Letter from fire chief: Mr. Fulop, you haven’t a clue
Councilman Fulop, with all due respect, I have checked my roster and daily manpower status sheets and I cannot find any of these top-heavy positions you reference in your OPINION. “In the country” is quite a bold statement to make. I ask what fire consulting expert provided these facts.
It has become obvious that the Jersey City Fire Department has become the punching bag for all the “Fire Experts” to point fingers at, without any input or confirmation from the Fire Department itself. The Fire Department has not created the financial mess we are currently experiencing, and we sure as hell will not take the blame.
It is quite obvious your “Fire Expert” has failed to provide you with critical information regarding the number of retirements the department has experienced over the last fiscal year. By July 1, the department will realize 82 retirements, thus reducing our salary budget by more than $8 million! A reduction in manpower of 14 percent overall! Thousands, YES thousands of years of experience and leadership has retired from the department in one year. Leadership and discipline within the ranks of the department must be maintained. If not there would be chaos, and who would work for an organization with no direction or vision.
While I address your next concern about the Safety Officer, I will make a quote so there is NO misunderstanding about what I intend to convey. “I WILL NOT put the safety of my firefighters and officers, nor the citizens of Jersey City, in jeopardy for a few dollars. Secondly, you have no clue what you are talking about!” If you would like to have a dialogue, I will provide the needed information to enlighten you.
As your second point in the referenced article states, “in the 1980s.” Really, the 1980s, that’s 30 years ago, I think the city has grown somewhat in the last 30 years. Also, you address the advocacy of a high-rise fire fighting unit, and early proponent of the water vessel, largely covering the Downtown residential, financial district, and accompanying waterfront of the Hudson River. Last time I checked the Fire Department was responsible for providing fire protection for all six wards within the confines of Jersey City, not just Ward E.
In closing, the Fire Department has taken measures to maintain fire protection for the ENTIRE city, reduces costs, and maintain the level of service the taxpayers expect and deserve. If you have a reorganization plan from your “Fire Expert” I would be more than happy to discuss the plan with you or any other council member or members. I will seriously entertain any plan or suggestions to improve fire safety, streamline costs, maintain fire protection, and protect our citizens and property.
With that being said I will quote again: “If the plan is to turn the Jersey City Fire Department into a circus, hire a clown, as I will not jeopardize firefighter or public safety to appease soapbox finger pointing.”
CHIEF MICHAEL J. O’REILLY
JERSEY CITY FIRE DEPARTMENT
Has it dawned on anyone that Fire Departments across the country are being singled out for budget cuts and manpower reductions far in excess of what other departments are being hit with? What a difference leadership means. Discuss.