Recently elected Baldwin Fire Chief Brien Cummings, 52, is ringing in the new year with updated equipment and supplies for his department — and hopes for new recruitment.
Cummings moved from Queens to Baldwin in the 1990s and joined the BFD as a probationary member in 2005 after a friend spoke about the joys of volunteering for the Fire Department. Moving up the ranks, Cummings has served as a lieutenant, captain and now chief.
Cummings was elected with deputy chiefs William Dworsak, Anthony Hopkins and Douglas Eberhart to keep the 200-member Baldwin department strong and the community safe amid the coronavirus pandemic. Responsibilities for this one-year position include overseeing operations for two truck and four engine companies and communications with the first-aid squad.
The department recently added a state-of-the-art digital dispatch system, approved by the board of fire commissioners. Cummings said of the touch-screen system, “It looks like you can send a spaceship to the moon in there,” adding that it’s “light years” away from the old analog system.
Other upgrades, including flooring repairs and an equipment storage unit at the back of the firehouse, bring the department into a new age, he said.
With looming Covid concerns, Cummings said he is working closely with the emergency services director, Dr. David Neubert, to enact policies to keep staff and the public safe. The Nassau County fire marhsal’s office recently supplied Baldwin with fresh N95 masks, protective equipment and at-home test kits.
“If a member is suspected of exposure, they can figure it out quickly,” Cummings said. “This new Omicron strain is different, little bit more infectious, but it seems as though people are having more of a head cold.”
Membership is down, however. Even before the pandemic, Cummings said, there was “a dip in new membership as a whole.” During the new year, Cummings plans to continue community outreach, encouraging anyone interested in joining to attend an introductory course.
“During that course, we go over the history, discuss what an engine company does, what truck companies do and also what first-aid companies are charged to do,” he said. There is no registration deadline to sign up, he said, noting the department is “always looking for people with high energy that are looking to do a little bit more and serve the community.”
Cummings likened fire service to a fraternal order, saying there is “lots of brotherhood” serving the community together. That is why he said his “main goal is pretty simple: get everyone high quality training [so they] make it home to their families.”
Cummings lives in Baldwin with his wife Luteechia and son Khari, and is a Senior Director and presently works TAI, where they serve and assist persons with disabilities in NYC and Long Island.
He is also a veteran of the United States Army where he served with honor and distinction and after years of service was honorably discharged at the rank of Sergeant.
Residents interested in joining the department can go to http://www.baldwinfd.org/ and fill out a brief informational form. Those 14 to 18 years old can get involved with the Junior Fire Department, not to put fires out, but to train, drill and learn fire department tactics. Juniors become eligible to join the department as adults.