EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ — Multiple fire departments responded to Big Snow at American Dream Mall for a roof fire around 4:15 a.m. Upon arrival there was a reported “working fire” on the roof of Big Snow the indoor ski slope. Additional aid was called to the scene including Carlstadt, Secaucus, Wallington, Mahwah, Woodridge, Moonachie and many others. Fire crews charged a stand pipe system and charged hand lines to get water on the fire.
The fire went to three alarms before the main body of fire was knocked down just after 6:00 a.m. Fire crews are still on scene reporting that they have smoldering roof material on fire.
According to New Jersey State Police Sgt. Alejandro Goez, “The fire at the American Dream was reported at 4:15 a.m. inside the Big Snow ski slope. The fire was contained to the top of the ski slope and several area fire departments responded to extinguish the fire. The building was unoccupied at the time and there are no injuries reported. Preliminary investigation revealed that the fire has been deemed nonsuspicious at this time.”
Hugh Reynolds, a Big SNOW Representative said, “We can confirm that there was a fire at Big SNOW overnight. Thankfully there were no injuries as the incident occurred outside of our normal hours of operation. We are tremendously thankful for the quick response and efforts of the local fire departments in working to contain this fire. As such, Big SNOW will be closed today while we assess the damage. We will release more details soon.”
Please Note: We will be closed today, September 25. Any pre-purchased guests will be contacted directly and refunded.
Please note that Big SNOW will be closed today, Saturday September 25th. We apologize for this inconvenience and any disappointment this unexpected closure may cause for those guests who were planning to visit today. If you had a pre-purchased reservation, we will be refunding your order. We look forward to welcoming you back to Big SNOW soon. Please contact email@example.com with any additional questions.
WALL TOWNSHIP, NJ (MONMOUTH)–The NJ Urban Search And Rescue Task Force One has deployed to Surfside, Miami, Florida for a building collapse. The team left this morning around 6:45 a.m. and was spotted in Robbinsville, NJ at New Jersey Turnpike Exit 7A with a police escort en route to Florida.
Known locals responding and/or on the team are: Brad Ladislaw, Jay Ryan, Joe Flynn, Jeff Barlow from Hamilton Township Fire Department. Lt. Michael McMahon, Planning Team Manager, from West Windsor Police Department. Scott Cook, Rescue Specialist from West Windsor Fire & Emergency Services. Mike Yeh, Task Force Leader, Princeton Emergency & Safety Services-Princeton Junction Fire Company. Trenton Fire Department Battalion Chief Dave Smolka, Technical Search, Deputy Chief Anthony Moran, Safety, and Joe Szabo, Rescue Specialist. (list updated as we get it)
New Jersey Task Force 1 (NJ-TF1) has been activated as 1 of the 28 teams of the National Urban Search & Rescue (US&R) Response System and will be deploying tomorrow morning to assist with the rescue and recovery efforts resulting from the Champlain Tower Collapse.
NJ-TF1 is deploying as a Type 1 US&R Team consisting of 70 team members, in 21 technically skilled positions, and 10 ground support personnel. The team will be responding via; two crew carriers, three tractor-trailers, two box trucks, five F-450 crew trucks, two passenger vans, two K-9 units, two utility terrain vehicles, and a fleet service truck. A water rescue component of six boats with trailers and a water support trailer are also being deployed.
NJ-TF1 is deploying to a staging area in Miami, Florida. This will be the team’s eighth deployment as a FEMA US&R Team since 2016. The team has past experience in structural collapse from 9/11, Tropicana Hotel Parking Garage Collapse and the Hackensack Parking Garage Collapse among others.
NJOEM & NJ-TF1 continue to send our thoughts and prayers to everyone impacted by this deadly tragedy.
Our hearts go out to the brave first responders who are working around the clock in search of survivors. We’ll see you soon.
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Years ago, my father would take me for a hair cut at Ralph’s Barbershop in Hamilton Township at the corner of South Broad Street and Maple Shade Avenue near the White Horse Circle. In that barbershop that was later renamed to “Ralph’s Hair Styling,” there was a shelf not too far from the barber chair that held a four channel police and fire radio scanner. It was simple back then– four blinking lights, a couple of knobs, a pull up antenna, and “crystals” were inside the scanner to listen to specific police and fire frequencies. On those Saturday mornings at the barbershop, you could read the two local papers, and hear the police and fire activity on that simple radio scanner. Ralph always knew what was going on in the neighborhood though the local media or what he heard live over the scanner and was a regular conversation of what was going on in the barbershop.
Today, radio systems have turned from a simple two-way system to multimillion-dollar trunking systems where radios cost thousands of dollars each and some have digital “encryption” built in at a more expensive cost.
Some agencies such as Trenton Police, Ewing police have used “encryption” for years to keep scanner listeners and the media from finding out what is going on in their town. Recently Hamilton Township has made a switch to an “encrypted” radio system.
For years prior, most day-to-day dispatch operations were not “encrypted” and special channels such as for SWAT, drug enforcement or Special Operations were always encrypted due to safety of the teams. Lately police have been moving to “encrypt” all communications, and not just the special operations channels.
Encryption becomes a policing transparency and accountability problem by restricting the public’s right to monitor public radio frequencies. The encryption is usually set up in the name of police safety and privacy.
Several years ago, I attended a NJ Division of Fire Safety Class called “Media and the Fire Service” and the instructor was a reporter and NBC 10 news anchor in Philadelphia. He normally taught the class to police organizations but also offered the class to fire department organizations. The news anchor stated, when something happens and there is no information available the media will interview someone or ask someone on the street as a source. He said sometimes they will get it right and sometimes they will get it wrong. As a public agency it is best to respond quickly as possible, so the correct information is sent to the public. The news anchor stated that police reported it was a lot easier to report the factual information soon as possible than fix mistakes that “sources” had given the media.
