Stamford Firefighter Serves Double Duty As Mayor In New York Village

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Ralph Falloon pictured at the Central Fire Station in Stamford. He's also the mayor of Cold Spring, N.Y., in Putnam County in addition to his duties as a professional firefighter in Stamford.
Ralph Falloon pictured at the Central Fire Station in Stamford. He's also the mayor of Cold Spring, N.Y., in Putnam County in addition to his duties as a professional firefighter in Stamford. Photo Credit: Frank MacEachern
Ralph Falloon pictured at the Central Fire Station in Stamford. He's also the mayor of Cold Spring, N.Y., in Putnam County in addition to his duties as a professional firefighter in Stamford.
Ralph Falloon pictured at the Central Fire Station in Stamford. He's also the mayor of Cold Spring, N.Y., in Putnam County in addition to his duties as a professional firefighter in Stamford. Photo Credit: Frank MacEachern

STAMFORD, Conn. -- When you think of a Stamford firefighter having a second job - mayor of a village in New York State isn't the first thing that comes to mind.

But that's what Ralph Falloon, 46, has done for the past year since he was elected mayor of Cold Spring, N.Y., in March 2013. He was the sole candidate for the part-time position.

"It's controlled chaos, managed routine," Falloon said of juggling the two jobs. He spoke while on duty with the Stamford Fire Department at its Central Fire Station, the department's headquarters, at 629 Main St.

He works a 24-hour shift as a firefighter and then has three days off, giving him time to do village business, he said.

The Cold Spring Village Board of Trustees holds its monthly meetings on the second Tuesday of the month. If he's scheduled to work at the same time as the meeting, he uses a vacation day to attend. However, he said he can go months at a time without any conflicts between the jobs.

Much of the village's business can be done remotely through computer, cellphones and texting, he said.

"I can do the village business at any point in time any where I am," Falloon said of the part-time post in the village of about 5,000 people. 

Cold Spring is in the town of Philipstown in Putnam County. Located on the east side of the Hudson River, it is almost directly across the river from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. It's about a one-hour drive from his home in Cold Spring to his job in Stamford. 

Becoming politically active was a natural outgrowth of his work with the Cold Spring Volunteer Fire Department, which he joined as soon as he turned 18. His father, John, was a volunteer firefighter, and Falloon spent a lot of his youth at the fire house. He eventually became chief in 1999 and ended up as the president of the fire department. 

"You want to continue serving. The village was looking for trustees, so I jumped in," he said of his first election in 2009. He served two terms as trustee on the five-member Village Board of Trustees before running for mayor in 2013.

That dual role of being a career firefighter and a volunteer firefighter is frowned upon because of concerns about potentially taking a job from someone, he said.

However, he noted that his professional career and volunteer duties are in separate states. He also said that Putnam County is served by all volunteer firefighters.

Up for re-election in the spring, Falloon said he's strongly considering running again because he wants to continue his civic work. 

But he has no thoughts of contesting for a higher office because he doesn't want to get involved in partisan politics. At the village level, politics aren't divided along party lines, he said.  

Falloon has been with the Stamford Fire Department for 19 and a half years. After graduating high school, he went to SUNY Delhi for about a year and half to study construction. However, impatient to make money and get on with his life, he jumped into a booming construction environment. He worked at that for a a half-dozen years before joining the Stamford Fire Department. 

He and his wife, Melissa, who is a public school teacher in Putnam County, have two children Kylie, 10, and Dylan, 5.

His believes his career as a firefighter helped to prepare him for the duties of a political life.

"You get sent to the most godawful things and your job is to make them better, make them safe," he said. "At the village, a mess there is someone cutting down a tree."

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