, there could be interference of the signal. Also of concern is the battery charge of the pager. If it is low, first responders could be delayed; if there were not a siren as a backup system, those in need of assistance would be put at risk.
Furthermore, homeowners’ insurance companies require a reliable second means of notification in the event that there is an emergency call which requires a fire department to respond, said Wuebber. Fire insurance is determined based upon the ratings and reliability of local fire departments’ notification sources, training, and fire hydrant locations. Without the siren, the cost of homeowners’ insurance could significantly increase.
In Armonk, back before the 1940’s, there was a locomotive system that blew a horn to alert volunteers of a fire. The fire department used a system with a number of sounds that signaled the location, similar to morse code. Later, the fire department used a fire horn that operated on compressed air to produce an alarm sound. The old horn was situated outside the former Armonk firehouse on Maple Avenue which is now the Hergenhan Recreation Center.
Since 2004-05, when the Armonk Fire Department moved to Bedford Road and Niles Avenue, the horn was replaced with a siren. The Fire Department worked with the Town to determine the location to install a new siren at the corner of Maple Avenue and Route 22. At the request of residents in the area, the alarm cycles have been changed twice in order to tone down its volume.
In a rural area, a siren is still needed to notify volunteers, said Wuebber. But to accommodate the community and to minimize the noise, the fire department does not sound the siren overnight from 11:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. At that time, they assume that volunteers are at home and their pagers are in a spot where they will go off and be heard.
The Armonk Fire Department’s Board of Commissioners meet on the second Monday of every month at 7:00 p.m. at the Armonk Fire House at 400 Bedford Road. Wuebber said the meetings are public and residents are always welcome to attend to discuss any concerns.
Volunteer Firefighters Ice Rescue at Windmill Lake
March 30, 2014 On a windy, cold March afternoon, the Armonk Fire Department performed a simulated ice rescue in the frigid water of Windmill Lake. The volunteer firefighters said that the water temperature was warmer than the air as they were immersed in the lake dressed in drysuits waiting to be rescued. From a floating platoon, a solo rescuer paddled and then shimmied up on the thin ice. He leaned back while using a pick tool to grab and pull himself along the surface to reach the man in the water. Each man had a role in the scenario which represented a potentially real and dangerous situation of retrieving someone who fell through the ice. Armonk Fire Chief, Rich Waterbury, and Second Assistant Chief Carlos Cano explained the technique used to reach the victim, load him onto the floating device, and then the ground crew pulled them to shore by maneuvering the rope hand-over-hand.
As in a real emergency, working together and assisting one another is an essential ingredient for success. Banksville Fire Department’s Assistant Chief Al Farquar was on the beach reeling in the lifeline just before he had to dash off to answer a fire alarm sent by the Banksville Fire Department. Everyone’s pager went off and the members quickly gathered the equipment to follow Farquar to assist with the call.
EMS Week Observed at Armonk Fire Department
May 22, 2014 Armonk’s Emergency Medical Services held its annual open house to kick off EMS week on Saturday, May 19, at the Armonk Firehouse. Young children enjoyed bouncing in the castle, exploring the emergency vehicles while learning some important safety tips. Armonk’s EMS is comprised of a group of dedicated volunteers that are looking for new members to join in some of the most rewarding life experiences. EMS is always on call when needed by the community.
Armonk Fire Department
Armonk EMS Is Set for Multiple Emergency Calls
February 3, 2016 On Sunday afternoon, two emergency calls were deployed in Armonk. An ambulance was requested at CVS Pharmacy and shortly thereafter, another call came from The Bristal Assisted Living.
The fire siren alarmed, alerting volunteer Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) that their services were needed. On a typical call, volunteers come down to the firehouse, get on the fire truck or the ambulance and race to the scene.
“We are completely capable of handling multiple alarms at the same time,” says Bruce Wuebber, Armonk Fire Department’s Chairman of Commissioners. “We have three ambulances for a reason. There have been several times when all three are out on three different calls. Some volunteers will stay at the firehouse for the duration of the call in case they have another call, as was the case on Sunday. If we get another call, or if they need more people on the scene, we get in the truck or ambulance, and off we go,” he says. There have been many times where there have been more than one emergency call in Armonk at the same time. In fact it happens often, Wuebber added. But there are circumstances such as a vehicle accident, where a fire truck and the rescue truck would go, and only one ambulance would go out.
For a couple of years now, Westchester Emergency Medical Services (WEMS) provides a hired EMT for the Armonk Fire Department. The contracted EMT works Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. He or she is not needed on the weekends or during the evenings because Armonk Fire Department’s volunteers cover the calls at those times.