Last night, there was a fatal accident in Trenton, New Jersey around 11:00 p.m. at the Intersection of South Clinton Avenue and Roebling Avenue. Over the EMS Channel, it was broadcast that this was a pedestrian accident and when EMS and the fire department responded they were advised it was possibly a shooting. One of the EMS supervisors also said it was a shooting over the radio no other communications where heard.
Without the ability to listen and back up information that would be heard on police radio in Trenton, most news media that reported on the incident reported it as a “shooting” though reported “sources.”
MidJersey.news covers “breaking news” and goes to several active accidents, crime scenes, and other kinds of events per week to verify information in person. We also heard the report of “shooting” and also the report of a “pedestrian accident” and worded the article as a “possible shooting” since the preliminary reports were unclear. When information is not verified though an “official” police source, we have the information listed as “breaking” “unofficial” and other descriptions of what might have happened until it confirmed by official sources.
MidJersey.news also works with the local police agencies to post the correct information in a timely manner. There have been times when a police department asked to post something quickly because rumors were getting out of control and wanted to get the right information out to as many as possible to prevent a bigger problem.
Here’s what I’m getting at: In today’s media race to be first to report, two major television news outlets from Philadelphia got it wrong by not backing up the story with official information and reported it as fact in their broadcast. These are supposed to be “trusted” news sources and people take what they report over what the local media who does the fact checking first.
To compound the misinformation there are many “armchair” news outlets that scan the Internet for breaking stories and repost those to their sites to gain hits and popularity. These organizations usually do not go out and do their own reporting but work on the backs of other media from a desk or in today’s pandemic quite possibly their couch.
I believe that the major news outlets got caught up in a perfect storm by one emergency channel reporting a shooting that was thought it was at the time and using that as their source. There was no way to back up that information by the ability to monitor police channels due to encrypted radio systems. They did not verify that information by official police sources most likely due to the late hour and holiday weekend. Instead of reporting as fact they should have reported as a possibility of the two things that might have happened.
Most likely reporting like this will continue to happen in the future with the encryption of public safety radios. The Neighbors application by Ring is sometimes used as a trusted source and sometime also gets information wrong and starts rumors rather than fact. Just a couple weeks ago in Hamilton, the Neighbors application reported a person shot on a playground, unofficial sources told MidJersey.news that it was a shots fired call and bullet casings were found but no person shot. No official public information was released by the police department about the incident. In three communities in Mercer County, you can find out more information from the Neighbors application than what is happening on the police radio scanner.
MidJersey.news supports the encryption of Special Operations, SWAT, Drug Enforcement, and other special radio channels that need to be encrypted for safety of police officers. The encryption of day-to-day dispatch and normal radio traffic, in our opinion, does not do anything except prevent transparency, open government, and accountability of policing. The normal day-to-day radio traffic should not be encrypted to prevent law abiding citizens from listening to public safety radio.
Opinion – Editorial
Related information non-MidJersey.news links below about encryption:
WEST WINDSOR TWP (MERCER)– There was a huge turnout for a parade held for Mercer County Fire Marshal James “Jimmy” Greschak, and his three-year-old granddaughter, Friday evening.
The drive-by parade began at about 7:00 pm in support of Greschak, who was diagnosed with Mesothelioma in January, combined with a birthday drive by for his granddaughter, Abigail’s, third birthday. Multiple pieces of apparatus and other emergency vehicles from every fire company in the county, and even some other counties, showed up to show their support.
Many know Greschak as the Mercer County Fire Marshal, or through the County Fire Chiefs Association, County Firemen’s Relief Association, and County Fire Officials. He is also a 50 year member of the West Windsor Fire Company. Others may know Greschak as a Eucharistic Minister at St. David’s, a Knight of Columbus, a Ski Club member, and from other activities.
Greschak’s family expressed their gratitude for the parade, saying, “Drive By Support My father Jim Greschak, was diagnosed with Mesothelioma in January. We have been touched by the amount of his friends that have reached out or tried to reach out to connect with dad and wish him well. I would like to thank Chief Kevin Applegate and the West Windsor Fire Co. for their support in this drive by and through this ordeal.”
Message from West Windsor Fire Company:
A heartfelt thank you to all the Mercer County First Responders that showed up today in support of Jimmy Greschak and his family! Your support was uplifting to them during this difficult time. It was an honor to return some of the kindness that Jimmy has shown all of us throughout his career in the fire service. Thank you for brightening their day.
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe announced today that the State is suing the federal government over its contamination of groundwater and drinking water resources on and around U.S. military bases and other federal facilities in New Jersey through long-term use of aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF), a fire-suppressing substance that contains toxic chemicals proven harmful to human health.
The State’s two-count complaint centers on excessive levels of toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), including perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) emanating from the federal facilities. PFAS substances – also called “forever chemicals”– are manmade substances desired for their ability to repel water, oil and fire, and were commonly used to make products like Teflon and Scotchgard. Highly resistant to environmental degradation and known to accumulate in the human body, PFAS are associated with serious adverse health effects such as cancer. The chemicals are also known to negatively impact the immune system and decrease vaccine response.
Specifically, today’s complaint alleges that the routine use of AFFF at U.S. military and other facilities throughout New Jersey over time caused the contamination of public and private drinking water sources that provide drinking water to those facilities, as well as to communities located near the military installations, where both military and civilians families live.
