N.J. Fire Co. President Ousted After Pulling Plug on Beer Machine

The president of a volunteer fire department says he was ousted earlier this month after pulling the plug on a beer vending machine.

Manville Vol. Fire Co. Jason Zangara said he witnessed firefighters getting behind the wheel of apparatus after drinking beer, according to mycentraljersey.com.

“I brought it up and they crucified me,” Zangara told the Courier News last week. “They thought I was out to get someone. But there is a bigger issue going on here. I told them, ‘Take out the machine or the borough is going to get sued and the chief is going to get sued.’ ”

He may have pulled the plug, but the beer continued to flow as members started giving out beers for free and buying a draft beer dispenser for the firehouse, the paper noted.

Zangara. 27, wrote a letter to the Borough Council on Feb. 2 asking them to “do whatever you can to stop the illegal sale of and distribution of alcohol.”

He told officials he saw a firefighter in uniform drink an alcoholic beverage and "get into our truck and drive it to Community Day.”

State law requires organizations and businesses to have a liquor license in order to sell or serve alcohol.

Nonprofit organizations such as fire companies can obtain a club license from a municipality in order to sell and serve alcohol to members and up to nine guests of each member. Unlike regular liquor licenses, the state doesn’t impose any limit on the number of club licenses that a town can give out, according to the story. 

Zangara was in his second term as president when they got rid of him. 

"Alcohol isn't really a good idea when you're involved with any of the emergency services," Zangara told local reporters. "It alters your judgement and agility, two of the most important qualities of a firefighter. You need to be able to think on the spot and move quickly."

He said the younger members understood, but some of the long-term members "started flipping out."

The most vocal, he said, were older members who no longer run calls but like to hang out at the firehouse.