Tremendous Gratitude

I’m writing this open letter to express my appreciation, as a resident of Lakewood, to all the dedicated volunteers of the Lakewood Fire Department who do so much for our town in return for so little.

On Thursday afternoon, Taanis Esther, the fire department responded to a brush fire on South Clifton Avenue which turned out to be a very large and serious fire. Numerous fire trucks from Lakewood as well as from a nearby town, and of course a helicopter from the N.J. State Forest Services, responded to the scene.

After they battled the brush fire for quite some time, another alarm was received from a location on New Central Avenue which, b”H, turned out not to be major.

Then a call came in that someone smelled smoke on Hillside Boulevard in Westgate. B”H, enough volunteers were already in gear with their truck and were able to join the career firefighters to check out and clear up the smoke.

Next, a call was received about a child stuck in an elevator in the downtown area. B”H, many firefighters were right nearby due to the brush fire in progress and they were able to respond immediately. As it turned out, that was a false alarm.

As the firefighters were cleaning up the remains of the brush fire and were ready to head home to relax, a call was received by someone who “smelled smoke” in Westgate (on a different street from the earlier call), though within 60 seconds the dispatcher was alerted by the Lakewood Fire Tower that in reality, smoke was rising from a house in Westgate. The fire chief immediately called a general alarm and the firefighters rushed to Westgate.

Finally, when our extremely dedicated volunteers were good and ready to call it a day, an alarm was received from a store owner that he saw flames near Cedar Bridge Avenue, and the firefighters immediately rushed right back across town to fight those flames. B’chasdei Hashem, the state helicopter was still nearby due to the previous brush fire and was able to come douse those flames.

I drove by that fire and I saw that the firefighters needed to stand right next to the rail tracks in order to fight the flame, and it appeared difficult to get the fire trucks close to the scene. It’s a very good thing that Lakewood has a brush truck that the firefighters use for these scenarios.

The brush truck is from the 1950s! The volunteer firefighters do not receive payment for their services; they are absolutely amazing people who receive nothing in return. They don’t get any special privileges, they don’t even receive free flashing lights and sirens in their personal vehicles.

I believe that we should, at least, recognize our volunteers for who they are and what they do for us.

Specifically, I want to publicly express my feelings of gratitude to Chief of Department Michael D’Elia Jr. and his assistant chiefs for the extra-special dedication they put into maintaining order on this extremely hectic day. I think that many other people would not have been able to handle the sequence of events that occurred in such a short period of time (just about 3–4 hours!) as well as Chief D’Elia did and I’m grateful for his professionalism and total commitment.

Finally, I’m also grateful to Fire Commissioners David Mizrahi and Meir Cohen for being the monetary backbone of the department and to their administrative staff, Mr. Vincent Vitiello and Yehuda Beer, for accomplishing so much with really very little.

Thank you all once again for all you do!

Moshe Zeines

Correction: Mr. Yitzchak Relkin’s name was inadvertently omitted as a byline on the jumbo puzzle, “Vitamin-C Enriched” printed on Wednesday, March 15. Hamodia regrets the error.