The following pieces are anonymous letters from the Hoboken Fire Department regarding issues within the city, specifically with receiving helpful information and being put at risk.
We write to you during this difficult and surreal time that we all find ourselves in. This global pandemic is, as we should, hopefully, all know by now, a dire situation. We, as first responders, find ourselves on the front line of this pandemic. It is our job, and what we signed up for. It is the oath we promised to uphold the day we were sworn in as firefighters for the city of Hoboken. We, as firefighters, understand and accept all the responsibilities that come with the job. Sometimes it’s a multiple alarm fire, other times it’s a train derailment or a riverfront water rescue. This time it’s COVID-19.
What we do, as a professional organization, is compile data through research and education, then, establish a departmental policy to follow to ensure the safety of, not only ourselves, but the citizens of Hoboken, as well. Once that is done, we train, tirelessly, to prepare for all types of emergencies. As part of this protocol, we rely on whatever information is available to us, in order to assist, and, ultimately, enable us to do our jobs to the best of our ability. Using this information and establishing a pre-plan is what affords us the ability to do what we do best: solve problems. The Hoboken Fire Department prides itself on being the city’s most reliable problem solvers through years of experience and by implementing such protocol.
The situation we, unfortunately, find ourselves in, now, is a battle within our own city, with individuals who should be assisting us in doing our jobs. Instead, we’ve spent nearly the past two weeks fighting to gather information on confirmed COVID-19 cases, which, we know, have been increasing, exponentially, daily. The information that has been requested was only the address of the patient, not any names. We have been met with nothing but resistance – it is the city’s position that we are not entitled to that information. Instead, we must wait for an emergency to occur, at which point, our dispatchers place a call to a different dispatching center via telephone, and only then, if the address is known to have an individual(s) infected, are we notified. By denying the Hoboken Fire Department this pertinent information, you are jeopardizing the safety of its members.
During a time like this, all entities should be working together to address this pandemic and flatten the curve. We ask that you please spread awareness to this issue and investigate within the local city government as to why your Hoboken Firefighters & Fire Officers are being left in the dark. Enclosed is a directive from the Attorney General which was issued, and effective today March 28, 2020, to safeguard all emergency response personnel including firefighters. It is important to note that once again, we’ve attempted, today, to contact Corporation Counsel for the City of Hoboken, Brian Aloia to gather such information, to which we were once again denied.
Please be careful, stay safe and listen to the advice from the experts: Stay home!
Respectfully and forever loyal,
Your Hoboken Firefighters & Fire Officers
Locals 1076 & 1078
It was brought to our attention that starting March 30th, 2020, the City has issued an order to the Chief of the Fire Department, to remove 2 on-duty members from service, to drive the HOP bus. It is the stance of our unions, Locals 1078 and 1076, that this puts not only our members at a higher risk of exposure, but also the most vulnerable age group, the seniors, at an even higher risk to COVID-19. Our members regularly respond to Emergency Medical Service incidents throughout the city, and risk exposure to this deadly virus daily. We do this because this is our job and we swore an oath to protect the citizens of Hoboken.
It is widely known that according to the CDC, COVID-19 takes between 2-14 days to show signs and symptoms. While being asymptomatic, the virus is still capable of being transmitted from person to person. As our members are potentially exposed to this virus on a regular basis, we could easily be carrying the virus, and transmit it unknowingly. It is also widely known that the most vulnerable age group are our beloved senior citizens. By moving our members from fire trucks to the HOP bus with seniors on it, you are exposing not only our members, but the most vulnerable as well. In moving members off of the front line, you in turn reduce our manpower to protect our community in the event a major emergency arises in the form of a fire, train derailment, motor vehicle accident, riverfront water rescue; should one arise.
As members of the Hoboken community we care deeply about the residents. The majority of us have family still living here and our roots to the City of Hoboken run deep. We take great pride in our City. With that said, we understand the need to help our senior citizens during these dire times. With that in mind, we would propose working jointly with the Office of Emergency Management, and the community leadership, to devise a plan to accomplish the common goal of attending to our elderly population however, in a safer, and more effective manner. We look forward to addressing this important issue as expediently as possible, using safety as the ultimate guide on how to accomplish this goal. The safety of all individuals within the City of Hoboken is our responsibility, and in order to assure that, we must maintain the integrity of our Fire Department at all times.