2008-02-27 / Front Page

Fire dept. will carry out needs assessment

Chief: Newest fire truck is 15 yrs. old

MATAWAN - A needs assessment for the borough fire department has been postponed until the fire department can conduct an internal review.

"The fire department needs to be updated but at the same time it is a hard pill to swallow since it is so costly," said Borough Councilman Kevin Mendes. "Originally, I wanted to look at an independent needs assessment in addition to our own assessment, just so I have all the information needed to answer questions."

Fire Chief Joe Tamburella, of the Midway Hose Company, appeared before the council at the Feb. 19 meeting and asked the council to allow the fire department to do an internal needs assessment before bringing in an outside firm to carry out the review.

The chief said he would report back to the council in six months, but the council gave him only four months in which to complete the assessment.

"We understand the need to cut costs in the fire department," Tamburella said during the public comment section of the meeting. "The newest fire truck in town is 15 years old. We are investigating discount purchase programs and looking into getting grant money."

Tamburella said that the fire department is also looking into possibly consolidating the four fire companies in the borough in an attempt to save the taxpayers money. Each fire company has an assistant chief.

According to Mendes, the fire department needs a new ladder truck and a new pump truck.

"We inherited such a mess," Mendes said. "I am trying to get the right equipment purchased because I am a taxpayer as well. Our fire department volunteers are also taxpayers."

Mendes added that the council was putting the resolution for the needs assessment off until the fire department can do its own needs assessment. Mendes said that he hopes the fire department and the town have similar visions for future purchasing.

"I am looking forward to getting the fire department's needs taken care of," Mendes said. "I want to help them update their equipment but at the same time, I have to keep the taxpayer in mind."

Currently, Martin LiPera serves as assistant chief at the M.E. Haley Hose Co., Tim Clifton is second assistant chief at the Washington Engine Co., Zoltan Varsanyi is the third assistant chief at the Freneau Volunteer Fire Co., and Carl Bommer is fourth assistant chief with the Hook and Ladder. The Matawan Fire Department is a volunteer-based organization.

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