BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - The Berkeley Heights Volunteer Fire Department recently held their annual installation dinner at Embassy Suites in Berkeley Heights. The ceremony included the swearing in of Chief Anthony Padovano, Fire Department President Adam Uanis and the oath of Administrative Officers and Firefighting Officers.

Administratovie Officers include: Mauro Iarussi, Vice President (not present); Jim Hintz, Paul Imbimbo, Jr., and TJ Soranno.

Firefighting Officers include: Jim Hopkins, Deputy Chief; Daniel Cuocci, Battalion Chief; Jim Hintze, Captain; Mike Schaumburg, Captain; Matt Freudenberber, Captain; and TJ Soranno, Lieutenant. 

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In attendance were Mayor Angie Devanney [who received her Mayor's fire hat], Business Administrator Liza Viana, Council Vice President Susan Poage, and representing the council were Peter Bavoso, Manny Couto, Jeanne Kingsley, and Stephen Yellin; Police Chief John DiPasquale; Rescue Squad president Joe Savino and Chief Ori Sternberg; Father Andy Prachar of the Church of the Little Flower and The Highlander Bagpipers.

Padovano thanked the Chiefs of Departments from New Providence [known as Station 2], Stirling, Watchung, Chatham Township, Summit and Warren for their reliable service whenever called upon to respond to assist the Berkeley Heights Fire Department.

Uanis presented the President's Award to Mike Schaumberg for his countless hours and effort in putting an incentive and intention plan to fix the growing problem of volunteerism. "The problem is there is a decline in volunteerism as a whole," said Uanis. "Every year more and more people have less time to give due to a variety of reasons -- financial, personal. The Berkeley Heights Fire Department is not going to be immune to this problem. -- We believe that the plan we put together will be able to fix the problems of our department."

Chief Padovano was next to present awards.

The Firefighter of the Year Award was presented to Gerry Peyton, who joined the department in 2015. "He came to this department already certified as an EMT and a current member of our Rescue Squad. Padovano recognized Peyton's training and was tasked with overseeing the EMS training and upkeep of all medical equipment. He had a 65 percent attendance record for all fires and drill events. "That is quite impressive to say the least with him being on both fire and rescue. In additional to having a full time job with Union County Haz-Mat," said Padovano. "It is this type of commitment and dedication to not only our department but to our residents that has earned him this year's recognition."   

Padovano presented the Chief's Award to Captain Mike Schaumberg. "He has gained the respect of all members on this department with his ability to lead other, his knowledge and reliability," said Padovano.

Schaumberg was recognized in 2012 for Firefighter of the Year and again for the Chief's Award in 2015. "Both times, I recognized him for his positive attitude, outstanding attendence, reliability to complete tasks in a timely fashion, and finally equipment documenation for the department that I had so offten referred to him as my Chief's Aid," said Padovano.

Schaumberg has done extensive research and testing on upgrading the department's fire attack hose nozzles. This research and upgrade has proven effective at the recent Putnam Avenue house fire, where heavy fire conditions were rpesent on arrival. The interior fire was quickly extinguised with one single attack line, said Padovano.

Deputy Chief Jim Hopkins awarded four department members with the Unit Citation Award for their outstanding performance and exemplary service in responding to the fully loaded gasoline tanker fire: Chief Anthony Padovano, Captain Jim Hintz, Firefighter TJ Sorrano and Firefighter Adam Traugh.

Retirement awards were presented to Glen Campbell and Tom English.

Campbell was recognized his endless support and 55 years of dedicated service to the Berkeley Heights Fire Department, serving as Life Member Of The Department, member of the New Jersey State Firemans Association and Exempt Fireman's Association.

English was recognized for his endless support and 10 years of dedicated service to the Berkeley Heights Fire Department, serving as Captain and Lieutenant.

Padovano highlighted the 2018 incidents that deserve mentioning:

  • Assisted Warren Fire Department on January 5 with fully involved house fire. The temperature outside that day was just five degrees.
  • Throughout the month of March, there was a high volume of responses for downed utility poles and wires, trees onto homes and blocking roadways. This was a direct result of four nor'easters impacting our area.
  • Five fully involved tractor trailor fires on Route 78 throughout the year.
  • On April 14, a fully loaded gasoline tanker on Diamond Hill Road that was on fire.
  • The horrific seven car motor vehicle crash that occurred on Route 78 West at milemarker 43. A tandem dump truck was traveling Eastbound Route 78, lost control of his vehicle, crashed through the concrete divider and into oncoming traffic. This resulted in numerous injuries and one fatality that afternoon. 
  • On October 18, we responded to a structure fire located at 41 Putnam Avenue where an aggressive interior attack on a well advanced fire saved the rest of the home. 
  • Technical rescue incident at 249 Riverbend Road. A terrified puppy became trapped deep underneath the homeowner's deck. Fire Department disassembled the to access and rescue the puppy. Then put the deck back together as if we were not even there.