The FASNY Firemen’s Home is just one of the many real property assets owned by the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York and governed by the FASNY Board of Directors. In total, there are over $20 million in buildings and property governed by the Association in Columbia and Albany counties.
Topping off the list is FASNY’s 21,000-square-foot corporate office building in Albany, strategically located to have a legislative presence in Albany within eye shot of the capital and the legislative office building. This building houses a number of tenants and most importantly the full-time staff who each day provide assistance in one core capacity or another to our Association, its committees and members. The building also houses our Legislative Advocate team working on the FASNY Legislative Agenda on behalf of all of our volunteer firefighters, and lastly, our SAFER Grant office team carrying out the important recruitment initiatives initiated by FASNY.
There are also many other buildings on the Home campus FASNY is responsible for. The FASNY Museum of Firefighting is a separate 501(c)3 not for profit corporation that owns all of the Museum’s artifacts and contents and manages the daily operations of the Museum, however the building is owned and operated by FASNY in a tenant-landlord relationship.
Many of you have participated in a county or Sectional day or have come to the FASNY Firemen’s Home to provide a barbecue or picnic or other event to benefit the members of the Home and are familiar with the pavilions used for this purpose on the Hudson campus.
In addition, there are numerous other buildings, garages, generators, equipment, and other structures not to mention the two cemeteries and three ball fields maintained by the Association and utilized under FASNY’s Real Property Usage policies established by the Board of Directors and carried through by staff. These fields are used for the annual firefighters softball tournament and other not for profits, such as the Hudson Little League, as a community service, and most importantly, for the benefit and enjoyment of the members of the Home.
Since the reorganization of FASNY in the early 2000s and changing of our corporate structure, a complete and necessary migration has occurred in the area of real property governance and management, not to mention additions to that property. Many regulatory changes that have taken place not only at the FASNY Firemen’s Home but to FASNY as a whole in the 501(c)3 not for profit world have led FASNY to understand that the preservation of all assets of the corporation are one of the primary fiduciary duties the Board of Directors are bound by in governing the Association and preserving FASNY’s future. This process FASNY has migrated through at times has been very tough educationally and sometimes difficult for some to accept and grasp.
Through a thorough review of various governance reports, studies, regulatory requirements, not for profit laws and FASNY’s article of incorporation and charter, the organization as a whole has been educated on the importance of the duty of care, duty of obedience and duty of loyalty the FASNY Board of Directors is responsible for on behalf of all of the Association’s members and the general public in oversight of all of the Association’s property.
This is of particular importance at the FASNY Firemen’s Home given the FASNY Board of Directors’ responsibility to the membership is to preserve its vast infrastructure, operating systems, and building design components. While the FASNY Firemen’s Home is FASNY’s most valued asset on the property valuation list, it also costs the most to maintain and operate even without including the nursing home care operation expenses. The nursing home management care falls under the auspices of the Home Administrator and the Board of Trustees.
FASNY, the Board of Directors and its officers have had and will continue to have the responsibility and obligation to always look at all FASNY operations, missions and purposes for the preservation and continued existence of all of our volunteer firefighters and the greater volunteer fire service of New York State. We all must be aware of changing conditions that impact our operations economically, politically, socially and environmentally. What makes sense operationally today may change in the future sometimes due to circumstance beyond our control. We can all be best served by remembering one of the first lessons taught to us in the fire service. Survey the entire scene – frequently – be wary of tunnel vision and be prepared to change the operation plan when warranted.
The Board of Directors is the governing body of FASNY. The FASNY bylaws state that “The management of the Firemen’s Home shall be vested in the President of the Board of Directors and a Board of Trustees subject to oversight by the Membership and the Board of Directors.” The FASNY Firemen’s Home Administrator fits into this equation by reporting to the Board of Trustees who then reports to the Board of Directors.
The two most crucial responsibilities of the Administrator at the Home is to make sure all the New York State Department of Health rules and regulations are followed and enforced and to provide safety for all members, staff and visitors. Every administrator of a nursing home is responsible for all aspects of the nursing home regardless of who is in charge of that department or who owns the company.
In recent years, nursing homes have overtaken nuclear power as the most regulated business in the country. Each year, the New York State Department of Health comes to the facility and spends three to five days observing and making sure all regulations are being followed in all departments. Because the Home does not accept Medicare or Medicaid as a payer source, the rules are a little different, but just as stringent.
It is the Administrator’s job to make sure all departments are in compliance with the rules. This position meets with all department heads regularly to discuss any actions that might need to be taken to bring the department into compliance. In addition to meeting with the department heads, it is good practice to walk the building frequently to see firsthand what is going on. Walking the building allows the Administrator to talk with more employees and members about what is going well and what isn’t.
The Administrator oversees Nursing, Dietary, Social Services and all areas that fall under these departments, including the administrative assistants, meeting with all departments can be a challenge. Even though the Administrator is legally responsible for the actions of all departments in the nursing home, FASNY oversees the Human Resources, Maintenance, Building and Grounds, Housekeeping and Laundry departments and all areas that fall under these departments.
At the Home, the Administrator upholds all of the members’ rights, as the member’s right to choose is very important. Decisions regarding all aspects of their lives, from when they wake or go to bed, to what they eat, to their medical treatment are up to the members themselves. The Administrator, however, needs to make sure the members understand the possible consequences, both good and bad, of their decisions.
Another vital part of the role of the Administrator is to be in the public eye. FASNY members from around the State are very generous and often take time out of their week to provide entertainment for the members of the Home all year round. During the summer, especially, there is a different organization, or two, visiting each weekend and providing a parade, cookout or some other activity. The Administrator shows personal appreciation to these groups to thank them for their efforts, as their generosity provides the members with a better quality of life.
Then there is the relationship between the facility and the ombudsmen. The ombudsman is the person who comes to the aid of nursing home residents when the resident, or anyone else, believes he or she is not being treated properly. It is the job of the Administrator to work with the ombudsman to understand why issues happen and how best to resolve them. While some issues are legitimate ones that need attention and correction, others just require some clarification and occur as a result of miscommunication. The Administrator meets with the ombudsman once a month or so and attends resident council to answer questions and offer clarification on issues.
The most important, overarching responsibility for the Administrator is to work together with everyone at the Home to maintain the members’ best possible mental, physical and psycho-social well being. Good ideas come from many different places, and it is important to keep an open mind to all suggestions when working in collaboration with a wide group of people. The FASNY Firemen’s Home is open to provide needed care for former volunteer firefighters, and that will always be our ultimate goal.