“During Commissioner McCabe’s tenure, New Jersey has become a national leader in responding to the scientific evidence of PFAS chemicals’ impacts on human health,” said Attorney General Grewal. “With today’s lawsuit, we are inviting the federal government to finally take the risks posed by PFAS chemicals as seriously as New Jersey does, and to take appropriate steps to protect the health of military and civilian families who live near our military bases.”
“Federally owned facilities in New Jersey that polluted the environment through the use of aqueous film-forming foams must do the right thing by properly investigating and remediating PFAS-contaminated water supplies,” said Commissioner McCabe. “Governor Murphy and I are proud of New Jersey’s accomplishments in leading the nation by taking strong health- and science-based actions to protect the health of our residents from PFAS chemicals. Through this legal action, we are demanding that the federal government follow New Jersey’s lead.”
Affected U.S. military facilities listed in the complaint include Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst (JBMDL), a tri-service, joint-installation military complex made up of McGuire Air Force Base, the Naval Air Engineering Station-Lakehurst, and Fort Dix Army Base. More than 45,000 active duty, guard, reserve, family members and civilian personnel live and work on and around JBMDL. The combined population of municipalities surrounding JBMDL is approximately 600,000 people. Also listed in the complaint are the Naval Weapons Station Earle in Monmouth County, and the former Naval Air Warfare Center in Trenton.
Among other demands made in today’s lawsuit, the State asserts that the United States should be required to address contamination of drinking water supplies when present above New Jersey’s own safe drinking water standards for PFOS and PFOA – a maximum contaminant level of 13 parts-per-trillion for PFOS, and 14 parts-per-trillion (ppt) for PFOA – instead of using the significantly higher federal standard of 70 ppt. Limited sampling of drinking water supplies in the area around JBDML has identified, so far, three private drinking water wells with combined levels of PFOS and PFOA well in excess of even the federal limit – ranging from 152 ppt to 1,688 ppt.
The excessive PFAS levels can be traced to the use of AFFF products at federal facilities. AFFF products are mixed with water to form a foam solution, which is then used to extinguish fuel and other flammable liquid fires. Spraying a fire with AFFF creates a film that coats the fire, blocking its oxygen supply and preventing re-ignition.
According to the State’s complaint, the U.S. government is one of the nation’s largest users of AFFF, with its usage dating back to the 1970s, when it was employed for firefighter training activities and to extinguish fuel-based fires at federal government facilities.
AFFF is discharged directly on the ground and/or tarmac during emergencies, as well as during training exercises, and ultimately reverts from foam to a liquid solution. In liquid form, AFFF travels to surrounding groundwater, causing contamination onsite and also migrating offsite to contaminate nearby wells.
Today’s complaint notes that, in addition to AFFF’s routine use in suppressing fires at U.S. military bases, additional, inadvertent discharges of AFFF have occurred – and additional releases of PFOS and PFOA have taken place – at U.S. military facilities through the testing of equipment, equipment malfunctions and “other incidental releases.”
Among other things, today’s lawsuit seeks to recover costs to the State associated with DEP’s investigation of the PFAS contamination caused by U.S. military installations, as well as expenditures made by the State or to be made by the State to remediate the contamination.
The complaint also seeks a court order requiring the federal government to remediate the affected areas to levels that comply with State safe drinking water and water quality standards for PFOS and PFOA, conduct medical monitoring of residents whose drinking water supplies have been contaminated in excess of those levels, and provide alternative water supplies to New Jersey residents whose drinking water has been contaminated. The complaint is being filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, which is handling litigation from around the country relating to AFFF, but the case may ultimately be decided in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.
Deputy Attorney General Gwen Farley, of the Environmental Enforcement and Environmental Justice Section in the Division of Law’s Affirmative Civil Enforcement Practice Group, handled this matter on behalf of the State.
On the murder of Officer Brian D. Sicknick by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ)
“Words are inadequate to convey my sadness, shock and anger over the murder of Capitol Police Officer Brian D. Sicknick who courageously fought the violent mob that stormed the Capitol building on Wednesday.
As a member of the New Jersey National Guard, Mr. Sicknick safely deployed during Operation Southern Watch in 1999 and Enduring Freedom in 2003 only to be killed in the line of duty defending Members of Congress and staff and the Capitol building during a joint session of Congress.
He died a hero and deserves our eternal gratitude for his sacrifice.
My wife Marie and I—and my family and staff—offer our deepest condolences to and prayers for his family, friends and colleagues.
Like others bravely serving in law enforcement, the Capitol Police face significant risks and hardship, including death, every day and absolutely deserve our unwavering support. The perpetrator(s) of this heinous crime must be swiftly brought to justice.”
Morris County Regional Vaccination Center Now Open to Frontline Health Care Workers, Police and Fire First Responders
January 8, 2021
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)/ROCKAWAY, NJ (MORRIS)–Ernest Doggett, III., Trenton Firefighter, who also is also an EMT, and rides Engine 6 as the Interim Captain, received his COVID-19 vaccine today in Morris County. Governor Phil Murphy was in attendance to observe police and firefighters receiving their vaccinations.
Governor Phil Murphy, joined by New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, Superintendent of the State Police Colonel Patrick Callahan, Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill, Morris County Commissioner Director Stephen Shaw, and labor officials, visited the Morris County Regional Vaccination Center today to highlight the beginning of New Jersey’s vaccination effort for sworn law enforcement and fire professionals.
All sworn law enforcement and fire professionals in New Jersey are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, which is estimated to include about 55,000 individuals. These first responders are the first individuals in Phase 1B to become eligible for vaccination. EMS professionals, also considered first responders, are already eligible for the vaccine under Phase 1A as health care workers.
