A Ridgefield Park volunteer firefighter has been suspended after allegedly taking a firetruck on a joyride two weeks ago and striking a utility pole.
The firefighter, Connor O’Grady, allegedly took one of the firetrucks out for a ride at about 10 p.m. on July 13 with a firefighter from Bogota steering the rear of the rig, according to Mayor George Fosdick.
“When they went around a turn, they sideswiped a telephone pole,” said Fosdick, who is also the public safety commissioner. “The best way I could describe it was – they were scared to death and didn’t know what to do.”
Officials were not aware of the incident until July 22, after O’Grady came forward to his father, another firefighter. Fire Chief James VanDerTulip filed an accident report with the police and suspended Connor O’Grady for 60 days, the mayor said.
Messages left with VanDerTulip, who is traveling out of state, were not immediately returned.
The firetruck sustained damage, but is able to remain in service, said Fosdick. The utility pole also sustained minor damage. There were no injuries.
The Board of Officers, composed of the captain of each fire company, subsequently met on Thursday to discuss the incident, and decided on disciplinary measures.
Connor O’Grady has been suspended for six months from all fire department activities, including responses and social events, and is responsible for any cost village insurance does not pay, including the deductible, said Fosdick. Also, he will not be eligible for his annual LOSAP (Emergency Services Volunteer Length of Service Award Program) payment.
A repair estimate is forthcoming from the insurance company.
“This is a young man who heretofore has been a valuable guy and just made a stupid mistake,” said Fosdick. “I’ve been a member of the fire department now for 54 years, and we work very hard to try to establish high standards of performance and everything else we do. And something like this is very upsetting for all the guys.”
O’Grady is the brother of a village fire captain and son of the village clerk, Tara O’Grady.
The mayor noted that after explaining the expulsion process at the meeting, he recused himself from the proceedings as a potential appeal would go before the Board of Commissioners.
Fosdick said it is his understanding that Connor O’Grady does not intend to appeal at this time. A call to O’Grady for comment was not immediately returned.