LAKEHURST – Members of the borough’s Fire Department now have a new hose to use and an updated nozzle to distribute the water flow at fires but this pandemic year has been a costly one.
Firefighters are seeking out more members and also trying to make up for their fundraising goal which has fallen short due to the coronavirus conditions that saw the cancellation of all its regular fundraising events.
During a recent visit to an event at the Proving Grounds Church just on the other side of the street of the Lakehurst Firehouse, members of the fire company had a chance to showcase their equipment, provide fire prevention materials and speak with residents.
Among those present were Fire Dept. President Michael Sinton who was joined by Matthew Cadmus, Lawrence DesJardins and Asst. Fire Chief Bob Morris.
“Our biggest thing is that we need people and we’ve lost $15-20,000 in various fundraising. The governing body has been as supportive as they can be,” Stinton said.
Morris, a 45-year member of the fire department and former Lakehurst mayor echoed the department’s two top priorities.
“Membership is certainly an issue in small towns all across New Jersey. Lakehurst is no different. Normally we have coin tosses during the summer and we have various events.” He noted that borough officials saw to assisting them with the replacement of a hose and new nozzle as part of their equipment. That equipment went into service as of October 7 and both firetrucks of the department were outfitted.
Morris said the nozzles replaced others “that were big, old and bulky and in all honesty they don’t quite work. They are tough to turn. They date back to 1984 so what we did was replace 1984 and 1989 nozzles with something that is one third the cost and there is very little maintenance.”
It is easier for those who have limited staffing to handle. He said that one of the fire department’s two vehicles has a 1994 engine. “We are the third owner of it. I think we are all trying to do what we can to provide fire protection. Even though it is a small town it is an expensive proposition for all of us,” Morris said.
Stinton noted while the department faced the financial challenge of replacing nozzles it also faced another issue. “The county Sheriff’s Department has changed the radio frequencies so there was a major expense in changing radios. Some have arrived and some are in route. Older radios just need to be upgraded. Ken Sloan is our fire chief and is overseeing the radio operations.”
Stinton said, “the governing body has been extremely supportive when it comes to funding. The Borough council has been as generous as they can, helping us to upgrade our radios to the new County requirements, along with the new hose, and nozzles replacing ones over 30 years, funding for many other equipment needs.”
Stinton said, “we work together. We had an old van that basically collapsed over the summer so we have an old police vehicle that we’ve been using. Lakehurst is always trying to do what we can with limited resources.”
“There were a whole lot of fundraisers we couldn’t do and it hurts. It takes many thousands of dollars to gear up a firefighter. That is why we have our good old boot here on our table looking for donations,” Stinton said.
Truck 62-23 is the department’s rescue truck which features extrication equipment. It was on display during the Proving Ground Church’s Fall Festival. The fire company’s other vehicle is a suppression truck for fire operations. “This truck is also capable of that,” Stinton added.
In a message to borough residents Stinton said, “thank you for your support over all these many years. We are always here for you. New members are always welcome. Stop in on a Tuesday night and see what we are all about.”
The Lakehurst Fire Station is located at 2 Proving Ground Road. For information about how to volunteer, donate or support the fire department call 732-657-1106 or visit their website at lakehurstfire.com