UPDATE: John Fierro, president of Montclair Firefighters Mutual Benevolent Association Local 20, refutes claims made about the Montclair Fire Department equipment and conditions at Fire House #3.

Montclair, NJ – Residents who challenged the fire services deal with Glen Ridge are now calling on Montclair’s Town Council to look more closely at the Fire Department expenses as well as Chief Hermann’s most recent budget request for 13 more firefighters.

“I find the lack of responsiveness and detailed information from the Fire Dept. to be a reason to not support any requests for additional staff or funding,” said Councilor Bob Russo in an email. “I have never seen this arrogance from any Dept. heads in 23 years on the Council. I continue to support the Fire union leaders, but not the requests for 14 additional staff by the Chief. What are these numbers based upon? How can we not spend money on the essential communications equipment, but allow the purchase of non-essential items for some of our facilities and not others?

The discrepancy in facilities Russo is mentioning is evident at Fire House #3, located in Montclair’s South End by Nishuane Park. The historic station and its condition figured prominently in the lawsuit two Black firefighters filed against the township, contending that they faced “egregious race discrimination” in the Montclair Fire Department.

Fire House #3

The lawsuit alleges that the defendant, Montclair Fire Chief John Herrmann, further retaliated against Plaintiff Steven Marshalleck by reassigning him to Firehouse #3.

Tale of Two Fire Houses

Fire House #3, the town’s oldest-working station, made news in February 2022 when it was slated for repairs and a renovation, but work has yet to start. Montclair had authorized $500,000 for capital improvements to Firehouse #3 back in 2020.

Upper Montclair’s Fire House #2, was built in 1902, a year after Fire House #3 was built. According to the lawsuit,  Firehouse #2 has been consistently maintained and upgraded by Montclair Fire Department, providing modern facilities for its firefighters. The suit cites a recently completed $50,000 renovation of the bathroom facilities at Firehouse #2 to make them handicap accessible. It also has amenities such as a Viking commercial stove, high quality laundry appliances and comfortable sleeping quarters. According to the lawsuit, the majority of firefighters assigned to Firehouse #2 are white.

Kitchen (left) with Viking stove in Fire House #2. Right, kitchen at Fire House #3.

Firehouse #3 has received little to no capital improvements in more than a decade.

According to the law suit, lead paint was discovered in the building and basic remediation work was completed only recently. “The Firehouse #3 kitchen and bathroom facilities have not been upgraded in at least 20 years and are not handicap accessible. The sleeping quarters are substandard and firefighters sleep on outdated mattresses,” the suit states, adding that Firehouse #3 is the only Montclair Fire Dept. firehouse where the majority of firefighters are Black.

The lawsuit further alleges that Chief Herrmann has “failed to make improvements to Firehouse #3 in order to preserve it as a punishment assignment for firefighters and a tool of discrimination against Black firefighters.”

Montclair Chief Financial Officer Padmaja Rao, at the last Town Council meeting, confirmed that the Council had previously adopted an ordinance for $500,000 for some structural work for Firehouse #3.

Of the $500,000, Rao said between $20-30,000 had been spent for an architectural firm to write the specifications for bid. The Township Council approved $24,950 for Connelly & Hickey to design structural upgrades for Fire Station #3.

“They recently completed preparing specifications to go out for bid and they did bid it out. Just last month, I believe. We recently received all the bids and are about to award the contract,” Rao added.

“We received various proposals roughly from $260,000 to one and a half million dollars. So we are going to pick the lowest responsible bidder and going to award the contract soon, probably at the next meeting,” Rao said.

Equipment 911

Resident Eileen Birmingham, in an email to the Town Council, called Fire House #3 a “gulag” and questioned if there was data that showed that Fire House #3 is needed.

“How is it that the Fire Houses have Nautilus equipment and Viking stoves, but not radios?” resident Eileen Birmingham writes in an email to the Town Council. “What have the priorities been? It is my understanding that [Fire] House #3 does not have working radios. And we are told that for years, the fire department has had substandard radios. Any department that prioritizes Viking stoves and Nautilus equipment over radios and other safety equipment is not a serious department.”

Birmingham also stated that during the Montclair budget presentation, Montclair’s financial consultant Bob Benecke offered no explanation for the number of firefighters, and why Montclair would need more staff than Bloomfield, a much larger town that has an automatic aid agreement with Nutley and Belleville.

Gym equipment in Fire House #2 (left); a workout area in Fire House #3 (tight)

“I would like Mr. Scantlebury to look into the discrepancies in equipment available at the different houses,”  Councilor Peter Yacobellis replied to Birmingham’s email. “Your point it taken on the stoves vs. radios as a principal.”

Birmingham was one of the first to raise concerns about Montclair’s fire services agreement with Glen Ridge, stating in June 2022 that Glen Ridge was paying $50,000 less than it did in 2011 and, when adjusted for inflation, the Borough was paying Montclair less than it did in 1991. Yacobellis also called the agreement a bad deal for Montclair taxpayers.

In his op-ed, stating that the Montclair Glen Ridge fire agreement is a win-win, Mayor Sean Spiller stated that “after working with Glen Ridge for a number of years, we know exactly what our annual costs are to provide fire service and protection. Our lone costs are fuel, maintenance, and vehicle depreciation; not one additional firefighter is employed to service Glen Ridge.”

Herrmann, in an op-ed in favor of the Glen Ridge fire agreement,  stated that “in 1961, there were 82 firefighters in the Montclair Fire Department. In 1993, there were 82 firefighters. In 1999, there were 79 firefighters. In 2013, there were 81 firefighters. And today, there are 76 firefighters in the Department. We have always been in that range and truly need more personnel even today.”

On Tuesday, Montclair’s council will decide on whether to adopt the 2023 Municipal Budget including a $12.7 million proposed budget for the township’s Fire Department — a 7.5% increase. Glen Ridge is paying Montclair $75,738 less in 2023 as part of the new fire services agreement.

48 replies on “Lawsuit Puts Montclair Fire Dept. and Fire House #3 Under Scrutiny”

  1. Still waiting for folks to ask what the cost, and head count, to service only Montclair is.

    The comment about Bloomfield seems inaccurate – Montclair has 76, and Bloomfield has around 70 professional and 25 volunteers.
    South Orange/Maplewood consolidated into about 70 fire fighters, and reducing 4 or 5 senior roles. They have 3 fire houses.

    That being said, the disparity between Firehouse 3 and the rest seem striking, though not sure the outrage about having a Viking stove is appropriate – round the clock crews, etc – I’d expect something more industrial than the cheapest stove you can find at Sears.

  2. And here we go. This is how discussions of closing a fire station start.

    Montclair situated its fire headquarters on Pine Street on the assumption that Glen Ridge would always be part of our service area. The headquarters station can’t close because, well, it’s the headquarters. Station #1 can’t close because the headquarters is too far from Upper Montclair. So, if a station finds itself on the chopping block, it’s Nishuane. Although the Third Ward theoretically could be served from the headquarters station, response times would be materially slower.

    Montclair is six miles wide. Although we might have gotten by with two fire stations if we had located them more strategically, that’s not where we are, and losing Station #3 would be a big problem for the Third Ward. We need that station properly equipped and staffed.

  3. Jeff,

    Frankly, I find it ridiculous that all sides are each dispensing their slices of data to make their case to the public. Hooray! Now Local 20 leadership has finally jumped into the fray. I could make a crack about their response times.

    4 studies? Can I take a crack at them? I have an idea…let’s go for transparency and crowdsource all this date onto one Township web page. Scared y’all, didn’t I.

    Speaking of response times, Glen Ridge has been telling its residents for years that the MFD can respond anywhere in the Boro within 3 minutes max! I have never had 3 minutes in my neighborhood and I’m a quarter mile from Station #2.

    You do know what the response standard is, right? So, MFD is supposedly responding in about half the time required by standards…that the fire department quotes.

    The bottomline is MFD has an extraordinary payroll. Extraordinary in every way. I don’t really care if we aren’t going to take a serious – like in professional quality – look at one of our top cost centers.

    And as to Station #3, you need to get up to speed on the MFD’s vision how it fits into the not only the apparatus plan, but who it services. Maybe talk to West Orange.
    Tonight’s resolution awarding a 2-part contract for Phase 1 is not substantiated. One part is historic and the HPC wasn’t even given a courtesy review. No shocker there. Lips service to HP. But, the floor reinforcement to handle 35 ton trucks is a head scratcher unless you understand the long-range plan. Maybe if we don’t need the station down the road we can store a garbage truck there. The new floor can support it.

    PS: note the steel beams in the last photo and ask why we need to spend another $209,000 for more steel and concrete to upgrade the structural supports. Fascinating answer.

  4. @Jeff: Yep. It’s very hard to pin the anti-fire crew’s position down, because then they’d have to be accountable.
    All volunteer? No.
    Partial Volunteer and partial paid? Maybe, but I haven’t seen that stated loudly.
    Smaller than Bloomfield? Yes, but Bloomfield is at 70 paid + 25 volunteer + admin, so Montclair is already there.
    Similar to South Orange/Maplewood? Well that’s 76 plus retirements expect it to go to 72, which is more or less where the actual budget has them (Aware MFD requested 89, and is being told to pound sand).

    If headcount is just right, then the only savings is either 1) via reducing quality of response – so if that’s where they’re going, they should just say so or 2) reducing other expenses – but then you’re stuck with old facilities for Station 3, and that’s also terrible according to this contingent.

    I still would like to see a quote from MFD about what coverage is needed just to support Montclair, as if Glen Ridge fell into the ocean. I think Glen Ridge (and I’m a resident), is catching a lot of fire from this group when they’re more upset about overall costs and apparently inept (or worse) management.

