BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - The Berkeley Heights Fire Department held its annual Officers’ Installation Dinner at Primavera Regency in Stirling on Jan. 4, which was well attended by department members and guests including Mayor Angie Devanney and members of the council and town administration, Police Chief John DiPasquale, members of the Berkeley Heights Volunteer Rescue Squad, Fire Chiefs of neighboring towns of New Providence, Chatham Township, Liberty Corner and Watchung and Father Andy Prachar, who provided the invocation.
The ceremony included the swearing in of Chief Anthony Padovano, Fire Department President Adam Uanis and the oath of Administrative Officers and Firefighting Officers.
- Administrative Officers: Mauro Iarussi, Vice President; Clayton Hubinger, Secretary; and Brian Richards, Treasurer.
- Firefighting Officers include: Jim Hopkins, Deputy Chief; Dan Cuocci, Battalion Chiefs; Mike Schaumber, Jim Hintze, TJ Soranno as Captains; Austin Bucossi and Kyle Robbins as Lieutenants.
Father Andy provided the invocation and blessed the department for being selfless when it comes to their time and offering of their bodies to protect our lives and protect our property and keeping us safe. "And bless their families for they make a great contribution for their willingness to let their spouses and boyfriends serve our community," said Father Andy.
Chief Padovano said the focus of the department will be on working with the town administration on firefighter retainment and recruitment. "This is an ongoing issue that is affecting volunteer departments nationwide and unfortunately Berkeley Heights Fire Department is no exception to it. However, I have no doubt that the leaders of this department working alongside this administration can together come up with a solution to combat this issue so that this fire department can continue to provide our residents the fire protection that they are used to having."
He also highlighted that Mayor Devanney and the Township Council have provided the necessary funding to replace a 25-year-old Tower Ladder. "We can anticipate that delivery sometime in the last quarter of this year," Padovano said.
He recognized the Mutual Aid partners, and said, "the plans and relationships that are currently in place could not get any better. -- A great job to all of you and your departments for always being there for us when called upon to assist."
Department President Adam Uanis awarded the President's Award to TJ Soranno for contributing far above what is expected of him. "Over the course of the last two years, this individual organized our record keeping, out maneuvered every problem that arose, and was diligent in his duties, " said Uanis. He said in humor, that along with the plaque, Soranno has 12 free dinners redeemable the second Wednesday of every month [at their department meetings].
Chief Padovano presented the Chief's Award to Clayton Hubinger. He joined the department in 2018. He has completed and passed the Firefighter 1 (192 hours), Firefighter 2 (120 hours), Hazardous Materials Technician (80 hours), Emergency Medical Technician (220 hours) and Swift Water Rescue Operations Level (16 hours). "In addition to all that, he has qualified to drive and operate all of the apparatus within the fleet," said Padovano. Hubinger, [also a member of the Berkeley Heights Volunteer Rescue Squad and is employed full time with the BHPD serving as a dispatcher,] finished out 2019 with an above average attendance record for all fires and drill events.
Brian Richards was awarded with the Firefighter of the Year Award. Richards joined the department in 2017 and has completed and passed FF1 and is close to completing FF2, said Padovano. He also is working towards completing several high level training courses. "His passion for being a competent firefighter and his above average percentage of attending calls and training events has earned him this year's recognition."
Firefighter Anthony Delia was recognized on his retirement after serving the BHFD for 13 years since 2007. He received the Firefighter of the Year Award in 2016 for his continued commitment and dedication to the department.
Lastly, Padovano recognized the efforts of Township Administrator Liza Viana for her assistance in facilitating the work behind the purchase of the new ladder truck. He presented her with a helmet as a token of their appreciation. "The shield clearly identifies who you are and the title you hold within the Township of Berkeley Heights," said Padovano.