An Open Letter to the Lakewood Fire Department

I’m writing this open letter to express my gratitude and thanks to all involved for an incident that occurred in my house on the first night of Rosh Hashonah (Thursday night).

At 4:30am we were awoken by our carbon monoxide alarm. We immediately arose and vacated our apartment. As I live close to Route 9, it wasn’t difficult for me to find a passing Police Officer and notify him of the alarm. He immediately called the Fire Department for us and he let us know that the fire truck would arrive in just 2 minutes. As he said, in just 2 minutes, fire truck #6631 arrived on scene carrying Captain Jason Wallace and Firefighters Eli Bursztyn and Mordy Goldstein.

The firefighters determined that there was a level of 25 ppm of carbon monoxide in our basement apartment and they properly ventilated the apartment. Behashgacha pratis they had the foresight to turn their gauge upwards towards the upstairs apartment as well and they determined that there was an even higher level of CO coming from upstairs. Throughout all this time our landlord was sleeping soundly but we alerted them and they all vacated and then the firefighters ventilated their home as well. The entire episode took over an hour.

We were not the only ones in town to have such an experience. As was reported in the news, the entire 3 days were very busy for the Lakewood Fire Department, as they responded to 39 CO calls all around town. That night alone there were approximately 10 CO calls.

It’s difficult for me to put all my thoughts now to pen and paper, but I’ll try. Clearly, at 4:30am in the middle of a very busy yom tov, it’s not about zooming around in a big red fire truck with lights and sirens. Captain Wallace doesn’t even live in Lakewood nor does he celebrate Rosh Hashona so he certainly doesn’t even owe us anything. We are fortunate to have a very dedicated and devoted fire department! Simply put, they are on call, for everyone in Lakewood, all the time!

None of this happens automatically and none of this should be taken for granted by us. All the firefighters I’ve spoken to have told me only praises for the Chief of Department Mike D’elia Jr. Clearly, the chief’s personal involvement and attention to detail are reciprocated by the love and respect he gets from the entire team of volunteer firefighters.

2nd Assistant Chief Steve Mulholland feels very strongly about continued education and training for all the firefighters, but more than that, he actually gives most of the training himself – for zero payment! Both of these volunteer chief officers are definitely the backbone of the department.

Fire Commissioners Avi Lieber, David Mizrahi, and Meir Cohen listen to everything they hear from their chief officers, their district staff, and anyone else from the public who wishes to speak or write to them, and they balance everyone’s needs versus their approved budget. I’m sure the task isn’t an easy one.

No home is worth anything without a strong foundation. Truly, the foundation of the Lakewood Fire District is its administrative staff, Mr. Vinnie Vitiello and Yehuda Beer. They do the job of many more people and all with a smile. They ensure that the vehicles are kept running and stocked and that all the “t’s” are crossed and the “I’s” are dotted.

The Lakewood Fire District truly serves as a role model for other departments and government agencies in their professionalism, courtesy, love for their self-accepted role, and unity in the way they act.

I just want to sign off by pointing out that no one who needs help from our fire department would question their operating budget while the firefighters are in the act of saving their home; similarly, at the election booth, we should all strive to show our support for our fire district. I never thought that I would rely on our firefighters but now that I did need their help, I recognize their importance even more.

Thank you!
Moshe Zeines

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    • Coincidentally my CO alarm went off on Rosh Hashana Thursday morning at 4:30 am as well. I opened some windows and an hour later the thing stoipped. I didn’t call the fire department since the alarm stopped after ventilating the house. I asked my Rav and was told I could have called while in a MAKOM SAKANA. However, once it past I was told only to call if it rang again. Since I am keeping windows open I don’t anticipate it ringing and also the BLECH to warm food is not being used. Is there a way to have someone use a detector in my home anyway? Please let me know at my email address [email protected].

  1. Missing from the article perhaps – I imagine carbon monoxide problems may start with improper ventilation when keeping food warm over Yom Tov. Maybe the fire department could print some suggestions and precautions especially with the upcoming holidays ahead.

  2. Thank you for the kind words. I may not live in Lakewood but it will always be my town . your words are totally not necessary , but greatly appreciated . Please remember the LFD is so much larger than any one member . from the volunteers to the Career staff and including the commissioners office , We are one fire dept trying to do our best to help the residents of Lakewood .
    Huge thanks need to be given to the career firefighters station 74 for answering the lions share of calls that night. I can tell you first hand seeing them when I dropped off paper work to them at 630 am they were exhausted …
    Please continue to support the LFD .

  3. Great letter, glad to see that the VOLUNTEERS are being recognized, but why then are we always forgotten come donation time.. we don’t ask for a certain amount per household but we suffer each year with less and less collected while the amount of calls we handle increase each year. Please give what you can.

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