MANCHESTER – Firefighters, EMS members and police lined up in front of the dais as a proclamation was read by Mayor Robert Arace thanking them for their service during the April 11-13 wildfire that threatened lives and property in the township and nearby Lakehurst Borough.
Approximately 3,859 acres burned within 48 hours.
“The work that was done that evening was absolutely miraculous. They worked tirelessly for 48 hours straight and not one structure was damaged and not one person was hurt,” Arace said during a recent Township Council meeting. “We owe a debt of gratitude to our volunteer firefighters and the New Jersey Forest Fire Service.” Mayor Arace said. He noted that thanks to those present and those beyond the agencies represented that evening.
As he did during a prior council meeting, Councilman Joseph Hankins also acknowledged the members of the Whiting Volunteer Fire Company’s Ladies Auxiliary who served up food and beverages to the firefighters throughout the evening while they were battling the blaze.
“They stayed all night long to provide meals and they do a great job,” Hankins added.
Councilman Craig Wallis clarified for the public during his council report that some present were not wearing uniforms.
“I just want to make sure everyone understood that (lineup) shows our entire EMS service, we had Whiting, Ridgeway and Manchester volunteers that were at these fires too. Our volunteers were out there on the front line also.”
“If you go down Beckerville (Road) and survey the area and you see the structure protection that was done to protect homes and property,” the mayor said, adding that his thanks extends to agencies who came to Manchester from other towns.
“Thank you for recognizing all our emergency services. That is very much appreciated. Just to show that we are always preparing and learning, in the past week we had a large table top exercise of all things that involved forest fires,” Police Chief Robert Dolan said.
Dolan explained, “we sit around, they give us a scenario and all the stakeholders that are here and some that are not here like the NJ Forest Fire Service and School Board directed by OEM (Office of Emergency Management) Coordinator Robert Sharry and his deputy go over what the problems are.”
“Every scenario is different and we learn something every single time. We are always training and trying to be ready for all kinds of situations,” the chief added.
In other business, the Council approved the introduction of this year’s municipal budget. Mayor Arace said that June 12 would be the date to adopt the budget after a public hearing.
“I’ll be bringing up an in-depth analysis, line by line of the highlights, some of the challenges and how we’ve overcome them and ultimately where we wound up. I’ll be putting together a slide presentation and there will be full transparency on the status of our budget,” the mayor added.
Municipal Clerk Teri Giercyk informed The Manchester Times that petitions will be available on June 12 for those interested in running for council. Those seeking additional information can call the Manchester Municipal Clerk’s office between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Call 732-657-8121, ext. 3200, or visit Town Hall at 1 Colonial Drive. The deadline for filing petitions is 4 p.m. on September 5, for the November 7 general election.