Giving Back

Call to Duty for Somerville Firefighters: A Visit to NJ Firemen's Home

9f2d04265971088c660d_sompixfiremenshomebiggroup.jpg
Somerville firefighters gather around former Somerville volunteers Charles Karbowski, seated left, and Alvin Falk, to his right. Credits: Ron Czajkowski
a56c4520135a7317014a_sompixfiremenshomefender.jpg
Rich O’Neill, former West End Hose Engine 3 chief and now director of the Somerville Firemen’s Museum, made the noisy 60-mile round trip to Boonton in the department open cab 1942 Mack pumper. Credits: Ron Czajkowski
132f0ade02a1738b8be5_sompixfiremenshometwoguys.jpg
Former Somerville firefighters Charles Karbowski, left and Alvin Falk were visited by 50 Somerville volunteers Saturday at the NJ Firemen's Home in Boonton. Credits: Ron Czajkowski
6edf2025134f9e54dde2_sompixfiremenshomegateway.jpg
First opened in 1898, the NJ Firemen's Home in Boonton is the only licensed healthcare facility in the state dedicated to the men and women of the New Jersey fire service. Credits: Ron Czajkowski
542241d3cc076360ce72_sompixfiremenshomegrill.jpg
Somerville West End Hose, Engine 3 firefighters David Vaughn, left and Glenn Thorne work the grill during Saturday's visit to the NJ Firemen's Home by 50 Somerville firefighters. Credits: Ron Czajkowski
56a220bfbfd0f131db54_sompixfiremenshomemoustache.jpg
Retired Somerville firefighter Alvin Falk enjoying Saturday's visit to the NJ Firemen's Home by 50 Somerville firefighters. Credits: Ron Czajkowski
895a1018ff3c56840128_sompixfiremenshomesmallgroup.jpg
Somerville firefighters visit with Charles Karbowski and Alvin Falk at the NJ Firemen's Home in Boonton. Credits: Ron Czajkowski
9f2d04265971088c660d_sompixfiremenshomebiggroup.jpg

 

BOONTON, NJ - The call to duty Saturday for 50 Somerville volunteer firefighters wasn’t about responding to an alarm or a training drill. It was driving the half hour to the New Jersey Firemen’s Home here to host a memorable outing for those who served before them.

A caravan of Somerville’s “bravest” gave up a good portion of their day to hold a barbecue picnic and share good times with residents at the Firemen’s Home, the only licensed healthcare facility in the state dedicated to the men and women of the New Jersey fire service. Two former Somerville firefighters, Charles Karbowski and Alvin Falk, now reside here.

Established in 1898 and located on the spacious grounds of the former Lathrop estate, the Firemen’s Home provides long term care and residential health services to 68 retired paid and volunteer firefighters from each of the state’s 21 counties.

Sign Up for E-News

“We never want to forget these guys. Just being with them, especially our two men from Somerville, makes them realize that they are still a part of us,” said Lincoln Hose Engine 4 member and former department chief Pat Weston, one of the event’s organizers.

“We try to get up here every few weeks to take Charlie and Alvin out to lunch or dinner, but the idea to do something like this barbeque for all the residents started over a cup of coffee and grew from there,” added Weston.

Each of Somerville‘s four companies; Central Hook and Ladder Truck 1; Lincoln Hose Engine 4; West End Hose Engine 3 and Engine Company 1 had members attending the picnic. The companies came together as a department in the planning process and covered the event’s costs through a car wash fundraiser and individual contributions.

For Karbowski and Falk, their stays here allow them independent living under the umbrella of 24-hour, seven day-a-week medical, nursing, therapy, dietary and recreational services. Both said that the nursing care, setting and recreational opportunities give them security and a comfort level to their daily living experiences.

“It’s beautiful here, the care, the food, the exercise we get,” said Karbowski, a resident for the past four years. “And, today is something special. This picnic means a lot, I’m seeing guys from Somerville today that I haven’t seen for a long time.”

Falk, a relative newcomer having come here in January, echoed Karbowski’s comments. “Of all the places like this to go to, this has to be one of the best in the country,” he said, rating his overall experience here as “pretty damned good.” He recently has taken advantage of the exercise program and looks forward to an upcoming trip to see a Yankee game.

According the Firemen’s Home Recreation Director Monica Story, a number of departments statewide commit time and resources to host outings such as today’s barbecue for the residents. “We get tons of loyal support from departments from throughout the state.” she said. “Just like Somerville here today, they all treat these guys like family.”

Other activities available to the residents on a regular basis include: movies, concerts, board games, and field trips. Management oversight is provided by a 21-member Board of Governors, with one member from each county. Somerset’s representative is Tom Sutphen, who comes from generations of Central Hook and Ladder Truck 1 firefighters.

Licensed and inspected by the state, the cost of living at the Home is $850 a month per resident. According to Sutphen, the monies are raised by a 2 percent revenue tax on out-of-state insurance companies doing business here, and included in the state budget.

Along with sharing in abundant food, music and the telling of great stories about “the way things used to be,” the Somerville contingent plans to return soon to construct wheelchair accessible garden beds that the residents can put to good use this fall and next spring.

Rich O’Neill, former West End Hose Engine 3 chief and now director of the Somerville Firemen’s Museum, made the noisy, open-cab effort to drive the 30 miles to Boonton in the department’s “retired” 1942 Mack pumper. At the end of the afternoon, he reflected not only on his upcoming ride back to Somerville, but on the meaning of the day.

