MONTVILLE, NJ – The Towaco Civic Association was treated to a tour and presentation by veteran firefighter Joe Gretkowski, who had some stories to tell after his years with the Towaco Volunteer Fire Department. The TCA met at the fire station for their Sept. 17 meeting.

Gretkowski, who was honored by the New Jersey Firemen’s Home in Boonton back in April, and honored in November of 2017 by State Senator Joseph Pennacchio and the Montville Township Committee for his 40 years of service with the department, told the Towaco Civic Association about some of the calls he’s been on.

“We had to warn someone that if they’re going to make pizza, to take it out of the box before putting it in the oven,” he told the members of the TCA. “One woman wouldn’t even let us in her house until we took off our boots, but that’s part of our protective equipment.”

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He told of one family who had mistakenly had nitroglycerin in their garage from an old chemistry set, and they didn’t know it.

“When we arrived, we figured out what they had and called in the bomb squad,” he said. “When the bomb squad triggered the explosion later, safely, it left a six-foot wide crater from the amount they had.”

On a more serious note, Gretkowski described the department’s three class A pumpers and rescue truck. He said they have a 35-foot ladder that doesn’t reach some of the larger houses in that part of town since the Towaco station doesn’t have an aerial ladder truck, thus necessitating calling in Lincoln Park or Pine Brook for those types of fires. He said the pumpers carry 1,000 gallons of water.

“For fires on Route 287 a 1-3/4” hose sprays 100 gallons per minute, so the truck is empty in 10 minutes at that rate,” he said. “If, for example, a car fire isn’t out in 10 minutes, we call in Riverdale for their truck.”

Gretkowski was proud of the fire prevention work the department has done. He said flyers were passed out at area pre-schools, and there were no chimney or boiler (home heating unit) smoke calls this past winter.

Gretkowski also educated members on fire safety, stating that carbon monoxide and smoke detectors have to be replaced every ten years because they have an expiration date on them. He reminded members to regularly clean out the lint traps in their dryers. He also said that homes have to have a ten-pound fire extinguisher mounted on the wall in the kitchen in order to be granted a certificate of occupancy during resale.

After the members were shown the trucks and equipment, they had their meeting. They discussed the changes in speed limit in Towaco (read about the changes here), and the 40 new shrubs that will be planted at the Towaco train station. The organization’s Towacofest music festival has been changed to May, but the group will have a strong showing at Montville Day on Oct. 14, where a photo booth is planned with a vintage truck. The group will be offering two items for raffle: a giant stuffed giraffe and gift cards to Rails Steakhouse. The group is meeting with NJ Transit to encourage the company to make improvements to the train trestles in Towaco. Stay tuned for the TCA’s Shop Hop during the holiday season, offering a chance for Towaco businesses to be spotlighted. TCA President Daria Senaldi is being honored by the Boy Scouts.

The next TCA meeting will be Nov. 14 at the First Aid Squad.

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