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Sunday, January 22, 2012

6-Alarm Fire at Clyne & Murphy on South Ave.



  1. The pictures are awful... What did you use a kaleidoscope?

  2. Arson is a crimeSunday, January 22, 2012

    Gosh another restaurant fire in a down economy.... is Westfield and Union Co. really this stupid. Gosh it's about at the 5 year mark for the new owners of Clyne and Murphy. Not making ends meet? Doesn't help that you have new competition.........

  3. I guess the mayor and his council have one less place to order catering from when they spend those loooonnnggg hours cutting back the budget in areas where we desperately need to replenish staffing.............PUBLIC SAFETY!

  4. Really silly to think that one or two more firemen on duty would have made a difference. Same whining with each fire. Now that the town took EMS backup away from the WFD maybe that will help their staffing levels a bit.
    I do not love the current administration but it is not easy to please everyone. Taxpayers want taxes reigned in and services maintained. Public servants want to make lots of money.

  5. Now that the Town took EMS back-up away from the WFD you might have to wait just a wee bit longer to get emergency help when a loved one is having a heart attack. Don't assume that the Westfield Rescue Squad is always ready to respond. There are times when there is nobdy at the building when an emergency call comes in.

    1. Volunteers needed. Become a state certified EMT and join the squad. Identify yourself and I will personally see to it that your application to serve the community of Westfield is fast-tracked.

      The squad had three ambulances and a dozen experienced, dedicated volunteer EMTs at the fire scene. All at NO COST to the town. Instead of criticizing the squad, why don't you join and help out?

      Jonathan Delano
      Westfield Volunteer Rescue Squad

    2. To Jonathan Delano, Captain-

      I don't think Anonymous 8:47pm is criticizing the squad at all. I think he/she is simply indicating that there are not enough people, paid or otherwise, on-call at the WFD and Rescue Squad. I may be wrong but that's how I read it... And thank you for your service to our community!

  6. Quick EMS response is hampered more by the rampant abuse of the EMS system for non-emergencies than by the WFD having insufficient manpower to assist their own residents.

  7. Really, so how do you explain the fact that the FD responds quickly to fires but can't fight them until mutual aid responds? The abuse of the EMS system is our town officials reducing the number firefighters on duty.

  8. Simple math. Counthy fire department...............

    1. What is Counthy? Spelling?

    2. Counthy? Simple spelling?

  9. How bout instead of us talking about the negatives we pull together and try to help all the small businesses that served this town get back on their feet.

  10. To TFOTM-

    Can another TFOTM poll be created to try and get a handle on the public sentiment about fire dept. staffing and budget/property tax limitations?

    Maybe something along these lines:

    The Westfield Fire Dept. currently maintains a staff of [insert real number- I don't know] however, especially in light of several recent fires, many experts have advised that a town of Westfield's population/geographic size should have at least [insert real number- I don't know] firefighters. Would you be willing to spend an additional __ cents per day in property taxes [whatever it calculates to - I don't know the real numbers but the additional annual amount of salaries/benefits would be divided by 10,000 households in Westfield and then divided by 365 to get the approximate daily amount) to achieve this level of staffing? CHOICES- YES, I'd be willing to spend the additional __ cents per day in property taxes or NO, I think the staffing is sufficient and/or I would not be willing to pay any more in property taxes for more staffing.

    I think it could be interesting to know what people think when they equate additional hiring with what it means to their own wallets. Many people are hard-wired to always be automatically against higher taxes. But, when divided by so many households, big $'s usually end up being negligible. And, after translating the dollars as such, many people who automatically agree with politicians seeking to be penny wise and pound foolish might then realize that such politicians are really pushing a poor agenda that should be re-thought.

    Of course, it's up to you but I think it could be interesting as a poll.

    Thanks as always for your website!

    1. A poll will be posted in the near future asking the questions you have suggested.


  11. I think the people already voted--in November. Election results showed people tend to support the way the town is being run.