“Our response has been terrific on the weekends when everybody is around,” says Wuebber. Unfortunately more and more people have to work and that’s why they had to resort to the paid person during the week. Fortunately, this has not caused much of an increase in the budget because the department was able to scrape and save in other areas, he says.
In Northern Westchester, the Town of North Castle, as well as Bedford, Lewisboro, Mount Kisco, New Castle, North Salem, Pound Ridge and Somers, has a contract with WEMS to provide emergency care from full-time paramedic response vehicles, aka flycars. For a call that is dispatched by Westchester County, the county dispatcher looks at the criteria; for instance, if there’s difficulty breathing, they dispatch the Advanced Life Support (ALS) ambulance.
“When a call comes in that needs ALS, the flycar will respond to that location,” says Wuebber. “They are never more than a couple of minutes away.” It’s rare that they will not be on the scene right away, he added. ALS heads to the scene, as does Armonk Fire Department’s ambulance, and everyone meets at the location. The certified paramedic would then determine if he or she is needed. If so, the ALS may ride to the hospital as they are trained in more advanced emergency medical support, such as setting intravenous medication or using lifesaving equipment such as a monitor with defibrillation or external pacemaker devices.
Now Is the Time to Volunteer
December 15, 2014 The Armonk Fire Department consists of 60 dedicated members; the volunteers are rigorously trained as firefighters and emergency medical technicians (EMT). Volunteering for the department can lead to some of the most rewarding experiences. Not only is volunteering beneficial to the fire department, it also serves as an important way to give back to the community.
North Castle resident Adam Barnett has shared some of his volunteer experiences in a letter addressed to the community that explains why he joined the Fire Department and how the experience changed his life. The Armonk Fire Department invites anyone who may be interested in becoming a volunteer to attend one of their two upcoming open houses on Thursday January 6 at 7:00 p.m. or Saturday January 10 at 10:00 a.m. Please consider attending if you are interested in learning more about how you can make a difference in your community.
Young Man Donates Birthday Gifts Toward Life-Saving CPR Machine for Fire Dept
September 30, 2014 Ben Weinhoff is in 6th grade at HC Crittenden Middle School. At his recent birthday party, Ben, his family, and friends helped raise money toward the Armonk Fire Department’s purchase of a LUCAS Chest Compression System.
“When someone is in cardiac arrest, we do CPR in five-minute rotations,” said Acting Armonk Fire Department Chief Carlos Cano, who is the Second Assistant Chief. “We need at least two people present, plus a medic. If the patient is upstairs, they need to be transported downstairs and that might require an interruption of the manual CPR application. Also there may be an interruption when they get the patient into the ambulance. Manual CPR can be very tiring and especially difficult in an ambulance, depending upon the condition of the rescuer who is the doing CPR, and how fast the ambulance is moving. The LUCAS device can save time and personnel with its steady comprehensions.” The LUCAS wraps around the chest and does continual compressions that lasts long enough to get the person to the hospital.
Ben’s mother, Elissa Weinhoff, received a fundraising letter from her sister around the time of Ben’s birthday party about a LUCAS CPR device for the Armonk Fire Department. “He doesn’t need anything and doesn’t want anything,” said Mrs. Weinhoff. “I showed him the letter, we discussed what the LUCAS machine does, and I suggested that he raise money for the machine.”
“When my mom brought it up to me, I thought is was a good idea,” said Ben. “We emailed my friends’ parents and told them that we wanted to raise money for the fire department instead of presents.”
For his birthday, Ben collected and donated over $300 toward the LUCAS machine. The machine costs $15,000.
Jessica Goldsmith initiated the fundraising letter. Goldsmith is the mother of a young woman who has volunteered as an EMT for the Armonk Fire Department. Goldsmith sent a fundraising letter to raise awareness about the need of the LUCAS device that provides life- saving compressions to cardiac arrest patients. Her goal is to raise $10,000, and the Armonk Fire Department will make up the difference.
Ben and his older brother both are thinking about volunteering for the Armonk Fire Department when they turn 16. The Armonk Fire Department has a junior corp that starts at 16 years old. When the volunteers turn 18, they have the option to apply to become a full-time volunteer member. Elissa Weinhoff is preparing to fill out an application to volunteer herself as an EMT for the Armonk Fire Department.
“We are proud of him and his influence of others,” said Ben’s older brothers, Nathan and Spencer.
Ben’s Dad, Greg Weinhoff, agreed. “All his friends stepped up and gave generously. His friends’ parents thought it was a good cause.”
Ben and his family arrived at the Armonk Fire Department from lacrosse practice. Upon leaving practice, he told his friends, “I raised money for a machine that does CPR and it just keeps on going. A human will get tired, but the machine doesn’t get tired.” He told his friends that maybe they should try raising money, too.