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Firefighter shortage in Harrison, N.J. imperiling lives, first responders allege

Posted at 11:29 AM, Apr 02, 2013
and last updated 2013-04-02 11:29:04-04

HARRISON, New Jersey (PIX11) — Firefighters from a number of New Jersey towns are angry, saying they are risking their lives fighting fires in Harrison while that town’s fire department is dangerously understaffed.

Now they want the problem fixed.

The issue came to a head earlier this month when other fire departments helped to battle a dangerous fire in Harrison. The six-alarm blaze on March 10 was frightening and resulted in a huge back-draft explosion.

Five Jersey City firefighters suffered injuries helping to battle the blaze. Firefighters union chief Bill Lavin told PIX 11 News:  “We are lucky we didn’t have to go to a funeral that day.”

Now a number of fire departments in Hudson County, including Jersey City, Bayonne, Kearny and Hoboken, have signed a letter to the Harrison fire director asking for a meeting to discuss the problem.

Other towns also responded to another Harrison fire the week before the back draft explosion and they have been helping out with other emergencies too including police and ambulance runs.People in Harrison are reportedly upset and complaining  that the fire house is sometimes empty and the town is not responding to their emergency needs.

So far the town has not commented on the controversy and  Lavin says, “I heard they are putting the heat on members saying people could lose their jobs if the union doesn’t back down.”