Another Bulger moves up the ladder


A veteran member of the Kearny Fire Department moved up in the ranks last Tuesday as the municipal governing body voted to promote Firefighter Kenneth Bulger to captain.

Bulger, who joined the department in 2000, is one of the many legacy members: His dad Kenneth is a retired deputy chief with the Harrison Fire Department and his brother-in-law Bill Solano is also a captain with the KFD.

After swearing in the newest superior officer in the presence of family members and supportive fellow firefighters, Fire Chief Steven Dyl said: “This was a much-needed promotion.”

Despite persistent fiscal pressures, Dyl credited the governing body for coming through. “The mayor and council listened to me. They listened to reason and made it happen.”

Even with the promotion, though, the department remains “three short” of the 25 captains called for by the KFD’s Table of Organization, as permitted by town ordinance, Dyl acknowledged later.

And, hammered by the loss of 18 members via retirement and one lost to the Police Department, the KFD ranks will be down overall by 10, even after the eight firefighters now in the Academy come aboard in June, he said.

The chief said he hopes to start soon the process of hiring four additional firefighters who, along with the eight currently in training, will be paid for two years by a federal SAFER (Staffing for Adequate Firefighter & Emergency Response) grant.

A Harrison native, Ken Bulger graduated from Queen of Peace High School, North Arlington, and moved to Kearny in 1990.

In 1997, Bulger joined the U.S. Coast Guard for a three-year hitch. In 1999, he received a commendation for coming to the aid of people involved in a motor vehicle accident while off-duty.

During his Coast Guard service, Bulger completed a Department of Defense firefighting program and, in 2000, he joined the KFD but continued his time at sea as a member of the Coast Guard Reserves and, in that capacity, was deployed to assist communities hit hard by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

During his time with the Fire Department, Bulger has established a reputation as a “go-to guy,” the chief said.

“Seems that a lot of his dad’s knowledge [about the workings of the Fire Department] have been passed on to Ken,” Dyl added. “He’s one of those people whose job is in his blood. He’s always easy to deal with and has a positive attitude.”

Within the KFD, Bulger has worked with the Haz-Mat Technical Unit and Technical Rescue Team. “He was one of the guys who rescued a lucky dog off the ice as it was floating on the river,” Dyl recalled.

He also serves on the KFD’s Meritorious Acts and Review Board.

“His desire is always to make the department better,” the chief added.
Mayor Alberto Santos said that he and his colleagues on the Town Council wanted to “acknowledge the daily efforts of all our firefighters to keep Kearny safe. These are difficult times for public employees everywhere you go, not just Kearny, so we want to say how grateful we are to you for what you do for us.”


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