News Flash


Posted on: July 30, 2021

Joint Exploratory Committee - Fire Svcs


Presentations, reports, video and news coverage related to fire merger.

The South Orange & Maplewood Joint Exploratory Committee on Fire Services hosted a community meeting on July 26, 2021. The community is encouraged to review materials below and provide feedback to the governing bodies.

Presentation: A copy of the presentation is available here: South Orange & Maplewood Fire Services Community Meeting

Video Recording: A video recording of the meeting can be viewed here: Joint Fire Services Meeting

Background: In October 2017, outside consultant, Manitou, Inc. delivered its final report, “An Analysis of the Operational Efficiencies of and the Feasibility of Consolidation, Merger, or Sharing of South Orange and Maplewood’s Municipal Fire Protection Services.”  In late 2020, Manitou was tasked with updating its study to provide timely and fact-based data as the process of planning for a merger of the two agencies continued. The supplemental report documents areas where changes have occurred and provides updates to steps taken toward implementation. 

The full reports can be found here: 

Executive Summary Findings (Supplemental Update Page 9)

To reiterate our findings from both reports, the advantages of combining the two Fire Departments into one include:

  • Will consistently increase staffing assigned to fire incidents, increasing initial response to reported structural fires from 6-8 personnel per tour in South Orange and 8-10 personnel per tour in Maplewood to 14-17 personnel per tour in a single department which brings the combined agencies into stronger compliance with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1710’s staffing recommendations.

This will pay immediate benefits through:

  • More effective initial attack to suppress the fire and make rescues
  • Greater firefighter safety by having backup personnel available immediately
  • Improving current response times by keeping all equipment and apparatus in service and providing immediate response from the closest station
  • Improves administration, training, and efficiency by using best practices from both agencies
  • Unifies dispatch for safer, more effective operations
  • Makes no reductions in firefighting line personnel and achieves taxpayer savings through the reduction of redundant management and supervision specifically one (1) Fire Chief and four (4) Deputy Chiefs bringing the current total of a combined department from 76 to 71 through attrition.

Consolidation Savings (Presentation Pages 26-29)

The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs Local Assistance Bureau completed a comprehensive financial analysis of savings and cost-avoidance related to the implementation of recommendations which addresses redundancies in the Chief and Deputy Chief rank as a result of the efficiencies. Their analysis concludes that at the optimal staffing of 71 described in the report, $1.6M in annual, reoccurring savings will be achieved.



Submit Your Feedback and Questions

Maplewood Mayor Frank McGehee and South Orange Village President Sheena Collum encourage members of the public to attend and contribute to this important shared-service discussion. Feedback following the joint meeting may be mailed to:

News Coverage of Community Meeting

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