TUCKERTON, NJ (OCEAN)–At a special council meeting late yesterday afternoon the Borough of Tuckerton Council passed a Resolution “Suspending Emergency Service From The Tuckerton Volunteer Fire Company No. 1 For The Borough Of Tuckerton And Providing For Alternative Emergency Service Coverage.” (See full resolution obtained by OPRA requests along with exhibits posted below).
According from documents obtained by MidJersey.news by OPRA requests, it appears that on May 16, 2022 there was an inspection done and a Notice of Unsafe or Unhealthful Working Conditions and order to comply was issued within 15 days by the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Office of Public Employees Occupational Safety and Health. The notice was for violations of the Respiratory Protection Standard for not providing fit testing for employees using MSA Ultra Elite self-contained breathing apparatus within the previous 12 months. The order states that the Borough of Tuckerton was previously cited on July 19, 2018. PEOSH concluded that the Borough of Tuckerton was aware that the items stated were not in compliance and therefore had repeatedly violated the PEOSH standard.
The Notice stated that the Borough Administrator and Fire Chief were advised via closing conference on December 3, 2021 that the fit testing records were outdated. The Fire Chief stated they had difficulty getting the fit testing scheduled due to COVID-19 hardships of the private company used to conduct the fit testing, however the Chief was unable to provide documentation of those requests. The Department remained out of compliance from May 2021 though the opening conference on December 3, 2021. Once the PEOSH inspection was initiated, the Chief was able to immediately schedule fit testing with two separate private companies. On December 10, 2021 CSHO conducted a follow-up phone call with the Borough Administrator and again confirmed that this would be a repeat violation. On December 14 and December 28, 2021, the members of the Tuckerton Fire Department were fit tested to abate the citation.
The Borough and Fire Company were issued $24,500. penalty from Office of Public Employees Occupational Safety and Health for violations that were abated on December 28, 2021.
On Monday June, 6, 2022, the Borough Administrator Jenny Gleghorn received a letter from Office Fire Department Preparedness Senior Planner – Emergency Management Fire, Donald Nelsen from the NJ Department of Community Affairs, Division of Fire Safety advising of issues at the Tuckerton Fire Company. The letter states that there was a meeting on June 1, 2022 and “not one of the items of direction needed were provided in any sort of bolstering manner to give the Division of Fire Safety confidence in the successful operation of your municipal fire department under the current circumstances. Seven points were spelled out my Friday April 22, 2022 memorandum to Chief Eggert for our scheduled meeting. Only one of the seven points were adequately addressed – number three regarding Incident Safety Officer certification of Firefighter Lewis Eggert Jr.” (See full document below obtained by OPRA request for additional details).
A Facebook Post from the Tuckerton Fire Company said, “The Borough Council took action this evening, we remain completely out of service, including the EMS portion. Here are the Council’s vote, Borough Attorney Christopher Connors reading the letter from Division of Fire Safety, and the public comments. We are overwhelmed by the amount of support this evening by both residents and business owners. You are the greatest !!! The first public speaker is someone who we can’t thank enough for coming out today. He was a CPR save last summer here in Tuckerton. He and his wife gave many years of service to the old Tuckerton First Aid Squad. Thanks to them also for their service.”
A member of the Tuckerton Fire Company stated, “All requested paperwork that was requested was fully submitted, the last of it yesterday.”