BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - The Berkeley Heights Volunteer Fire Department is the proud recipient of $185,360 from a federal grant as part of the Assistance Firefighters Grant. This Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant will pay for the replacement of a 25-year old generator and communications equipment as well as provide advanced firefighter training.
Mayor Joe Bruno, Sen. Cory Booker, Rep. Leonard Lance, Chief Tom Delia, Deputy Chief Tony Padovano, and Battalion Chief Chris Esposito along with fellow firefighters, members of the Berkeley Heights Police Department, Township Administration and Union Country representatives attended the presentation at the Fire Department on Wednesday.
Bruno credits Nancy Renzulli, a long-time Berkeley Heights resident and supporter to the Fire Department, who was instrumental in spearheading the grant application and putting the package together. Renzulli is a volunteer grant writer with a heartfelt passion for keeping the department safe. Battalion Chief Jim Hopkins leads up the Grant Committee for the department.
The Connell Company, their employees and tenants rely on the quick response and support of the BHFD and provided a letter of recommendation for this grant said Lisa Coulter, Manager of Buildings and Ground for Connell Real Estate and Development Company.
"Berkeley Heights has the reputation for getting these grants," said Lance. "The applications are 100 percent based on merit and its on merit that Berkeley Heights is successful in the past and this year." Berkeley Heights received a 2012 grant in the amount of $102,274 to replace copper telephone wires with fiber-optik ones.
Booker commended Lance for the tradition he has for helping to secure the grant. "i am very grateful for helping to be prepared, when that crisis should hit -- we are ready for the challenge," said Booker.
Booker, through his direct experience working with first responders as Mayor of Newark, knows first hand the importance of reliable communications systems and having a crisis generator that works.
With a generator running at half-capacity, the department is only able to power half of its headquarters when the electricity is out, said Fire Chief Tom Delia.
The headquarters is used as a warming facility during power outages during storms. With full power the department will better serve the township and nearby communities said Delia. In the event of a power failure at the police station, the emergency dispatch center could be moved over to the fire department.
"With the assistance we provide Morris County and Somerset County, having our building up and running is top priority," Delia said.
Berkeley Heights is protected by volunteers -- Booker and Lance applauded the department and the tradition of volunteerism in Berkeley Heights and their inspiration to young volunteers.
"There is a humbling heroism that comes from every single day getting up and being on watch should danger happen," said Booker as he thanked the men and women of the BHFD.
"Your equipment is magnificent, but not as magnificent as the people who serve," said Lance.