  12. To Anonymous 9:16AM. Yes, but when people vote for a politician, they are, in theory, voting based on having first weighed in on a wide variety of issues (not just one) and/or based simply on the person's political party and/or such reasons as the candidate's dress/appearance. My suggestion, if TFOTM takes me up on my suggestion, would isolate this one particular topic in a way that allows for a simple yes/no response that could better reveal the pulse of what people in the community really think about that one issue, regardless of any other politics getting in the way. The goal would be that, hopefully, once it is better known how people in our town are thinking, the politicians (and voters) may then wish to act differently on this topic, or maybe even keep the status quo. But such a poll and its results would give everyone a little something more to sink their teeth into and think about- for the next election.

  13. This is pretty pathetic . . . I actually was jogging and passed by just as the WPD & WFD showed up on the scene. There was some smoke visible from the back of C&M, but they were there in plenty of time to spare the other businesses. I'm no fire expert, but I have some common sense (and a few family members on FD's around the county) . . . really a shame . . . how many building have to burn all the way to the ground before All-State writes this town off . . . not to mention this is another location that you could hit with a sand wedge from the FD building.

  14. This IS a manpower issue.
    This is however, not a paid fire department issue.
    Mountainside, Scotch Plains have both had fires in the last few years and have managed to not suffer the total losses that have now become identified with the WFD.

    What many don't realize is that the number of volunteers in Westfield at one time out numbered the paid firefighters (and this is when there were 16 men to a crew, not 7 or 8!). This was good for Westfield, but bad for the FMBA. As a union of paid firefighters the FMBA ideally wants all firefighters paid. Volunteers are a threat to such a union-- imagine if someone was willing to do your job for FREE--so the WFD/ FMBA has continued to discourage volunteers.
    Have you ever seen the WFD seek volunteers like the Rescue Squad does? Of course not, despite the need. Yet I have seen Scotch Plains, Mountainside and Garwood all publicly seeking volunteers.
    It was shared a while ago on this site how a couple of year's ago the WFD and the Town Administration went to court and spent at least $1,000,000 to prevent someone from volunteering. That doesn't sound like the town wants more firefighters. They want more PAID firefighters and no volunteer firefighters. If this is otherwise let's see Kelly get up at a council meeting and ask for volunteers. The rescue squad does, but the fire department is interested in the status of their pay check, not the number of firefighters.
    Keeping our community safe is part of the equation, but not the whole picture. The FMBA is concerned about it's own survival, more than it is concerned about keeping us safe. This is a union's purpose. If it was between keeping us safe with a well manned volunteer department or letting a few things burn with a paid department, which do you think they would choose?
    It is no wonder the council is considering the switch to an all volunteer fire department.

  15. To Mr PaulB,
    The lawsuit was much more about saving the face of the then fire chief. He had made decisions about one volunteer candidate which were indefensible. When he was called on to explain, it was alleged he lied and the Town was caught up in his defense. Tapes were produced which proved the improprieties alleged but the Town defended on their right to act as it did.The money was expended to defend the right to be unfair.It had nothing to do with volunteers.
    As of the moment,there are about 13 volunteers.Two of them are over 60 yrs. old.How many people living in Westfield do you know who work in town and have a job which allows them to drop everything and go to a fire?How many of these people are willing to further give up the time to go to school to learn how to become a fireman and to also learn to be an EMT?
    When you consider the number of times the firemen respond to non-fire emergencies,the number of volunteers you would need is almost prohibitive.
    All volunteers must be commended for their efforts but the Town cannot depend solely on volunteers.I think the world of the Emergency Squad, but when there is no one on duty, the firemen are required to get the ambulance and go to the emergency.Is the suggestion now that when one set of volunteers can't man a situation, another set of volunteers must do so?
    From the point of view of the homeowner,the taxpayer,I don't want a fire department depleted by politicians who tell us there is no impact on safety when I know to the opposite. If they are correct, they should openly defend their position.
    The Town can also ask the ISO who rates the towns on fire safety to re-rate us and tell us how much more the homeowner's insurance will cost with a volunteer department.The politicians will look good at budget time but the homeowner will pay far more in premiums,
    Unless the people demand an explanation, the politicians will continue to be silent.
    Let's stop this alleged feud between volunteers and paid public servants.Let's ask our elected officials to explain themselves so that no one has to speculate. I believe this is what the politicians laughingly refer to as transparency.
    A.John Blake

