ELIZABETH, NJ - The Elizabeth Fire Department added 21 probationary firefighters today, Feb. 10, in a swearing in ceremony at City Hall attended by families and friends.
“You are embarking on something that you may be in for the next 25 years of your life, a career that represents our community and our city in a way that is going to help people,” Mayor Christian Bollwage told the new firefighters. “Everyone loves firefighters because when you show up you are there to help them.”
The hiring of 21 new fire department members was made possible by a $5 million grant, and it brings the number of firefighters to 240. A new class of about 20 recruits will begin in March.
“We have not had this many firefighters on the rolls since the recession hit in 2007,” the mayor remarked.
The swearing in was definitely a family affair, several with multiple firefighters as members, often in different generations. Millburn Fire Capt. Jeffrey Cort, along with his brother-in-law, retired Millburn Battalion Chief Ed Wade, was there to witness his namesake’s swearing in. Retired Elizabeth Firefighter Robert Cowan was there to welcome his second son, Kevin, to his old department. Older son, Timothy, has already been there for five years. A third son, Daniel, a Roselle Park firefighter, is on the list for Elizabeth.
“It’s wonderful,” said the Cowan dad. “It’s gratifying. It is interesting. When they were kids, you think they are not paying attention, but they are. Then they grow up and you realize they did.”
Matthew Mulroy followed older brothers Tim and Kevin into the department. “I’m very proud, proud of his accomplishment. I feel very safe,” said mom, Eileen. “It is a great department. They look out for each other. They are well trained and continue to be well trained to do the job.”
Kyle Malone’s connection with the Elizabeth Fire Department began right away – with his birth. He was delivered by now retired Battalion Chief Dominick Spano, who was called to the Malone home in the early morning on Sept. 4, 1988. Spano was just in time to catch Kyle before “he hit the bathtub,” he remembered. “It was an exhilarating rush. Very high. It was a very good feeling.
But Spano wasn’t Malone’s only connection with the fire department. Malone’s father, Gerald, was also a firefighter who eventually came to work for Spano.
“Helping out a fellow firefighter, helping a brother out, is always good,” said Spano, who went on to deliver two more babies in his career.
Rev. Hugh O’Donnell, the fire department chaplain, ended the ceremony with the Fireman’s Prayer. “Please God, wherever I am called to duty, wherever flares may rage, give me strength to save someone’s life whatever be its age. Help me to embrace a little child before it is too late or save an older person from the horror of that fate. Enable me to be alert and hear the weakest shout and quickly and efficiently to put the fire out. I want to fulfill my calling and give the best in me to guard my every neighbor and his property.”
Here are the names of Elizabeth’s newest firefighters:
Jeffrey Cort, Jr.