New Jersey

New Jersey's Roosevelt to Lose Its Volunteer Fire Department After Voting Down Money for New Fire House

A New Jersey town will lose its volunteer fire department after voting not to free up city money to allow firefighters to replace their small, crumbling firehouse.

A proposal to spend $600,000 on building a new and improved firehouse for the Roosevelt Volunteer Fire Company was voted down by residents in a referendum on Tuesday.

The news meant the fire department would be dismantled and outsourced to another town. 

President of the Roosevelt Volunteer Fire Company Samuel Lopez said the vote shocked all of the volunteers.

"We have spent years building up a once non-existent department," he said.

"It's very upsetting to see [it] thrown to the curb."

Roosevelt mayor Jeff Ellentuck also said he was disappointed the bond was not ratified.

"I believe a new building would have been the best and least expensive option for the town over the long term. However, others were worried about the cost and whether we would have sufficient volunteers in the future," he said.

Ellentuck said the volunteer firefighters had not resigned on the spot and he expected many would sign up to serve as volunteers in surrounding areas.

However Lopez said the volunteers were meeting Wednesday night to hand in their things and "say goodbye to years of hard work."

The fate of the department's small aging firehouse, heavily damaged by Hurricane Sandy, has divided the town for years.

In 2015, the fire department almost canceled its Christmas eve parade with Santa after fallout around an initial referendum seeking funds to improve the firehouse lost on a tie vote.

Opponents argued then that upgrading the town's water system was a higher priority, and that they didn't trust the fire department and town council to make the improvements to the firehouse.

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