  16. Wyckoff SteakhouseMonday, January 23, 2012

    Wyckoff's Steakhouse

    What I can not understand is why certain individuals feel the need to use the name Paul B. for their useless and ignorant postings. For those of us who know and for those of you readers who do not know, these cowards are referring to Paul Battiloro. Paul Battiloro served on the Westfield Fire Department for over thirty years. He held the rank of Deputy Chief for approximately twenty three of those years and held the rank of Chief for the remainder of his career. At the time, he was one of the most experience fire officers in the fire service in Union County as well as being a brilliant tactician on the fire ground. Not to mention he was one of the most highly decorated members of the Westfield Fire Department. When people usually inquire about Chief Battiloro, the information they are given about the man usually is not very positive. But then you have to consider the source. Is the information received from a public official, or from one of the firefighters in town who worked under him, or your average resident? If you hear the residents of town talk about him, he was one of the greatest assets the town had as a public servant, Chief, and Emergency Management Coordinator as well as being a great neighbor. But if you heard the members of the governing body or members of the fire department talk about him, he was a tyrant, a loose cannon or some other form of disparaging rhetoric. And the reason being was that Chief Batiloro was about doing the right thing for the residents and business owners of the Town of Westfield as well as furthering the mission and goals of the department which he took pride in serving proudly. Chief Battiloro was not interested in washing the faces of the governing body and telling them what they want to hear, nor was he their political puppet of a department head. He was the Chief of the department who did what was right for the benefit of everyone. Depending on who you speak with at the fire department, you either loved him or you hated him. The reason being is that he held his men to a higher standard then what they are being held to now. He did not accept excuses and he had a high regard for accountability and responsibility. He did not want to hear how things could not be done but how things could be accomplished. But then they say he had more manpower and more equipment due to a different economical climate. In the totality of things, everything is cyclical. These financial times have plagued the town before in the seventies and eighties, and the fire department was able to survive and operate at an above average standard. The reason for this was his level of leadership and not having a lack of resources but having an above average sense of resourcefulness.

    Look at what you have now, a Chief that is a bobble head doll of a department head with no leadership ability whatsoever nor an understanding of how to be resourceful. It is understandable that financial restrictions have caused cuts to be made in certain areas, but Chief Battiloro would have put up a fight or found another way to keep essential manpower and staffing at a level that provides for the safety and welfare for the stakeholders of this town. Not to mention having a large roster of volunteers who were willing to serve their community. If Paul Battiloro was still chief, the department would not be in the position it is now and we might not have lost as many residences and businesses as we have so far. Maybe if Chief Kelly, Chief Parizeau, the governing body and other department heads took a step back and learn from the career of Chief Battiloro, they might just get a lesson in leadership, accountability and resourcefulness.

    1. Very well said. But you can't forget one thing, Paul served under Town administrators that knew what they was doing. The political puppet in place now has no clue. To change anything, start at the top and work your way down. Jim Gildea has caused more problems for the town and will continue to facilitate the demise of Westfield and what it once was.

      A weak administrator needs weaker department heads so that they don't question him. That's the issue.

    2. "Battiloro" is not the only name that begins with the letter "B". Just because I don't wish to post my MIDDLE or last name, does not mean I am referencing a past Westfield employee.
      The inability of so many to see beyond this little world of Westfield is almost funny.
      I have a feeling I am not the only Paul or Paul B. residing in Westfield.
      Anyway, thank you for the introduction to Paul Battiloro. He sounds like the sort of administrator the town could use in several departments today.

  17. A. John Blake:

    There is no "feud between volunteers and paid public servants". But there is a history of the WFD discouraging volunteers and never once soliciting for them. Westfield has been the most vocal of all surrounding towns - Scotch Plains, Mountainside, Fanwood & Garwood - concerning their lack of firefighters, yet we are also the only town not seeking volunteer firefighters. My question is why. There is no feud of the sort you mentioned, but the FMBA is not about to suggest that we help keep our town safe by adding volunteer firefighters. This is, unfortunately as overtly a political move as the mayor and council refusing to acknowledge the need for more firefighters. The feud is between the FMBA and the mayor and council, not volunteer and paid firefighters. The mayor and council are wrong not to consider the need for more firefighter, the FMBA is wrong for not considering volunteers as even a supplemental option. I am sure Andy would have no objection to the FD seeking volunteers...

