By Bill Cleary
WHAT’S UP WITH THE NEW AMBULANCE SERVICE? A Gloucester City fireman, who wished to remain anonymous, was asked if anyone from the James Administration has talked to the them about Lourdes Health Systems taking over the city ambulance service? The City awarded a three year contract to Lourdes in February.
The fireman stated, “Absolutely nothing has been said. We have no idea where they will be stationed, who they will report to or how our operations will be affected. We have no idea if this means more layoffs or if they will keep the remaining guys on to have one full company. Even if we don't layoff any more guys we still don't comply with the 2 in 2 out federal regulations. They will tell you we do but they don't take the whole picture into account as far as what each guys roles and responsibilities are. We are at 5 the same as 7/4/02 and we know how that turned out. It was hard enough doing things with 7 guys at times but we were able to get by. Our volunteer ranks have diminished and some have not been responding at all (not knocking them at all). So our back-up which usually took 6-10 minutes is now anyone's guess as to how long it will be. Collingswood's response depends on their staffing which was cut, Mt Ephraim asked to be taken off automatic aid, Westville and Bellmawr at times have not responded. Then you have the mess with Lipsett and Chief Hoffman from Washington Twp which probably helped convince the mayor and council proceed with the layoffs and privatizing the ambulance. So our guys come in everyday and just wait for the other shoe to drop so to speak. Mark my words this mess is going to lead to someone getting hurt or killed it is inevitable.
SOME GOOD NEWS FOR FF-Asked about those remarks, Gloucester City Fire Chief Brian Hagan said no more firemen will be laid off. According to the Chief there is a chance that some of those let go in December will be rehired.
Chief Hagan released the following statement Monday (March 14) afternoon.
“I have spoken to the Fire Officers and Union Leaders pertaining to the BLS Units and the transition of such and what our responsibilities will be. I will be addressing each shift pertaining to these issues to explain the information to them and to address their concerns.
“I have been advised by Mayor and Common Council that there will not be any more layoffs in the Fire Department, to the contrary we may be hiring a few laid off Fire Fighters due to retirements.
“As for the 2 in 2 out regulation, with our recall policy in place for any Task Force Assignments, off duty personnel will respond to Fire Headquarters to man and respond to Fire Calls with Ladder 51.
“Also I have spoken to our Volunteer Fire Officers who have gone through a tuff winter with illnesses and injuries. The Officers and Members remain committed to the Fire Department and to the City of Gloucester City.”
NEW ROAD TO ENCROACH ON BELLMAWR CEMETERY-Philadephia CBS News reported March 2 that plans to rebuild the Route 42/295 interchange in South Jersey are causing some major concerns for those with loved ones in New St. Mary’s Cemetery, Browning Road, Bellmawr. The state is in the process of claiming a half dozen acres at the New St. Mary’s Cemetary as part of the rebuilding project. While no bodies will have to be moved, opponents say the project — not to mention the ramps and noise barriers left in its wake — will drastically change things there.
Condemnation proceedings are underway in Camden County Court. The Diocese of Camden operates the cemetery.