  5. And for public, specifically those tormented souls participating in tonight’s public hearing on the budget, ask for a 20,000 ft level delineation of the costs – not what we will pay – for all of the capital initiatives being bandied around these days. It is a simple, ordinary and totally appropriate question.

    Again, ball park. This is is $40MM, this $7MM, this one is $20-25MM. Whatever. But, don’t forget to follow-up and ask if this is the full list and the best estimates of the various scenarios being considered. You don’t want to be played…again.

    I bring this up because Ira Karasick explained the Midtown Deck cost $11MM (our spend, to date, is actually about $2MM). Then we gave away, for free, this $11MM asset & 6-figure, cash cow generator to our Parking Utility…and its dedicated revenue funds.

    Anyway, throw a dart at a project and do a deep dive. It is not pretty down there. But, riddle me this my fellow taxpayers – especially those who have trust & confidence issues with this Council: ”

    1. Why would you think it is a good idea to allow this “underperforming/highly scrutinized” Council to embark on a generational-frequency, intricately staged capital commitment when many of you can’t wait for the next election?

    2. Are you willing to give up all future rights to any and all “I told you so’s” and be sentenced to a life of endless “shoulda seen that one coming’s”?

  6. Rtadoyle,

    Per your unanswered question, the best, trusted estimate I have in hand on the cost to respond to Montclair-only needs, is $7,211,550.

    Now, this same estimate projected the GR responding costs at $736,875…which is about 5x higher than the figure the Council was working with. Hence, I would adjust the $7,211,550 figure down to somewhere under $1.5MM. Y’know, apples to apples.

  7. Rtadoyle, your numbers are inaccurate regarding Bloomfield. Bloomfield does not have 25 volunteers, in fact they need volunteers. The volunteer rescue company is slated to have as many as 25 but has never carried that number. The average number of volunteers is less than 20 on roster and that number has never responded when called upon. For a working fire, generally less than 12 show up and very often there are less than five. Add to that the fact that the rescue truck responds on second alarm fires or when there is a duty crew in quarters for a few hours three-four times a week at night and he rescue truck only carries five air packs meaning only five volunteers can actually be called upon to assist with inside operations. On the paid side they just saw a number of retirements reducing the head count and some of those on roster are in fire prevention and not on the line. (I am a former volunteer in Bloomfield)

    Now, for any fire department staffing, the NFPA standard states there should be at least 15 firefighters on a first alarm plus command. Bloomfield runs three firefighters per apparatus out of four firehouses. On a working fire they have four engines and a truck responding, so 15 firefighters. Montclair (I believe) runs three to an engine and four to a truck whenever possible, out of three firehouses. Montclair has three engines and two trucks on a working fire call, or 17 firefighters. While that looks like Montclair is staffed accurately, the 15 in the NFPA standard is the MINIMUM staffing.

    How does that break out in real life? The NFPA also has a 2 in 2 out standard, stating that firefighters are supposed to work in teams of two when entering a building and doing a search for victims. So, of those 17, subtract four and you’re down to 13. Another four are used for suppression with a minimum of two firefighters on a hose line, so 13 becomes 9. Each apparatus has a driver who may or may not leave the apparatus (first due drivers do not), so subtract another 5 who are supporting outside and the number is down to 4. Four firefighters are left to do ventilation and standby as a rescue team (for firefighters that might get injured or lost) until mutual aid arrives. They are also throwing ladders around the building, humping hose to the door and firefighters inside, ventilating from the ground or ladders, relaying tools, and being ready to switch with other firefighters inside.

    So, you see, the MFD is understaffed.

    I can’t speak for conditions in the department or the politics/culture, but station three is needed and needs to be brought up to a livable standard.

    As for volunteer department, you don’t want that. The average response time for a volunteer department is three times a paid department. A combination department has the same personnel response issues as a volunteer department.

    The men and women of the MFD do an outstanding job filling in for the lack of staffing, but sooner or later things break down.

  8. Thank you Srosen! I was working off of the Annual Report from Bloomfield which said “78 active professional firefighters, augmented by a roster of up to 25 volunteer firefighters, and 6 civilian administrative”. I guess ‘up to’ is doing a lot of work in that sentence, so I appreciate the clarification, and the detail you put in.

    Fortunately, it didn’t destroy my position, since my stance is that it seems likely that Montclair needs at least as many people as it currently has, excluding Glen Ridge.

    My assumption as to why the Chief is requesting 89 is because that’s the standard he thinks they actually need, and that somewhere in that gap of 13 headcount there are impacts on response and potential safety. If something goes wrong and there’s a loss of life or property that could have been avoided, he can at least say he requested more.

  9. Frank – Appreciate the response, but I’m not sure we’re talking about the same thing re: the coverage for Montclair’s fire needs. You said 7.2, but Personnel Costs for fire are 15.8 million. I’m trying to figure out what headcount of fire fighters Montclair would need to just cover Montclair, not factoring in Glen Ridge.

  10. Rtadoyle,

    Providing fire service to Montclair is essentially a fixed cost. Per the language in the contract we signed with your town, we are providing superior quality fire coverage & services with a roster of 76 total personnel. If we now need 89, then maybe we weren’t truthful with GR in describing the contractual quality of service. (I think we were truthful and I think your gov’t – which is clearly sharper than ours – agrees with me)

    Anyway, my figure reflects Personal Costs of responding to the typical number of calls Montclair averages over the last 2 years ending Jul’22. If you want a quick, back-of-the-napkin ballpark calculation, multiply S&W by 1.45.

    I assume your $15.8MM total figure of what it cost personnel-wise to staff MFD is derived from LY plus a proposed increase TY, or, you are adding allocated overhead costs that I can’t reconcile.

    If Glen Ridge contract went away tomorrow, our costs wouldn’t change in any meaningful way. But, imagine if GR found fire prevention religion (& eliminated all their false alarms) and never had reason to call on our services…yet, you still had to pay us the contracted amounts and increases. You guys would get pissed sooner or later. Then maybe you would say, hey, that level of life & property protection is there if we ever need it and we are paying for that protection…at a steep discount. Thanks MTtc

  11. Srosen,

    I’m a layperson trying to determine what is appropriate funding for a department that has integrity, transparency and some other issues.

    You say 8 rigs are to be expected for a mutual aid event. Mtc rigs run $1MM on avg. The rigs are, except 1, stat-of-the-art. We have comprehensive hydrant service. However, you emphasize the importance of manpower as the overwhelmingly determinant of safety and execution. Isn’t there a less expensive way to get manpower to the scene? Instead of $8MM in assets responding, we have $7.25MM respond and shift resources into HC or overtime. And couldn’t they just lock the vehicle doors on that faster, less expensive means of transportation to free up a HC in the most critical first minutes? When doe the second units have to show by? 7 min later?

  12. OK, I am not sure exactly how an email that I wrote as a private citizen wound up in Baristanet, and I am sure Liz George will give me the opportunity to respond more fully, since much of this is being mischaracterized. But for now, since it is budget season, let me tag onto srosen’s reference to NFPA standards and consider them in the modern context of Essex County.

    NFPA 1710 Guidelines Section clearly state “The Fire Department shall be permitted to use established automatic and mutual aid agreements to comply with the requirements of Section 5.2”

    So it is not expected that one single town’s fire department meet all NFPA Staffing standards, individual suburban towns in this country almost never do—most would be struggling to adhere to the lower volunteer standards anyway. As stated in the Manitou consultancy for SOMA in preparation for their merger (2021) “Mutual aid (in Essex county) is a reciprocal service provided among communities, and is the backbone of effective fire service provision…”

    As srosen notes, Montclair by itself typically staffs at 17—above the minimum and higher than surrounding towns—for a single family structure. The question then becomes does Montclair have access to mutual aid to comply with any other standards?

    The answer is decidedly yes. Essex County has an established mutual aid agreement and Montclair is directly bordered by 5 towns with professional fire departments. And of course more professional FD are a few more miles away, and then there are a bunch to the west with volunteers. And don’t forget Clifton which has a large department and can also respond if needed.

    I do not think there is anywhere else in the state with the saturation of professional fire fighters than we see here in the eastern part of Essex County. Hudson County of course, is also heavily professional, but they are a much more urban area, with lots more high rises. Is anyone aware of any other area in the region, outside of a commercial/urban center, with the same number of 24/7 professional firefighters within a 5 mile radius? Having spent a lot of my life outside of Montclair, in different parts of the country, I don’t think people realize how unique a situation exists here, in terms of access to professional fire departments.

    Then the next question must be, OK the agreements exist, do they work? Again, the answer is yes. There is much evidence that fire departments in this area respond to fires in other towns, within minutes. We have seen this time and again since the agreement was established, mutual aid operates effectively, as noted in the Maplewood consultancy. Could it be more efficient and integrated? probably yes. But the same can be said for almost everything.

    Your description of volunteers not responding makes sense, I guess, although the majority of towns in this country are covered by volunteer departments, and I tip my hat to you and others who provide this service to their community. But while I mentioned that the east part of Essex is saturated with professional fire fighters, the west part is not. From Cedar Grove outward live 100,000 people over 50 square miles, not one professional fire fighter. If you include the 55K people in Wayne, that’s even more. Not one professional. These towns have buildings even taller than Montclair (see eg Verona, Wayne). And as you say, it is not a secret that these towns have trouble recruiting volunteers. As it happens, a lot of career fire fighters live in these towns. Coincidence? So what would you recommend for them? Is this morally irresponsible? Do they have access to a special spray that makes their building immune from fires? Are they putting their families in extreme danger? Or do they rely on towns with professional fire departments to prop them up? We know for instance that any time Cedar Grove has a real fire Montclair is right there to respond. It is well-established that Essex county has regionalized response, but individual towns are bearing vastly different costs.

