Mayor closes fire house in Chesilhurst, NJ

February 12, 2008 3:58:58 PM PST
Sparks are flying between the volunteer fire company and the mayor in Chesilhurst, Camden County ... especially after the mayor put a lock on the door of the firehouse. Mayor Michael Blunt of Chesilhurst was so disgusted with the deplorable conditions of the Chesilhurst fire house - broken toilets, holes in the walls, beer cans and cigarette butts litter the building. Volunteer firefighters have been barred from the building since Friday, which the mayor says turn into a flop house.

"I think it's a known fact throughout the community that people are living here. Now that we're here they're going to run out," said Mayor Blunt.

The mayor says often times calls are not answered. Instead fires in this town of 18-hundred are handled by companies in nearby Winslow or Waterford Townships. A vacant house undergoing renovations burned Monday night and is considered suspicious. Mayor blunt wonders if it had anything to do with the local fire house controversy.

Robert Barney is the chief of the now suspended fire department operations. "Last year we had a $15,000 operating expense budget. You can't run your house on $15,000 let alone a fire house."

Former Councilman Bob McCann said today, "The residents don't know that there's not a fire department here. What that does is causes home ownerships and insurances tog o up, and people are not protected."

"Saving lives should be the number one concern," said Chesilhurst resident Brenda Hyson.

The mayor says residents are protected but he wants the fire company reorganized and this mess dealt with. He says he wants to reopen the fire house in six months.

The mayor wants to clean up the fire house and get a new crop of volunteer to staff it. The current group of volunteers says they're going to court because they've been locked out of their own building.