    You say the "town can not depend solely on volunteers". If this is true how do other communities depend "solely on volunteers" yet rarely suffer the fire losses Westfield has? When a big loss does occur, for example the Charlie Brown fire in Scotch Plains a few years ago, you never hear the loss blamed on "lack of manpower", yet every recent Westfield fire loss is due "to lack of manpower". No matter what the current state of fire safety may be in Scotch Plains, they continue to actively seek volunteers. If this was solely about fire safety Westfield would do likewise.

    Concerning the Rescue Squad, perhaps a paid EMS force would be in order, or since the FD members are EMT's maybe they should be paid for this aspect of public safety. Along those lines, why do our professional EMTs only go into action when our volunteer EMT's are not available? I believe there are more EMT calls between the FD and the Rescue Squad than there are fire calls. I would rather have professional EMTs respond to my medical emergency. I don't care if a paid or volunteer firefighter shows up if my house is on fire. I just want them to successfully put the fire out. The fact is the volunteer departments from surrounding communities are putting out fires and seeking additional volunteers to assist in this venture. The WFD is not successfully protecting us from fire and their excuse is that they need more firefighters. Despite being a "Part-paid" department, they only are seeking PAID firefighters.
    ISO ratings are about fire safety, not if a department is paid or volunteer. There are communities in NJ protected by all volunteer departments with better ISO ratings than Westfield (
    Westfield is not Elizabeth or Plainfield, it is not an all paid department. If there are 13 Westfield volunteers why were they not at the fire? Scotch Plains, Garwood, Mountainside were all there... Our mayor and council have again and again praised the "volunteer spirit" of Westfielders, yet we are told that "no-one wants to volunteer" for the FD. If the WFD refused to accept one volunteer I am sure there were others as well who were turned away. There are Westfield residents who actually volunteer on the fire departments of other communities instead of Westfield. Please do not tell me that there is not something seriously wrong with the way the department is run, when they can turn the very firefighters they claim they need.
    The Leader says that the WFD did prevent someone who wanted to volunteer from volunteering. There is no indication that they ever changed their mind about this, if they had maybe they wouldn't have had to defend themselves from "acting as they did."
    I agree that the elected officials need to explain their position, but the FD administration needs to do so as well.

  18. To TFOTM-

    Besides my poll suggestion, I have another idea that I think might be helpful, possibly as a companion article to such a poll...

    Maybe a lesson for TFOTM readers (and Patch readers who can be pointed in the direction of TFOTM) about these ISO ratings in general - what the different categories are and then where the WFD ranks and why. Then, SPECIFICALLY what the WFD would need to improve the ranking. And, finally, if possible, what a higher ranking would likely translate to in terms of lower home insurance premiums (since there are some people out there who could be swayed to hire more if it means lower home insurance rates).

    I don't have first-hand knowledge of any of this stuff but if those who do can give a little lesson to the rest of us, specifically as it relates to the WFD, I think many people in our community would find that helpful.



  19. Hey Paul,
    I have watched Chief Battiloro rise up the rank of the fire department - I have also fought many fires with the Chief - he is a brilliant career fire fighter. He has the awards to prove it. It was not uncommon to see Chief Battiloro, fighting a fire, assisting a volunteer, all while the comander of the fire department. He took the time to walk through Westfield and speak to residents and merchants. - it was not beneath him. He also has the knowledge and education to back it up. He has served in numerous capacities - member of the Union County Arson Squad, Civil Defense Coordinator, Emergency Management Coordinator, Construction Board of Appeals. He was a true fire fighter - take a lesson here - Chief Kelly & Deputy Chief Kelly.

    He held his department top a high standard, just like he held himself to. That is something that the Town of Westfield needs. Instead of moaning about budget cuts Chief Kelly, take a page from Chief Battiloro's extensive career, research the words, leadership, resourcefulness, and accountability.

  20. Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone found a way to work together instead of putting their personal interests forward instead of finding a half way point to reach to.

