Holmdel Fire Company #1 On Main Street Is Closed

Major township fire company reorganization underway; township creates new fire stations at Crawfords Corner Road and Vonage.

This message was posted on the marquee on Friday, April 11, 2014.
This message was posted on the marquee on Friday, April 11, 2014.
Holmdel Township Fire Company Number One, which has served Holmdel residents for 97 years from Main Street in Holmdel Village, is now closed. 

A postcard was mailed out to residents today saying that the township governing body "will soon be introducing a plan designed to significantly improve fire protection services throughout the community" by better utilizing existing resources and improving response times without additional cost to taxpayers. 

The Holmdel Township Fire Dept. has been reorganized to serve the township from three locations (instead of two): one location is the established Holmdel Fire & Rescue Company #2 building at Centerville Road station near the train tracks; the second location will be at Crawfords Corner Road at the Municipal Complex Office of Emergency Management building; and the third location will now be 100 yards away from the Village firehouse on donated Vonage property at Holmdel Road. 

By local ordinance, Company One handled all the Holmdel calls on the south side of the Parkway divide, and Company Two the north. Now Company #2 will handle the entire township. 

"We’ve always assisted on that side of town," said John Boyle Sr., the chief of Holmdel Fire Company #2. "If there was an actual fire there, our resources are better positioned now to get there in a faster, more efficient matter."

Holmdel Fire Co. #2 has grown to include 55 active members. Boyle said the members of Fire Co. #1, a smaller force, will be welcome to join the all-volunteer crew. "The members of that company are welcome to join our company and follow the same rules, guidelines, and benefits that our members have," said Boyle.

According to the township letter, the new Crawford's Corner Road station will be fully staffed by all-volunteer duty crews from 6 a.m. - 6 p.m., and response times during overnight hours should be 60 percent faster than present. 

Between all three stations, "every property with the Township will be no further than 2.5 miles from a fire station," according to the postcard.  In addition, the township stated, there will be more manpower for all areas of the township, uniform standards for training and equipment, more effective recruitment of all volunteers, and continual assessment and improvement of services. 

"In the final analysis, these much-needed changes, including the addition of duty crews, provide Holmdel with the most comprehensive plan for fire protection in our town's history," the township stated. 

An ordinance to dissolve the fire company on Main Street will be introduced at Tuesday night's Township Committee meeting. A public hearing on the local legislation will be held on April 29, according to Township Administrator Donna Vieiro. "This is something that has been discussed for awhile," said Vieiro. "The decision was discussed in closed session." Holmdel Fire Company #1 Chief Doug Ziemba Sr. was informed of the government's decision and "was a gentleman" said Vieiro. Ziemba did not respond to a phone call for comment. 

Mayor Patrick Impreveduto said he "unequivocally appreciates" all that the Fire Company has done for Holmdel Township. "I have always thought very highly of Chief Ziemba," said Impreveduto. "But that does not change the way I feel about the safety of the residents." 

He said, "We've been concerned about the response time, and the number of firefighters in the department," he said. The governing body considered a study documenting response times compiled by Committeeman Greg Buontempo. The mayor said he believes there are less than 8 active members in the company. 

The chief's son, Doug Ziemba, Jr., is the President of Holmdel Fire Company #1. He said the company has 32 members, some of whom are active "depending on the situation. I cannot remember a time when we did not have three members on a fire truck, responding to a fire call," he said. 

Township mechanics came to drive two township-owned fire trucks out of the Main Street firehouse bays back to the municipal complex on Thursday afternoon. The building, some vehicles and some assets, which were purchased by Fire Company #1 over the years, will remain under Fire Company #1's ownership. 

In fact, Fire Company #1 can even respond to fires if another municipality requests its service, said Vieiro. 

Ziemba Jr. said he was "absolutely surprised" by the township's decision. 

"We don’t understand why the fire company was not informed of the fire company closure," said Ziemba Jr. "We don’t think it's fair that we should be forced to join another fire company and surrender the history our fire company has."

MY town April 11, 2014 at 06:52 PM
I'm not a Holmdel resident , but feel this makes no sense to me . Removing rigs and moving them down the block ?
Justmeasking April 12, 2014 at 05:12 PM
Unfortunately there is no easy way to go about a decision like this. I can only hope and pray that this decision was not "politically" motivated. After 97 years of service to it's community, the fire company has had to have made a positive impact to the residents of the company's response area. Consolidation, duty crews and ultimately (if required) paid firefighters are the way of the future. I am quite sure this decision has fallen hard on the company's members both active and life. Even though i am not a resident of Holmdel i wish to extend heartfelt thanks to the men and women who gave so much of their lives to the fire company and the residents of Holmdel. I hope this works out well for the residents that this decision impacts.
Doug Ziemba Jr April 12, 2014 at 10:26 PM
The recently closed firehouse at 35 West Main St is privately owned by HFC1 and is not a township building. No tax dollars go into the electric bill, septic, dumpster, maintenance, or other expenses of the building. The town does not even snow plow our parking lot, the volunteers take additional time from their days to clean off the driveway. Our building was built by the members and volunteers of Holmdel. HFC1 is funded through donations, fund faising, and hall rentals. A building DONATED by Vonage to garage a fire engine 100 yards away from the FREE building that the town stored two fire engines in until Thursday only helps two people; Vonage's tax liability, and The Holmdel Township committee in their vision to control every orginazation within the town. Although Vonage may love having a firehouse on their property, the ones who will suffer are the local residents on the south side of Holmdel. Any volunteer orginazation is strong from 6p-6a when the "new" firehouse will be staffed. Volunteer firefighters, because they are not paid, most likely have some type of job during the day. I hope that the residents of Holmdel are aware that this "new" firehouse was a firehouse from the 80's until about 5 years ago when Holmdel "consolidated" and converted the firehouse into an OEM facility, leaving Holmdel with 2 firehouses from the previous 3. Close a firehouse 5 years ago to gain trust from residents in a consolidation only to reopen it as "new" and gain more trust. Although Holmdel Fire Co No 1 is currently closed, we are not gone and hope to someday soon return to active service to serve the residents, supporters, and tax payers of Holmdel. Doug Ziemba Jr President Holmdel Fire Co 1 www.facebook.com/saveholmdel


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