Our first responders play an enormous role in protecting the citizens of Berkeley Heights. These local heroes volunteer their time and energy to serve and protect us all. Without them, residents could not only find their lives at risk, but would be forced to pay out of pocket for emergency services.
Right now, our first responder groups (incl. the BH Volunteer Rescue Squad and Fire Department) are struggling with both recruitment and retainment. A more formalized recognition program could help reverse that trend. However, this is not a single-solution problem. Our efforts to resolve some of these long-standing issues have to be comprehensive, including supporting legislation to grant first responders access to affordable housing.
We believe that as part of that comprehensive solution, the Fire Department should adopt a length of service award program (LOSAP). Similar to a retirement program, a LOSAP is designed to retain and reward volunteers for their service to the community. Berkeley Heights voters in November 2019 approved a ballot question providing LOSAP to our Berkeley Heights Volunteer Rescue Squad, as a way to show them the community’s appreciation for their life-saving work.
We will also look to create a new, long-lasting partnership among the Township, our first responder groups, local businesses and childcare providers in order to make sure our town is properly supported for years to come.