“Throughout this pandemic, our first responders have continued to save lives and protect our communities, and I am proud today that we are able to provide them with this added level of protection as they continue to do their jobs,” Governor Murphy said. “When we’re ready to move forward, this site will serve as one of six megasites for the general public to receive their vaccinations. With hundreds of thousands of preregistrations already received, we know there will be a strong demand when that day arrives.”
“We’re all used to charging head-on into potentially dangerous situations, but COVID-19 has added a whole new layer of uncertainty and change for all of us,” said John Alderton, a career firefighter and EMT with the Morris Township Fire Department. “This vaccine is the first step of us moving in the right direction. Thank you Governor Murphy for bringing this vaccine to not only first responders, but hopefully in the near future, to every New Jersey resident.”
“These megasites will be able to handle a large volume of individuals as we continue to move through eligible phases of vaccination toward the general public,” Health Commissioner Judith Persichillisaid. “The sites are part of a growing network of community-based sites that will help ensure fair and equitable access and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines.”
“I’m grateful that Governor Murphy, Commissioner Persichilli, and the Department of Health have opened these mega-sites, and have made vaccinations for COVID-19 available for police and fire professionals across the state,” said Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal. “Our first responders have demonstrated extraordinary heroism, dedication, and resilience in answering the call to serve during this pandemic, and routinely put themselves in harm’s way. I strongly encourage all law enforcement who live or work in the state to get vaccinated and help stop the spread of this virus.”
“We memorialized a lot of New Jerseyans over the past several months,” said Colonel Patrick Callahan, Superintendent of the State Police. “This vaccine will save lives. The fact that this megasite and sites like it around New Jersey are up and running is a testament to this collective team effort.”
“This vaccine megasite in Morris County marks a monumental step for New Jersey residents, particularly our healthcare providers and first responders who have gone above and beyond during the pandemic,” said Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill. “The collaboration across state, county, local levels alongside the incredible team at Atlantic Health puts all of us on the path to greater safety and well-being. I fought for vaccine distribution funding in the latest coronavirus package and I’ll continue to fight to get the resources necessary from the federal government.”
“This is a tremendous logistical undertaking by Morris County in partnership with Atlantic Health System and the State of New Jersey,” Stephen H. Shaw, Director of the Morris County Board of Commissionerssaid. “Our Offices of Public Health and Emergency Management worked tirelessly through the holiday season with Atlantic Health to identify and transform an empty retail space into a large scale, safe, secure regional vaccination facility. Morris County remains steadfast in its commitment to allocate the resources necessary to protect the public health. We anticipate being able to inoculate as many as 2,400 individuals daily at this facility. Our thanks go out to Atlantic Health for its contributions of staff and assets, Governor Murphy for his support, everyone in our Offices of Public Health and Emergency Management, the National Guard, our Sheriff and all the healthcare workers who have made this possible.”
“The arrival of safe and effective vaccines represents a landmark moment in our fight against COVID-19, making this center a place of hope and healing for our entire region,” said Brian Gragnolati, President and CEO, Atlantic Health System. “On behalf of patients and caregivers across New Jersey, I want to thank Governor Murphy and Morris County leaders for their tremendous support and partnership. Together, we are taking the next big step forward in protecting our friends, neighbors and communities. I encourage everyone to take advantage of the opportunity to receive their vaccinations as soon as they are eligible.”
“We are happy to see that Governor Murphy is moving forward quickly to make Covid-19 vaccines available to law enforcement and firefighters,” said Bob Fox,President of the New Jersey Fraternal Order of Police. “His immediate response is greatly appreciated by law enforcement.”
“PFANJ fire fighters & EMT’s serve as the first link in the COVID-19 response,” said Steve McConlogue, President, Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey. “These environments are unstructured, unprotected and place our members near COVID-19 patients, causing increased exposure for the responder. Many COVID- 19 patients are treated by a fire fighter or EMT before they are transported to a hospital for further care. Additionally, fire fighters and EMTs often respond to emergencies unrelated to whether a caller has COVID-19 only to later learn that they were exposed to the virus. We are encouraged to see the availability of the COVID-19 vaccine made available to all firefighters in New Jersey, we have been on the frontlines battling this virus since March. A COVID-19 vaccine is one of the best ways to protect fire and EMS personnel from this pandemic. Along with ensuring that the proper PPE is available, priority access to a vaccine allows emergency responders to have another tool to protect themselves and the community as a whole. Scientific reports have indicated that fire fighters, paramedics and EMTs are proportionately far more likely to contract COVID-19 than the general public due to their on-the-job exposures. We thank Governor Murphy and his team for answering the call on behalf of firefighters. The International Association of Fire Fighters have worked tirelessly with federal, state and local officials to protect their members, and make fire fighters, paramedics & EMTs a top priority level for COVID-19 vaccines.”
“Our members battled through this pandemic since last March and we have shared in the struggle and pain with the residents we protect,” said Wayne Wolk, Executive Vice President, New Jersey Firefighters Mutual Benevolent Association. “We are grateful to have worked with Governor Murphy and his administration to be sure NJ first responders had the tools to safely provide the front line protection day in and day out. Being moved up in the queue to receive the COVID-19 vaccination is another testament to that support.”
“I would like to thank the Governor and the Health Departments decision to listen to our pleas and move our states brave law enforcement and firefighters up on the vaccine list,” said Pat Colligan, President of the New Jersey State Police Benevolent Association. “Our law enforcement officers, whether they were working on a cell block or responding to calls for service were truly “first responders” from the very beginning of this pandemic and continue to be the first on the scene on virtually every call for service. We are looking forward to putting this pandemic in the rear view mirror and we are sure this will help expedite that.”
