Two New Jersey fire chiefs have resigned from the same department in recent months, telling the mayor that the volunteer department doesn't have the equipment or manpower to protect the community where an "alarming number of calls" go unanswered.
Fire Chief Brad Stio wrote in his resignation letter to Mayor Samuel Raia last week that "the Saddle River Volunteer Fire Department is not able to provide sufficient and timely services when supplying protection from fires and other emergencies to the citizens of Saddle River."
Stio went on to say that the department responds with "one or two firefighters usually well after 10-20 minutes of initial dispatch, if at all."
One Saddle River resident, who asked to remain anonymous, told NBC 4 New York it took firefighters 55 minutes to get to her home for a carbon monoxide call, and they came from another town. Police were there right away.
The chief wrote that the department has missed as much as 40 percent of its call volume, equal to more than 100 unanswered calls a year.
"Steps need to be taken immediately to establish a level of protection that meets the needs of this expanding borough and its residents," he wrote.
"I can no longer take the risk of a possible avoidable tragic occurrence from the lack of staffing," he added.
Stio took over the job from Kenneth Warr, who resigned three months ago with similar complaints.
The mayor on Friday noted that the town of 3,500 people typically has one or two working fires a year, and added that a police officer is dispatched every time there is a fire alarm.
He said Stio wants a paid fire department, which is not an option at this time.
Stio declined to comment.
--Jen Maxfield contributed to this story