In what he described as a “historic” step, Mayor Keith Ramos named the charter members of the nascent Frelinghuysen Township Volunteer Fire Company.
“These are the first appointments,” Ramos said at the Dec. 21 township committee meeting. “This is a little historic.”
First members Ramos named are Angel Ortiz, Christian Ventura, Johnny Lopez Sosa, Thomas Heaton, Benny Perez, Todd McPeak, Keith D. Ramos and James Byrne. Keith D. Ramos is not to be confused with his father, Keith Ramos, the mayor.
McPeak is also a member of the township committee.
The fire department was formed earlier this year and is believed to be the first new company built from scratch in New Jersey in several decades.
At the same meeting in May, the committee authorized $67,500 for fire department expenses. In addition, salaries were established for the positions in the department. The chief’s position was allocated at $500 to $1,000, annually; deputy chief $400 to $600; and secretary and treasurer at $200 to $400 each. The funds were already allocated in the current budget, Ramos said.
In July, John Shoemaker, a veteran firefighter, was appointed chief of the department. A resident of Fredon, he is currently fire safety director of the Blairstown Hose Co. No. 1. He began his career in the South Orange Fire Department Auxiliary in 1969, becoming a full-time firefighter shortly after. He rose through the ranks becoming chief in 2015. According to the Blairstown Fire Department, he is also a member of the Warren County Hazardous Materials Response Team
Ramos described Shoemaker as “very qualified,” emphasizing that the appointment was made in consultation with local, county and state officials who have the required expertise.
The township has signed a letter of intent to purchase a fire truck from Fairmount Fire Company No. 1 in Long Valley for $18,000. The prospective truck has been checked out by mechanics and the personnel from the township office of emergency management, and so far has been found to be in good order, Ramos said. If purchased, several residents have offered garages, storage buildings and other structures to house the truck until it is put into service.
Plans call for the existing department of public works garage to become a firehouse when the new department facility is completed.
Before the fire truck or a new firehouse can become operational, all fire department facilities and equipment must be inspected and approved by county and state officials, Ramos said.
Joe Phalon, Contributing Writer
Joe was lured out of retirement by the opportunity to be a part of The Ridgeview Echo. During a decades-long career in publishing and journalism, he has covered government on many levels from local school boards to the United States Supreme Court.
Along the way, Joe has worked at American Lawyer Magazine, The National Law Journal and The Record among other publications, and as the Press Officer of Columbia Law School. His work has been recognized with several first place awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and the New Jersey Press Association.
Being part of the Ridgeview Echo brings Joe back to his roots and the kind of news coverage he loves: Telling the stories of people and local communities as well as keeping an eye on how their money is spent by their government officials.
Joe lives in Blairstown with his wife Rose, the founder of Quilting for a Cause, and their two wiener dogs. He is an artist in his spare time.