I am a concerned resident of Morris Township. In the upcoming township meeting on Wednesday, April 21st, the Township Committee is considering the elimination of our Fire Inspection and Prevention Bureau. The intention is to employ private companies to conduct fire inspections throughout the township instead. This action would cause our two certified fire inspectors to be demoted.

Another action being considered is the laying off of two career firefighters which would decrease the already slim daytime support in our firehouses. Oftentimes only one career firefighter mans a firehouse during the weekday; further job eliminations would increase the risk of potential danger to town residents, including the elderly, children, property, and business owners.

The Morris Township Fire Department is made up of 20 career firefighters as well as volunteers. The department operates five fire stations around the township with a total of eight apparatuses. All of the career firefighters are certified as Emergency Medical Technicians, and respond to fire suppression, rescue operations (including highways, roadways, and the airport), and medical emergencies.

Our township fire inspectors investigate fire code violations, fire hazards and incidents; enforce code compliance; check hydrants, sprinkler systems, and buildings which contain flammable and volatile materials; bill and collect fines on behalf of the township; and inspect homes, businesses, and our schools. They are familiar with the architecture, floor plans, and fire prevention systems in place at all of the large corporations, vacant buildings, museums, schools, nursing and county facilities, and new businesses in the township. They also work closely with the Fire Chief to communicate safety issues and concerns to the firefighters.

Surely it is more practical and efficient to preserve their positions instead of replacing them with companies unfamiliar with the structures they are expected to inspect and protect. By enlisting an outside source to conduct fire inspections, they are relegating safety concerns to those that are unfamiliar with town operations.

Do you trust an outside agency would be proactive in ensuring all codes are adhered to and violations are followed up in a timely manner? I certainly do not. Will it take years for a new company's learning curve? What happens in the meantime? It seems more cost-effective to me to continue to employ a tried and true method than hire companies which know nothing of the past history and conditions of our commercial and residential properties.

Let's not create an anomaly by cutting necessary services for the sake of saving money. Instead, I ask that the Township Committee examine other ways to decrease spending while safeguarding the proven services of a diligent and reliable team of fire inspectors and firefighters.

Please stand alongside other residents and myself and attend the 8:00 p.m. meeting on Wednesday, April 21st at the Morris Township Municipal Complex, 50 Woodland Avenue, Morris Township. I am sure you will agree that the safety and welfare of the families, homes, and buildings in Morris Township should be a top priority for our township officials.

Editor's Note: The author is asking for the support of fellow firefighters and concerned residents in the surrounding towns. The Township Meeting she discusses will be held on Wednesday, April 21st, at 8:00 p.m.