The 18 firefighters who came to City Hall on June 11 all looked young—the next generation to fill the shoes of those who have gone before them, some the sons and daughters of firefighters, police officers, local businesspeople, even relatives of City Council members.
Mayor Mark Smith, before the swearing in, talked about the long road that had brought them to the chambers that day, and how each was among thousands who had taken the entrance tests statewide.
“You are going into harm’s way,” Smith said. “But it’s more than just about you as individuals, it is about the team.”
Public Safety Director Jason O’Donnell—who also served as a firefighter—called his swearing in 18 years ago a significant moment in his life, saying that members of the department became a second family to him.
But he said that a lot will be expected of the new firefighters, who will risk their lives and will be called on night and day, rain or shine.
“I’m buoyed by what I see here,” he said. “You are living up to the challenge and I think the city is in great hands.”
Fire Chief Greg Rogers said this is not an easy job, but said these new recruits were very competent and that they will learn more and get more training as they go on.
The hiring of the 18 new firefighters comes as a result of a federal SAFER (Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response) grant of $2,730,780 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) of the Department of Homeland Security. This will pay for the salaries and benefits of these new firefighters for the next two years. Additional money will also be available to pay for another year for those new recruits with veteran’s status.
Recruited in 2013, the new firefighters underwent training in Bayonne and at the academy, and Rogers said they would be assigned to fire companies by November.
The goal of SAFER is to enhance local fire departments’ ability to comply with the staffing, response, and operational standards established by the National Fire Protection Administration (NFPA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Smith and other public officials said the backgrounds of the new firefighters were diverse and provided a remarkable range of experience.
Benedict V. Lopez attended Bayonne High School. He is an army veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom. He was with the Special Operations Task Force in more than 160 missions that included capturing high-value targets. He has five military decorations—National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Campaign Star, and Army Commendation Medal with Valor.
Glenn J. Stanul attended St. Peter’s Prep and Ramapo College of New Jersey with a BS in economics. He was previously employed as an accountant at Prisco Inc. He is the brother of Christopher Stanul of the Bayonne Fire Department. and grandson of former Mayor Dennis Collins.
Todd J. Ganghamer attended Neptune High School and Monmouth University with a BS in criminal justice. He was formerly employed by the Bayonne Board of Education as a teacher. He is the brother-in-law of Edward Ratyniak of the Bayonne Fire Department.
Matthew T. Lavin attended St. Peter’s Prep and Rutger’s University studying exercise science. He was previously employed by the City of Bayonne with the Department of Public Works. He is the son of Captain Shawn Lavin of the Bayonne Fire Department and grandson of retired Deputy Police Chief Thomas Lavin of the Bayonne Police Department.
Justin L. Basile attended Bayonne High School and Johnson and Wales University with an AS in electrical engineering. He was previously employed by the Iron Workers Union Local No. 11.
Edward V. Skowronski is the son of former Fire Captain Edward Skowronski of the Bayonne Fire Department. He attended Raritan High School and Monmouth University with a BS in criminal justice.
Scott A. Coulston attended St. Peter’s Prep and Monmouth University with a BS in criminal justice. He is the son of retired Bayonne Police Captain Conrad Coulston and was previously employed as a general manager with L.A. Boxing.
Gerard Ruane attended Queen of Peace High School and the University of Rhode Island with a BS in marine management/coastal policy. He was previously employed by Global Container Terminal as a planner of the Global Expansion Project.
Robert Wasielewski attended Hudson Catholic High School and St. John’s University with a BS in legal studies.
Ryan W. Lucas attended Hudson Catholic High School and the University of Scranton with a BS in business management. He was previously employed by NYK Shipping Line as an e-commerce development manager.
Nicholas P. Mattiello attended Hudson Catholic High School and Morris County Community College with an AAS degree in business science. He was previously employed as an operations and maintenance technician at the Bayonne Energy Center.
Willmark Munoz attended Dickinson High School and is currently attending Rutgers University, studying mechanical engineering. He is the former vice president of the Hispanic Society of Professional Engineers.
Raccys Pozo attended North Bergen High School and St. Barnabas School of Radiation Therapy with a radiation therapy certification and was previously employed by UNDNJ University Hospital.
Michael Pelliccio attended Bayonne High School and New Jersey City University with a BS in fire science. He is the brother of Anthony Pelliccio with the Bayonne Police Department. He was previously employed by Hess Oil Bayonne as a terminal operator and safety leader.
Richard Baccarella attended Bayonne High School and Montclair State University with a BS in business management and was previously employed at UBS Financial Services. He is son-in-law of Deputy Chief Joseph Colasurdo and brother-in-law of Jonathan Wasielewski of the Bayonne Fire Department.
Joshua Lipinski-McHale attended Hudson Catholic High School and Hudson County Community College. He was previously employed as an EMT for McCabe Ambulance. He is a member of Mt. Carmel Boy Scout Troop 19 and received his Eagle Scout award.
Jonathan Czerwienski attended Bayonne High School and was previously employed as a plumber and proprietor of “The Lizard Guys,” a reptile educational entertainment company.
Gustavo Caamano attended Bayonne High School and New Jersey City University with a BA in history. He was previously employed by International Longshoremen ILA Local 125.
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.