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DV Pilot police & fire

Hillsdale firefighters angry after fire commissioner says they ‘do a lot of drinking’

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

ONLY ON CLIFFVIEW PILOT: Hillsdale’s volunteer firefighters are upset over what they called insults by Councilman Joseph “Rod” Capawana, who is the borough’s fire commissioner, and Mayor Max Arnowitz — a former chief of the department — a t a public meeting.

“This isn’t over, not by a stretch,” one firefighter told CLIFFVIEW PILOT .

This came after Capawana on Tuesday night said the firefighters “do a lot of training over there — and a lot of drinking.”

The mayor and council were discussing several topics, including a plan to have sensitivity training for all borough employees and volunteers.

Toward that end, Arnowitz agreed to have a meeting with the firefighters — but only at Borough Hall, “where there’s no alcohol.”

The comments were recorded from a live broadcast of Tuesday night’s public meeting.



“Out of thousands or man hours we put in, that’s what they say about us?” one firefighter told CLIFFVIEW PILOT Wednesday morning.

“We depend on donations from the public,” he said, “and the public is being told by its fire commissioner [Capawana] that we’re drunks?”

Cresskill recently added $240,000 to its budget for a paid department, and that’s for only Monday through Friday during the day.

“[Hillsdale officials] have budget problems now,” a local firefighter said. “Imagine if they had to go to a paid department.”

Hillsdale’s emergency service workers were already upset over talk of a possible switch in dispatching to the Bergen County Communications Center in Mahwah. Last night’s meeting only made a tense situation worse, several said this morning.

Some privately said they want a public apology over the fire commissioner’s remarks.

On the record, supervisors and rank-and-file members were being deliberate Wednesday morning, taking the time necessary to prepare a reasoned response instead of reflexively firing back.

“Chief [Mark[ Durst and myself were taken back by the comments made during the public meeting by the Hillsdale mayor and council,” Hillsdale Deputy Fire Chief Jason Durie told CLIFFVIEW PILOT . “We are working with them to resolve the issue and to continue a working relationship.”

Any further comment would come later, possibly at next week’s mayor and council meeting, several firefighters said. The Board of Fire Officers is scheduling its own session this week.

Respecting protocol and procedures, the firefighters said the official response will have to come from the chief.

Calls were placed to the mayor and Capawana late Wednesday morning. Emails were sent, as well. As of 6 p.m., no response had been received.

If any are, these will be added to this story.






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