“We are very proud to announce that due to the support of Governor Murphy, along with the clinical guidance of New Jersey’s top medical professionals, we have completed one of our first mega sites located in Morris County for administering vaccines to New Jersey’s citizens,” said Pete J. Stilianessis, President, State Troopers NCO Association. “We’re very proud to have played our part in this very important milestone to recovery for New Jersey and the citizens that we have served throughout this pandemic. We are appreciative to have one of our NCO’s take the lead on being the first Trooper to receive this life changing breakthrough vaccine. We look forward to working with our Governor and other branches in government for further successes until we can finally return to normalcy.”
“The State Troopers Fraternal Association applauds Governor Murphy and his entire team for their aggressive, swift, and committed response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Wayne Blanchard, President, State Troopers Fraternal Association. “Since March, Governor Murphy has had to make many difficult decisions in order to keep the best possible containment of the COVID-19 virus. The arrival of the vaccines has given us new hope in curbing the COVID-19 pandemic and the Governor and his administration have been on the front lines and have been efficiently distributing the vaccines since their arrival. Today marks a special place in the history in the fight against COVID-19 as Governor Murphy has recognized the significant challenges and risks the STFA members face daily in the performance of their duties during the pandemic. To date, over 150 STFA members have contracted the COVID-19 virus and the safety of the citizens of the State of New Jersey depends on their health. We are truly grateful to Governor Murphy for streamlining the vaccination process for our men and women who must respond when called upon even during the perils of the pandemic. In addition, we laud the Governor and his team for the coordination of many vaccination sites but in particular sites such as the Morris County Mega Vaccination site, which has tremendous capabilities for safe, orderly, and large-scale vaccinations.”
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Governor Phil Murphy released a statement this morning about the death of the United States Capital Police Officer who is a NJ native from South River. Officer Brian D. Sicknick was responding to the riots on Wednesday, January 6, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol and was injured while physically engaging with protesters. He returned to his division office and collapsed. He was taken to a local hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.
Sicknick was a graduate from Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools. He was also a Staff Sergeant with the NJ Air National Guard where he was a fire team member at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, and served in Operation Southern Watch and Operation Enduring Freedom.
Statement from Governor Phil Murphy:
“United States Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick embodied the selfless spirit of his native state.
Officer Sicknick was a product of South River and a graduate of the Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools. Before joining the Capitol Police, he was Staff Sergeant Sicknick with the New Jersey Air National Guard. He was a Fire Team Member and Leader with the 108th Security Force Squadron, 108th Wing, at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, and his six years of service included overseas deployments in support of Operation Southern Watch and Operation Enduring Freedom.
Tammy and I send our deepest condolences to Officer Sicknick’s family and friends, as well as to his United States Capitol Police colleagues and the Guardsmen and Guardswomen he served alongside. We thank him for his service to our nation.
Officer Sicknick gave his life protecting the United States Capitol, and by extension, our very democracy, from violent insurrection. His needless murder at the hands of a mob bent on overthrowing the Constitution he had dedicated his life to upholding is shocking. It is my fervent hope that the rioters whose actions directly contributed to his death are quickly identified and brought to justice.”
At approximately 9:30 p.m. this evening (January 7, 2021), United States Capitol Police Officer Brian D. Sicknick passed away due to injuries sustained while on-duty.
Officer Sicknick was responding to the riots on Wednesday, January 6, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol and was injured while physically engaging with protesters. He returned to his division office and collapsed. He was taken to a local hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. The death of Officer Sicknick will be investigated by the Metropolitan Police Department’s Homicide Branch, the USCP, and our federal partners.
Officer Sicknick joined the USCP in July 2008, and most recently served in the Department’s First Responder’s Unit.
The entire USCP Department expresses its deepest sympathies to Officer Sicknick’s family and friends on their loss, and mourns the loss of a friend and colleague.
We ask that Officer Sicknick’s family, and other USCP officers’ and their families’ privacy be respected during this time.
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced that a woman was indicted for allegedly stealing more than $268,000 by fraudulently collecting survivor benefits from her deceased husband’s pension for nearly 10 years after she remarried and allegedly knew she was disqualified for such benefits.
Sandra VonScheven, 44, of Hamilton, Mercer County, N.J., was indicted yesterday by a state grand jury on a charge of second-degree theft by unlawful taking. The indictment is the result of an investigation by the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA) and the Pension and Fraud Abuse Unit of the New Jersey Department of the Treasury’s Division of Pension and Benefits.
In November 2001, VonScheven began collecting survivor spousal benefits from the pension of her deceased husband, who was a retired municipal police officer in New Jersey. Surviving spouses are entitled to widow or widower’s benefits under the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System. Survivor benefits continue for life or until the surviving spouse remarries.
In November 2019, the Division of Pensions and Benefits notified OPIA that VonScheven had continued to receive survivor spousal benefits from her late husband’s pension despite the fact that she remarried on Jan. 15, 2010. It is alleged that VonScheven knew that her survivor benefits ceased when she remarried and nevertheless continued to receive the benefits every month until November 2019. In total, she received more than $268,000 in benefits to which she was not entitled.
Deputy Attorneys General John Nicodemo and Adam Gerken presented the case virtually to the state grand jury for the OPIA Corruption Bureau. Detective Sonya Carney was lead detective for OPIA, and Deputy Attorney General Mallory Shanahan also assisted. Attorney General Grewal thanked the Pension and Fraud Abuse Unit of the Department of the Treasury’s Division of Pension and Benefits for its investigation and referral.
Second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $150,000. The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.
The indictment was handed up to Superior Court Judge Peter E. Warshaw in Mercer County, where VonScheven will be ordered to appear in court at a later date for arraignment.
