Montclair Fire Department Pine Street. Photo: Montclair Firefighters

Montclair NAACP and Montclair Civil Rights Commission are calling for an immediate investigation of the promotional practices of the Montclair Fire Department and specifically questioning an “inadequate administration and supervision” of a recent examination. These groups are also calling for no promotions to take effect until a full investigation has taken place.

Commissioner Christa Rapoport, Civil Rights Commission Chair, in an email to the mayor and town council, said the groups demand that several allegations are investigated, including alleged inadequate administration and supervision of the examination and unfair penalty for sick leave used for recognized medical care impacting only African American candidates.

“For years, the Montclair Civil Rights Commission has heard rumblings that there are inequities at the Montclair Fire Department for heroes of color. No one came forward until November 2021,” says Rapoport. “In stark contrast with the Montclair Police Department, the Montclair Civil Rights Commission has had minimal interaction with the MFD. Whether the allegations are sustained or found to be without merit, it is hoped that the MFD will embrace diversity, equity, and inclusion and form a partnership with the Montclair Civil Rights Commission and its Public Safety Committee.”

“Along with my colleagues, I’m in receipt of the request from the NAACP to have this matter investigated. The allegations that have been made are concerning,” says Councilor at Large Peter Yacobellis. “As one of the Council liaisons to the Civil Rights Commission (along with Councilors Russo and Price Abrams) I have asked our Township Manager and Township Attorney to confirm what steps they will take to look into this matter and to clarify what, if any, role the Council can play in supporting said request given our form of government.”

Fourth Ward Councilor David Cummings, who is chairman of the Public Safety Committee, said he will have no comment until all facts have been gathered.

Baristanet reached out for comment from Montclair Mayor Sean Spiller, Montclair Fire Chief John Hermann as well as Montclair Township Manager Timothy Stafford, who is currently in Atlantic City at the NJ State League of Municipalities conference. We will update with any comment.