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Point Beach Council Squares Off Over Fire Engine, Noting Mariners Cove Fatal Blaze

A serious debate among councilmen ensued, including a dispute between Mayor Vincent Barrella and Council President William Mayer that resulted in Mayer temporarily walking away from the meeting

Mariners Cove
Mariners Cove

Written by Elizabeth Q. Herlihy

Point Pleasant Beach Council members, residents and firefighters squared off Tuesday night over the replacement of an engine for local firefighters.

Reminding the council about the fatal fire at Mariners Cove Motor Inn less than two months ago, Councilman Bret Gordon made a motion to take the initial ordinance off the table and propose a bond ordinance for the replacement of the fire engine.

After serious debate among councilmen, including a dispute between Mayor Vincent Barrella and Council President William Mayer that resulted in Mayer temporarily walking away from the meeting, the council voted on the first hearing of a bond ordinance. 

With the exception of Mayer and Councilman Thomas Vogel, the council approved the first hearing of the bond ordinance  Vogel did not participate in the hearing since he is a member of the fire company.

Earlier, Gordon, who was absent from the last municipal meeting, brought to the council’s attention that discussion on the replacement of an engine for the fire company was missing from the agenda.

Gordon noted the council has obvious concerns with the ordinance because it was tabled on the first reading, and not placed on the agenda. 

Gordon brought in Michael Brodeur of Ocean Fire Co. 1 to discuss the specifications on the engine replacement, and address council members' apprehensions about the ordinance.

Councilmen Andy Cortes, Stephen Reid, Thomas Toohey and Mayer all voiced concern about the cost of the engine.

Cortes said he spent time researching fire trucks and found lower costs than the $725,000 projected replacement price.  Mayer claimed he spoke to other senior firefighters who voiced their opposing opinions about purchasing another truck.

Broduer explained the costs to the council, noting the extent of the fire engine’s apparatuses, including a pumper with added features, and a 55-foot ladder.

Fire investigators noted that firefighters struggled with finding a water supply when battling the March blaze, which collapsed the roof of the motel where about 40 people were staying and killed four people.

Broduer, who is also part of the truck committee that evaluated the engines and approved the replacement cost, said “the Emergency-One engine will be a companion to other trucks.”

With reservations about the cost of the fire truck, Reid suggested bringing in a consultant to figure out an exact price for the engine. 

M Brodeur May 08, 2014 at 11:22 AM
To clear up a few statements in this article....the lines in the story about the Fire Investigators and water supply were never discussed at the Council meeting, that is something the Patch editor put in this story, and I don't know why. Mr. Bolcar, this is not an additional truck, it's a replacement, it will be the first truck out the firehouse door. Also, a water tanker is a limited water supply, there are better options and they were, in fact, used at the fire. The truck committee starting working on this truck over a year ago and it was proposed to Mayor and Council PRIOR to the Mariners Cove fire.
Rick Ricky May 08, 2014 at 03:50 PM
No towns should be spending this kind of money with everything else that has happened in the last couple of years.
Tom Bolcar May 09, 2014 at 06:38 AM
As for front line equipment the chief has a valid point. Equipment needs to be upgraded. However, just because there are 4 parking spots in a firehouse doesn't mean there has to be four trucks. The firehouses were built in an era of 500-750 gallons per minute engines. At that time an engine was needed at a hydrant as well as in front of the burning building. Now there are 1250-1500 gallon per minute pumpers and with large diameter hose so no truck is needed at the hydrant. That the beach water supply is terrible remains undisputed by the chief and a tanker would supply water to augment and back-up the hydrant system, not replace it, in those critical first 15 minutes of fire attack when 99% of fires are extinguished. For those occasional big fires a tanker would be of little value but so would an additional engine. A final clarification of an above statement not from the chief is that pumpers are classified for insurance purposes. A Class A $425,000 pumper can do the same job as a Class A $725,000 pumper. Low bid means fiscal responsibility, not trash. Lastly there are two fire companies in PP Beach. Truck committees only look to their company's needs. PP Boro took a look at the large picture a few years ago and merged its two companies into one at large savings.
M Brodeur May 09, 2014 at 03:11 PM
Mr. Bolcar, thank you for the good discussion, that is something not always seen on the Patch forums. ISO states PPB should have 3 engines and 1 ladder based on their fire load calculations. We meet that requirement now and we will meet that requirement with the replace truck. We traditionally don't have an engine at a hydrant, we lay into the scene. We do also draft from the various water sources in town. We also use NJ American Hydrants when possible. As I said, there are multiple ways for us to get the water we need. And I also agree a Class A pumper can be had for 450,000. The truck we are looking at is a Class A pumper with an added option that gives us additional capabilities. Yes, there are 2 fire companies in town. The fire department is governed and operates under the Board of Fire Officers. They are the line officers of each company. Board of Fire Officers has a Long Range Equipment committee that continuously looks at future needs. Truck committees for either company run their truck ideas through the Board of Officers. Also, each time a truck committee is formed, there is at least 1 member from the other company on that committee. I know some of the details of PP Boro fire department but no where near enough to offer any opinions.
M Brodeur May 09, 2014 at 03:21 PM
And one last thing...thanks for calling me Chief, but I am not Chief anymore. My last term was in 2010. I am just a black hat firefighter now.

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