BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ –  How busy is the all-volunteer Berkeley Heights Fire Department? A lot busier than most people would suspect -- in fact, they average more than one call a day and some of those calls last for hours. 

Firefighters responded to 122 fires, emergencies and calls for assistance during the first quarter of the year. Those calls included seven fires – four in homes and three in commercial buildings – and  four passenger vehicle fires. In addition, they responded to 16 motor vehicle collisions on Interstate 78, 11 hazardous materials incidents, worked with the Rescue Squad on several calls, and provided mutual aid to other communities.

The complete text of the report, which was issued on July 5, follows:   

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For the first quarter of 2019 the Berkeley Heights Fire Department responded to 122 fires, emergencies and calls for assistance. This included seven building fires, three of which were in commercial buildings. One fire was caused by an iPad that ignited after a battery malfunction. Two fires were in residential homes. And another was in a garage in New Providence. The fire department also responded to a cooking fire that was confined to the container in an assisted living facility. No fatalities or injuries occurred as a result of these fires. Monetary loss from building fires in the Township was approximately $150,000. There were four passenger vehicle fires during this Q1 as well, resulting in a total approximated loss of $10,350.

BHFD responded to sixteen motor vehicle collisions on Interstate 78. Three of these incidents required patients to be extricated from the vehicles with the jaws of life. Also, assistance was provided to the Summit Fire Department for a passenger vehicle fire on Interstate 78.

During the first quarter there were eleven Hazardous Materials incidents. These included:

• A business caused the release of Acetone resulting in a strong odor in that area.

• A resident was storing canisters of Propane in the garage; these were removed from the garage to the exterior.

• A resident stored a cylinder of Acetylene in the garage which started to leak. The cylinder was removed to the exterior and the home was ventilated.

• A plumber working with a torch in a home was leaking Acetylene. The home was ventilated by the Fire Department.

• A home in Free Acres had a natural gas leak caused by a defective gas line to the dryer.

• A Natural Gas leak at Mountain Ave & Snyder Ave.

• Five Carbon Monoxide releases in homes.

The Fire Department took action in the below emergencies:

• Assisted the Rescue Squad with a lift assist to safely bring a patient from their home into the ambulance.

• Rescued a patient from a stalled elevator.  

• Responded to five water conditions.

BHFD assisted other communities (Mutual Aid) in the below calls:

• A serious natural gas leak at a restaurant in New Providence. This was caused by a motorist colliding with the gas meter and building.

• A large gasoline spill in the Clark Reservoir in Clark, in which the County requested our boat: Marine 1.

• Assisted the Scotch Plains Fire Department with a brush fire in their section of the Watchung Reservation.