18 officially sworn in to Kearny FD


Kearny swore in 18 new firefighters last Tuesday as part of the town’s continuing effort to breathe life into the splintered ranks.

“It’s probably the most we’ve sworn in at one time since 1962 when we hired 32,” said Fire Chief Steven Dyl.

Actually, all of the recruits have been on the streets for some time: 13 completed their fire academy training in June and the rest graduated in November.

Why such a long wait for the rookies’ formal appointments? “Scheduling,” Dyl said. “In June, we were rushing to get the next group processed and then we decided to do the two classes together.”

That many firefighters – and more – were needed, Dyl told the packed house assembled for last week’s ceremonies at Town Hall, because, “we’ve had a lot of retirements. Last year, we had 18 men with a total of 450 years of experience walk out the door. A lot of captains and firefighters.

“So we’re up for a pretty big challenge.”

Asked by Second Ward Councilman Richard Konopka whether getting the new personnel is cutting down overtime costs, Dyl said: “Yes, it’s helping.” But Third Ward Councilwoman Eileen Eckel, who chairs the council Fire Committee, suggested that, “It will take a while to see a significant change in overtime because we’re still in a hole,” down from full strength in the department.

But there’s more help on the way, the chief said.

Another group of eight firefighter trainees are on line to graduate from the academy in June and, in the fall, the mayor and council have pledged to hire an additional “12 to 14” to get the Fire Department back up to full strength, he said.

“This reflects a commitment by our elected officials to rebuild this department,” Dyl said. And, given the recent pace of development in town – with several hundred new apartments being built or slated to be built on Bergen and Passaic Aves. – the personnel will be needed more than ever before, he said.

Dyl reminded the recruits that as part of the new generation of the KFD, “it will be your job to protect old and new residents. We in the Kearny Fire Department have a reputation of being an aggressive department. That’s what you now have to live up to.”

The newly-sworn firefighters are: Kearny residents Steven Yerkes, Joseph Socci, James Corbett Jr., the son of retired Deputy Police Chief James Corbett Sr.; John DiGravina, Jeffrey Peredes, Javier Fandino, who has served in the National Guard and as a member of the East Newark Volunteer Fire Department; Paul Logan, Christian Diamantino, Stephen Taylor, whose late grandfather was a KFD member, is the son of Kearny Firefighter Andy Taylor; Jeremy Kook, whose grandfather was the KFD doctor; Joseph Gurkas, whose grandfather was a retired KFD captain; and Claudio Chaves; and Newark residents Jason Montalvo, Carlos Ramos, Yamil Miranda, Christopher Morales, who has a business accounting degree from Penn State; Daniel Neves and Richard Caposiena.

The KFD will also be getting some new much-needed equipment to beef up their rolling stock, gear and communications system, all of which will be financed through a newly introduced $4 million capital improvements bond ordinance.

Of that amount, $1.5 million is dedicated to the purchase of two new rigs – a pump and a ladder truck – to replace a 1997 reserve pumper and a 1990 truck. “Repair costs are mounting and both these vehicles are well beyond their shelf life,” Dyl said.

But neither apparatus will be here soon, the chief said. “We’ve got to write the specifications, then go out to bid. It may be one to two years before we get them.”

An additional $250,000 of the bond is allocated for the acquisition of “self-contained breathing apparatus air packs, turnout gear, computer system infrastructure, a 911 system upgrade and a [phone and radio] recording system.”

“We’re getting a federal grant, which we’ll match, to replace our air packs which are more than 15 years old,” Dyl said.

The existing turnout gear has been around for a decade so new coats, pants and helmets were needed, particularly with the new people now on board, he said.

And the upgrade to the 911 system will, for the first time, “allow the caller information that comes into Jersey City to be dumped into our computer system when it’s transferred over from the county,” Dyl said.

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