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Today, Governor Phil Murphy signed S487, also known as the “Dominick Marino PFRS Enhanced Benefits for Surviving Spouses Act”. The legislation is named after Dominick Marino, a former professional firefighter and past President of the Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey (PFANJ), who passed away earlier last year. The new law will provide financial security for a member’s surviving spouse by ensuring that the accidental death benefit provided by the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System cannot be below $50,000 annually.
“A fierce advocate who put his heart and soul into everything he did for his PFANJ brothers and sisters, Dominick was a dear friend to me and to so many of us,” said Governor Murphy. “It is my great honor to sign this bill to cement Dominick’s legacy and help ensure that our first responders’ loved ones who are left behind are taken care of.”
“The health and well-being of his firefighters, EMTs, paramedics, as well as their families, were very important to our father. He continued to work hard and fight for them every day,” said the Marino Family. “This bill is just one example of his hard work and dedication to them, and we are honored to have this bill named after him.”
“Senate Bill 487, named after Past-President Dominick Marino exemplifies ‘Donnie’ and all that he represented as President of the Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey (PFANJ) before his untimely death in April 2020,” said Steve McConlogue, President of the Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey. “He was the driving force behind this bill and felt passionately about ensuring that the families of those who made the ultimate sacrifice are taken care of regardless of years of service. As firefighters, we show up each and every day knowing the danger and risks involved and, just as we believe in the importance of protecting and serving the members of our communities, we believe in taking care of each other. This bill helps to ensure we are doing just that. Thank you to the members of the PFANJ who have worked tirelessly to help move this bill across the finish line and to the members of the General Assembly and Senate for passing this bill unanimously. Thank you Governor Murphy for signing this bill into law.”
“Members of the public safety community put their lives on the line every day to protect and save the lives of every person in New Jersey,” said Senator Brian Stack. “So, it is absolutely a tragedy when they die in the line of duty, and even worse when they leave behind a surviving spouse. This is why Senator Sacco and I worked to enhance the accidental death benefit of the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System. Collectively, we have to look out for these families when they lose loved ones.”
“As a mayor, it breaks my heart when I read about the accidental death of a police officer or firefighter,” saidSenator NicholasSacco. “And if I find out they left behind a surviving family; my first instinct is to do whatever I can to help regardless of where in the state they may be. Enhancing the accidental death benefit in their pension to provide a minimum amount will prevent them from having financial issues due to the loss of their spouse.”
“Too many of our first responders, unfortunately, give their lives to keep their communities safe. We will never be able to fully give back to those brave heroes, but the very least we can do is make sure their families are cared for,” said Assemblymembers Angelica Jimenez, Pedro Mejia, and Carol Murphy in a joint statement. “Expanding the accidental death pension will benefit many families of fallen police officers and firefighters. It’s another way we can continue to express our utmost respect and gratitude for their loved one’s service.”
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Governor Murphy announced today that Police and Firefighters are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine starting Tomorrow, Thursday January 7, 2021. Some police and firefighters have already received the vaccination due to holding multiple roles such as a EMT or other health care provider. This will allow all police and firefighters to receive the vaccination starting tomorrow.
Statement from the NJ FMBA via Facebook:
FMBA: I am extremely pleased to announce, through the hard work of the NJ FMBA and the NJ Division of Fire Safety, under the direction of NJ State Fire Marshal Rich Mikutsky, Governor Phil Murphy has moved all active first responders into the first round of vaccinations. Starting tomorrow, firefighters and police officers will be moved into the same category as EMTs and health care providers for COVID-19 vaccinations. If you have any questions, please call the NJ FMBA office at 732-499-9250. We will also be discussing this topic in greater detail at the January virtual state meeting to be held on Wednesday, January 13th, at 0930hrs. Although this decision is up to each individual, I am pleased to announce many of our members have received the vaccine already. While it is unclear if dispatchers are included in this order, the NJ FMBA is working diligently with the NJ Department of Health to identify which category dispatchers should fall into. – Eddie
The State of NJ is reporting there have been 137,829 vaccinations statewide.
135,606 individuals have received their first dose 2,149 individuals have received their second dose.
Hamilton Township Fire Division Swearing In Program
January 1, 2021
HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–After years of trying, the nine Hamilton Township fire districts have finally been dissolved, and the Township of Hamilton now provides fire service under the Hamilton Township Division of Fire, starting 12:01 this morning.
In a social distanced swearing in ceremony that started shortly after 9:00 am this morning, Mayor Martin swore in the entire department, about four members at a time with a fifteen minute break in-between. Each individual ceremony was broadcasted live on Facebook. A large swearing in with the entire department at one time was not possible due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to provide social distancing.
Mayor Jeff Martin said in a statement, “Today is an extraordinary moment in Hamilton Township and New Jersey’s history – a day that has taken over 25 years and multiple administrations to work towards. Today, Hamilton Township has one unified Fire Division. While this day is one to be celebrated, it is unfortunate that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we had to scale back the planned ceremony today as we swear in the our first Fire Chief, Richard Kraemer and the entire Hamilton Township Fire Division. We will properly, and safely, celebrate this achievement later this year. I sincerely thank all of those involved in the process of consolidating Hamilton’s nine independent Fire Districts into one unified Fire Division including Governor Murphy and his administration, our Legislative leaders – Senator Greenstein, Assemblyman DeAngelo, and Assemblyman Benson, our Township Council, our fire consolidation subcommittee members including — Councilman Pat Papero, Jr., Councilman Anthony Carabelli, Jr., Mark Murranko, Joe Monzo, Chief Richard Kraemer, Scott Goldsmith, Nick Buroczi, Shane Mull, Richard Braslow, and all of the Hamilton Firefighters.”