    Do you wonder why these towns in West Essex don’t at least hire some fire fighters or so to cover them? I know you don’t have to wonder–it is costly. Did you see how Wayne did not want to give even a $1500 stipend to its volunteers? This is what happened to Glen Ridge way back in 1990. They did not want to take on the costs of adding more professional FF, so they joined with Montclair.

    The fire chief was asked in January a very simple question about mutual aid. To my knowledge, he has not answered it. (maybe by now he has and I do not know.) According to data analyzed in Maplewood, Maplewood gave much more mutual aid than it received. I imagine for Montclair it is the same. And that would be OK, as Montclair would also benefit, in the unusual event of a large fire. Every town in Essex right now, including Bloomfield, Maplewood, Millburn etc etc is benefiting from mutual aid, with a reduced tax burden for its residents. Montclair should too. As noted by Manitou, and can be read in the news and seen on YouTube, it operates effectively.

    We don’t get data very often, but we were told (I might have the exact numbers off) that in 2019 the FD responded to 20 structure fires, almost all of them single alarm, location unspecified. Are you aware of other data that Montclair is alone among towns in Essex County that cannot meet NFPA standards with mutual aid? Note I am not advocating for a volunteer department.

    I do not claim to be an expert, but it defies belief honestly, that Montclair needs 100 fire fighters while the rest of Essex county has no where close to that, and many towns have 0. Of course we need a fire department, but we have other needs too. I would advocate for an independent operational analysis, updated. The previous ones were done in the setting of much higher rates of fires, without mutual aid being as established as it is today.

  13. And one more question for srosen, if I may:

    Were you living in Bloomfield in 2011 when then-town manager Yoshi Manale reduced the fire department from 90 to 78? Saying that the town could no longer afford all of the salary and benefits? And I believe the staffing got further reduced, and now fluctuates in the 70s. There appears to have been a lot of doomsday scenarios suggested at the time.

    It’s been 12 years since, so this is adequate time to assess data. From my reading of the reports that Bloomfield produces, the fire department goes on a lot of calls and operates effectively. Do you have data to suggest otherwise? Not necessarily anecdotes, but data? This has saved the taxpayers in Bloomfield probably $25-30 million over this time period, so just wondering what your impression is. Not based on the “worst case/what ifs” but actual life in Bloomfield over these 12 years.

  14. Thank you, Eileen! It was the ignoring of your smart analysis in the run up to the Glen Ride contract debacle that “woke up” this “old timer” to who was representing my interests and who should be!

  15. Eileen, you are right, you clearly are not an expert. Anyone can look up a code and try to cite it, but the NFPA codes don’t exist in a vacuum. Try reading all of 1710 to get some real perspective on staffing and then read the other codes that are associated with staffing and apparatus and how those work together, and then read the codes dealing with different kinds of emergencies and how those need to be responded to. Then, you can quote codes. I have read most of those codes but I’m not going to do your homework for you. You mentioned my count of 17 firefighters but failed to acknowledge I also said it is the minimum recommended staffing (Montclair will be 15 if there are three on each truck). What studies have shown is staffing at 15 still leaves fire ground tasks to be postponed until more assets arrive.

    You mention no other towns with paid fire departments within 50 miles. How about Morristown, Madison, Millburn, Union, Hillside, Paterson, Passaic, Clifton, Hackensack, Irvington, Elizabeth, shall I continue? They all utilize mutual aid.

    How well do volunteer departments work? The average response time for a career fire department is 3-5 minutes while for volunteers it is 12-15. Fire doubles in size every 30 seconds. You do the math. Volunteer departments generally work to protect exposures and fires regularly go to 3-4-5 alarms. And they use mutual aid every time. Once a fire goes to a second alarm, mutual aid is called to cover stations. Those single alarm fires had station coverage from other departments in case another emergency came in. Prior to joining Bloomfield I was on two other departments, and let me tell you the pain I felt watching someone’s house burn, watching the owners crying because all of their belongings were being destroyed and all the while all I could do was stand there and watch, waiting for an engine to arrive. Mutual aid was developed to assist departments when they don’t have enough resources on their own. Patterson has 400 line firefighters and uses mutual aid all the time.

    Career firefighters often live in other municipalities is an issue? Why did you choose Montclair? Personal choice just as every other person makes that choice, except for those wanting to get hired in certain departments where residency is required.

    You quote the number of fires in Montclair. How many accidents? Car fires? CO alarms? Smoke conditions from cooking, gas leaks, wires arcing, people trapped, etc. Firefighters don’t just fight fire.

    Why does Montclair need more firefighters? Because we have a very wide range of structures in town and some of them are very large plus others are being remodeled or renovated to become larger than they were originally meant for. Are fire departments expensive? If I remember correctly, less than $100 of your property taxes actually goes to the fire department (I may be misquoting the figure but it’s not far off). Why do we need apparatus that cost what they do? A very small sum for life safety and any hour of the day in any weather, no matter what. I hope you never need to call the fire department, but if you do need someone at the worst possible moment in you life, I promise you, you want professional help, and as much of it as you can, as soon as possible.

    I am very passionate about life safety and especially the fire services. You are right that the majority of communities in the United States are volunteer (it’s approximately three quarters of the fire fighters in the country). Personally, I will never live in a volunteer town again after experiencing the fires I did and the lack of response. I want 5-6 firefighters per apparatus as the NFPA states is fully staffed.


    Fire apparatus cost anywhere from 250k to 1 million+. They are built with one purpose in mind and are specialized for that purpose. Is there a cheaper way to get firefighters to the scene? Not withour transporting the equipment needed and the resources needed.

    Fire apparatus are also more economical fuel wise than most cars. They can run in high idle for hours before needing to be refueled. In addition, fire apparatus have a lifespan of 10-15 years in a major city and longer in suburbia. The cost is a one-time upfront expense.

    The way to get cheaper apparatus is through grants. Bill Pascrell LOVES getting money for fire departments. In the last fifteen years, Bloomfield has only paid 100% of 2-3 front line apparatus.

    With all of my ranting (I’m finished now because my wife is getting perturbed with the time I am spending replying) I believe all fire departments should have to go through the same audit as those that are seeking International Acredidation. It’s conducted by a team of professionals that know what is required of a fire department and often includes insurance representatives and financial auditors.

    Finally, While my tone may be stern here, I only want the best protection for our community and will try as best as I can to share what I know with those that don’t. Cheers to all and I hope you all have a wonderful summer.

  16. Eileen, yes I was in Bloomfield with Yoshi. In fact the mayor called the police to escort me from. town hall because Yoshi and I were having a “debate.” He offered to let me find the money in the town budget for the fire department only to go back on his word when I called him out on it (hence the police escort).

    Yoshi and I eventually became very friendly before he was ousted for incompetency and lack of knowledge.

    Yes staffing was reduced which resulted in extreme use of overtime to fully staff the department and when that was ordered to be stopped, Bloomfield had to close firehouses on a rotating basis, thus reducing protection.

  17. An embarrassing display tonight by parents in successfully hijacking the municipal budget hearing after they failed to fulfill their responsibilities in their school budgeting process. I made the mistake of thinking they, as primary stakeholders, were all over this since last Fall when we discussed next steps. But, no, they clearly abdicated their preferred access and exalted standing to do absolutely nothing until this weekend. Great job comrades.

  18. Srosen: “If I remember correctly, less than $100 of your property taxes actually goes to the fire department”

    $100?? You must be thinking of Glen Ridge. Are you thinking of Glen Ridge?

    If every single person living in Montclair contributed $100 to the FD (not by taxpayer, but every single person), our FD budget would be $4.1 million. Let’s throw in an extra $1 million to account for the relative commercial tax base, and then our FD budget can be $5.1 million.

    This sounds great to me and if you can tell us here in Montclair how to do this, I think we would all be grateful. I think if you could tell every town in America how to do this, I think they would also be grateful. Our FD is over $18 million of our $59 municipal tax levy, which according to our User Friendly Budget, is $5144 per average residential taxpayer. So we can do the math, but I’m not sure how it comes to $100.

    Turning to Glen Ridge, in 2023 they will be paying $850,000. So 100 X 7600= 760,000. Add another $100,000 for their commercial tax base (relatively similar commercial wealth because they have a big hospital (built by mostly Montclair residents once upon a time) that covers a quarter of their municipal/county taxes– hospitals and patients in hospitals don’t use the schools, so don’t need to cover for enrollment, so for-profit medical centers tend to be great sources of revenue for towns. Plus Montclair covers most municipal services needed to run the hospital–pumps the water, effectively serves as water and sewer utility, provides fire services, maintains many roads outside hospital, provides parking etc, so GR doesn’t need to spend much to maintain that hospital. But I digress)

    SO OK, it seems like maybe you were thinking of GR when you mentioned the $100 figure. I don’t live in Glen Ridge, but you can be excused for thinking I might live in GR, since the FD has been serving them for 30 years and our houses look very similar.

    Unfortunately, the opportunity for a town to get 24/7 professional fire services with the “Glen Ridge Deal” is not available anywhere else in the country. No other town charges its own residents considerably more for something like fire service than a neighboring town. It just isn’t done. And I’m not here to argue this point anymore, and anyone who doubts it, I would refer you to the NJ Office of Shared Services, the Department of Community Affairs, or any financial analyst. I’m not going to debate it here.

    So, given that towns can’t get the $100 coverage, towns have to balance the true cost of a fire department against other things that they need. I think we agree that Mutual Aid helps towns cover each other. What I meant in my previous post is that when it comes to Mutual Aid availability, Montclair has access to a lot of it, relatively. On the border/within a few miles are West Orange, Bloomfield, Nutley, Belleville, Orange, East Orange, Clifton. All professional/hybrid departments staffed 24/7, and they can send dozens of FF arriving within minutes.

