QUEENSBURY — Warren County’s longtime director of emergency services is planning to retire early next year, and county leaders are trying to figure out how to replace a man who has been a leader in fire service and emergency response in the county for decades.
Queensbury resident Brian LaFlure plans to step down from his position, which also includes the county fire coordinator post, in the first quarter of 2020. The 66-year-old has been emergency services director for 12 years, serving as a county deputy fire coordinator before that, but has spent 48 years in the local fire service.
“It’s kind of time for me to take a break, I think,” he said.
He is hoping to stay on long enough to see the completion of a new building that is planned to house emergency services vehicles, include hazardous materials spills response equipment, next year. Then, he said, he has agreed to work part-time to help train his replacement.
As LaFlure, 66, decides to scale back his workload, the county Board of Supervisors is looking at potentially restructuring the Office of Emergency Services.
As emergency services director and fire coordinator, LaFlure oversees the fire departments in the county as well as the emergency medical services coordinator and disaster preparedness arm of his agency.
When countywide disasters occur, such as last week’s storm, he and Emergency Services Coordinator Amy Drexel and their staff work to coordinate response, including use of state assets if possible, and then follow-up visits to tally up damage for disaster aid.
“A lot of people think it’s just riding around with a red light on the car. It’s a lot more than that,” LaFlure said of his job.
For a number of years, county leaders had concerns about the high number of hours LaFlure was spending on they job, including working through cancer treatment, and they discussed splitting the fire coordinator job from the emergency services director post. But no change was made, and LaFlure continued working more than full time even after beating cancer several years ago.
County Administrator Ryan Moore said having the emergency services director also serve as fire coordinator limits the pool of candidates for the job because to qualify for the fire coordinator position a person must have a certain number of years in the fire service and meet certain department leadership requirements. So county leaders will likely split the positions and have a full-time emergency services director and part-time fire coordinator who would report to the director.
“They would still all work together as one, depending on what the situation is,” said Warrensburg Supervisor Kevin Geraghty, a longtime Warrensburg volunteer firefighter. “Everything would function as it does now.”
LaFlure will remain on the job for at least a few more months, as the county solicits bids to build a building he has sought for seven years to protect hundreds of thousands of dollars in emergency equipment from the elements.
He had a number of duties for the county over the years, having also worked for the county Sheriff’s Office for years handling much of the agency’s radio communications repair and installation work.
LaFlure replaced Marv Lemery in 2007. Like LaFlure, Lemery was fire coordinator and emergency services director.
LaFlure is a longtime member of the Queensbury Central Fire Department, having served as chief in the 1990s.
In all, LaFlure has spent 48 years in local fire and emergency services, much of it on a volunteer basis. The Glens Falls Rotary Club honored him earlier this year for his years of service, naming him the organization’s “Citizen of the Year.”
Don Lehman covers police and court matters and Warren County government. He can be reached at 518-742-3224 or email@example.com