Home Seaside Heights & Seaside Park Government Meet Seaside Heights’ New Weapon Against Boardwalk Fires

Meet Seaside Heights’ New Weapon Against Boardwalk Fires

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A Seaside Heights fire truck capable of fighting fires from the beach. (Photo: Daniel Nee)
A Seaside Heights fire truck capable of fighting fires from the beach. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

More than two years after a boardwalk fire set back the borough’s recovery from Superstorm Sandy, Seaside Heights has added a new weapon to its firefighting arsenal aimed at helping firefighters to quickly bring future boardwalk fires under control.

With strong winds common – a heavy, south wind drove the Sept. 2013 blaze northward from Seaside Park into Seaside Heights – a mobile response is necessary to get equipment ahead of a fire so it doesn’t spread. The other issue officials face is the fact that some pieces of firefighting equipment can’t be brought onto the sand or on the eastern side of the boardwalk, where such fires would likely start.

Seaside Heights officials believe their new asset, a four wheel drive truck originally designed to fight fires on airport runways, could be the key to minimizing the impact of future boardwalk fires. The truck can pump both water as well as foam through its system, which includes a roof-mounted nozzle.

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“We had a fellow who used to be an airport firefighter come over [Tuesday] night and do some training with us,” said Seaside Heights Councilman Richard Tompkins, who is also a member of the borough’s volunteer fire company.

The vehicle, which was acquired by the borough for free through a government surplus program, has recently been painted and has had some maintenance performed. Now, Seaside Heights firefighters can train with it regularly. Though initially designed for airports, the truck is uniquely suited to a boardwalk environment. Its tires can gain traction on the sand without needing to be aired down, meaning it can respond instantly to an incident on the boardwalk and fight a fire from the sand, if necessary.

“This goes right up on the sand as it is, you can’t beat it,” said Tompkins. “Everyone knows that with the pier fires we had, we had problems getting to that side to fight the fire.”

The truck can hold 1,000 gallons of water or foam.

“We now have something that gives us a better shot of putting that fire out,” said Tompkins.

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  • Steven Mark Jones

    Considering 0 people have died in boardwalk fires I believe it would have been a better investment to spend that money on narcan eduaction, needle exchanges, rapid HIV testing, resources for our neighborhood advocates trying to stop this town from going backwards, and better training for police officers to work WITH the citizens of this town instead of AGAINST them. Instead of supporting this “defend the boardwalk” mentality, help support the people, the human-beings who are most vulnerable and help give them the tools to turn their lives around. That’s how you turn this town around.

    • Michael Flores

      So you’re saying that a firefighter or police officer, or a trapped boardwalk employee or patron should have to die first, before equipping them with the best equipment? Moreover this million dollar piece of equipment was obtained at no cost to the borough’s taxpayers, or should I say they got it FREE. Maybe more education should be given on not using drugs in the first place.

      • Ron Stewart

        That’s called common sense; if they lack it, you can’t help them.

    • The piece of equipment was obtained for free, so there was no money expended that could have been invested elsewhere.

      Moreover, given the focus on redevelopment, improving the Boulevard business district and strengthening the economic condition of the boardwalk, it would seem that Seaside Heights is going anywhere but “backwards.”

      Frankly, one of the issues cited by officials, and backed up by a realistic view of the situation, is that the drug and crime issues have largely been driven by factors outside of the borough’s control – namely, housing populations affected by these issues in motels cut off from the services available on the mainland. Stopping that problem at a higher level of government would likely lead to better opportunities for those folks to deal with their issues while allowing SSH to more easily pursue redevelopment efforts to move the borough forward in a positive manner.

      • Steven Mark Jones

        you are completely entitled to your perspective on the direction you believe SSH is headed due to the recent push for gentrification (which is only an economic bubble resulting from MTV exposure and Superstorm Sandy). Sure – it may seem like it is “going anywhere but backwards” but consider the polarizing effect it will have on the community. Yes, some people, a small segment, will prosper but at what cost to the families who are most vulnerable?

    • Peter James Smith

      If the Borough has no boardwalk, it has no tax revenue and it will collapse financially.

    • Peter James Smith

      And the truck came absolutely free of charge.