New push to regionalize NJ fire departments

Many small fire departments across New Jersey say they are struggling to maintain enough volunteer firefighters.

Due to the economy, volunteer firefighters are taking on extra hours at work or searching for paying jobs instead of volunteering their time. The shortage has renewed interest in a proposal to regionalize fire services. The fire chief in Asbury Park, who oversees a paid fire department, wants a shared services agreement in Monmouth County.

Chief Kenny Keddy says career and volunteer firefighters would work together. Under this concept, the closest fire departments would be dispatched to a blaze, even if those firefighters are in a different town. Municipal boundaries would basically be erased, and more departments would also be called during initial alarms.

However, some volunteer firefighters News 12 New Jersey spoke with are not in favor of this plan. They want to keep "home rule," where they are called to fires in their towns first.

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