By Ron Jeffers.
Union City, N.J. What has been described as the first regional fire boat task force communications system in the country began at the North Hudson Regional Fire & Rescue communications center on September 18th. Federal Port Security funding made the program possible for acquiring the equipment and personnel necessary to improve safety along the northern New Jersey waterways.
Fire boats are directed to emergencies by the North Hudson dispatchers from their Union City dispatch center covering Alpine to Perth Amboy including such waterways as the Hudson, Hackensack and Passaic Rivers, Newark Bay, the Kill Van Kull, etc. The area is divided into eight zones with a running card assignment of a minimum of three fire boats answering individual calls for aid, fires, etc.
The program took four years in the making, according to Frank Fiumano, Port Security Specialist, representing the U.S. Coast Guard and Department of Homeland Security. He continued, that the North Hudson leadership stepped up to be part of the program.
This metropolitan area has a diversity of ports and larger container ships now passing under the renovated Bayonne Bridge.
The communications center has large screens that monitor vessels the waterways, plus olther information. The fire dispatchers have been well versed in the operation and conducted the first official radio test of all participating fire departments on this date. Local dispatchers and directors put many hours of dedicated work into up setting procedures to make this program a success.
The fire departments with marine units that are part of the task force are: Edgewater, North Hudson, Hoboken, Jersey City, Bayonne, Linden, Elizabeth, Perth Amboy, Newark, Carteret, Kearny and Secaucus.
Other officials that participated included North Hudson Fire Directors Jeff Welz and Mike De Orio, Fire Control Directors Andrew Scott and Joe Isola, Marine Consultant Keith Gonyou, Fire Chief Frank Montagne, Port Security Specialist Francis Gorman and U.S. Coast Guard LCDR Command Center Chief Jason Moritz.