Montclair, NJ – 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.
“The Viking stove at headquarters was part of a $5 million dollar RFP Specification for a new building. It is 19 years old. Would you put a Home Depot stove in a commercial building? The Viking stove at Station 2 cost the town $6,300.00 in 2001,” says Fierro. “MFD has never prioritized Viking stoves and Nautilus equipment over safety. The silly conversation about Viking stoves holds no merit; they are 20 years or older and have and continue to serve the town well.”
Regarding Nautilus Gym equipment, Fierro says it was acquired by a grant awarded in the 2001-2002 years that was written by Battalion Chief Durning.
“Most of our other equipment is donated by residents that are moving away, and they offer it to the Fire Department,” he says.
Fierro also states that the radios at Station 3 “do work and always work. If a repair is made or there is an issue, every Officer and Firefighter is issued a personal radio and a radio in the Engine; the backup plan has a backup plan. Our radios are not substandard; they still do the job, just not supportive, and challenging to get parts for they have timed out.”
Regarding the request for more firefighters, Fierro says hiring more firefighters is to replace retired members and keep everyone safe.
“To state we are not a serious department on what basis, I stand behind all our members and have a diverse team of Professional Firefighters that other departments admire; our training level is above and beyond,” he adds.
Fierro responded to comments made in the lawsuit about Fire House #3 conditions and also by resident Eileen Birmingham.
“Station 3 is not a “gulag,” I was stationed there for 11 years and enjoyed every minute of it. The people in the neighborhood I met and the flowers we planted all represent that we were happy and proud to be there. Hypothetically in my opinion, if you wanted to punish someone, you would move them to the busiest rig in town, Engine 1 or Truck 1, located at headquarters,” he said.
Fierro says the stove at Station 3 is approximately six years old.
“I remember it being delivered and installed, and it functions 100%. The Sunday gravy we cook on all three stoves tastes the same; i will verify that I’ve personally been at all three Firehouses over my career.”
Fierro writes that there are four paid studies stating that Station 3 is needed.
“Dismissing the studies because they do not fit one narrative is, at best, disappointing,” says Fierro. “Eileen [Birmingham] was given these studies and is quoted ‘I choose not to accept 20-year-old data,’ even though all reports say we are understaffed at 90 Firefighters.”
Fierro says no one has mentioned that the Firefighters 100% renovated Station 2 kitchen and two bathrooms and a Station 3 Bathroom, with the town only paying for material and firefighters doing all labor.
Fierro also writes that MFD staff is full of Montclair residents. He says that information about these buildings has become false and mentions “pop-in visits from the CFO to inspect the buildings, take photos, and interview members.”
“Traditionally, this request is made to the Chief’s office, and a guided tour is scheduled. We do not let people wander around restricted areas and living quarters with personal items left about. It would be irresponsible to our members. Yes, the building is public; however, some areas are not, similar to areas of Town Hall where the public is not allowed to enter at will or sit in on meetings and ask questions. I have had multiple members call and feel uncomfortable and are exploring formal complaints.”