EXCLUSIVE: Secaucus police close North End firehouse rec rooms after finding alcohol and destroyed property
Dec 19, 2012 | 2590 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
SECAUCUS AND BEYOND -- The North End Firehouse in Secaucus was thrust into the public eye eight years ago for an alleged 2004 incident of anti-gay harassment involving three volunteer firefighters. The three were not reinstated as firefighters after a seven-month independent inquiry in 2011. A gay couple living next door to the firehouse had said they endured violent threats and other harassment at the hands of the firefighters there.

In 2008, the gay couple won a $4.8 million civil lawsuit against the town.

Now, the firehouse is in the spotlight again.

Town officials announced this week that the recreation rooms of the North End Fire House, Engine 2, Company 1, which is located on Paterson Plank Road, were closed by the Police Department on Sunday Dec. 16, indefinitely after several incidents that allegedly involved alcohol on the premises, verbal altercations between firefighters, and destruction of public property.

The Police Department is currently conducting an investigation, according to officials.

The recreation rooms include the second floor and two back rooms of the fire house, which had their locks changed and are inaccessible by the firefighters.

The fire company will continue to respond to fire calls and have access to the fire engine.

Officials also said the conditions of the fire house are "deplorable."

The mayor and Town Council have asked the fire chiefs to look into the issue and noted that disciplinary action is ultimately up to them. They have also asked the fire chiefs to ensure the department runs in an orderly and effective manner.

Incoming Fire Chief William Salick said he would not comment on the incidents because of the ongoing investigation.

The mayor and Town Council have also asked the Town Attorney Anthony D'Elia to provide an overview of the potential disciplinary action that can be taken in response to the matter. D'Elia said that he wanted to clear any misperceptions that volunteer firefighters cannot be disciplined.

He gave examples of a number of punitive measures that can be taken against volunteer firefighters who have committed violations including paying a $500 fine, a lengthy suspension, and expulsion.

Alcohol use has been a problem at volunteer firehouses throughout the country, as volunteering for the department is seen as a social activity in addition to a humanitarian one. At some point, alcohol use was banned in the Secaucus fireshouses. See our 2001 story on the issue.

Look to this weekend’s Reporter for updates on the new development.
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