    Conversely, you mentioned Morristown above. According to their annual report (as you know, per NFPA guidelines, the department is supposed to provide the AHJ with an annual report. Don’t think we’ve seen one in Montclair in years.) But in Morristown, they report (2020) that their department operates 4 tours with 5-8 firefighters on duty and staffs 2
    engines, 1 ladder, 1 ambulance, 1 command vehicle and 1 heavy rescue vehicle. Morristown is a bustling commercial space, and it has an airport. They have 5 professional FF on duty some days. Unlike Essex County, Morris County is almost entirely volunteer, so other professional FD are farther away. To me this is a much different risk– having 5 on duty and the nearest professional force is small and 5-10 miles away. So what would you recommend for them?

    And it seems like you might still live in Bloomfield? You were upset with Yoshi 12 years ago for cutting the force. You say that every truck should be covered by 5-6 people, you don’t seem to like volunteers. Do you go to the Town Council every year and demand they spend $3 million more per year to get the FD back to 90+ members? Do you have a campaign about it? Do you think other people in Bloomfield feel unacceptably safe?

    And I am not asking this in a disrespectful way– I am just trying to get at the idea that towns always have to make choices on how they spend their limited resources, and there always have to be tradeoffs. In your work as a volunteer, you have seen tragic fires– I trained and worked as a physician, so i have seen lots and lots of things that harm people, in addition to fires. I feel passionately that we need to address a broad base of harm reduction and support several things that keep people safe and help them thrive. So if you were to ask a town: you can have 6 FF per truck, but in return you can’t afford a public health nurse, or an ambulance, or crisis mental health intervention, or opioid harm reduction, or senior services, I would say “We need to find a compromise.”

    I think there is a lot of data to support that general idea, but I’ll tell a personal story to echo my point. I will tell you something that happened to me last summer. I was visiting my parents in Delaware, in a beach town. The beaches in Delaware are really, really busy in summer and the volunteer FF are going out on several calls per day. I was upstairs working and all of the sudden I heard my dad screaming my name “EILEEN!!! Get down here!” And my husband ran up and said “Your mom just blacked out.” And I ran downstairs and my mom was slumped on the couch and she was not breathing and did not have a pulse. And I thought “Holy #$%!” and I moved her to the floor and started pounding on her chest doing sloppy CPR. (push hard) And my husband called 911 and all I was panicking but tried to remain calm and kept thinking “where is the paramedic?” And although it felt like forever, the EMTs and paramedic (separate from the Fire Department) arrived within 3 minutes. And they were like this amazing pro team and they came in and whisked my mom away and helicoptered her to Wilmington and by the time I arrived there 2 hours later in my car, my mom was sitting up on a stretcher saying “Sorry for all the trouble.”

    So, my mom was hospitalized for a week, and every day my dad and I would drive to the hospital. On the last day, we were leaving the house and a little bit away we could see a plume of black smoke. As we drove down the road, we could see that a house around the corner was up in flames. In 22 years, there had never been a fire in their neighborhood, but on that day, that house was burning! The occupants had been alerted by a fire alarm and were standing on the corner watching the house burn. My dad and I waited for a while, and I was kind of keeping track and it took the FD 6 minutes to arrive– again it felt like a long time. But they came and pretty quickly put out the fire. The house was badly damaged, by fire, and a lot of water damage. The people and pets had all gotten out pretty quickly because they had smoke detectors, thankfully. Last time I was there, the house was being rebuilt, and I’m pretty sure all expenses covered by insurance.

    I think about that often because for me, I will be eternally grateful that the town had a professional paramedic, accompanied by volunteers. Everything flowed smoothly because of her. And then I saw the fire and I might agree with you that the response seemed a bit slow–I think it was clear to everyone and had been communicated that there was no one inside, so I am not sure if that impacted the response time, can’t say. But those volunteers successfully put out the fire and I also felt very grateful to them. If I had to choose one? Fortunately, I didn’t have to, but…I was extremely glad both services were available, and believe we always need to consider individual expenses in the context of all other competing needs. I would also welcome more standardization and since coverage is effectively regionalized, perhaps costs should be shared more equitably across a region.

    Anyway– it seems we can agree that maybe we are spending to much time on Baristanet.

    I wish you well and hope you have a nice summer!

  19. pelberg: Thank you for your kind words!

    Frank!! I fail to see what is ever wrong with people engaging with their community about something they care about.
    No amount of parental engagement can close a $5 million budget gap. We are operating within a system that has severe limitations. It was great to see people engaged– I don’t know if anyone keeps track of this, but I would bet that last night’s was the most heavily attended budget meeting in many, many years.

    It wasn’t “hijacked–” it was people expressing opinions about the budget, in public hearing, as specified by law. It happened that last night it was a lot of parents, because there is a frequent misconception that the school and town budgets are not at all linked– and this is not true.

    Considering that last year’s budget hearing was held over spring break, and the only people to call in (one of the last virtual meetings) were you, me, and maybe 1-2 other people, I will call last night a great move forward in civic engagement!! You might not agree, and you might have preferred last year’s pro forma session, but to me it was great to see.
    Especially love the kids getting involved!!
    Be well, Frank!!

  20. Eileen, for the record I do not live in Bloomfield any longer, I am a Montclair resident.

    Admittedly, the $100 figure I put out is dated and I did say I wasn’t sure about it.

    Volunteering in fire departments is down because of the time commitment for training (180 hours now?) and for responding to calls and training. Not every state has the requirements New Jersey does for volunteers.

    You mentioned no other municipality paying for fire protection. Chicago used to provide protection for a town named Lincolnwood at vast expense. When the residents spoke up and complained and Chicago said it wasn’t worth their time, Lincolnwood had to hire an independent company to furnish a fire department (eventually Lincolnwood chose to organize their own paid department). It does happen. And for the record, I think the deal to supply GR with fire protection is a rip-off for Montclair. GR could go to Bloomfield, but that won’t happen because Montclair built a multimillion dollar fire headquarters in a location that would satisfy GR. Montclair will cater to GR’s needs for that fact alone. The Montclair council simply needs to play hardball and demand more money. GR isn’t going to Bloomfield (which is actually better situated to protect GR than Montclair).

    As for Yoshi (who was given the job because he previously worked for Ray Lesniak-Union County, who threw money into the democratic party in Bloomfield and is now working at Kean University in Union County), then Mayor Raymond McCarthy and the Bloomfield council, I was at every meeting for months campaigning against the cuts to the fire department. I pulled no punches and called out hypocrisy (lot’s of it) and lack of foresight. I spoke up for the fire department when they couldn’t.

    While in Bloomfield I actually found how to end the Consent Decree Bloomfield was under (for double the amount of time it was supposed to be) and was able to petition the state to allow Bloomfield residents to be hired first for civil service positions. That allowed the fire department to hire volunteers first, thus reducing the cost of training and equipping new hires. The volunteers could go directly on the line if needed since they trained with the paid department. Since then over 80% of the hires are Bloomfield residents with the majority coming from the volunteers.

    I am pro-volunteer to supplement a fully paid fire department. It does help alleviate some need for immediate mutual aid, which by the way each town called would send one apparatus to either cover a station or go to the scene. I firmly believe that Montclair would benefit from a volunteer company to supplement the paid side. Right now if a fire comes in, members get recalled to staff the Rescue and backfill. Volunteers trained to the same standard can fill those roles faster and free-up paid firefighters already on the scene to do other tasks. Plus, as a volunteer in Bloomfield we were called to handle emergencies that would have otherwise required an engine or truck to sit at. Downed powerlines can take hours for PSEG to respond, but the volunteers could respond and free-up frontline apparatus. The same goes for helping with floods, downed trees, accidents, lockouts, etc. But again, there is no way a volunteer department can every take the place of a paid department. I’ll say it again, I’m pro supplementing the paid department but not at the risk of eliminating the paid department or cutting staffing.

    Finally, I loved being a volunteer and supporting the career side. I never received compensation beyond a sweatshirt and jacket from the department. I bought my own supplemental equipment. I didn’t want to be a paid firefighter (mainly because of age and my stage in life at the time). I got to work with my heroes and help them help others. I couldn’t ask for more.

    It seemed like much of your comments were aimed directly at me, and if I have offended you in any way, please forgive me. I never meant to direct any comments directly toward you, but rather some points you tried to make. Like I said I am very passionate about fire safety and fire department operations (hence why I chose to comment one more time and promise everyone not to do it again and subject others to my ramblings).

  21. I like it when you ramble. I like your forthrightness. I appreciate you sharing your knowledge and experience and the little vignettes. And your convictions.

    What’s not to like?

  22. Here’s my observations, after watching over a years worth of attacks on Glen Ridge re: fire. I think folks need to resolve the structural concerns they have with the fire, and then they can decide what the situation is with Glen Ridge.

    1. No actual proposals. Yes, there’s a request for data, but that will only tell you if Montclair is overstaffed, properly staffed, or understaffed for Montclair itself. Also… if you don’t have the data.

    Considering the size of SOMA fire department (71, per the SO MPL Fire Presentation), and the size of Bloomfield (78, plus, let’s say 6 other firefighters comprised of a collection of volunteers, based off numbers from their ’22 report, plus info from Srosen), Montclair seems to be right in the sweet spot. I would not expect this number to go up or down dramatically.

    2. Arguments that are at odds. Charge Glen Ridge more! And we should move to partial volunteer!
    We should reroute PILOT money to schools! But still insult Glen Ridge for providing Montclair money that otherwise would create even larger gaps. Figure out the structure you want, then figure out how that should impact your Glen Ridge narrative.

