If it seems like there has been a lot of fires in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey lately… that’s because there has been a lot of fires.

The Egg Harbor Township firefighters have responded to 9 structure fire-related calls thus far in 2022, including two major fires within 2 days of each other this week alone (The Vola Fire and Harbor Crossings).

That’s nine fires and the new year is only 34 days old.

We have conducted a wide-ranging interview with Egg Harbor Township Fire Department Chief Rob Winkler. It was a fascinating and quite educational discussion.

We take this opportunity to shine a positive light on these fine public safety professionals and share with you exactly who they are, what they do, and what they’re made of.

Chief Winkler and the rest of the Egg Harbor Township firefighters are extraordinary public servants.

Let’s start with the fact that they (firefighters and auxiliary members) all have full-time jobs beyond their public safety careers.

There are a total of 200 firefighters and auxiliary members, incorporating males and females within both ranks.

The organizational structure is comprised of 8 Fire Stations located within 5 independent fire companies:

  • Scullville - Chief Vernon Cruse
  • Bargaintown - Chief Gene Sharpe
  • Cardiff - Chief Gil Zonge
  • Farmington - Chief Harry Goodman 
  • West Atlantic City - Chief Wally Bakely

Scullville, Bargaintown, and Cardiff each have two fire stations for a total of 8 overall fire stations.

These 200 volunteer public safety heroes protect 64 square miles of Egg Harbor Township, with responsibilities that include sections located near Longport, Margate, Northfield, Pleasantville, and Atlantic City.

Make no mistake about it - without these volunteers - if the taxpayers of Egg Harbor Township had to pay the full freight for a paid fire department the property taxes would skyrocket.

To illustrate the hard and dangerous work that they do, here are photos from the major fires that they have battled this week:

TSM Harry Hurley
TSM Harry Hurley
TSM Harry Hurley
TSM Harry Hurley
TSM Harry Hurley
TSM Harry Hurley
TSM Harry Hurley
TSM Harry Hurley

Chief Winkler politely and professionally reminded us about the following regarding their firefighters:

  • We are all volunteers.
  • We leave our homes to protect yours.
  • We leave our families.
  • We leave our jobs to respond to a service call.
  • We do, what we do because we have such a passion for fire protection and safety on behalf of our residents.

These truths are rarely mentioned, but, they are all so real and the public should appreciate them all for their sacrifice.

Chief Winkler is a teacher at the fire academy, and, we had a pointed discussion about fire safety.

Winkler shared some very important fire safety tips:

  • Time is crucial as fires grow exponentially in size each and every minute. Report a fire promptly. It can make all the difference.In fact, a fire can double in size every 30 seconds causing everything in a room to burn in as little as three minutes. It will take a fire department at least five minutes or more to get to your home or business, so, you can see how important the time element time is.
  • Make sure that children; know their home address and know how to dial 911 to report a fire ASAP.
  • Sleep with bedroom doors shut. It can be the difference in terms of potentially saving your life and reducing property damage.
  • If you can, as you exit a fire, close the door behind you. That’s all doors, including sliding doors. Leaving a door open creates an oxygen/chimney effect that feeds fuel to a fire.

Chief Winkler also addressed the risks to firefighters. 1 in 5 will develop cancer at some point during their lifetime because of absorbing poisonous chemicals that emit during a fire.

A firefighter wears $3,000 worth of gear, (excluding helmet and boots). Regardless, the skin absorbs various toxic chemicals while fighting a fire.

Chief Winkler has purchased wipes so that the firefighters can remove the various chemicals from off of their faces and other exposed skin areas.

I have always had profound respect for the Egg Harbor Township firefighters.

I didn’t think it was possible for my respect and appreciation for them to grow higher. It has.

If no one else has said this to you today, thank you for everything that you do on a daily basis.

Photos of Some of South Jersey Firefighters Most Memorable Fires

Photos of South Jersey firefighters fighting fires and coming to the rescue when called.

A look back at the Mansion on Lake’s Bay / Sand Castle Restaurant and Fire and Ice Disco in West Atlantic City, NJ

Let's take a trip back in time to the summer of 2001 with the Mansion on Lake's Bay on the Black Horse Pike in West Atlantic City / Egg Harbor Township was still standing.


More From WPG Talk Radio 95.5 FM