December 12, 2008

Firefighter charged with false alarm spree

A New York firefighter, angry that his company on City Island faces staffing cuts, allegedly went on a false alarm spree in the Bronx enclave.

Nicholas Vrettos, 30, who has been with Ladder Company 53 for six years, is charged with pulling fire alarms and calling in false reports of fires to 911 during a 45-minute rampage last week, sources told the New York Daily News. He reportedly made some of the calls from his body shop.

The false alarms followed Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta's announcement of $9 million in cutbacks, including the end of Ladder Company 53's night shift.

City Island, known for its marinas and seafood restaurants and an atmosphere more like a New England fishing village than New York, is connected to the mainland by a single bridge. Officials say the number of fires there is low and that blazes are easier to fight because there are no high-rise buildings.

It doesn't matter if it was just an obnoxious and dangerous act of protest or whether he actually thought he could keep the ladder company working at night by claiming that there were all these alarms on City Island, a source said.