To the Editor:

Emergency preparedness has taken on a whole new meaning in recent years. It is no longer just about fire protection service. It is also about natural disasters and homeland security. It is about our schools where massacres are taking place. Every day you turn on the news and something new and unimaginable has happened to innocent people. We have to be prepared. We live 50 miles from Manhattan. Our world is on heightened alert every single day.

Before becoming County Executive, I served for five years on the Legislature. For two of those years I was the chairwoman of the Protective Services Committee and the deputy chair of the Legislature. During that time, I had the privilege of working with the late Robert McMahon, former Commissioner of the Bureau of Emergency Services.  He was a colleague, a friend and a mentor.

Bob epitomized what a leader of emergency management should be and he had a vision for the Bureau of Emergency Services. His vision was selfless and it was about service. It was about making sure the people of Putnam County were safe, every single day. He set the gold standard of what emergency services should be like here in Putnam County.  As county executive, I am going to make sure that we continue Bob’s vision and grow from it.

It is important to me that I receive input from the first responder community –firefighters and emergency medical service workers—before making the new Commissioner appointment. It is for that reason that I am forming a selection committee to assist in the process.

We are currently looking for individuals who want to participate in the selection committee. Chosen members will be expected to make committee meetings and candidate interviews.

The seven-member committee, led by Director of Personnel, Paul Eldridge, and consisting of five people from the first responder community, will help identify qualified candidates from the applications received, conduct interviews and narrow down the field to the top three candidates.

The committee will be made up of the Director of Personnel, a member respectively from the Fire Advisory Board, the Putnam County Emergency Safety Advisory Board, the Fire Chiefs Association, representative of EMS (emergency medical services), a legislator to be appointed by the chairman of the Putnam County Legislature and one other person from the first responder community.

The tentative timeline is as follow:

  • Week of Jan. 12- Putnam County Personnel Department will start advertising the vacant position in newspapers, on the county website and through social media next week.
  • Week of Jan. 26 – Selection committee will meet and go over directives and consider interview questions.
  • Feb. 2 – Deadline to submit an application or resume for the Commissioner position.
  • By Feb. 23 – The selection committee members will then go through the applicants, establish the group of people who should move forward and hold interviews with them. The committee will narrow the selection down to three people who they will recommend be interviewed by the County Executive.
  • Week of March 2 –  I will meet with the candidates and identify up to two people for the personnel department to conduct final vetting on.

After the Director of Personnel, Paul Eldridge, reports back to me, I can make a conditional offer to the chosen candidate. The appointment will be conditional until it is confirmed by the Putnam County Legislature.

It is my intention to name the new Commissioner of the Bureau of Emergency Services during the State of the County address tentatively scheduled on Thursday, March 12

If you are interested in being part of the selection committee please send a letter of interest by Friday, January 23rd, to  If you have any questions, please call my office at 845-808-1001 or Director of Personnel, Paul Eldridge, at 845-808-1650.