Done Deal! One Hamilton Fire Department

fire consolidation
Hamilton Mayor Jeff Martin signs the ordinances to officially dissolve all 9 fire districts and establish a Hamilton Township Fire Division under the Department of Public Safety. Photo by Michael A. Sabo.

After over 20 years of discussion and over 5 years of progress, hard work, and partnership Mayor Jeff Martin Signed 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 firehouses 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.”

Also joining in attendance were 2 former officials that were instrumental in the process, Former Councilman Ed Gore and Former Councilwoman Ileana Schirmer. Both were included in the formal signing ceremony and gifted with pens from Mayor Martin.

“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.

About The Author

Irving Lawrence Duckwald III is a freelance writer and blogger based in Central New Jersey. He has a penchant for fried chicken, fast cars, and fancy suits. With a knack for "setting the record straight", he can argue till the cows come home why it's Pork Roll and not Taylor Ham.