BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - The 35 members of the Berkeley Heights Volunteer Fire Department responded to between 700 and 800 emergency calls in the past year; it is one of the busiest departments in Union County.
These “men in blue” have received an Assistance to Firefighters Grant by the federal government. The $105,000 grant will enable them to achieve an unprecedented number of upgrades to their communications. They include three communication repeater locations throughout the township, uninterrupted power supply devices, and an upgrade will be made to the broadband copper lines to fiber optics lines to increase communication.
Congressman Leonard Lance, who represents Berkeley Heights and other suburban communities in the 7th Congressional district that have volunteer companies, visited the firehouse on Hamilton Avenue on Monday morning to congratulate the department and to offer comments of praise and support. He said that the grant was an example of “one country working together.” Lance also said, “We work together at the municipal, state and federal level.” Lance commended the individual members of the Berkeley Heights Fire Department and said, “We could not live in America without volunteerism.”
Also in attendance was New Jersey State Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz of District 21, which includes Berkeley Heights. She said that she was very happy to be at the fire house on Monday morning and congratulated the members of the department. She also thanked Lance.
Fire Chief Anthony Padovano said that the company now has the opportunity to better serve the Berkeley Heights community. He thanked Lance and his staff for making the grant a reality. The department has been applying for the grant since 2004 and this is the first time it has received it. “Communication is the key to successful outcomes,” Padovano said.
Berkeley Heights Mayor Joseph Bruno called the grant, “a gift from above.” He acknowledged that the grant would make the department “more efficient.” He also expressed a great deal of pride in the department and its dedication to Berkeley Heights.
Berkeley Heights Town Administrator Linda Lordi Cavanaugh said that she was “very excited” about the fire department’s grant.
The grant was written by Berkeley Heights resident Nancy Esposito-Renzulli. Her son Christopher Esposito is a volunteer fireman. She attributes the opportunity to participate in the grant writing to the help and support of Jim Hopkins and many others. Many in attendance expressed their appreciation to her for her effort. Esposito-Renzulli said, “It was a team effort.” She hopes that this experience will influence opportunities to write other successful grants in the future and called grant writing “an art.”
The Assistance to Firefighters Grant is a FEMA program and is given to companies throughout the United States.
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