ALLENTOWN, NJ (MERCER)–Not even COVID-19 could stop Santa on his regular Christmas Eve trip around Allentown on a fire truck this year. Now, Santa is getting ready to head out to deliver gifts around the world later tonight.
The Santa visit tradition could be well over 100 years old, as far as any current and retired member with Hope Fire Company can remember. No one knows when exactly the Christmas Eve tradition started. Those have long since retired from their firefighter career remember Santa always being in town the night before Christmas on a fire engine, even when they were children.
As the tradition continues, Santa parks the sleigh behind the firehouse, and while the reindeer get some food and energy for the all night flight, Santa would deliver early gifts to children in Allentown Borough. This year, Dr. Anthony Fauci did give Santa the COVID-19 vaccination at the North Pole, and Governor Murphy did make Santa “essential personnel” earlier today, still Santa was prevented to deliver gifts on the fire truck tonight.
Although early gifts were not allowed this year, Santa still decided to make his rounds on the Hope Fire Company fire engine to say hello from a safe distance. Next year Santa hopes to come back with the normal tradition of going around Allentown on the fire engine handing out gifts.
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Today, Governor Murphy signed the following bill:S-238/A-1106 (Singleton, Sarlo/Murphy, Stanfield, Schaer) – Revises law governing training and duties of Junior Firefighters’ Auxiliary members.
The Assembly Homeland Security and State Preparedness Committee reports favorably Assembly Committee Substitute No. 1106.
As reported and amended by the committee, Assembly Committee Substitute for Assembly No. 1106 revises current law regarding the Junior Firefighters’ Auxiliary.
Under current law, a person between the ages of 14 and 21 who obtains permission from a parent or guardian may become a member of the Junior Firefighters’ Auxiliary with a volunteer fire department. This committee substitute reduces the age limit for membership to persons between the ages of 14 and 18.
The committee substitute also allows a fire district, regional authority, or county in this State that maintains a paid or volunteer fire department to establish a Junior Firefighters’ Auxiliary. Under current law, only volunteer fire departments are permitted to establish a Junior Firefighters’ Auxiliary.
In addition, the committee substitute requires Junior Firefighters’ Auxiliary applicants to be interviewed by officers of the fire department with a parent or guardian present. Junior Firefighters’ Auxiliary applicants also are required to submit documentation from a qualified physician verifying that the applicant is medically able to perform the activities of the auxiliary.
Current labor law provides that minors under the age of 18 are prohibited from participating in certain work-related tasks, but allows an exemption for members of the Junior Firefighters’ Auxiliary who are 16 years of age or older and perform authorized fire-related duties. This committee substitute reduces this age exemption from 16 to 14 years of age.
The committee substitute also requires entities establishing Junior Firefighters’ Auxiliaries to provide a minimum amount of workers’ compensation insurance to auxiliary members who perform certain duties. Current law requires auxiliary members to be provided with insurance coverage identical to that provided to regular members of the fire department or district.
The committee substitute also grants the Commissioner of Community Affairs authority to promulgate regulations pertaining to the training of Junior Firefighter Auxiliary members and establish the duties they may perform at training events and emergency scenes. The regulations are to become effective immediately upon being filed with the Office of Administrative Law and remain in effect for 180 days. Thereafter, the commissioner is required to amend, adopt, or readopt the regulations in accordance with “Administrative Procedure Act.” Finally, the committee substitute replaces the term “firemen” with the preferred, gender neutral term, “firefighter.”
As reported by the committee, Assembly Committee Substitute for Assembly No. 1106 is identical to Senate Committee Substitute for Senate No. 238 which also was amended and reported by the committee on this date
HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–The Mercer County Firemen’s Association 2020 Memorial Service that was originally scheduled for May 6, 2020 was postponed several times due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. This year’s Memorial Service was held at Colonial Fire Company Hamilton Township Station 18 and was hosted by Union Fire Company Hopewell Township Station 53. Hamilton Township Station 18 has a large hall and is big enough to hold the service while complying with COVID-19 guidelines.
The annual Memorial Service is held to honor members of Mercer County Firemen’s Ladies Auxiliary and Firefighters in Mercer County. All fire departments in Mercer County are represented and Hope Fire Company of Allentown, Monmouth County is also a member.
This year’s Memorial Roll was read honored 14 Ladies Auxiliary members and 36 firefighters. As each name is read a white carnation is placed in a Maltese cross and firefighters salute and family members stand as the name of their loved one is read.
HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–Today, Mayor Martin signed the ordinances and memorandum of agreements to officially consolidate the Hamilton Township Fire Division, effective January 1, 2021.
Under current structure, Hamilton fire services are comprised of nine, autonomous fire districts. Each of the nine districts is governed by five elected commissioners and have their own individual budgets. With the signing of these ordinances, all nine districts will be consolidated and become part of a newly formed Hamilton Township Fire Division funded by municipal taxes. The Department of Community Affairs’ Local Finance Board previously approved the fire service consolidation on September 9th by a unanimous vote, and Council approved the ordinances by a unanimous vote.
The process to consolidate the fire districts has been one the Township has considered for over twenty years with the most recent proposal beginning in 2015. This proposal has faced many setbacks of the last five years, but remained one of the top priorities for Mayor Jeff Martin’s administration.
The ordinances signed officially dissolve all 9 fire districts and establish a Hamilton Township Fire Division under the Department of Public Safety. Additionally, the Mayor signed Memorandums of Agreement between the Township of Hamilton and Firefighters Mutual Benevolent Association Locals 84 and 284.
