Reader-submitted: An open letter of appreciation

I’m writing this open letter to express my appreciation, as a resident of Lakewood, to all the dedicated volunteers of the Lakewood Fire Department who do so much for our town for so little.

This past Thursday afternoon the fire department responded to a brush fire on South Clifton Ave which turned out to be a very large and serious fire. Numerous fire trucks from Lakewood as well as from a nearby town, and of course a helicopter from the NJ State Forest Services responded to the scene.

After battling the brush fire fire from quite some time, another alarm was received from a location on New Central Ave which b”h turned out to be not major.

Then a call came in that someone smelled smoke on Hillside Blvd in Westgate. B”h enough volunteers were already in gear with their truck and were able to join the career firefighters to check out and clear up the smoke.

Then, a call was received about a child stuck in an elevator in the downtown area. B”h many firefighters were right nearby due to the brush fire in progress and they were able to respond immediately. As it turned out, that was a false alarm.

As the firefighters were cleaning up the remains of the brush fire and were ready to head home to relax, a call was received by someone who “smelled smoke” in Westgate (on a different street than the earlier call), though within 60 seconds the dispatcher was alerted by the Lakewood Fire Tower that in reality, smoke was rising from a house in Westgate. The Fire Chief immediately called a general alarm and the firefighters rushed to Westgate.

Finally, when our extremely dedicated volunteers were good and ready to call it a day, an alarm was received from a store owner that he saw flames near Ceder bridge Ave, and the firefighters immediately rushed right back across town to fight those flames. B’chasdei Hashem, the state helicopter was still nearby due to the previous brush fire and was able to come douse those flames.

I drove by that fire and I saw that the firefighters needed to stand right next to the rail tracks in order to fight the flame and, apparently, it appeared to be a difficult job to get the fire trucks close to the scene. It’s a very good thing that Lakewood has a brush truck that the firefighters use for these scenarios.

The brush truck is from the 1950’s! The volunteer firefighters do not receive payment for their service while in the department! They are absolutely amazing people who receive nothing in return. They don’t get any special privileges, they don’t even receive free flashing lights and sirens in their personal vehicles.

Yet, I overheard someone saying last week that firefighters stand around at fire scenes because “they probably get paid by the hour”! I am not a firefighter but I care about all our firefighters and I am shocked and hurt by what I heard. I believe that we should at least, recognize our volunteers for who they are and what they do for us.

Specifically, I want to publicly express my feelings of gratitude to the Chief of Department Michael D’elia Jr. and his assistant chiefs for the extra special dedication they put in to maintaining order on this extremely hectic day. I think that many other people would not have been able to handle the sequence of events that occurred in such a short period of time (just about 3-4 hours!) as well as Chief D’elia did and I’m grateful for his professionalism and total commitment.

Finally, I’m also grateful to Fire Commissioners David Mizrahi and Meir Cohen for being the monetary backbone of the department and to their administrative staff, Mr. Vincent Vitiello and Yehuda Beer for accomplishing so much with really very little.

Thank you all once again for all you do!

Moshe Zeines

(TLS welcomes your letters and opinions by submitting them to [email protected])

This content, and any other content on TLS, may not be republished or reproduced without prior permission from TLS. Copying or reproducing our content is both against the law and against Halacha. To inquire about using our content, including videos or photos, email us at [email protected].

Stay up to date with our news alerts by following us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

**Click here to join over 20,000 receiving our Whatsapp Status updates!**

**Click here to join the official TLS WhatsApp Community!**

Got a news tip? Email us at [email protected], Text 415-857-2667, or WhatsApp 609-661-8668.


  1. Wow – that’s really amazing – I was so unaware of what a firefighter does on a regular basis – thank you for keeping us safe!!!

  2. I wanted to put it out there. We do appreciate the thanks. As a member of the Fire Department I have been a volunteer for almost 19 years. The firefighters standing around..most of the time they are resting from battling a fire. That particular day, was crazy, for everyone involved, from the chiefs, to the firefighters to their communications officers in the room making sure everyone was up to date and all units that were coming were kept in the loop..I want to thank you for your kind words and thoughts. We do appreciate it.

  3. Thank you to my friends and neighbors!! Thank you for taking the time Mr Zeines for highlighting what we and the career do on a daily basis!! We are here for you 24/7 365…Thank you!!

  4. It is so refreshing to hear positive and encouraging feedback from the public regarding the Lakewood Fire Department! It is especially nice to hear it coming from Moshe Zeines who is clearly an intelligent person who has taken his campaign very seriously and taken the time and effort to research and understand the many logistical facets that the LFD is comprised of.

    Moshe: On behalf of the Lakewood Fire District, I would like to thank you for your kind words and let you know that it means a lot to all of the volunteers when we know that we are truly appreciated. We look forward to continuing to serve the Lakewood community and to work together to make Lakewood a safer place to live.

    Meir Cohen

  5. Thank you, Mr Zeines,

    It is citizens like you that encourage us to continue on in public service. Firefighting is a difficult and demanding job that requires a unique sort of dedication and commitment, from both Volunteer and Career personnel. It is gratifying and encouraging to hear open appreciation expressed by the public. Thank you for your kind words.

    To follow up on previous comments…

    As “Lakewood Firefighter” explains, firefighting is demanding and, especially on a day like last Thursday, firefighters are required to rest and recharge between assignments. Many of those firefighters “standing around” have just competed a task or may be standing by waiting to replace crews currently in operation. As a rule, we always want to have more resources (people, equipment, etc) than we need to ensure adequate management and coverage of the incident. In addition, depending on the incident, there may be additional crews such as RIT Teams (tasked with firefighter rescue should the need arise), and other personnel. Also, a typical fire takes time until we can ensure that it is completely extinguished. During that time there may be firefighters and additional personnel seemingly without anything to do. Hence, the appearance of firefighters “just standing around”. Furthermore, the majority of firefighters present are volunteers who interrupted their day job, and are more likely losing money by the hour.

    To address Mrs Shoshana, and others interested, please reach out to us. We are more than happy to explain what we do and what goes into being a firefighter and firefighting in general. A little bit of knowledge goes a long way to dispel common myths and misconceptions. It is also quite fascinating. Contact the district office to request school tours and/or group visits, adults more than welcome.

  6. Dont I always say that our Lakewood is a wonderful town ,With all the Volunteers for all kind of organizations I do apologize for never mentioning the fire department, And we as people of this town should never never forget how happy we are here, Occasionally people complain you are entitled to do that, But lets not forget that the POSITIVE here outweighs the NEGATIVE, Good night everybody its almost time for this Bubbie to go to work to help people save some money on their income tax, [of course only what is allowable by law, ]

  7. Congrats to our LFD again. I have always said the LFD is one of the best trained, most well-equipped FD’s I’ve ever seen…and they just keep proving it over and over again. I know that Mike D Jr, our Chief, is a Professional Firefighter just like his Dad, Mike, Sr. (ex-chief) was before him. Both of these men are tremendous people with great pride in what they do. The leadership of the LFD is phenomenal and the training for the firefighters is constant. I’ve seen them first hand, rescue people, save lives and property and greatly minimize damages that could have been far worse at times. It’s not magic! It’s commitment. Keep up the great work you all do fellows. Beautiful work!

Comments are closed.