SEA ISLE CITY — After a rash of devastating fires over the past year, including one that claimed the life of an 89-year-old woman, some city residents are calling for a career company to take over the local volunteer fire department.
But the city is standing behind its crew, arguing a career department isn’t necessary with mutual aid agreements already in place. The city is also reviewing its building codes and other ways to mitigate the disastrous effects of structure fires in the densely developed seaside resort.
The city is dealing with something many other South Jersey shore towns deal with — balancing the needs of the community while relying on a volunteer service that is becoming smaller each year.
“Departments nationwide are trying everything they can to recruit and retain volunteers, and it’s just a never-ending battle that isn’t getting won,” Cape May County Fire Marshal Connie Johnson said. “Here, our numbers have been declining, as far as going through the academy. Our last class was 18. Back in the day, 20 years ago, I can remember having three dozen in a class.”
1 of 65
Investigators on Friday dug through the debris of the 54th Street home destroyed by fire Thursday in Sea Isle City.
Black smoke and flames could be seen from a fire that broke out on 54th Street in Sea Isle City, severely damaging three side-by-side duplex homes.Police Chief Thomas McQuillen said authorities received multiple 911 reporting the fire. (Nov. 29, 2018)
Flames seen inside a duplex home on 54th Street in Sea Isle City. Official said the fire broke out in one home, then spread to neighboring properties on either side. (Nov. 29, 2018)
Assisting fire companies, including Ocean City, took precautionary measures to prevent a fire that destroyed three duplex homes from spreading to other properties on the surrounding blocks. (Nov. 29, 2018)
The Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office described the unaccounted-for person in Thursday’s Sea Isle City fire as an elderly woman. Two residents were taken to area hospitals. Authorities did not provide identities for the injured or the missing woman.
Fire crews from Sea Isle City, Ocean City, Avalon, Ocean View and Strathmere fought Thursday’s multidwelling fire in Sea Isle.
Sea Isle City firefighters take a low angle to arch water to the top floors of two duplex units during a Thursday house fire which spread to neighboring properties. (Nov. 28, 2018)
The fire, which began in a duplex home on 54th Street, spread to neighboring properties on the block. Flames continuously broke out on the top floors of a home at the corner of Landis Avenue and 54th Street.