Holmdel Fire Company #1 Loses Its Longtime Firefighting Role

But members are hopeful that Tuesday's government decision can be reversed through continued dialogue with the town.

Debbie Molzon of Holmdel, whose father Ralph was a chief at HFC#1, protested the consolidation plan that would put the Holmdel Village Fire Company out of business.
Debbie Molzon of Holmdel, whose father Ralph was a chief at HFC#1, protested the consolidation plan that would put the Holmdel Village Fire Company out of business.
The Holmdel Township Committee voted unanimously Tuesday night in favor of a new fire department consolidation plan that essentially puts the 97-year old Main Street Holmdel Fire Company #1 out of commission, while shifting responsibility for the whole town to the much larger Holmdel Fire & Rescue Company #2, based on Centerville Road.

Township officials said that their decision to remove its two trucks from the bays of the privately-owned fire company building in Holmdel Village and reassign them to locations at Vonage and Crawfords Corner Road was motivated purely by common-sense safety concerns and pressure from insurance carriers.   

Citing information gathered over months of meetings with the fire companies and Emergency Services Committee members, Township Committeeman Greg Buontempo stated that there were documented situations when HFC1 was unable to respond to calls and HFRC2 has to respond for them. 

Also, HFC1 members had not shown up to several "All Calls" at the hospital, schools and Parkway in recent months, he said. But more importantly, no members had engaged in formal training in the past year and a half -- which could expose Holmdel to risks related to effective emergency fire rescue, township firefighting volunteer safety, as well as insurance coverage, he said. 

In contrast, Buontempo said members of Holmdel Fire & Rescue Company #2 responded to every "All Call," and they train monthly at the academy or in county drills. 

Buontempo also said that the Committee had learned HFC1 Chief Doug Ziemba Sr. had notified surrounding towns that Holmdel would not be responsible for providing "mutual aid" or backup to other towns when they were called to fires. The mutual aid decision has been since remedied by township officials, but it too put the township at risk, said Buontempo. 

Two weeks ago, the township drove its two trucks out of the company's Main Street firehouse. Changes were made in order to exclude the Fire Company from receiving radio calls summoning members to fires. One truck and a new overnight duty crew were installed at the station at Crawfords Corner Road. The other truck is under repair, and will be parked at a temporary shed at Vonage starting Friday. 

Like others on the dais, Mayor Patrick Impreveduto expressed heartfelt appreciation for the volunteers who make up HFC1, and promised dialogue will continue between the township government and the company. But he cautioned they will "have to get their act together in regard to training" to satisfy workplace and insurance standards. 

After it was over, Fire Company 1 President Doug Ziemba Jr. said he was disappointed by the vote. "I don't think it was in the best interest of the township," he said. 

But he was hopeful the long-established company could take back its role as provider of fire coverage in southern Holmdel. "We look forward to trying to work with the township to amend this decision," said Ziemba, Jr. 

Township Administrator Donna Vieiro said that discussions could continue, but there would have to be some real changes. "We are asking for a culture change and leadership change in Fire Company Number One," she said. 

The Truth May 13, 2014 at 12:53 AM
William Y at least the "12 year old girls volunteering in this town"have the balls to do so, just saying.
Kevin May 13, 2014 at 05:25 AM
You didn't address how many members station 2 has on south side of town. You didn't address how vonage is a temporary location
John Boyle Jr May 13, 2014 at 05:58 AM
Ok we'll I guess I have to come back into this conversation... Kevin I'm sorry that I have to make this a public social media battle but HFRC2 currently has more Holmdel Residennts in the south then all of Fire Co#1. HFC1 has who Doug Ziemba Sr? Who has been in a mechanical sling driving fire apparatus, Pat Bartolomeo the guy is using a cane to assist him in walking? Should I say more or can I stop there?
John Boyle Jr May 13, 2014 at 06:02 AM
Mr Kevin Mckane I'm so happy to see how much you care about an organization (HFC1) for only being a member since mid 2013.. After not responding for how many years (atleast 10) do you remember how to still put your gear on? If not don't hesitate to stop by HFRC2 for the training that you will never receive at HFC1.
Mike Simpson May 13, 2014 at 06:35 PM
Surely positive news from other sources is best in a thread such as this... http://www.middletownnj.org/press/read/ff651749 Local Volunteer Fire Departments Train at Soon to be Demolished Restaurant.. On Saturday and Sunday, March 15 & 16, 2014, several northern Monmouth County fire departments took advantage of a soon-to-be-demolished restaurant building to practice their skills and techniques in a realistic setting. The long-vacant Asahi Japanese restaurant and before that, Romano's Macaroni Grill, in the Holmdel Shopping Center at 2105 Route 35 was made available over the weekend to the Holmdel Fire Company 2. Under the command of Holmdel Fire Chief John Boyle Sr. members of the Holmdel Fire Department drilled with other local fire department members at that location. On Saturday the focus was on Rapid Intervention Crew (RIC) training. Deployed during Interior structural fires, one of the most dangerous aspects of firefighting, Rapid Intervention Crews are dedicated to “rescuing the rescuers”. RIC’s are staffed by firefighters that have the tools, training, and operational experience to help downed or trapped interior firefighters quickly and efficiently. Teams from Holmdel, Keyport, Hazlet, Mattawan, Middletown and Union Beach honed their skills during multiple sessions. Also participating were the Salvation Army, Middletown Special Services Unit and the Middletown Air Support Unit. Practicing RIC operations in a commercial structure provides a level of realism that can’t be simulated at the traditional training facilities, such as the Monmouth County or Middletown Township Fire Academies. For instance, the teams were able to employ their tools to break through some of the walls of the structure. These “breaching” maneuvers are used in situations where traditional means of egress are not available and rapid access to trapped victims is needed. The firefighters were able to realistically practice various breaching techniques in a controlled and safe environment. The focus on Sunday was to exercise local aerial ladder trucks and allow their crews to simulate commercial “roof operations”. Once again the firefighters were able to practice their skills in an extremely realistic and genuine environment. Commercial structures are built very differently than the much more common single family homes and present unique challenges and dangers to firefighters. The roofs of commercial buildings are often large, flat surfaces supported by engineered trusses and usually contain large heavy machinery. During the drill, different methods were used to cut holes in the roof which during an actual fire would be essential in releasing heat and smoke from the interior of the building. Great job by all concerned - this is surely the importance of "training".


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