In a Secaucus case, involving harassment of a gay couple that were neighbors of the fire station, the current mayor, who is the former chief, has a town lawyer looking into the possibility of reinstating three firefighters who had to resign. There was a civil rights judgment against Secaucus for almost $5 million.
In Ridgefield, a drunken firefighter playing Santa Claus could soon be reinstated following a suspension after he went on a rampage at the firehouse.
Reporter Matthew Van Dusen also found a story from Wallington where the fire department issued a swift expulsion they say is final for a firefighter who lit a firecracker during a New Year’s party that went into a home and set a baby’s nursery on fire.
The Secaucus firefighters agreed to leave the department in 2008, but the Town Council has authorized a legal review of the incident that could result in them rejoining the force.
The Ridgefield firefighter, Brian Kettler, faced a suspension and sanctions, but at least one councilman argued that he would have been kicked off the force altogether if it wasn’t for his political connections.
The separate events have prompted critics to question if towns can make punishments of volunteer firefighters stick, especially when council members are often firefighters, too.
Volunteer fire departments are generally non-profit corporations with independent constitutions and rules administered by the members, said Lisa Ryan, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Community Affairs.
“We actually cleaned up our image,” said David Popek, a longtime Wallington firefighter who previously served as the business president of Hose Company 3, where the New Year’s party was held. “We respond harshly and are pretty stern with any wrongdoing since we’re in the public eye.”
“If you do 500 great things, one lapse in judgment will capture everybody’s attention,” Popek said.
It is also interesting to read some of the comments with the article. From it you will find two sharply points of view. Here are two of the comments:
WOW, what a shame to listen to all the people bash Volunteer Firefighters. I hope that one day you don’t need an ambulance or firetruck coming to your needs. You people should be ashamed of yourselves. I guess the good news is, there is nothing else to report on, so let’s pull some old news on good serving Public Volunteer Servants.Too many volunteer fire departments have an Animal House mentality. Why is that? It’s been my observation that volunteer fire and ambulance positions are used as resume padding by people (usually connected to someone in the town) who are applying for paid positions with the municipality…police, DPW, etc. Many of these people have an attitude of entitlement, like they own the town. Maybe it’s time to do away with volunteer departments in every town and go to paid regional Fire/EMS in Bergen County.
Also on STATter911 …
- East Spencer, NC chief called ‘ringleader’ is fired in teen firefighter taser incident. Assistant chief cited as a ‘abusive’ & ‘negative influence’ told not to return. – January 10, 2012
- Now the rest of the story: Articles make clear Hillsdale, NJ firehouse bar policy. Councilman who quit claims he observed drinking at fire department meetings. – May 10, 2012
- Must see video … then again, maybe not. – December 18, 2012
- UPDATE – We have a winner: I don’t know, do you know? The unknown house fire. – March 20, 2013
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