‘We are pissed,’ says charity that donated van to Copenhagen Fire Department

Published: Mar. 15, 2023 at 4:57 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - A non-profit wants its donation to the Copenhagen Fire Department back. It comes now that the department is disbanded following a scathing state audit about its training and financial books.

The Terry Farrell Firefighters Fund wants the van it donated to the Copenhagen Fire Department returned. The Long Island-based charity says it doesn’t feel the van is being used as it was intended.

In late February, Copenhagen Mayor Mark Souva received an email from Brian Farrell, the chairman of the Terry Farrell Firefighters Fund, asking for the donated van to be returned now that the department is not responding to emergencies.

According to Farrell’s email, when the fund donates equipment, it’s agreed that if the vehicle isn’t being used for emergencies or the fire department no longer needs it, it must be returned.

After hearing the news the Copenhagen Fire Department was dissolved by the village following accounting concerns after a scathing state audit of the department’s books, Farrell wants to know where the van is and when the fund will get it back.

According to the emails, Farrell says the most recent fire chief, T.J. Williams, told him during a phone call last month that the fire department is not shutting down and the van is used “all the time” for training and transporting to fires.

In a statement to 7 News, Brian Farrell writes, “To have a group of make believe fire fighters, who don’t have the training, don’t have regular training, may have misused department funds for personal needs, spend needed equipment funds on a ‘racing team’ with no value to the community and refuse to turn over the Village fire fighting assets, it is safe to say we are pissed. Then when this information is public, to have the balls to ask us to write a letter, have it notarized, showing we gave the van to Williams and company is amazing.

The question as to who owns the department’s fire trucks, equipment, and van - the village or the department - remains an unsolved battle.

The state audit never said anyone in the department took money. It said some payments didn’t have adequate documentation.

We reached out to Williams for comment. He said because of litigation there isn’t much he’s able to say.

The next court date for the village and the department is April 3.