HAMILTON, NJ - Five years, thousands of signatures from Hamilton residents, hundreds of hours of hearings and meetings, and two mayors.
That formula came together Tuesday as Mayor Jeff Martin officially signed off on the consolidation of Hamilton’s former nine fire districts to create one combined Hamilton Township Fire Department.
The department, which will be headed by Fire Chief Rich Kraemer will officially launch on January 1, 2021.
“You can throw all the equipment and manpower at a fire you want, but without coordination and communication the emergency will always have the upper hand,” Kraemer said. “This long awaited and much need adjustment to how our Department operates gives the advantage back to the men and women of the Hamilton Fire Department and makes our whole community safer.”
Reflecting on the challenges they faced when launching the petition drive that would ultimately spur the successful effort was Nick Buroczi, President of FMBA Local 284, who said that he knew even those who offered their support for the effort u were “skeptical.“
“Some, no many, said it couldn’t be done” Buroczi said. “Even for me there were moments of doubt.”
“However,” he concluded, “I knew that we’d succeed because I know that when it comes to keeping this community safe, there is nothing that is going to stop the men and women I serve alongside.”
Eddie Donnelly, President of the New Jersey FMBA, offered an even more direct attack at the cynicism, and “agitation to thwart consolidation” that he said came directly from them Mayor Kelly Yaede. “We have waged political battles before,” Donnelly said of the union that represents more than 5,000 firefighters, EMTs, and dispatchers across New Jersey. “Never have I experienced the dishonest and hateful attacks, leveled at firefighters, then those that came from her.”
“Thanks to the real leadership of Mayor Jeff Martin, and our members, we overcame those obstacles and accomplished something others couldn’t or refused to.”
“Today, we take another concrete step towards the creation of the Hamilton Township Fire Division. With a firm date set in place, we can finally see the finish line on consolidation,” stated Mayor Jeff Martin, centering most of his comments to the theme of partnerships. “This move is a win-win for Township residents, saving roughly $1.5 million a year in reduced fire service costs all while keeping the same number of fire houses and firefighters."
"This is an extraordinary moment in both Hamilton and New Jersey history," added Martin.
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