New Jersey Firefighters Receive Upgraded Gear

WEST PATERSON, N.J.-- After months of fighting fires without the necessary protective equipment, the Volunteer Fire Department has received most of the turnout gear needed from the borough.

The borough purchased the protective helmets, boots, gloves and coats for the firefighters after an investigator from the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development found six "serious" violations that contributed to "unsafe or unhealthy working conditions" in the department last November. The investigator, Robert E. Sexton, stated in his report that the borough would be fined $1,500 per day until the violations were resolved.

But local officials said this week that they didn't have to pay the fines because they purchased the protective gear.

"The majority of the violations have been rectified," Municipal Clerk Kevin Galland said. "The firefighters did secure the gear that was missing in that review."

Galland said he did not know how much it cost to purchase the protective gear, but added, "As important as the cost is, what's more important is the safety of the firefighters."

Council President Keith Kazmark said he met with Fire Chief Paul Salomone last month to address the department's needs. He said that meetings would be scheduled to help the department pursue federal and state fire grants.

Salomone did not return a phone call Wednesday.

Councilwoman Ruth Patterson, who also serves as the borough's fire commissioner, said, "All that stuff was dealt with. I know there was more bunker gear ordered and new boots."

The current volunteer Fire Department consists of three firehouses: West Park Hose Company 1 on 35th Street and Providence Avenue; Passaic Valley Hose Company 2 on McBride Avenue and Rifle Camp Fire Company 3 on Rifle Camp Road. The department has averaged 337 calls per year since 2003, and has logged more than 7,600 man-hours per year, fire company officials have said.

Republished with permission of North Jersey Media Group.