08-17-2004, 10:33 AM #1
Bridgeton, New Jersey Warned to Send More Firefighters to Blazes
BRIDGETON, N.J. (AP) -- The city faces state labor fines of up to $70,000 unless it beefs up the number of firefighters responding to blazes.
Departments throughout New Jersey are facing staffing problems, and Bridgeton is even harder hit because of an aging housing stock and overcrowding.
Minimum staffing rules require four firefighters at the scene, two to fight the burning building inside and two to stay outside in case of problems.
None of us on council wants to put a firefighter in a dangerous position.
What's your jist on this situation?"The uniform is supposed to say something about you. You get it for nothing, but it comes with a history, so do the right thing when you're in it."
Battalion Chief Ed Schoales
from 'Report from Ground Zero' pg 149
08-17-2004, 10:40 AM #2
Well, look at it ths way, if you cut it enough, there won't be enough people to even bother trying to fight the fire. Now fire attack, no risk of injury to firefighters, saves money. It's perfect.... except for that whole thing about people's homes burning down...Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.
08-17-2004, 11:19 AM #3
Two alarms! Four firefighters?
Here's my question... If they only had FOUR firefighters on what they are calling a two-alarm fire. I wonder how many you get for a simple one-alarm fire or first responder run.
I understand how hard it is for a city to properly staff a fire department. I live in a world where the three-man engine company is normal and it's not uncommon to see only two firefighters on a truck company. However, those departments usually throw as many companies on a fire as possible to compensate. Four guys on a fire of any size is unacceptable.
08-17-2004, 12:31 PM #4
I read the article and immediately I was wondering- If they are so short handed why don't they have automatic mutual aid on structure fires? Do they have any volunteers at all or were these all paid FFs who were on duty?
Sure my little **** ant, dysfunctional combination fire department may only have 1 or 2 paid guys on duty at a time and they each respond to fire alarms with a pumper. But we have a small core group of volunteers who will roll when they are available and meet us on scene. And for working fires we have mutual aid agreements with surrounding departments. If I pull up on a working fire during a weekday when volunteers will not be around I know that St George Fire Deparment, a fully paid Class 2 FD ( http://www.stgeorgefire.com/ ), will be sending a pumper or quint with 3-4 certified FF1/EMT-B on board. More help is available if we need it.
There's no excuse for risking your life to save a structure when you don't have the necessary manpower on scene. Access the situation, call for mutual aid and then protect exposures and perform defensive operations until more help arrives.Steve
08-17-2004, 01:10 PM #5
In addition to following, found out Bridgeton P.D. has what looks like 60 sworn, full-time officers + half-dozen "Class II" (part-time?) officers + 15 or so civies (dispatchers, clerks, etc). Minimum uniform shift staffing is Lt, Sgt, 6 Patrolmen. Bridgeton FD is listed as combo, though it seems the volunteer side is weak from the news reports.
Fire Dept. math: 13+3-2=14
Friday, July 23, 2004
By SEAN C. McCULLEN
BRIDGETON -- City fire department staffing is low -- that, city and fire department officials agree upon.
How much of a boost it should receive is where the debate begins.
The new math is 13 plus 3 minus 2 equals 14.
Mayor Michael Pirolli announced on Thursday the city will hire three new firefighters from a state-certified list of eligible candidates from the city in the next few weeks.
Firefighters appreciate the upcoming additions, recognizing the city's troubling financial situation, but feel additional firefighters are still needed in order for them to more efficiently and safely do their jobs.
For two fire calls this week -- one Monday afternoon on Cedar Street, the other early Thursday on South Avenue -- only three firefighters were on hand to initially battle the blazes, putting those firefighters in peril, Fire Chief David Schoch said.
Schoch will continue his push for more full-time firefighters in the weeks and months to come, he said.
"Ideally, I would like to see 15 full-time firefighters in order to have three shifts of five (men)," Schoch said. "That is still not enough, though, for where I want to be and where I think we could be without breaking the city's budget."
Full-time department manpower currently stands at 13, and that includes Schoch.
However, the current figure also includes two provisional firefighters, who have filled the void created by four veterans' retirements over the past two-plus years.
Those provisional firefighters will be replaced by the new hires, Schoch said.
Thus, three new hires will actually result in department staffing increasing by only one, up from 13 to 14.
Schoch believes the city could afford to hire five new firefighters -- two more than is being proposed by the mayor -- while keeping the department's budget about the same.
Pirolli did note that the city will request from the state the list of certified firefighter candidates from throughout the county.
Firefighters Eric Cain, William Gould, Robert Wastell and George Beckett retired over the past two years, taking its toll on the leadership at the department.
But their retirements also saved the city a substantial amount of money.
Each had reached the maximum pay level of roughly $47,500, while first-year Bridgeton firefighters earn roughly $31,700.
Schoch reasoned that the budgeted amount for salaries would not have to increase over where it was two years ago should the city add the five firefighters he claims he needs.
It would actually remain lower by about $30,000.
Pirolli, having been looking over city revenues and anticipated expenditures in preparation for the fiscal year 2005 budget, does not believe five hires are possible at this time, not that he would not like it to be.
"Our budget doesn't allow for as many as we would like to hire," Pirolli said.
One funding possibility -- albeit one that is several months away from becoming a reality itself and one that is not guaranteed to be available year after year -- is the Urban Enterprise Zone, according to Bridgeton UEZ Coordinator Chris Cummings.
UEZ funds have recently been used to help bolster previously lagging staffing at the police department.
IACOJ Canine Officer
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