As reported by NJ.com, Hamilton Mayor Kelly Yaede met with the Township firefighters’ unions two years ago about consolidation and said she is pleased to finally see petitions going to taxpayers to start the process. The mayor, though, believes the unions which are spearheading the effort should be seeking signatures in all districts, including District 3. The mayor also wants to see the State of New Jersey study the Township’s fire service.
To this end, Yaede said she’s reached out to the Department of Community Affairs to see if they will conduct a study of Township fire services and make specific recommendations regarding firehouses, equipment and personnel levels, as well as the most efficient way to organize a new fire service. And such a study, Yaede said, “should have occurred prior to the circulation of petitions so that taxpayers could benefit from a complete and detailed plan to help them make an informed decision that is in our community’s best interests.” She also indicated, “My hope is for the [DCA] to be willing to conduct this study at no additional cost to Hamilton taxpayers.”
The Township’s career firefighters’ unions announced a plan for consolidation that calls for consolidation of the districts, with District 3 being the surviving district and becoming Township-wide. Several districts say they believe in consolidation, but with a new district, not District 3 as the surviving district.
Ed Donnelly, president of the State’s Firefighters’ Mutual Benevolent Association (“FMBA”), which is assisting the Township’s two local unions, said the consolidation process is in the early stages and it’s about residents right now. “There is no hardcore plan in place right now,” Donnelly said. “All this is the FMBA unions who are willing to start the process, and we’re taking it to the residents.” Donnelly also said the petitions need to be signed to further the process, which he said will take place over a long period of time with a thorough discussion and debate. “We don’t want to play politics and we don’t want another layer of bureaucracy with the DCA,” he said. “I understand everyone’s fears, frustrations and issues, but we’re trying to find out if there’s a will of the residents.”
Donnelly said the issue has been bouncing around Hamilton for 20 years. “And we the union are taking the initiative to start the process,” he said.
Please continue to check this blog periodically to ascertain updates regarding the potential consolidation.