    3. Mixing up all of the fire problems into one argument. Montclair has valid concerns about their Chief. Montclair has valid concerns about the size of the department. Glen Ridge isn’t at fault for either of those. If Glen Ridge started paying 3 million a year, and all that new money went to the school, there’d still be a shortfall, and folks would probably still blame Glen Ridge.

    4. Not acknowledging information that has been provided. Why are we still talking about 89 fire fighters, or 100 fire fighters? Folks were told at the budget presentation the town is putting in for 79, with the expectation it’ll be 75-76. Saying the updated water deal is fair in one venue, and calling it unfair elsewhere mere weeks earlier.

    5. Where’s the follow-up? I heard multiple people mention looking into legal issues regarding the contract and the process, and they’re continuing to bully Schlager on it. Nobody’s followed up and is taking anyone to court? We know the council and its members aren’t hesitant to get involved in litigation. Perhaps the concerns that were voiced about the town’s liability were actually valid? Or it’s better to keep the myth alive with elections coming up in the future.

    Folks are welcome to have their opinions, but I just think playing the Glen Ridge boogeyman game has been overplayed.

  23. Srosen– I hope you feel NO reason to apologize, because I have learned a lot from your posts and I really, really appreciate that you continued to engage with me. The good thing about Baristanet is that if people are tired of something, they just can stop reading.
    And I, for one, am very familiar with long posts. I once had someone say to me “I like what you have to say, but can you say it in 2/3 fewer words?” And the answer was: “not really.”

    It is always especially great when I realize after a bit of time how much I agree with someone– we basically agree on two major points: 1. The GR deal is not good at all. and 2. Incorporating volunteers into a paid force can bring benefits. I am really appreciative.

    In the case of the GR deal, you may or may not have heard that I became very interested in it. Ironically, the $100/pp rate you quoted was about what Montclair was paying in 1990, when the deal started– a little bit less than GR. Today, as above, GR is still paying not much more than that, while Montclair most definitely is paying way more. So I just kept badgering the council– sent them so much data, talked to NJ shared service, the Fire office at State level etc. And after GR released the “RFP” (not in the spirit of a shared service agreement) I started to track the Bloomfield Town Council. I was really doubtful that they would be bidding, because unlike last time they did not have the same manager Yoshi, who was much brasher and unconventional. And they had made no motions that they would bid. They had just entered into automatic aid agreement with Nutley and Belleville, they were doing more EMT etc. I had friends write to their Council to ask if they were bidding. I watched the Bloomfield Council meetings to see if the fire chief was there– he was– one time when they approved new volunteers. But the executive session that night was so short that they could not have been talking about much of importance. And all of it clearly added up to me that Bloomfield was not going to bid. AND, as you say, GR had great service from Montclair for 30+ years, so why would they want to leave?

    And I understood in 2010 that Bloomfield was actively bidding, so back then they had to do something different (the fatal flaw in the contract AGAIN, is that GR holds all the cards, every time. Modern Shared service agreements are not written like that, and it is hard to stomach not even that could be corrected). Finally, I was told “we are taking you seriously, don’t worry.” Ironic foreshadowing.

    Unlike the 2010 negotiation process, this one was done entirely in secret. In 2010, Chief Kevin Allen had publicly shared data, before the sealed bid. I had seen a copy of it and it seemed reasonable. Unfortunately this time everything was done behind closed doors. And I will keep it “short” but when I saw that we had lowered our bid AGAIN to below 2011 rates I felt quite deflated, to say the least. Oh and surprise! Bloomfield did not bid. Bloomfield’s council is pretty good about following OPMA, so that should have been very clear to everyone frankly. They did not go into Executive Session for longer than 15 minutes and never announced a reason that would have been relevant. But at that point, even though I think legally the Council could have responded to public pressure and not approved it, per Shared Service law, others thought differently. Today I am told “it was really just a contract for service.” Well, if that is the case, it should not be allowed to be longer than 5 years long. A competitive RFP process was followed and then turned into a Shared Service agreement. Frustrating. And the rest is history. A lost opportunity. Life moves on– see you in 15 years. Shortly after I learned that we pump all of Glen Ridge’s water and hadn’t even bothered to raise the rates in 8 years. SMH

    But, most excitingly– I think your idea about the partial volunteer force is stellar. I think there are many advantages, as you have outlined. And I think for young people it can be a really good opportunity to learn skills, meet mentors etc. All the towns in West Essex do it, and it is clear that for some of them it is a pathway to their career (here in Montclair’s force often). To my knowledege these towns only allow their own residents to volunteer, and in several cases it has served as a pipeline to the Montclair force. Why shouldn’t our young people have the same opportunity? It looks like they allow 16 year olds in some towns, which to me seems a bit young. But I guess it would depend on what they are doing.

    Like you, I would not advocate for a fully volunteer force– ever. When I was little my dad was NYPD, and in his spare time he volunteered in our town FD–sleepy, revolutonary-era town of Stony Point NY, which was small but not immune from fires. Anyway, in 1975 he was awarded the Rockland County Fire Fighter of the Year award, for rescuing an elderly woman named Clara from her burning house. It was considered particularly brave because he ran in to save her without putting on his own breathing apparatus. But apparently the ceiling was about to fall in, so he and his partner ran in and scooped her up. When I was a kid I thought “My dad is a hero!” Now as an adult I think “Holy crap! There were 4 kids at home under the age of 6!!!” I cannot imagine what might have become of my family if something had gone really wrong. So it is rather personal for me that I want people who are serving in a fire department to have good insurance coverage, disability benefits, good training etc. The truth is, though, not everyone does, and so one town can’t have the “perfect” force, and be surrounded by other towns with all-volunteers, because there is a big cost difference and the reality is we are competing with these towns for other things. But I do think, like you, there could be a role for volunteers, as you describe above. And with your experience and passion you would be great at helping to introduce it.
    OK, let’s consider that done 🙂

    Seriously, it was nice engaging with you and I wish you all the best.
    (Believe it or not, that’s a pretty short post for me.)

  24. 2010 vs 2022?
    Let’s compare the then 89 headcount vs 76 now headcount.

    2010 MFD headcount = 89, less 2 clerical, 87.
    This was the breakdown:

    HC Position Avg Yrs of Total MFD Service
    3 Chief/D. Chiefs 29 yrs
    4 B. Chiefs 30 yrs
    7 Captains 27 yrs
    14 Lieutenants 18 yrs
    28 Total Supervisory 23 yrs

    59 Firefighters 15 yrs

    87 Total Headcount. 17 yrs. 1 Supervisor per 2.1 FF

    2022 Contractual Headcount with GR = 76
    27 Supervisory,
    48 Firefighters
    1 Fire Official
    76 Total Avg Yrs Srvc NA. 1 Supervisor per 1.8 FF

  25. Rtadoyle: You and I will never agree about this, and I for one have been fairly quiet about this deal recently. As above, I think I have been very critical of my own council and FD etc.

    But, as I have said several times: The principal differentiation between a volunteer force and a paid force is the word PAID versus VOLUNTEER. Not the trucks, the equipment, not even the training. It’s the fact that in a PAID force you are paying your FF as employees, and all that entails. And in return you get professional 24/7 coverage. And that was what the original agreement in 1990 was all about. An annual increase to cover the cost of increased expenses, particularly employees. Set at 7%. Oh, and I am sure you are aware that you don’t pay these employees only when they are responding to fires. You pay them 24/7, even if they never leave the fire house. That’s how it works.

    So in 1992, GR was paying $525,000 toward the PAID force.
    In 2022, after 30 years of high-quality service, GR proposed (by report) to pay toward the PAID employees… wait for it… $500,000.

    $25K less than 1992. And I’m the “anti-fire crew” as you put it.

    So while I am definitely critical of the council and our fire department, GR does not get a pass from me. For the record, my primary request, starting in April 2021, was to have the State Shared Service Office get involved to determine what would be fair cost sharing among our 2 towns. The 2010 deal was not fair, due to the “bidding war,” the idea was to move forward with something fairer.

    But I appreciate that you defend your town, and we won’t agree and that’s fine. Maybe in 10 years when GR is paying a bit over one million dollars, GR will decide it’s too much and try again with Bloomfield. Or, I guess we can try again in 15 years.

    I can understand how it could be annoying though to feel like you are being unfairly characterized, and blamed for everything. I’m sure people will forget about it at some point, or like I said, 10 years from now you can move on. OR, does GR have an opt-out clause that Montclair doesn’t?

    On another topic, I have a modest proposal. Above I described how Montclair pumps all of the water that comes from the Wanaque Reservoir into all of Glen Ridge. (GR purchases the actual water separately from a water company) We also serve as a defacto water and sewer utlility that everyone has pretty much forgotten about, through shared service.

    The origin story of the water pumping is a rather 1920s charming/funny story. GR built a water delivery station sometime in like 1919 (can’t remember exact) and at Town meetings they were crowing that it was all working great AND they were making a profit on it. Then a few years later there were headlines like “Glen Ridge Residents Can’t Take Showers” and things like that about how the water pressure was so unreliable in GR that there was a danger that they couldn’t fight fires, or perform routine household tasks.

    So starting in about 1928 or so, Montclair began pumping the water and has been doing so ever since. You are unlikely to agree me with probably, but it’s been a pretty lopsided agreement–Montclair always kept GRs rates lower than anyone else’s for some reason, and the rates seemingly get forgotten about by management. Montclair has 15 FT people in its water dept, 5 more in sewer. I don’t believe GR has anyone dedicated solely to water or sewer– just some general “public works.” But through the agreement, GR pays Montclair about $250K all in for the water pumping all throughout the town, serving as a water utility, fixing pipes as they break, monitoring water quality etc. Other small towns have water utilities that cost them millions, GR gets all of the service for $250K.

    Now, you might want to say “Well, you are doing it anyway” and its an extra $250K for you. Glen Ridge is doing you a favor.”
    And I would disagree. And you might find it unpleasant that I might point it out.

