Florham Park, NJ – As all Firefighters know, equipment becomes obsolete due to age, wear, or revision to NFPA requirements. That dilemma became reality for members of the Florham Park Volunteer Fire Department, when their 1987 Mack / Engine 22 entered its’ own phase of obsolescence. FPVFD members had witnessed the loss of an earlier engine to the scrap yard and vowed to never let that happen again.
Members organized a committee to seek out options for a new life for Engine 22. This search led to Lt. Nathaniel Lasseur, Founder / President of the International Firefighters Assistance organization, in Coral Springs, Florida.
Lt. Lasseur is a professional firefighter in West Palm Beach, Florida and a native son of Haiti, where he has been active in the development of local firefighting companies throughout this area. The IFA organization he established, seeks donations of retired fire apparatus and other necessary equipment for partners in Haiti. In January 2010, Haiti was devastated by catastrophic magnitude 7.0 earthquake, which left one million people homeless and 316,000 lost their lives.
The Florham Park Borough Mayor and Council members, who are responsible for the ownership of the apparatus, accepted the volunteers proposal to donate Engine 22 to IFA, and plans were completed to transport the vehicle to Florida, where it was loaded on a ship bound for Haiti.
As the Fire truck arrived in Haiti, Lt. Lasseur’s partners, in the city Croix-des-Bouquets requested assistance to train their volunteer fire company in the technical aspects of the trucks operation. Engine 22 is the first, and only, piece of firefighting apparatus in the city of Croix-des-Bouquets, where fires had been fought only with water buckets, axes and brooms until a truck could arrive from Port au Prince. Members of the Florham Park Fire Department Association agreed to support the expenses of a trip to Croix-des-Bouquet for two officers, Assistant Chief Chuck Keel and Fire Inspector Alban Kellogg. The funds were provided from the annual fund drive and the trip took place in late August.
Many Haitian government officials and community leaders of Croix-des-Bouquet province expressed their overwhelming appreciation for the generosity of the community of Florham Park, and the members of the Florham Park Fire Department Association for their kind donation of this essential firefighting equipment in their earthquake ravaged country.
Florham Park Volunteer Fire Department invites other Fire Departments, who may have obsolete or excess equipment in good condition, to join with them in supporting the International Firefighters Assistance organization with additional donations of apparatus and equipment. If you are able to participate in this effort, please contact Assistant Chief Chuck Keel at 973-377-3241 or contact International Firefighters Assistance organization, in Coral Springs, Florida at http://www.ifarelief.org.
At their Annual Holiday Dinner Dance at Brooklake Country Club, on January 12, 2013, the Florham Park Volunteer Fire Department presented several awards to designated members and associates for their leadership, participation, and dedication.
The Clyde Zukswert Award, which was establish this year in memory of former 60 year member, Clyde Zukswert, who distinguished himself as a firefighter, and a man of great integrity, leadership, and dedication, was presented to Dr. Robert Newhouse, for his many years of devotion and fidelity to the Florham Park Fire Department.
In recognition of the leadership they provided during Super Storm Sandy, Chief Patrick Montuori of the Florham Park Police Department, and the entire Office of Emergency Management Team, was recognized for their exceptional, tireless efforts to resolve the many emergencies that were encountered during the storm. The award references an appropriate quotation from Vince Lombardi, reminding us how “It is individual Commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, and a civilization work”. It was the combination of many individual’s efforts that brought the Community of Florham Park through the horrific days of late October and November 2012.
Special awards were given to new member Johnny Ospina, and to former Chief Robert Young for their application of culinary skills, as they created excellent meals for meetings and at the Re-Charging shelter during the storm.
Additionally, service awards in recognition of the time they devoted to the volunteer fire department were presented to the following members:
- Jack O’Connor – 50 Years;
- Michael Juras and Charles Sedlak - Forty Years;
- George Grivalsky 25 years;
- John Merkel 10 years;
- Alex Wesolowski 5 year