“For all of us here today, we came to give a little back,” said O’Neill. “No matter how you look at it, we are all brothers.” 

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Plainfield

You Meet the Most Amazing People on the Trail

The weather cooperated this weekend, so I went for more than one hike. After all, there are only just over fifty days before my walk to Maine commences, so why not.

This Saturday, some friends dragged me away from housecleaning (thank you!) for a quick jaunt through Watchung Reservation.  While we were there, we ran into two individuals from Westfield; the cosplayers introduced themselves ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_eb828905ce05c9a7c365_screen_shot_2018-05-28_at_1.04.24_pm

Mon, June 18, 4:00 PM

Plainfield Public Library, Plainfield

BandLab at the Library

Arts & Entertainment Community Calendar

Carousel_image_9dfe479f2225ac340f97_dinosaurs

Tue, June 19, 6:00 PM

Plainfield Public Library, Plainfield

Field Station Dinosaurs

Arts & Entertainment

Carousel_image_a06540d90fee040ea766_storymakers_june

Wed, June 20, 4:00 PM

Plainfield Public Library, Plainfield

Story Makers

Arts & Entertainment

Plainfield's Roselyn Korngor Named to Circle K club at Alvernia University

June 17, 2018

READING, PA (06/15/2018)-- Roselyn Korngor, a resident of Plainfield, N.J., participated as a member of the Alvernia's Circle K club in 2017-18 while studying Nursing. Korngor is a graduate of Union County Academy for Allied Health Sciences.

Circle K International is a service organization formed to help the community through various service projects. It is part of an umbrella of ...

Get Empowered to Help Prevent Suicide

June 9, 2018

Dear Editor:

Over the past week social media and the news have been filled with stories and articles encouraging people to seek help if they’re in emotional distress. There have been countless articles about the need to break the silence around the topic of mental health and suicide, and I am encouraged by the support people are extending to others.

Often, the death by suicide by ...

Darby Road Celebrates World Cup Excitement, Even Without U.S., Italy and Ireland

June 17, 2018

SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- While the game the rest of the world calls "football" is the most popular sport in most countries except the U.S., the 1994 World Cup hosted here remains the tournament with the highest ever attendance (3,568,567). The '94 tournament lifted a growing sports to new heights.

This year will bring something totally different. The 2018 World Cup takes place ...

SRO'S - ENSEÑANDO POR EJEMPLO

June 17, 2018

Hay un grupo de oficiales de policía que les dan un servicio a nuestra comunidad de una manera notable. Todos los días estos hombres y mujeres se levantan, van al trabajo, y aseguran que nuestros hijos aprendan en un ambiente seguro. Los llamamos Oficiales de Recursos Escolares, pero son mucho más. 

Si llegas a la oficina de los Oficiales de Recursos Escolares en la ...

Empleando Nuestra Juventud 

Querido Plainfield, 

Todos esperan el verano; los días son más calientes y largos, y la madre tierra se pone su mejor vestido mientras las frutas se maduran en el sol y las flores ondean un alegre "hola". La gente comienzan los paseos de la playa o piscina, y las juntas de barbacoa en los patios son necesarios en los fines de semanas.

Aquí en la ciudad de ...

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn (William Morrow, 2018)

 

A friend, whose opinion on literature I respect greatly, reported to me recently that she had just finished reading A.J. Finn's debut novel, The Woman in the Window. Of it she said, “I wish I hadn't finished it,” which I interpreted to mean, “It was so good I'm sorry that I finished it.” ...

When the Men Go Off to War by Victoria Kelly

When the Men Go Off to War by Victoria Kelly (Naval Institute Press, 2015)

Victoria Kelly's first published volume of poetry, When the Men Go Off to War, is a wonder in that poems can be written so beautifully about the subject of war. Each poem is a jewel, polished and colorful, glittering with elegant imagery, and rich in emotional wallop. The book, divided into three sections, ...

The Queen of the Big Time by Adriana Trigiani (Ballentine Books, 2005)

            The Queen of the Big Time by Adriana Trigiani, a New York Times best selling author, was recommended to me by a young woman who actually came from the town of Roseto, Pennsylvania, the place where the novel is set. “The author did such a wonderful job of describing how the town actually is,” said the young lady.

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah (St. Martin's Press, 2018)

            What is the “final frontier” on the Earth's surface? Many people would say Alaska, the 49th state, which was added to the United States fifty years ago. Once one has traveled to that remote land, it is impossible to forget the magnificence of the terrain and beasts. Floating by ship in Glacier Bay, surrounded by ...

The Man in Room 306 at the Luna Stage, West Orange, NJ

            The Luna Stage, a Jersey theater gem, chose to revive its 1995 world premiere drama, The Man in Room 306, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the slaying of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Starring Jamil A.C. Mangan as Dr. King, this 90 minute production portrays Dr. King in the last hours of his life as he struggles to write a speech for the Poor ...

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins (Riverhead Books, 2017)

 

I wanted to like Into the Water by Paula Hawkins because I had enjoyed her previous novel, The Girl on the Train, which was a suspenseful thriller. However, when I finished reading the first part of the Into the Water, I realized that I had not absorbed anything that was happening in the story. I blamed myself for not paying ...