News in brief … KFD getting new thermal-imaging cameras

KEARNY –

The Kearny Fire Department is getting new equipment with some help from Uncle Sam.

The town governing body voted Sept. 26 to accept a FEMA Assistance to Firefighters grant of $72,000 for thermal imaging cameras.

The aid is conditioned on the town putting up a “match’ of $6,545 in local funds.

Fire Chief Steven Dyl said he hopes to acquire nine cameras.

The equipment will replace old cameras more than 10 years old that are now “obsolete,” the chief said.

Dyl said the hand-held cameras are equipped with infrared capability that is sensitive to “contrast between hot and cold and can show you where the heat is going.”

So firefighters who may be hindered by smoke conditions or otherwise preventing from tracing the fire’s path have the advantage of a visual aid in locating the fire and/or an unconscious victim, Dyl said.

Thermal cameras are now “used routinely” by most fire departments, he said.

Dyl said his department was exploring the best method for securing the cameras, whether through conventional bidding, state contract or cooperative purchasing.

In other business conducted at the meeting, the governing body:

  • For technical reasons, re-introduced three ordinances — one amending the Passaic Ave. Redevelopment Plan to allow for an immediate care medical facility as a principal permitted use, one authorizing bonding $21.65 million reconstruction of the Gunnell Oval recreation complex and one bonding $6,788,000 for improvements to the Duke St. pump station.

Responding to an email from The Observer, Mayor Alberto Santos said the Passaic Ave. ordinance “requires Planning Board review” prior to council action and that review was expected Oct. 4. Council action was, therefore, “premature.”

Santos said the two bond ordinances were re-introduced “because both projects are eligible for N.J. Environmental Infrastructure loans which means no down payment is needed on either bond. The original ordinances incorrectly included down payments.”

  • Agreed to waive fees for local businesses for the Kearny 150-Year Celebration on Oct. 1. “This is a town event in honor of our anniversary,” the mayor said in an email. “We want to encourage the town’s businesses and nonprofits to participate in the event.”
  • Went on record opposing Senate Bills S1045 and S1046 proposing amendments to the Open Public Records Act (OPRA) and to the Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA) designed to ensure greater public access to information maintained by government.

S1045 would, among other things, require municipal government to give notice of and provide minutes of meetings of sub-committees and make available any attachments, such as vendor contracts and labor agreements, to resolutions passed by the governing body. (Kearny Town Council has several sub-committees.)

S1046 would also compel municipal government to provide “records pertaining to the factual basis for the final administrative determination of a disciplinary action, including a disciplinary action that is the result of an internal affairs investigation by a public safety agency ….” (The KPD is in the deposition stage for an administrative hearing for two cops.)

In an email, Santos said: “Our resolution supports increased transparency but not imposing additional unfunded burdens on municipal clerks.”

HARRISON –

A summer has passed and the lot on Harrison Ave. where a new Harrison public school is to rise still sits dormant.

Nothing has happened there since three homes were demolished earlier this year to help clear the footprint for the future John F. Kennedy School, slated to open in September 2019.

Not to worry, says James Doran, interim assistant superintendent for the Harrison school district.

Doran said the state Department of Education’s School Development Authority — which has awarded a “design/build” contract for the new school to Brockwell & Carrington — purposely sets aside time for the intricate planning of the project.

To that end, Doran meets weekly with SDA staff and a representative from the contractor to review in detail issues related to the $25 million project in the hope there will be smooth sailing once construction begins.

For example, Doran said, the SDA directed that the condition of the exterior of certain properties around the school construction site be checked to better assess any damage claims that may arise from the driving of piles into the ground to prepare the foundation for the new school.

That discussion, he said, triggered a bit of tension after the SDA reportedly showed no interest in considering the basement of Washington Middle School — just across the street from the new school site — where a masonry pool rests on stilts.

Other issues touched on ensuring that the proximity of an exterior wall on one side of the school to a neighboring residence will not block a fire exit and the extent of terrazzo tile flooring for the new school.

The Kennedy School will accommodate pre-K, K and first-grade students spread among 24 classrooms in a 3-story structure that will also be equipped with a media center, cafeteria and gym.

Meanwhile, in other developments, the Harrison Board of Education voted at its Sept. 21 meeting, to:

  • Renew its agreement with Hudson County Community College to arrange for “instruction in [culinary arts] training for up to 20 sophomores, 24 juniors and 20 seniors” from Harrison High School and to pay $52,000 in tuition costs for the 2017-2018 school year.

Doran said the specialized instruction will be given at HCCC’s Jersey City campus for one day a week. He said Harrison students will be bused to and from classes. This is the third year of the phased-in program.

  • Ratify an agreement between Renaissance Meadowlands, a Rutherford hotel, and the Harrison BOE and Hudson County Professional Development Consortium to conduct teacher training programs at the hotel for $10,300.

Ron Leir | Observer Correspondent

Ron Leir has been a newspaperman since the late ’60s, starting his career with The Jersey Journal, having served as a summer reporter during college. He became a full-time scribe in February 1972, working mostly as a general assignment reporter in all areas except sports, including a 3-year stint as an assistant editor for entertainment, features, religion, etc. He retired from the JJ in May 2009 and came to The Observer shortly thereafter. He is also a part-time actor, mostly on stage, having worked most recently with the Kearny-based W.H.A.T. Co. and plays Sunday softball in Central Park, N.Y.