City of Rye, NY

Fire Department

John Wickham,
Fire Chief
(914) 967-4508 or
(914) 967-4530


1.  What type of Fire Department do we have?
We have a combination type Fire Department, which means that we are made up of 4 volunteer companies, and a career staff of 16.

2.  Is there always someone in both fire stations?

Both stations (Locust Avenue and Milton Road) are manned 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

3.  How do I contact the Fire Department?
In an emergency, call 967-3457.  This number will come in directly to us.  You can also cal 911.  This number goes directly to the Rye Police Department who will notify us immediately.  The business numbers are 967-4508 for Locust Avenue, and 967-4731 for Milton Road.

4.  How often should I change the batteries in my smoke alarm?

At least once a year, but better yet do it twice!  We recommend that it should be done in the spring and fall.  A good rule of thumb is “when it’s time to change the clocks, it’s time to change your smoke alarm batteries”.

5.  Do I need a permit to remove my oil tank?
No.  A permit is required for installation of a heating unit and/or fuel oil tank, but no permit is required for removing a tank which is either above or below ground, unless the tank is over 1100 gallons and below ground.  In that case the permit would be issued by the Westchester County Health Department.

6.  Can I have my in-ground tank removed or do I just have to fill it with sand?
Rye City Code enables you to do either.  If you have it filled, the contractor must first pump out the oil, remove the sludge, clean the tank with an approved solvent, and then fill it with sand or a concrete-slurry mix.  If there is any evidence of leakage, the tank must be removed.  Obviously, the contractor cannot see under the tank, so it is prudent to have him bore through the bottom of the tank to take soil samples in order to verify that the tank did not in fact leak.  This may cost a few hundred dollars, and is not a code requirement, but may be a requirement of a bank if the homeowner either refinances or sells the property.  Because there will be no paper trail in City Hall regarding this procedure, it is extremely important for the homeowner to maintain any documentation from the contractor including the results of the soil testing.

7.  Can I bring a group to the Fire Department for a tour or a fire prevention talk?
Yes.  We always encourage these sessions, and during the course of the year numerous groups, especially school children, and Boy/Girl Scouts, visit both firehouses, witness equipment demonstrations, receive lectures on both fire prevention and appropriate fire behavior, and also tour the buildings.  Please call Lt. James Dianni at 967-4508 to make an appointment in order to arrange such a session.

8.  Can I have my child’s birthday party at the firehouse?
No.  We do not provide this service, but if as a part of the party, you would like to bring the children into the firehouse, we are happy to let you stop by.  Once again, please contact Lt. James Dianni at 967-4508 in advance to arrange details.  We ask that small children (under 5) have adequate adult supervision (1 adult per every 2 children) for these visits.  We respond to over 800 calls per year, thus we cannot be put into a position where it is dangerous for large groups of small children to be in our buildings without adequate adult supervision.

9.  Are most of your calls false alarms?
No.  Despite the fact that fire loss is significantly down in recent years, this is a direct result of the fact that almost everyone has either a fire alarm system or battery operated smoke alarms.  Fires are detected earlier than in the past, and our response remains quick.  Thus, what used to be a major kitchen fire is now quickly detected, reported and responded to by the fire department.  Now, most of these fires are reduced to “food burning” instead of “house burning”.  Unfortunately, because much of the alarm equipment is not sophisticated enough to differentiate between burnt toast and a real fire, or realize that the steam from a shower is not that different from the smoke from a burning wall, false alarms are definitely up, but do not constitute the bulk of our calls.  These situations are treated as emergencies until we are either notified by the alarm company or the homeowner, and are checked out by us.

10.  How do I become a volunteer firefighter?
If you know a volunteer firefighter, ask him.  There are four volunteer companies which make up our department, and they are always looking for new members.  If you are new to Rye, or you don’t know any firefighters, you can always call us a 967-4508 and ask to speak to a chief.

11.  How do I become a career firefighter?
The City of Rye hires new firefighters off a civil service list.  Preference is given to City of Rye residents.  All testing is administered by the Westchester County Personnel Department.  The test is usually given every 2 or 3 years.  For any information regarding the next test, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to the Westchester County Personnel Office, 148 Martine Avenue, White Plains, New York, or call them at 285-2114.  Let them know that you are requesting information regarding the next Firefighters examination for towns and villages including the cities of Rye and Peekskill.

12.  When will work commence on the two firehouses?
We are anticipating that major renovations will start no later than March 2001.  Work will start at the Milton Firehouse, continue for approximately 18 months, and shift to Locust Avenue which should also be under renovations for 18 months.  Each station will be closed while under construction, but our response to all emergencies will not be effected.  Both of these facilities are nearly a century in age, and will be modernized in order to both accommodate our ever changing needs while maintaining the flavor of our past.

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