    But rather than have this kind of conflict, I have another idea. As we approach the 100th anniversary of this situation, what if Glen Ridge built its own water pumping station? What if we gave GR 2-3 years to consult with experts about the best way to access the water directly, lay down the pipes, build the station, hire staff to maintain and monitor, put in the technology etc. You could probably hire sewer staff maybe part time or something.

    This way we don’t have to go back and forth about this.
    I’m serious about this because as I mention above, Glen Ridge has a big hospital that uses a lot of water. I know from experience that hospitals use a lot of water. Having to pump water to this hospital means there is wear and tear on our system, and I am not sure what we are being paid covers it. It also is a major responsibility because it is really important that the hospital gets clean water. And maybe sometimes meters might not always work well, so why don’t we just move on, and not have to worry about it?

    The hospital pays Glen Ridge close to $4 million annually in tax dollars. The story of how this came to happen is also endearing in a Montclair-type fashion. And I won’t go into it, but suffice to say, it all feels on brand for Montclair. But anyway, once the hospital became for-profit it was a big windfall for Glen Ridge. So you could take some of this money, to help build the pumping station, hire the staff, invest in the technology, monitor water quality, etc.

    And then we don’t have to worry about any hard feelings on either side.

    Thoughts? You don’t need to comment on the fire deal–I know how you feel–but what about the water situation? I think it could work out for both sides.

  26. Thoughts? It’s a classic walk of text that still avoids answering original questions, while asking several more.

    Do you know how many firefighters Montclair would required to service just Montclair?

    Without that, everything else is just noise, and opinion. I know you all want to get data, and you have provided data from other towns that seem to support the number being in the 70-80 range. Other fire folks have suggested they need more.

    But, if Montclair needs 79 fire fighters. Then every dollar Glen Ridge gives you is a subsidy from Glen Ridge to Montclair. That’s not opinion, that’s math.

    Maybe you want more! That’s fine, but yes, you, and the echo chamber have at best, made conclusions without evidence, and at worst, willfully misled many people about the actual arrangement.

    So again, one question, one answer: Do you know how many firefighters would be required to service just Montclair?

  27. Frank– thanks for that precision!

    Rtadoyle: “How many professional fire fighters does a town need?”
    That seems like a the answer to a Jeopardy category “Topics Where Consensus is Impossible”

    How many does a town need in NJ? I wonder if we could ever answer that in an empirical way.

    I guess we would have to look at towns in NJ where they had an unacceptable history of fires and their residents were moving away due to this risk. I’m not aware of any, but we could research it. And then we could see how many professional fire fighters they had, and start adding professional fire fighters, maybe 4 at a time, to see at what number it was deemed acceptable.

    OR we could design a randomized-controlled trial where we take different towns and randomize them all to have different sized fire departments, with 0 being the control group. This would be a tricky and expensive trial because you would need a lot of towns to participate, and it would need to be event-driven, and you’d have to do a power calculation that would probably result in a large number of events needed to reach a meaningful conclusion. It would also likely take about 100 years, or longer, because you would need to be able to distinguish between fires that were successfully fought (you’d have to establish a case definition) versus those that are “unsuccessfully” fought. Just to keep it less complicated, I would keep it to fires and not other events, because fighting fires is the core business of a fire department.
    Maybe someone else has a better idea to design an experiment.

    I think our town financial advisor may have said it best when he said there is no rhyme or reason why one town has a professional fire department, and another doesn’t. “It’s just how they grew up.” He used the example that Fort Lee has 0 professional fire fighters. So that is how Fort Lee answers the question you asked.

    Paramus also answers 0.
    Livingston also 0
    Toms River 0
    Cedar Grove, Verona, All the Caldwells also answer 0.
    Of course all of this is skewed because these towns do typically have access to professional fire fighters when needed.

    Bloomfield changed their answer over a decade ago and decided something lower. They seem to be happy enough with their current answer.

    I suppose if you asked a person who trains FF for a living he might say you need 200.
    Frank says 55.

    My point is, there is no consensus number currently. Even NFPA is expert-opinion, not empirical evidence. And almost no town follows NFPA completely and are these towns and departments doing OK? I suppose if you read NFPA standards to the letter and a single town wanted to staff itself to be able to cover every type of structure independently 24/7– single family, strip mall, high rise etc (Montclair doesn’t really have buildings 7 stories above grade, like Verona), you would need over 200 or so.

    I am not aware there is any town in NJ where anyone would be warned– you should not move there, they don’t have enough professional fire fighters. But maybe there might be some, and then we could do that experiment 🙂

    This comes back to my original point. If you ask this question, you will get a thousand possible answers. And that is why, I advocated for Montclair to engage the State Shared Service office, which helps towns do this. They did this with Maplewood and South Orange and after several consultancies over a few years, the recommended “answer” to the question was 72. And I think it was stated by the South Orange mayor that the minimum would be 14. I am sure that there are people who read this and think “That is the wrong answer!” OK. But it appears they will be trying something like this and will see how it goes.

    In my own life, growing up in a town that was full of FDNY, the answer to this question was always “0 professional fire fighters.” And maybe it might seem ironic, but every now and again something would happen– there would be a tragic fire and people would discuss the idea of hiring professionals. And the people who argued against needing to hire professionals the most were the professional fire fighters themselves.. And to this day, the suburbs of NYC (in NY) have very few professional fire departments. So they were making their own risk-benefit calculations that differed for where they lived versus where they worked, which made sense comparing NYC to a small town. It’s not as obvious comparing Montclair to Paramus or Fort Lee. And of course their houses and towns could never be entirely free of fire risk, they just answered the question by weighing their assessment of the benefit versus the cost.

    And this is why I advocated to have an impartial expert do an analysis. It wouldn’t be perfect, but it could be data-informed and give the community some “answers.” And we could even do a cost-benefit analysis to look at this in the context of other community needs.

    So, sorry. There is really not a straightforward way to answer the question. And your theory that “it’s all gravy” that GR can just chip in below 1990 money and we should be grateful is just not how anything in life works. I tried that with my landscaper– I told him he had the machines and the employees on staff anyway so why couldn’t I just pay him $10 bucks a pop. He didn’t bite.

    I also tried it with my neighbor– I want to get rid of my car because I don’t want to make the car payment or maintain it anymore, so can I just borrow her car whenever i want and pay her $50 a month? She has to make her $600 car payment anyway, so this will help her out. She didn’t seem keen– I guess you might be surprised.

    I think I asked you this probably 2 years ago now– can you give me any example of anything that works like this? Or anywhere in the country that provides a service to another town for less than their own residents pay? You seem to think you have such a logical way of thinking, can you provide me with an example of anything else that works this way?

    So that’s it from me on fire. If you have any thoughts on the water, I’d appreciate hearing them before I start my campaign.

  28. I am impressed by the courteous but undeserved way that Eileen B. is responding to the Montclair fireman, RtaDoyle, who lives in Glen Ridge and apparently believes the rest of us are “stuck on stupid.” I, for one, wish he would just go away because the arguments are so preposterous. By his reasoning the payments by Glen Ridge should be cut in half and it would still be fair because after all it is “found money.” I’ve accepted that that there is no shame on the part of Glen Ridge here but the decent thing to do would be to just walk away quietly or laugh with ones buddies because one was put over on a less financially agile neighbor but please don’t rob your neighbor and then ask them to say thank you because you could have taken more.

  29. Frank: 55 – great. Then fire 24 firefighters, adjust the budget, and hey, you can still charge Glen Ridge the agreed amounts because contracts work both ways. (And enjoy the overtime bills).

    Eileen: 1) If you’re going to quote someone, don’t add words to the quote. How many PROFESSIONAL firefighters (emphasis on the word you added) versus how many firefighters are two very different sentences. It’s clear the answer is, and mind you – this is ok – “I don’t know, and I want a study done to actually find out”. That’s a totally valid answer! Hell, I’m basically asking to see that data too. Who knows, maybe I’m wildly wrong!

    But, with the data I’ve seen, which, mind you, has been provided by people I’d call anti-fire-contract people, it feels like the answer would be 70-80 firefighters (using the Goldilocks approach of SOMA/Montclair/Bloomfield).

    Frank has an answer. I have an answer. You don’t. And yet you’re leading the charge, and causing the pile on against Glen Ridge residents (with a few others having formed up behind you).
    Your car analogy is insincere and flawed. I’d go into detail, but we’d just go in circles, distracting from the core first step. Find out the number of firefighters you want first!

    Re: Water and hospital – I’d sincerely love to get the background behind transferring of the hospital, and what it cost/generated before and after changing to for profit – as you can guess, the terms i’d use in google are pretty generic, so not finding specific articles.

    I will say though is *if the basis of your argument is* ‘that’s a nice hospital you have over there, it’s a shame if we’d cut off the water’, you may want to rethink how that plays out, especially considering more than Glen Ridge uses that hospital. I don’t think the juice will be worth the squeeze.

    I’m not a water expert, so I’m actually not sure which campaign you’re going to be referring to. Sounds like water pumping is part of the ten year water deal you called fair? I guess there’s room to fake the cost of pumping, power, labor, materials, deprecation of equipment, and transmission main maintenance in #3 of the link below, but is there a separate deal you’re referring to?


  30. Thanks pelberg, I’d actually taken a year+ long break from interacting because he seems to think everything is so logical but can’t find one example of anything, anywhere that operates like this. Not even one thing. He claims nothing else is comparable and that.is.the.point. Other people might have shared fire service, but they don’t have one party bearing so much more of the cost. But I guess we’ll have to keep waiting.

