Volunteer firefighters in Woodbury, New Jersey under investigation

WOODBURY, New Jersey (WPVI) -- Volunteer firefighters in Woodbury, New Jersey are under investigation and are not allowed to respond to fire calls, according to city officials.

The mayor says residents are safe and that surrounding departments are ready to respond to calls in Woodbury if needed.

Still, residents were concerned when they heard the volunteer firefighters are under investigation.

"I would say it's really like a kick in the back for the volunteers because they work so hard there," said Joel Johnson of Woodbury.

The department has paid firefighters, but volunteers are a large part of the force.

This week, a letter signed by Mayor Peg Sickel was posted to social media - a letter she says was not meant to be made public.

In it she wrote:

"...effective immediately the volunteer firefighters for the city are suspended and their authority to respond to fire calls and other calls for service are hereby revoked until further notice."

At issue appears to be the qualifications of the volunteers. The letter also says:

"I have been requesting the credentials for the volunteer members in order to ascertain whether or not these individuals qualify under the current city ordinances."

She says she did not receive those credentials and also wrote about concerns over possible misrepresentation of the number of firefighters responding to calls in the city.

In a phone call with the mayor and city solicitor on Thursday, they told Action News that all citizens have fire coverage with the help of surrounding departments, and that they cannot comment further on the ongoing investigation.

Resident Kristen Fisher heard something was going on at the firehouse from a neighbor, and was very surprised.

"This Christmas they came around - even though it was COVID - with Santa. They're very nice. It just seems sad to me and messed up to me. I feel bad for them," said Fisher.

Residents we spoke with say they wished they had been notified from the city rather than finding out on Facebook.

Action News tried to reach fire department officials for comment on Thursday.

So far no one has gotten back to us.
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