By Bill Cleary
I had hoped that one of the things that would come out of the firefighters controversy last year in Gloucester City would be better communications between the department and residents. For instance it would be nice to know when the fire department responds to a call.
Surfing the Internet today (Sunday, January 23)I found the following information on the Cherry Hill Fire Department’s blog about an incident involving Gloucester City Firefighters on January 15 at the Holt Cargo complex. Photos were included with the report.
Hazmat 13 Operates At Gloucester City Building Collapse
Inside photo of collapse building at Holt Cargo Complex
On Saturday January 15th, Gloucester City FD Battalion 504 (Williams) arrived at the Holt's Marine Terminal to find a substantial collapse of a warehouse roof structure. After an investigation by Gloucester City Squad 51, it was discovered that an R-22 distribution line within the collapsed area ruptured, causing a large, concentrated vapor cloud to form within the building. Based upon these findings, Hazmat 13 was requested to the scene along with Camden City Rescue 1.
photo Fire Chief Williams at the scene
Members of Hazmat 13 conducted air monitoring while research on the product was conducted. Once the product was identified and confirmed, private contractors isolated the source from a remote storage vessel. The building was ventilated and air monitoring was continued until meter readings were within permissible range. Hazmat 13 operated for approximately 3 hours at the scene.
The introduction to the Cherry Hill Fire Department’s web site reads,
This interactive site serves as a supplement to our public website, at www.cherryhillfire.org, by building on our desire to provide as much public information as possible. Our continuing goal is to use cherryhillfire.blogspot.com to easily post recent news stories, public event information, important safety bulletins, and continue to introduce you to our fire department, Firefighters and EMTs, and all the men and women that make it work.
It would behoove the Gloucester City Fire Department to take a lesson from Cherry Hill and other fire departments in the area, such as Bellmawr, that post daily/weekly reports on their websites for the public to keep them up-to-date on what their fire department is doing in their communities.
The Gloucester City Police Department is another good example. The GCPD has no problem providing a weekly crime report to be posted on ClearysNoteBook (CNB) and published in the Gloucester City News. They also provide breaking news articles when needed.
Why should Gloucesterites have to read about their fire department’s response to a call on the Cherry Hill Fire Department’s website?
We heard a lot from the Gloucester City firemen prior to the layoffs. In fact one City fireman was even allowed to answer questions during the time he was on duty from people who posted comments on CNB. The individual provided some useful information during that discussion. But that was weeks ago.
Communication is so easy today because of the Internet. Keeping the people informed on the daily activities of the City Fire Department should have been one of the main lessons learned from the layoffs of the eight firemen. It was obvious during that turmoil that some residents were not aware of the number of calls the fire department responded to. The year is just starting. Let’s hope that the GCFD has plans in the works to better communicate with the public in 2011.