First Arriving Network
First Arriving Network

Chief Troubles in New Jersey

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No Firefighters and License Suspensions

THE SMALL TOWN OF SADDLE RIVER, New Jersey (pop. 3,500) has had two fire chiefs resign their position in the past three months.  Former chief Kenneth Warr quit after complaining that the town had not enough equipment and not enough volunteer firefighters to respond to calls.

His successor Brad Stio resigned last week writing to Mayor Samuel Raia that “the Saddle River Volunteer Fire Department is not able to provide sufficient and timely services when supplying protection from fires and other emergencies to the citizens of Saddle River.”

WNBC-TV continues in their report:

Stio went on to say that the department responds with “one or two firefighters usually well after 10-20 minutes of initial dispatch, if at all.”
One Saddle River resident, who asked to remain anonymous, told NBC 4 New York it took firefighters 55 minutes to get to her home for a carbon monoxide call, and they came from another town. Police were there right away.
The chief wrote that the department has missed as much as 40 percent of its call volume, equal to more than 100 unanswered calls a year.
“Steps need to be taken immediately to establish a level of protection that meets the needs of this expanding borough and its residents,” he wrote.
“I can no longer take the risk of a possible avoidable tragic occurrence from the lack of staffing,” he added.

Read the entire article with video HERE.

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The New Brunswick, N. J., city officials have a different kind of problem with their fire chief.  Accident-prone Fire Director Robert Rawls was discovered to have driven through a crosswalk and struck three children on May 7, but never called 9-1-1 to report the incident.

WNBC-TV is also reporting this one:

Fire Director Robert Rawls, 56, has been issued two citations for the accident, the 19th accident he’s been involved in since he first got his license roughly 40 years ago. He was in a city vehicle when he hit them, officials said.

While the three children are all home now, New Brunswick officials have been struggling with what to do with Rawls, noting that according to police reports, many of the accidents were not his fault.

Nonetheless, before this accident, as NBC 4 New York also first reported, Rawls had nine adjudicated violations on his MVC record, along with 18 license suspensions.

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New Brunswick city spokeswoman Jennifer Bradshaw revealed to NBC 4 New York that Rawls is currently banned from driving a city vehicle, and while he is at work, he is prohibited from any driving personal vehicle whatsoever, meaning he must be driven by a fire department employee to meetings and events.

Channel 4 further reported:

New Brunswick Fire Director Robert Rawls was cited for careless driving and failure to yield after hitting the two 14-year-old girls and a 6-year-old boy with his city-owned SUV Tuesday, officials said. The children were in a crosswalk on Livingston Avenue near Delavan Street in New Brunswick; one of the girls broke her leg.

NBC 4 New York has learned exclusively from the state Motor Vehicle Commission that the accident was the 19th for Rawls in 38 years, including one just six weeks ago, another last year, two in 2012, three in 2009 and three in 2008.

His license was suspended 18 times between 1984 and 1995, and he had nine adjudicated violations, or tickets he didn’t contest, between 1977 and 2008, the MVC said.

Five were speeding tickets, including twice going 39 mph in a 25 mph zone, and once going 44 in a 25 mph zone.

The license suspensions were not for moving violations; the reasons included failure to appear in court, operating a vehicle with a suspended license and nonpayment of a surcharge.

WNBC-TV also filed this video report:

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