More than 3 months ago, we visited on-air and here with John Varallo, President of the Atlantic City Professional Firefighters union, Local # 198. Varallo revealed the news about a very serious fire equipment shortage in Atlantic City.

 

There was such a critical shortage of life-saving apparatus, that the ACFD had to resort to borrowing equipment from neighboring Ventnor and Margate to serve the citizens of Atlantic City.

Varallo, both in May 2021 and today, was effusive in his praise and expressed appreciation to Ventnor and Margate for their mutual aid.

Here is the equipment that Atlantic City has been using on loan:

Provided by the Atlantic City Professional Firefighters
Provided by the Atlantic City Professional Firefighters

This apparatus is from the 1970s. They’ve had to resort to cannibalizing parts from the equivalent of a graveyard to keep 50-year-old equipment running. This equipment does not meet today’s modern safety and operational standards.

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This morning, we visited with Varallo to provide the public with an update on this critical situation. Disturbingly, not much has changed.

Approximately $1.2 million was approved by Atlantic City to make the required purchases necessary to fix the equipment shortage. One engine has been purchased.

However, there is an immediate and critical need for a total of three new engines.

$600,000 of the $1.2 million still remains. The Fire Department believes that it should be used to secure a new, not a used, pumper engine.

We have learned that the fire department division wrote a report last month regarding their fleet. The report confirms that the need as outlined here is real.

What is lacking is a decision-maker with the authority to approve the necessary purchases.

This is when I suggested on-air to Varallo that I am willing to bring this to New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy’s attention. I have sent this to Governor Murphy for his review.

Here is what Varallo had to say about the current situation. “Atlantic city is unique compared to other cities in our area.”

“The layout of our streets, tightness of alleys, high rise buildings, and the type of construction we encounter are just a few variables that have an impact on the level of services a fire department should strive to provide.”

“In addition to staffing, equipment dictates if we can reach that objective. When a department such as ours can not reach minimum requirements it will most certainly and drastically reduces our ability to save life, property and stabilize incidents,” said Varallo.

Varallo confirmed on-air this morning that Atlantic City Council President George Tibbitt stands firmly behind the department and agrees that the need as outline here is warranted.

Atlantic City is the home of the State’s leading industry, The Atlantic City Casino industry. There is no way that a public safety problem of this magnitude should linger in this manner.

This is a call to action.

The time to act is now.

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