“Today we take another concrete step towards the creation of the Hamilton Township Fire Division. With a firm date set in place, we can finally see the finish line on consolidation,” stated Mayor Jeff Martin. “This move is a win-win for Township residents, saving roughly $1.5 million a year in reduced fire service costs all while keeping the same number of fire houses and firefighters. This is an extraordinary moment in both Hamilton and New Jersey history. I want to thank again all that have worked to make this happen including Governor Murphy and his administration, our Legislative leaders – Senator Greenstein, Assemblyman DeAngelo, and Assemblyman Benson, our Township Council, our fire consolidation subcommittee members including — Councilman Pat Papero, Jr., Councilman Anthony Carabelli, Jr., Mark Murranko, Joe Monzo, Chief Richard Kraemer, Scott Goldsmith, Nick Buroczi, Shane Mull, Richard Braslow, and all of the Hamilton Firefighters.”
“It is incredibly to finally be here and formally move forward with fire district consolidation,” said Councilman Charles Whalen. “I commend all of those that have been involved in this process from the beginning and every step of the way. This is a great day for the Township all around and will shape Hamilton for years to come.”
“I am proud of the efforts of the members of FMBA 84 and 284 that worked so hard for this day, and never backed down to the threats of a previous administration that failed them and the residents.” Eddie Donnelly, President of the NJ FMBA said. “This community should be grateful to Mayor Jeff Martin and this Township Council for what they have accomplished towards making Hamilton Township safer.”
“You can throw all the equipment and manpower at a fire you want, but without coordination and communication the emergency will always have the upper hand,” Fire Chief Richard Kraemer said. “This long awaited and much need adjustment to how our Department operates gives the advantage back to the men and women of the Hamilton Fire Department and makes our whole community safer.”
“The members of the Hamilton Fire Department have always stood together. We have always been willing to put ourselves between danger and the residents we serve,” Nick Buroczi, President of Hamilton FMBA Local 284 said. “In this push for consolidation Mayor Jeff Martin and the entire Township Council also stood shoulder to shoulder with us and because of that our community is safer.”
“I applaud the hard work and dedication the Martin Administration, our fire chiefs, and local FMBA representatives to finally make fire consolidation a reality in Hamilton.” said Senator Linda Greenstein. “Ensuring our first responders and firefighters can continue to provide some of the best service in the state of New Jersey to the residents of Hamilton has always been a top priority of all of our local leaders.”
“This is a big moment for Hamilton. Thanks to Mayor Martin and our Township Council, we are finally going to have a unified fire service that will save taxpayers money all while creating a more responsive and capable service for our residents. This is another example of our community working together to make a safer and more effective Hamilton,” said Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo.
“Congratulations to the Mayor and Council on this important milestone achieved through their hard work,” said Assembly Dan Benson. “The time is right to have a strong Township-wide uniform fire service. It improves safety for our residents as well as our firefighters and will ensure that all Hamiltonians receive the same high level of service regardless of their zip code.”
The next step, currently in process, is coordination with the Civil Service Commission for organizational transfer of all current district firefighters.
These ropes are used in professional use, including work-at-height use, difficult access, technical rescue and industrial applications; and for recreational use, including climbing, caving and mountaineering.
October 2, 2020
Name of product: Low-Stretch Kernmantle Ropes
The rope can have a deep cut or tape securing two ends of rope together, which can cause the rope to fail, posing fall and injury hazards to the user.Remedy:ReplaceRecall date:September 30, 2020Units:
About 14,850 (In addition, about 2,500 were sold in Canada) Consumer Contact:
The recalled low-stretch kernmantle ropes are designed for professional use, including work-at-height use, difficult access, technical rescue and industrial applications; and for recreational use, including climbing, caving and mountaineering. The ropes have a nylon core and polyester sheath material. Only ropes with serial numbers ranging between 18 C 0000000 000 and 20 H 0000000 000 are included in the recall. The recalled rope models include:
Axis 11mm rope (white, yellow, black, blue, red and orange) available in 150, 200, 600 and 1200 feet. Model Numbers R074AA00 – R074AA27.
Parallel 10.5mm (white, yellow, black, blue, red and orange), available in 50, 100, 200 and 500 meters. Model Numbers R077AA03 – R077AA28.
Vector 12.5mm rope (white, yellow, black, blue, red and orange) available in 150, 200, 600 and 1200 feet. Model Numbers R078AA00—R078AA27.
Segment 8 mm (white) available in 50, 100 or 200 meters. Model Numbers R076AA00 – R076AA06.
Ray 12 mm (yellow/black) available in 25, 50, 75, 100 and 200 feet. Model Numbers R091AA00 – R091AA04.
ASAP’AXIS 11 mm (white) available 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 and 60 meters. Model numbers R074DA00 — R074DA05
Push 200 9 mm (white, orange) available in 200 meters. Model Numbers R40AW200 and R40AO200.
Club 200 10 mm (white, orange) available in 200 meters. Model Numbers R39AW200 and R39AO200.
Top 9.8 mm (Not sold in North America)
Lead 9.8mm (Not sold in North America)
JAG Rescue Kit model numbers K090AA00-K090AA02
The recalled safety ropes have the model name and serial number on the label affixed to each end of the rope. Remedy:
Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled ropes and inspect the rope for a deep cut or tape connecting two ends of rope together, and if either is found, contact Petzl America for instructions on receiving a free replacement rope.Incidents/Injuries:
Petzl America Inc., of Salt Lake City, Utah Manufactured In:FranceRecall number: 20-194
Petzl America toll-free at 877-807-3805 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. MT Monday through Friday, email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or online at www.petzl.com and select Professional or Sport then click on Customer Service/Security Alerts located at the top of the page for more information.