Tuckerton, NJ, Fire Company Shut Down by Borough; Questions Remain
TUCKERTON — A long-troubled volunteer fire company has gotten the order from its home borough to cease and desist, with firefighters being told the decision is effective "until further notice."
On Tuesday afternoon, the Tuckerton Fire Department posted on Facebook that it had been "removed from service" as of 1:15 p.m. that day, attaching a letter sent to Tuckerton Volunteer Fire Company No. 1 on North Green Street by Tuckerton Borough Administrator and Clerk Jenny Gleghorn.
The fire department said the borough had "removed the fire apparatus" from their station house without prior notification.
Gleghorn's letter indicated that borough officials received a letter from the state Department of Community Affairs Division of Fire Safety Bureau of Fire Department Services saying borough residents were "not adequately protected" by the fire company because of non-compliance of certain regulations.
A May 18 post from the fire department said it had been fined $24,500 by the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development for repeat penalties related to annual fit testing, which the company claimed it had to curtail due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time, the fire company said it would appeal the fine.
The volunteer company has been plagued for years by internal matters that eventually came into the public light.
In 2018, the Transparency NJ blog reported that two years earlier, the borough paid out $65,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by a former female firefighter who claimed she was retaliated against, then dismissed, after a fire captain, the son of the company chief, broke off a relationship with her.
A further incident involving the Eggert family, which has a long history of holding top posts in the company, in the summer of 2021 was reported by the Asbury Park Press, which said allegations against the department had ratcheted up to more than $100,000 in settlement money.
However, that report also identified the fire company as the only one in the borough, which raises questions as to who will respond to anywhere between 325 and 360 calls that may occur in 2022, based on numbers from recent years.
The Tuckerton Fire Department asked anyone who desires to support their reinstatement to attend a special Borough Council meeting at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.
An email message left for Gleghorn was not immediately returned Wednesday.