UNION, NJ – Each week, Tapinto Union will be running a series called “Meet the Leaders”. The objective is to provide our readers an opportunity to hear from Township leaders in government, public safety, education, houses of worship and other areas, regarding Union’s present and future outlook.
Each ‘leader’ was asked to share a little information about their background and personal life. Additional questions varied by job title. The answers will be published unedited.
Today, Township of Union Fire Chief Mike Scanio is featured:
Tapinto Union: Tell us a little about yourself.
Chief Scanio: I am 47 years old, married to my wife Shannon for 20 years. We have two sons, Joseph 17 and Thomas 12.
I was born and raised in Union and a product of the Union school system. I attended Battle Hill, Central 6, Burnet Jr. High and graduated Union High School in 1987. I was one of the last babies born at the old Memorial General Hospital (Union Hospital) in Five Points. My parents are originally from the Hell’s Kitchen section of Manhattan. My mother moved to Union in 1963 (also graduating Union High) and my father in 1968 when they married. I am the oldest of three children.
I am a big hockey and baseball fan and my boys and I are Devil and Yankee fans. My favorite hobby is watching my boys play baseball for their various teams
Tapinto Union: How long have you been chief? What other positions have you held?
Chief Scanio: I was appointed to the Union Fire Department on Aug. 6, 1990. I am fortunate enough to have held every rank in the department: Lieutenant in 2004, Captain in 2008, Battalion Chief 2013, Deputy Chief 2016 and to Chief of the Department on Feb 1, 2017.
Tapinto Union: What have you learned during your tenure as Battalion Chief/Deputy Chief/Chief?
Chief Scanio: Before I was promoted to Battalion Chief I was a Captain for the 1st Tour. The Captain is in charge of the firehouse at which they are stationed. When I became the Administrative Battalion Chief, then Deputy Chief, my responsibilities expanded to all 3 firehouses on all 4 shifts. I was in charge of the daily operations for the entire department, while also responding to all significant incidents. The Administrative Chief position is an extremely important position within the department.
Tapinto Union: Can you outline your basic responsibilities within the Department?
Chief Scanio: Being the Chief of the department my number one responsibility is the safety and well-being of my firefighters and the citizens of the Township. This responsibility means that manpower, equipment and training must be kept at the highest levels possible at all times. We are extremely fortunate here that our administrators and elected officials feel the same way and they keep public safety in the forefront of their agenda.
Tapinto Union: What do you see as challenge(s) for the fire Chief of Union?
Chief Scanio: One of the biggest challenges for me as Chief is that our department keep up with the dynamic changes happening to our township. Union is popular and in high demand right now for obvious reasons, one being location and access to all the major roadways and the train station that makes it easy to get to and from the major cities including New York. With the developing of some of our large empty properties to residential type structures it important we stay pro-active (not re-active) with preplanning these developments so we have prior knowledge of things like access into and around the property, water supply (hydrants) and layouts of the property.
Tapinto Union: What do you see as challenge(s) for Union?
Chief Scanio: Again, with new developments bringing a new tax base this is great for the township as a whole. This obviously brings more people so our population that we serve increases, this in turn puts our essential services, fire, police, department of public works etc. to the test. But our elected officials and administrators will do whatever is necessary to make sure we are well staffed and equipped to handle the job.
Tapinto Union: Are there any new programs/events/initiatives you'd like to discuss?
Chief Scanio: One of the new programs that I developed and am extremely proud of is our “Special Operations” division. This is made up of 20 firefighters that are specially and technically trained in Special Operations. The Special Ops firefighters are trained to handle technically challenging incidents, for example confined space, high water, high angle rescues, collapse and potential collapse of building where bracing and shoring is required.
Lt Chris Steitz, who is a member of NJ Task Force One runs all the training needed to make sure we are prepared for whatever we may be needed to do. The two companies that have been outfitted with some specialized tools are our Squad and Truck companies along with a trailer that is stocked with lumber, generators, lighting and can be brought to any incident that it is needed.
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