Concerns grow over Copenhagen Fire Department audit

Published: Jan. 25, 2022 at 5:00 PM EST
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COPENHAGEN, New York (WWNY) - Copenhagen will hold a special village board meeting at 6:30 Tuesday night, after a scathing state audit that raised concerns about the finances of the Copenhagen fire department and cited the department for serious safety concerns.

The Copenhagen Fire Department not only provides fire protection for the village, but for four towns as well. Each of those towns will have elected officials in attendance.

Those towns include Pinckney, Harrisburg, Denmark and Champion. The towns pay thousands of dollars for fire protection from the Copenhagen Fire Department. If the town supervisors aren’t there, at least a member of the town’s council will be.

Town of Pinckney supervisor Sherry Harmych tells 7 News she will be in attendance because she has concerns after the state’s audit was released, regarding the fire department’s financials and safety record. She is attending to be watchful of her town taxpayers’ money.

The audit, which 7 News first reported on last week, was critical of how the fire department took in money at fundraisers and how money was paid out. It doesn’t say money was stolen, but it questions $27,000 worth of payments that didn’t have adequate supporting documentation.

As for fundraisers, the audit said the fire department’s board did not establish adequate controls to ensure that all money received was properly recorded and deposited.

The audit concluded there was an increased risk that funds could be lost or stolen.

The treasurer for the fire department at the time stands accused of stealing $27,000 from a Watertown law firm. The state audit for Copenhagen does not say money was directly stolen, but it seems that you can’t be completely sure if every dollar is accounted for when reading the audit.

As for the safety issues, the Department of Labor cited the department for three serious violations, including how some firefighters didn’t have the right training or equipment, but were allowed to fight fires.

As soon as the meeting starts at 6:30, the village board will go into executive session.

The town supervisors and council members who are there won’t be allowed to be part of that executive session. They say they are strictly here as audience members, and representing their taxpayers as the village works its way through two critical audits of the fire department.

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