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South Orange fire department protests merger

The South Mountain Regional Fire Department intends to start operations this summer after years of planning, according to TAPinto SOMA

The South Orange Firefighters Mutual Benevolent Association (FMBA), a firefighters' union, is saying that it disapproves of the merger between the South Orange and the Maplewood Fire Departments

“The politicians pushing this plan are not motivated by improving safety or efficiency,” said the South Orange FMBA spokesperson. 

In the Jan. 24 Board of Trustees Meeting, South Orange Village President Sheena Collum said she wanted to resolve the conflict with the South Orange FMBA but the union is declining to meet with her.   

The South Orange FMBA sent out flyers to South Orange residents decrying the merger plan. The union also distributed fliers saying “Save the SOFD, Demand a Voice in Your Safety,” according to a Village Green report.

The FMBA said the merger was a rash decision that was being made too quickly and that staffing would decrease as a result. 

Collum responded to the union’s allegation saying the information that the reduction cost the jobs of one fire chief and 4 deputy chiefs.

“They are not numbers that I made up or am just trying to throw out there,” she told the Board of Trustees. “I truly do feel that four to five years has been pretty sufficient.” 

The South Orange Fire Department also said that because of the new plan South Orange would be paying for Maplewood’s “failed EMS services,” according to the FMBA Facts Page 

President Sheena Collum said during the Board of Trustees meeting, “South Orange will not be incurring any costs associated with EMS services being provided to the residents of Maplewood”. 

The SOFD said in their flier that there is no reason for this merger because they already have mutual aid with Maplewood.

President Sheena Collum said during the Board of Trustees meeting, that mutual aid would not be replaced, and that South Orange and Maplewood will be able to provide more services than it has received in the past.  

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Village Trustee Donna Coallier said she dislikes the “falsified information” that the FMBA is spreading, according to a Village Green report. 

Morgan Frye can be reached at morgan.frye@student.shu.edu



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