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.