Chief's Letters

Messages from the Chief

At various times throughout the year the Chief will release communications informing the public about the fire departments accomplishments. Scroll through the letters below.

Chief's Letter April 2008

This year the Fire Department hit the ground running and responded to more calls in the first quarter than ever before (37, which is 60% higher than this time last year). The Department is honing their skills through increased training. 

- To date we have fourteen members who attended a one-day course to learn how to deploy the Petzl (personal escape system) that is a fifty-foot rope and desender device used by firefighters to escape the upper floors of a structure in a emergency. Each trained member is required to deploy this system once a month for a refresher. The Fire Department would like to thank the Pequannock Rotary for their donation of three of these systems and their continued support. With these three systems, and the eleven donated by Prudential Financial and Wal-Mart the department has outfitted over half of our members without any impact to the taxpayers. 

- Right to Know training has been completed for the year. 

- Morris County Fire Academy Outreach conducted an Elevator Rescue Class for our Fire and First Aid Squad in our firehouse that proved to be important due to the amount of Elevator assistance calls our Department has received in the past three months. 

- Next month will start our two night Vehicle Rescue recertification classes for our previously trained members. The newer members will receive their training at Morris County Training Academy during four Friday nights and Saturdays in April. 

Dan Azzolino donated a used boat trailer to the department. Councilmen Ted Guis and our Captain John Peine took on the project to repair, re-paint, and retrofit the trailer to meet the needs of our new Rescue Boat. This will make it safer for our members to deploy the boat in an emergency. The Department would like to thank Dan, Ted and John for the effort put forth to help the department.

The Fire Dept applied and was awarded a NJ Forest Fire grant in the amount of $1200.00 to off set some of the costs incurred during 2007 budget year for equipment repairs. We are also finalizing the 2008 FEMA Grant application that is due April 4, the Department is asking for help in replacing twenty three year old rescue equipment and purchase of the remaining personal escape systems.
The Fire Dept currently has firefighter positions open on the Engine, Ladder and Rescue Companies stop by the firehouse any Monday night at 7pm 56 post Lane or call 973-831-1584 ext.1 and leave us a message and we can answer any questions you may have. 

Michael Norton
Chief Riverdale Fire Dept.

Chief's Letter December 2007

As my 10 years as Chief come to an end, I'd like to thank the officers and membership for all the hard work and effort during my term as Chief. Also I'd like to thank all of the Chiefs I have worked with over the years for the support they provide to me. Riverdale has come a long way in the last 10 years, and so has the Fire Department. Our equipment and facilities had become outdated and we struggled to support the growth of the Borough. Through grants, and fiscally sound decisions we were able to upgrade our firehouse, communication system, apparatus, and firefighter personal protective equipment. We also increased the service to the residents and the safety of the firefighters by obtaining 2 thermal imaging cameras, adding 2 quick response command vehicles to the fleet, installing a diesel exhaust system at the firehouse, purchasing firefighter personal escape devices, upgrading our breathing apparatus, and obtaining a boat for evacuations. 

All of this plus recruitment and retention programs had a positive impact on our membership. We currently have 36 members, up 11(44%) from 10 years ago. The volunteer fire service is one of the most cost effective services in N.J. and we must do all that we can to ensure it continues to be a viable solution for emergency services.

I feel proud of what the members, residents, and governing body have done to support this Fire Department. When I attend County meetings the Riverdale Fire Department is now looked upon as one of the leaders in Morris County. I know Chief Norton and Assistant Chief Sturm will continue to move us forward during their term. 

Finally I'd like to thank my family. Even with all of the sacrifices she had to endure, Barb encouraged me to run for another term. (Maybe that was because being Chief kept me out of the burning buildings). My two younger children Caitlin and Cameron have only known me as Chief, I think they were more upset than I was as we drove to the firehouse for the last time on New Years Eve. My oldest son Ryan is a junior firefighter, and will become a regular firefighter on his 18th birthday in June. It was truly an honor to present him with his certificate at the fire academy last year. There have been so many family events that I had to miss out on due to fire department responsibilities, unfortunately I'll never be able to reclaim those memories. While the fire department did put a strain on my family, my family rarely complained, because they understood the importance of what I did as a volunteer firefighter.

Have a Happy and Safe New Year. Car 30 signing off the air.

Patrick M. Cleary

Chief, Riverdale Vol. Fire Dept.

Chief's Letter July 2007

In 2007 your fire department applied for and was awarded two grants totaling $44,778. The first grant was $5,000 from Prudential Financial's PruCares Volunteer grant. Prudential employees who volunteer their time can apply for a grant for their volunteer organization. Because of my volunteer service, the Riverdale Fire Department received $5,000 to be used to purchase equipment. 

The second grant was from FEMA. We were awarded $39,778 to replace 11 sets of turnout gear that is 10-15 years old. Also, we are now able to purchase an inflatable boat, wetsuits and life preservers to assist us with flood evacuations. In addition water rescue training will be funded. 

The Fire Department is constantly looking for ways to increase the quality of service we provide to the Borough, while reducing the tax burden. Over the last 5 years we have received over $70,000 in grants that have offset the need to raise these funds via taxes.

Thank you for your continued support, and please contact me if you have any questions. 

Patrick M. Cleary

Chief, Riverdale Vol. Fire Dept.

Chief's Letter October 2006

October 16, 2006

Dear Fellow Residents:

This year marks the end of the Riverdale Volunteer Fire Department's first hundred years of operation. During those 100 years many things have changed, and the fire department has continued to evolve, but our mission to save life and property still remains our top priority. As we reflect back on our history and tradition we have much to be proud of. The department has had over 200 members, and twenty-three have served as Department Chiefs. Over the years our responsibilities have expanded beyond fighting fires. We respond to medivac landings, flood evacuations, motor vehicle extrications, hazmat incidents to mention a few. Your volunteers are a dedicated group of professionals that provide a valuable service at a very reasonable cost to the taxpayers. 

Along with the all of the positive things that have occurred over the last 100 years, we must also learn from our tragedies. On August 25th 1982 the Riverdale Fire Department lost one of its members, "Pappa" Joe Ezzo, in the line of duty. This is a constant reminder of dangers of being a volunteer firefighter. You never know when you will respond to your last alarm. 

As we move into our second century we have additional challenges. While the growth of the retail operations and multi-story condos along Route 23 are good for our taxes, they create additional strain on the fire department volunteers; Additional training to attend, additional equipment to maintain, and additional calls to respond to. Not only calls at those locations, but calls on the major roadways leading to these locations. 

Because of the danger inherent with fighting fires, the State regularly reviews the training and certification requirements for volunteer firefighters. Until about 15 years ago you joined the fire department and we provided "on the job training". Now a new firefighter must successfully complete 150 hours of firefighter training at an approved fire academy. Until last year fire officers had to be incident management certified to Level 2. By the end of 2007 most officers will need to be Level 3 certified and senior officers need to be Level 4 certified. 

These requirements along with pressures on individuals' family life have lead to a nationwide drop in volunteer firefighters of 10% annually over the last two decades. If anyone is interested in joining the fire department stop be the firehouse for more info. 

Thank you for your continued support, and hope to see you at our 100th anniversary celebration in 2007.

Patrick M. Cleary

Chief, Riverdale Vol. Fire Dept.