    And then I love how he says that the only way that GR should pay more for water services is if things are “faked.” Like he has no idea how much other towns spend to transmit and maintain their water supplies. Fortunately, there is a bit more flexibility in these contracts because one can be exited at any time, and the other is for 10 years, but the rate is renegotiated every year and there is an opt out clause if the parties can’t agree on rate. The resolution passed is only for one year, so it will need to be renegotiated. This is great because prior to this renegotiation, the rate had only been raised once in 15 years. That is a lot of money Montclair left in Glen Ridge. And I guess he thinks it should have stayed that way. In the past, Montclair has absorbed all of the costs of maintaining the pumping station, and GR paid literally almost nothing to get so much service. So the current contract reads “In the event that both parties do not agree to the establishment of a rate per million gallons for each year after April 1, 2023, this contract may be voided by either party by serving a statement to that effect upon the other party.” (I think they learned something from the Fire Agreement)

    And of course we could give GR lead time to build their own pumping station and lay all of the pipes etc. Find the right place to put it. Of course we wouldn’t leave a hospital without water. It could take 2-3 years. But the truth is that the hospital is GR’s responsibility, in terms of the town that needs to take care of it. It is no longer a non-profit paying no taxes, that the people of the area lovingly tended over a century. It is for-profit. It was intentionally left out of the redevelopment plan for that area, and GR gets all of the taxes from it–almost $4 million/per year. So they need to take care of it, not Montclair. It doesn’t seem like that, because Montclair right now does most of the necessary things to take care of it, but we can give them a little time and they can figure it out. That way rtadoyle doesn’t have to worry that things are being “faked.” Whether people outside of GR use the hospital is irrelevant, of course they do. But the hospital pays taxes to GR, so should expect municipal services from GR. Plus, with the new development in Montclair, it would be good to take some stress out of the system, so to speak. So we’ll have to see how the next renegotiation goes I guess. With the money we get from them I’m not sure it is worth the stress on the system or the possible staff associated with any maintenance of their water/sewer. But that’s just something I wonder looking at the number that seems pretty small to me compared to what towns like Verona, Essex Fells, Caldwell etc are paying.
    Thank you, as always, for your kind words. I agree I think this interaction with our GR neighbor has worn itself out. Thanks again and be well!

    Rtadoyle: I’m not sure why it is so important to you that I give you a number but how about, based on the SOMA study/deal, other nearby towns ,and assuming the established mutual aid:

    70 with a minimum of 14-15 (since that is the min that Bloomfield, Maplewood, South Orange have) and supplement with volunteers.

    Now can you return the favor and provide an example of anything like our Fire Deal for me?

  31. Thanks Pelberg.
    There comes a part during any negotiation, where, quite frankly, the person asking for change needs to say what exactly they want.

    More money? Show us that we’re actually costing you how much you’re asking for, and then add a premium for the service. But not having your fire data isn’t a Glen Ridge problem (and, as a reminder, the TC did indicate they looked at the actual data).
    Less firefighters? That’s literally not a Glen Ridge decision.
    Fire chief removed? Not a Glen Ridge decision.
    Reroute money from the fire department to other areas in town? Not a Glen Ridge decision.
    Glen Ridge to start a fire company? Fine. But seems like a weird flex when the town is bleeding millions.

    I genuinely respect Eileen’s passion. But she’s been the tip of the spear in criticism being sent to Glen Ridge, while also admitting she doesn’t have the data where jumping to certain conclusions is fair.

  32. I’m just playing with you.

    The FIREFIGHTER headcount is a good number. But, it was only bait. Bobby Fischer you’re not. Your predictable next move was to expand your simple question/simple answer to payroll dollars (overtime). Do you want me to tell your the next half-dozen progressions of your argument?

    I’m waiting for John Fierro to join the thread. Now that would be fun.

  33. OK this really will be my last post on this topic because I should be smart enough to realize when I am being trolled.

    Rtadoyle: I am not sure why it is so hard for you to understand how shared service agreements are supposed to work. After 30 years, one party is not supposed to be paying LESS than they were when the agreement started 30 years before. While the other party is paying multiple of millions more. It doesn’t seem hard to understand.

    It’s a fairly simple concept: everything costs more than it did 30 years ago. Everyone should be paying more. Glen Ridge is paying less. Less.than.30.years.ago.

    It’s funny that you used the word negotiation above as if there was an actual negotiation. Heh. A negotiation where each side could have said what they wanted and reached a fair agreement would have been GREAT. Especially with data and the help of experts. Fantastic. Instead, I am the “spear” that just reminds people that Glen Ridge is paying less than you were 30 years ago and it seems like it is painful for both of us. A shame, isn’t it?

    You seem to have this sense that any attempt to have Glen Ridge increase their contribution for any service Montclair provides is an attempt to defraud your town. It’s sort of weird.

    I am not making shared service agreements up. There are established methodologies to reach fair agreements and as I have said 10,000 times, the state has an entire office of people sitting waiting to help towns reach agreements. They were not impressed with the methods that were used. Sadly, we did not have the opportunity to engage with them, but I am 100% confident that they would not have said “Let’s have Glen Ridge pay less than they were paying in 1990.”

    You do not seem convinced. You say I don’t have the data to back up that claim. What kind of data would you need to convince you? Data on the 500% increase in health insurance premiums? The pension contribution increases? The cost and number of trucks that we have purchased in that time? All of the salaries that have been paid? The overtime?

    I am so curious as to what it might take for you to say that GR should be paying more than they were in 1990.

    But since you have never even bothered to try to answer my simple questions, I think we are done here.

    I guess we can check back when the water renewal comes up. WARNING: You have about 10 months to get used to the idea that Glen Ridge’s rate might not go down, and in fact– wait for it– it might go up!!! I know– it’s hard to believe that might happen without a scam in play.

    Take a breath, it will all be OK.

    If you want to respond, and maybe answer my question about whether you’ve ever found another example like this, I will give you the last word. (I think :))

  34. Um, Frank. I could tell 55 was sarcasm.
    1) it’s coming from you. I read the site 🙂
    2) but hey, it’s a number, which is more than anyone else provides. You can actually talk about proposals when people communicate what they actually want or would like done, and have a goal in mind. A goal of ‘give me more money’ should immediately be responded to with ‘show me how much it’s costing you to help me’.

  35. Seriously, 55 was a very real and realistic number. OK, I have credibility issues. But, email the Fire Chief. The rest of my post was not sarcasm, it was condescension. I am that man.

  36. Correction:
    I mistakenly wrote to email the Fire Chief. Please email John Fierro, President, FMBA Local 20 whether he finds 55 of his members a reasonable HC to meet the need.

  37. Eileen: Water probably will go up – but Montclair won’t be able to say “I think it’s 200% more than you paid last year because… fairness?” In fact, Glen Ridge will come up with a number, and Montclair will come up with a number – and maybe they’ll just come up with one number. together. Perfect!

    You seem to think that “Inflation adjusted cost” and “What it actually costs to provide the services” are a Venn diagram that can’t overlap. They totally can!

    But we’re not paying for 1990 Fire Fighting Services. We’re paying for today’s fire services.

    My stance is really very simple:
    1) I believe that Montclair has as many firefighters as it needs, and does not hire any additional fire fighters as a result of the Glen Ridge contract. The data I’ve referenced doesn’t refute that. Montclair is welcome to show their work. But your fire budget is literally your fire budget.
    The incremental cost to serve Glen Ridge here would be potential overtime, wear and tear on equipment, fuel, and any mental/emotional costs on fire personnel. According to your council, they used FEMA Rates to calculate. I’ve noticed from FEMA reimbursement tables that those costs are updated every other year – so yes, those costs were adjusted!

    2) The strain of taking on Glen Ridge calls does not adversely effect Montclair’s own fire services, so any sort of risk premium should be enough to get out of bed, but shouldn’t need to be an extreme multiplier, as if Glen Ridge were a large town or a raging inferno.

    3) So, I think Montclair is paying their fair share for their Fire Services. If Glen Ridge fell into the ocean, they wouldn’t need to fire anyone from a coverage perspective. You are paying for what you need. We are paying for what we need, plus a premium. That premium, is a subsidy from Glen Ridge to Montclair. Not an opinion, but based on 1-3, that’s math.

    You can argue that the premium should be greater, or that the method to calculate the cost is wrong, or that Montclair is not properly staffed, or should be constructed a different way. But “feelings” isn’t going to be sufficient. Montclair put the price together, Montclair said they looked at the actual costs and applied a premium. The only possible actions Glen Ridge could have taken are 1) ask for a lower price 2) decline 3)ask for a higher price 4) accept.

    Do you see how these are Montclair problems, and not Glen Ridge problems? So stop painting us as taking advantage of your town, and start figuring out your structural problems. You’ve got 10-15 years to figure that out.

  38. Frank!! I see you are on fire with posts today and I haven’t had time to read them all, but just want to say again that I admire your dedication to learning, and over time, your condescension has become almost endearing. Plus you helped me produce some of my best work 🙂

    But I was just reading rtadoyle’s response, and while I had promised to drop out, I just had an idea for a reality TV show that I want to bounce off of you:

    How about a show where rtadoyle, in the beginning, lives in this privileged place where he only has to pay Marginal Costs for everything? And then, he is transposed to the Real World. And so the first season we will see him going about his daily life trying to get things done, expecting to pay only marginal costs. Like he will go into Starbucks and get a cup of coffee and the barista will say “$5 please.” and we’ll see him making the calculation “1 handful of coffee beans + 1 cup and 1 teaspoon sugar” and he’ll answer back, “Nice try!!I only cost you 25 cents!! Here’s a dollar– you can keep the change, thank you very much.”

    And then he will go into a bowling alley and they will say “It will be $25 bucks for an hour and another $10 for shoe rental.” And he will say “Nice try! I brought my own ball, and luckily I have my own shoes, so I’m not costing you anything! And that lane over there is empty anyway, so how about I play for free?”

