LONG BRANCH: The city's firefighters realize that consolidation is in the fire department's future.
"It's already been spoken about at every officers meeting, we've talked about it extensively and now we've turned a corner where we are talking about it all the time," Fire Department Chief Kevin Stout said at the March 24 Long Branch Council meeting.
The Long Branch Fire Department consists of 9 fire companies spread throughout the city. Fire Headquarters at 201 Union Avenue actually houses two companies, Independent Fire Engine and Truck Company No. 2 and Phil Daly Hose Co. No. 2, as well as the Uniform Fire Division which is comprised of the paid members of the department.
The Long Branch Council has tasked the department with finding a more efficient way to organize its members and vehicles.
Councilman Michael Sirianni said he understands that the firehouses have a lot of history and tradition, but that consolidating them must be part of the department's plans.
"Things have changed and we need to be respectful because you will get resistance from (past members) and we need to show respect to them, but we also need to keep in mind the taxpayers, the need and how we can best service the city," Sirianni said.
Stout said current volunteers do realize that consolidation is a necessity.
"The companies do realize with today's demands on households and families, folks don't have the time to dedicate themselves to volunteer fire service, so we have less and less volunteers available to us," Stout said.
The fire department is working on a financial plan for its future that will be submitted to the council. That plan will include financial considerations associated with consolidation.
"It will cost us some form of money to do consolidation, whether it requires the building of a new firehouse or an addition to an existing firehouse," Stout said.