Saddle River Volunteer Fire Department Struggles - My9 New Jersey

Saddle River Volunteer Fire Department Struggles

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Saddle River, New Jersey (My9NJ) - Two former fire chiefs in Saddle River, New Jersey have resigned because of the lack of volunteers available to get the job done. One of them has alleged that there have been over 100 emergency phone calls made in the town that have gone unanswered because there just aren’t enough volunteers.

Mayor Samuel Raia explained that the problem with Saddle River is demographics.

“We have to think outside of the box, especially in northern Bergen County. We have to think of ways that we’re gonna keep the people safe and at the same time not impact the tax base,” he said.

Saddle River is a very wealthy town where the average house in the area goes for about $2 million. These residents often hold a high-powered position which doesn’t give them the time to dedicate to train as volunteer firefighters.

Mayor Raia also said that every time there is a 911 call police respond and then they will access if firefighters need to be brought in. He also believes that the reason one of the former fire chiefs resigned was so that he could pursue employment with a paid fire department somewhere else in Bergen County.

Mayor Raia also assures his residents that no life has been put at risk.

“All of our public employees whether they’re in the administrative office or whether they’re at the school or whether they’re at the DPW, they’re all volunteer firemen,” he explained.

There is also a policy in place where $175 a night is paid to an experienced volunteer to sleep in the firehouse in case of an emergency. A shared services program is also in place in Saddle River, but this means that response time may be delayed.

“We need a 1-2-3 minute response to fires, and I’m not criticizing the volunteer fire departments by no means, but when you have volunteers that are from outside of the town, which is pretty much what we have, it’s difficult unless you have them sleeping in the fire house,” he explained.


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