    And we will get to see the hilarity that ensues as people react to all of this. His tag lines will be “Show me what I REALLY cost you!” and “Nice try!” and I can see it being a big hit.

    In the second season I think we would get more ambitious. In the second season, he gets elected Mayor. And in his first act as Mayor, he passes an ordinance that henceforth fire fighters will only be paid when they respond to fires or other incidents. And when they do, they will be paid FEMA rates.


    I’m still workshopping a title–so far I’ve got:

    “Life on the Margins”
    “Extreme Density”
    “Straight outta Glen Ridge”

    And as you can see Frank, I’ve reached the point where I’m becoming a bit cheeky. So this time I swear I will drop out. And Rtadoyle, I promised you the last word, but I really can only do that if maybe you stop bringing up the idea that my premise that GR should be paying more than they were 30 years ago is not well supported by data. If you keep insisting on that, I might have to keep beating this dead horse. I have nothing against the people of Glen Ridge. Heck, I got married in Glen Ridge. But please, don’t keep insinuating that I haven’t done the research or that my very straightforward idea to engage the Shared Service Office was off-base. This was a 15 year contract. It should have been done more carefully for the shared benefit of both towns. It should not have been done with sealed bids–that’s not how shared service agreements are supposed to be carried out. And it should not have resulted in GR paying less than you were 30 years ago. A deal like this has consequences. One is that Glen Ridge has a great “marginal cost” deal. The other seems to be that you feel defensive about it and keep trying to justify it in ways that don’t make much sense in the Real World. These seem to me to be a “small price to pay.”

  39. Rtadoyle: It’s none of your business how much it’s costing me. Show me how much it’s worth it to you. As Ira said earlier, ‘shared service’ means that the towns are ‘combined’ for a given purpose and the cost of the SHARED service is born proportionately. As far as I can tell, Glen Ridge needs Montclair more than Montclair needs Glen Ridge. If Glen Ridge disappears tomorrow, Montclair won’t notice for a year. If Montclair disappears tomorrow, Glen Ridge, thirsty and unshowered, will go up in smoke next time someone forgets to blow out a candle.

    Frank: I’m impressed with your contributions to this thread.

    Eileen: Hats off to you. Should you decide to run in 2024 (you should), you have my vote. I’ve heard a number of others say the same thing.

  40. Like Eileen B, I see this thread has pretty much burnt down to the ashes. Just to round out my comments, I would have hoped that when we commenced negotiations with Glen Ridge to renew the fire contract, Eileen and her data and knowledge would be at the table. LOL, at the time I left (12/21) I and the CFO were starting to gather the data we knew would show that Bloomfield was not a viable fire contract option, and that Glen Ridge had been undercharged millions of dollars during the previous decade. Nevertheless, despite the CFO’s efforts, there were no negotiation and no Eileen; instead, a backroom deal yielding peanuts, smirks and outrage. Still, I really need to stress a hugely important point that Eileen B is making that nobody appears to pay enough attention to: Montclair and Glen Ridge are PUBLIC entities, operating on behalf of the PEOPLE. Shared services doesn’t mean one town gets the cost, the other town the benefit, as happened here. And the State is the key. All municipalities must dance to the tune of the Department of Community Affairs, particularly the Division of Local Government Services and the Local Finance Board. But no one involved the State in this wretched deal. We should have been ready to cut Glen Ridge off altogether, which may (with our encouragement) have forced DLGS to step in, compel or ask us “nicely” to continue the contract, and demand negotiation, possibly mediation, resulting in a FAIR payment. Instead a gutless Council simply rolled over. Even the no votes didn’t raise a ruckus and kept their mouths shut.

    As far as the water agreement goes, in addition to transporting water through our system to GR, Montclair’s Director of Utilities also serves as the licensed operator for GR’s water and sewage (I believe) utility. This is a required position, and there is no one better in the State of New Jersey than Montclair’s Director. Because of the costs of compliance with the State’s new water quality laws, operating expenses and skilled personnel time and effort have increased and will continue to do so. Relative to the fire agreement, this is small potatoes, so maybe the Council will try to grandstand it – but don’t expect a competent analysis and principled decision.

    Oh yes, Montclair might have a better use for the $1.5 to 2 million it is losing than subsidizing the good life in Glen Ridge, but what are friends and neighbors for?

  41. Calvin: I mean, Glen Ridge could have just said “We have X amount of dollars per year, and we want this service”, and solicited bids.

    Considering municipal budgets, and the bevy of fire fighting services on both sides, someone would have appreciated our number. But that also sets the town up for fraud, waste, abuse.

    But we let people name their price, and we would assume they would add a premium on. And, according to the Town Council, they did. People are upset that they didn’t ask for more. But again, if people get greedy, they’re going to ask to show the work.

    Eileen: Love making up quotes again and playing out examples that don’t match what I said (where I mentioned adding a premium). There comes a certain point where you’re given an opportunity to answer, and just meander into your next soliloquy that people will just stop taking you seriously.

    Please please please get your data – I want you to get it so bad. The only group involved that keeps complaining about fairness is the only that doesn’t have data. It’ll be hilarious when it winds up being close to what actually happened.

    But I guess we’ll just have to settle for a few more months of tilting at windmills to prop up certain candidates to try to get regime change, and making up monsters that don’t exist while refusing to take positions that would make you look bad (Still missing that how many firefighters should the town have, and how will you get there answer). The less oxygen you spend attacking Glen Ridge, and the more oxygen you spend actually getting information will make your arguments so much more powerful. I’m trying to help, and hell, I’m trying to actually get information surfaced too!

    Hey, maybe in 15 years you’ll make a dent on the fire contract – just in time for my kids to be out of high school!

  42. BTW Eileen, I fixed your car parable for you.

    Your original scenario, truncated: Monty Clair has 1 car, and Glenn Ridge has 1 car. Glenny Ridge doesn’t want to pay for his car, so discards it, and tells Monty Clair that they’ll borrow Monty’s car whenever they want, and pay a fraction of the payments.

    Updated Story: Monty Clair has 5 cars. Glenn Ridge used to have a car, but has decided it’s better to lease a car. Monty has 3 people in their family, and always has at least 2 cars in the driveway. Monty’s been struggling to pay their bills. Not only are their car payments getting out of hand, but it’s getting more expensive to take care of their parents, and they realize they don’t have enough money for college. Instead of going to the car dealership, Glenn approaches Monty and asks to come up with an agreement where they could borrow their car, promising to pay for gas and wear and tear per numbers that Monty provided. Knowing that paying for wear and tear doesn’t help their problem, Monty also asks for some extra money on top, and Glenn happily agrees to pay that, since it’s still cheaper than leasing a car from the Dealership.

    One day Monty approaches Glenn and says “Oh man, we’ve had it rough, our expenses have gotten out of hand. We’re paying for an Ivy League school, and we sent my parents to an expensive assisted living facility. I’m going to need a bunch more money, even though the wear and tear is only slightly more or less. And I’m probably going to have to sell 3 cars to make ends meet.

    Now, Glenn needs to make a decision. Do they make bad decisions that significantly hurt their own family? Do they consider going to Bloom’s auto dealership and seeing what they can get for less than Monty’s asking price?

    If you chose “Go to Bloom’s Dealership” – Monty’s financial problems are even worse!
    If you chose “Keep talking to Monty” – Glenn can either ask to see receipts, and decide if a little bit more money is worth the goodwill, even though they’ve been watching Monty cursing them off and blaming them for Monty’s problems, or maybe they say ‘Best I can do is (Something less)’

    Your cup of coffee story is the same, except I go into the store and am asked to pay 15 dollars for my 5 dollar coffee. There’s other coffee shops. Leaving the store *is* an option.

  43. I don’t know what Spiller was thinking calling this awful deal a win-win. Either he is alarmingly ignorant about business/finance/accounting or he thinks we are.

    Rtadoyle should count his blessings as a Glen Ridge resident. If he had any class, he would stop talking.

    Yes, Montclair got screwed because we have clueless/indolent people in leadership. We are not proud of it but there’s nothing we can do until 2024. We tried to explain to them time and time again that this was a horrible deal but it didn’t work. Our genius Mayor couldn’t be bothered with numbers and our genius town attorney can’t tell a difference between shared service agreement and a bid. It is a dark time in Montclair’s history.

  44. Question: If Glen Ridge fell into the ocean, they [Montclair] wouldn’t need to fire anyone from a coverage perspective?

    Answer: First my condolences fro this in Atlantis’ zoo code. Second, I hope we were named beneficiaries of their estate (e.g. their reservoir’s water allotment). Third, depends on when it happens.

    If it were to be tomorrow, GR should have already paid us the two quarterly payment = $425,000 of the $850,000 charge this year. As their $850,000 is baked into this year’s budget as Salary & Wages, we would not send 3 FF to the academy for training, reduce overtime by $300,000 (20%), and eliminate mutual aid assistance calls to Passaic County municipalities and it’s two thirds of MSU.

    Next year we can reorganize the FD, eliminate a Deputy Chief and a combination of Battalion Chiefs & Captains and close Station #3 for good. We gift GR’s water allotment to the school district to allow for opening a full-time carwash, turn a blind eye to using child labor at wages Midwestern meat packing plants would envy, and create a budget surplus by end of this fiscal year.

    Again, our condolences and we will miss you.

  45. ‘zoo’ s/b zip, as in zip code.

    Oh, and the 4th Ward has put in a claim just now for the GR’s 07028

  46. Damnit Frank, that paragraph about the carwash made me chuckle. Cheers sir!
    Hi Thomas, nice to meet you. I’ll probably duck out of this thread because it’s reached several half lives in internet standards. Thanks for the amazing value add.

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