Stone Harbor Introduces its First Paid Firefighters
After 108 years, there is a new type of firefighter protecting Stone Harbor. Exclusively a volunteer fire company since its inception in 1912, the Stone Harbor Fire Department is now operating with a mix of paid and volunteer firefighters.
Over the years, the number of qualified volunteer firefighters/EMT's actually living in the borough of Stone Harbor had dropped to the point that most of the volunteers were traveling from off the island, which was significantly slowing response time.
A change in demographics and rising property values have brought a change to the local population and the new residents were either seasonal or were not interested in joining the volunteer fire department.
Stone Harbor, which was the last borough in Cape May County relying on an all-volunteer fire department, knew they had to make a change to protect the town.
According to the Cape May County Herald, in 2017, Stone Harbor tried introducing a stipend program to ensure that the fire station was always manned overnight. Even though the program showed some results, there were still gaps in the coverage.
So the decision was made to spend $500,000 a year to hire full time firefighters to supplement the volunteer firefighters and emergency medical technicians
On Dec 15, eight new paid firefighters were sworn in by Mayor Judith Davies-Dunhour, who called it a “historic day.”
The new paid firefighters already have or will gain certification as EMTs. Stone Harbor will no longer be the only borough without a form of paid EMT coverage.
Source: Cape May County Herald