  21. Paul Battiloro served the Town of Westfield for many years in many capacities. I too, have fought many fires with Chief Battiloro. He is one the the most highly decorated and most definately the most experienced and knowledgeable man that I have ever worked with. He is very well educated in the fire sciences. Undertermined cause and origin were not acceptable to the Chief. Every fire has a cause and every fire has a origin. Chief Battiloro would persist until he had answers. I have watched him sit with property owners and explain the cause as well as the origin of a fire to them as well as answer all of their questions. I have also seen Paul stop traffic at very busy intersections and assist eldery residents safely to the other side of the street. Paul could be seen walking through town speaking with residents, merchants as well as property owners. Do you see any of that now? Can the local resident identify the mayor, fire chief, or police chief? I seriously doubt it. This is a man took great pride in his numerous positions in the Town. He served proudly and expected his department to have the same sense of pride. Excuses were not acceptable. Sloppiness was not acceptable. Laziness was not acceptable.

    The current department heads of the Town of Westfield do not hold themselves or their departments to standards. They are all bobble heads. They all respond with "we can not do it, we are understaffed, we don't have the money". Try being resourceful, find another way, do not be lazy, take some pride in yourself and your department.
    You need more Paul Battiloro's in the Town.
    25 and out............................

  22. "Instead of moaning about budget cuts Chief Kelly, take a page from Chief Battiloro's extensive career, research the words, leadership, resourcefulness, and accountability."

    So I "researched the words" of Chief Battiloro and found that this is what he said over a decade ago, in the March 16th 2000 edition of the Westfield Leader:

    “Retiring Chief’s Letter Proposes Dramatic Changes”

    ”...We now only respond to a handful of working fires each year. In fact, I would say that less than 7 percent of our total calls for service each year are actual fires. It has become increasingly difficult to justify a 40-man paid fire department with annual salaries and expenses of $2.7 million a year.”

    The fire chief calls for a reorganization of the department. “That reorganization should begin at the top, with the elimination of one deputy chief through attrition. There is simply no need for two deputy chiefs. We are not a big department, and we are certainly not a busy one. . .”

    He points out in the letter that he made similar recommendations in 1997 to the Mayor’s Expenditure Review Committee. Indeed, at least one councilman said that Mr. Battiloro’s comments were a reiteration of comments and suggestions he had made for some time to the council.

    “With fewer and fewer fires, our personnel now have too much idle time on their hands,” Mr. Battiloro stated in the letter. “That is clearly evidence by the current 24-hour work schedule, in which our personnel log an average of 15 hours of ‘stand-by,’or ‘do nothing’ time, during a 24-hour shift.

    “It is time for our firefighters to get more actively involved. After all, we’re paying them top dollar to do a job. The time has come to further develop our EMS capabilities, to expand upon our in-service inspection program, and to further educate the public in fire safety. The Westfield Fire Department is far behind our counterparts in doing so,” Mr.Battiloro stated.

    Chief Battiloro writes further that many of his ideas have met with “strong resistance” from the firefighters' union, which has taken the position that such responsibilities are not part of their job...”

  23. So Chief Kelly should make them work instead of sitting around or sleeping for the better part of their shift. All the fmba wants is more money to sit around all day. Laziness

  24. I was reading the posting concerning the fire and read about the cry baby manager from Papa Johns.....pretty sad state where a business owner would rather throw out food then give it to the men and women risking their lives to put out a fire right down the road.....judging by his name if he had done it in his country of origin he would have been excuted on the spot.....since we are a just and fair nation I did the next best thing....I went on the Papa Johns website and posted his comments there....if enough people follow my example perhaps Papa Johns corporate headquarters will do the right thing and get rid of this selfish moron.....

  25. I expect that this is the best place to post this information. I received my homeowners insurance renewal policy today.
    I called my agent to find out why the policy was so expensive. One of the reasons that I got was that the "protection class" went from a 2 to a 3. It was further explained that the lower the protection class the better. I explained that there is a fire hydrant in front of my house and 1 fire house 2 blocks away as well as another fire house less than a mile away. After all the insuance language was explained
    It is thanks to the failure of the westfield fire department to respond and put out fires that our homeowners insurance will increase.
    Thanks guys, I pay your salaries, want to pay my insurance premium?