Friday, March 19, 2010

A Fireman's Letter

Ms. Nicora,

Let me first tell you, I respond as the Chief that stepped down March 9th. I too have been monitoring the responses of this fiasco with great interest as well, although not personal. I agree that there have been many inappropriate things stated but I must disagree with you on several points of your personal interest.
I have known Lou for most of my 48+ years and more than the 26+ years as a fire company member. I will tell you how I looked up to this man until that very day of March 9th, 2010. Yes, Lou is a grumpy old man and admits it himself often to everyone. It’s Lou’s way or the highway, yes that’s true but doesn’t make it always right, doesn’t make it always safe and doesn’t make it always surest. Ask him how he got hurt at a recent call for not wearing gear. His way, NOT safe, NOT surest. Brushed it off as a little injury. He has called out myself and other Chief’s on the gear issue since he has been called out, but most, if not all of the time, the Chief was in a Command position and not inside the “hot zone” like he was that night. On a personal level, he has been wrong sometimes but will skirt the issue and turn it around as being right.
I have been a volunteer for many things but mostly a volunteer fireman for the past 26 years as I said. It is not thankless. I hear all the time from anyone I speak with, neighbors, fellow firefighters, business associates, “you are all to be commended for the job that you do”. It is refreshing to hear these comments.
As you say, he has helped quite a few members and am sure they have thanked him personally for that. He has always been this way and is one of his good traits.
Along with Lou being awarded his plaque, my father was also, that same incident and my father said that it is one of his proudest moments, as it should be for all of those men that day. I too have been cited for saving a man from a burning car while on my way to work one day. It is something you never think you will do during your firefighter career but when it does, it sure makes you proud whether you are recognized or not.
It was mentioned how Lou returned to his job after retiring. That’s fine being that it has helped the firefighters so much in the equipment that the District has supplied. However, I hope the men in that office are taking notes.
Please note that there is certain equipment that Lou retains in his vehicle but note that he is not at every fire call. There is equipment on our trucks that we use for when he does not respond, for if we had to rely on his presence at each call, we might be in trouble. He makes a large percentage of calls but he does have a life also and other times just doesn’t respond for whatever reason (not feeling well, whatever). We are a sufficient fire company and it does not revolve around Lou.
I won’t respond as to any corruption because I would be lying if I said I knew any of these details.
Now, regarding the assault. I will have you know that as Chief, I investigated this whole situation fully with every single person that was there that night. 9 witnesses excluding Lou and the Deputy Chief. I asked everyone the same questions and I reported my results to the Fire Company that night. Provoked, no, no one, not even Lou said he was provoked. The DC stepped in front of a heated attitude person approaching one of the firefighters he was just yelling at. I say heated because of all the people that saw him proceeding, not one person said that he wasn’t heated. No one said the DC was yelling into Lou’s face either. Poking him in his chest, I think not. Lou accused him of pushing him backward 4 times. I think not. Of the nine people interviewed, 3 could not see from their position, 5 said that the DC did not push him (not that they didn’t see him not push him but said that he did not push him) and one said that he got pushed. I discount this one because after that, this 1 person stated that Lou did not push the DC while Lou admits it himself that he pushed the DC. Of the 5 that stated the DC did not push Lou, 2 of them were Commissioners.
Again, did Lou push the DC?, 4 said they did not see because of positioning in the room (the 1 additional is because he said he left the truck room). The other 4 (including a Commissioner) saw Lou push the DC (more than once).
It was clear that Lou was not honest with me the day he told me his side of the story February 25th and that night, March 9th was not honest with his fellow firefighters. All’s it would have taken was to stand tall like a man, admit the truth, apologize and move on.
There were too many witnesses to get by this incident and I for one am sorry that this ever happened and is now cause for the low moral of this Fire Company.
I resigned for my own reasons as stated that night and noted that my Captain and Deputy Chief have also resigned.
We never wanted this to happen and I am sure Lou didn’t want it to happen either. BUT IT DID. Nobody is stabbing anyone in the back and certainly, these firemen in this Company are not cowards.
You live with the truth, you die with the truth and everyone knows what the truth is. Especially those that witnessed it and those that were involved.
I have the documentation of my interviews with those witnesses and summary of my findings and am willing to turn them over to the Commissioners, should they request them.
I have nothing against Lou and I have moved on. While I remain a Life Member of the Fire Company, I am proud of the men that remain to serve. The truth is out there and those that don’t have clouded judgment know that, it is now time for the Commissioners to perform their own unbiased investigation.
Lastly, I said that I would not respond to any of these “blog” responses and have not til now, but your response warranted a response with the facts.
Respectfully, Gary Bellone
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37 comments:

Anonymous said...

I don't know how to sign on as my name so I will post as anonymous, but I am Gary Bellone.
Please know that this will be my one and only post about this subject. Know also that I took no joy in writing this nor have I taken any joy in investigating the situation that has been discussed. I have had many sleepless night since February 23rd and dreaded the date of March 9th, our meeting night however I thought, maybe, just maybe..... but no.
So apparently some people spoke out through this sight and the snowball started rolling. Since my resignation, I have slept better and do not have the knot in my stomach that had been there for weeks also. I only wanted to lead these firefighters but under the circumstances, it was better for myself and family that I resigned. I hope this can be resolved and maybe we can ALL be better people for it. I am proud to be a member of ATHC.

Anonymous said...

I was a neighbor to the Ballone family growing up and can say if the boys are standing up like this there is something rotten in the leadership at the firehouse. These boys were quiet and reserved and to be so vocal over this one issue leaves me 100% assured that the firehouse leaders are not taking the action they are sworn to. That is all I can say on the subject. Thank you very much.

N. J. S. A. 40A: 14-54.1 said...

The chief or other superior officer of any municipal paid or part-paid fire department or volunteer fire company, or a State fire warden, who is charged with the duty of supervising or directing operations at the scene of any fire shall be the sole authority within the lines established by said fire chief or other superior fire officer, or State fire warden, at the scene of such fire with respect to all firefighting operations relating to the protection of lives and property endangered by such fire, and within such fire lines such authority shall supersede that of any municipal police authority. The authority hereby invested in the chief or other superior officer, or State fire warden, shall terminate at such time as he shall declare the fire out. Nothing in this act shall affect the powers possessed by the Governor under the various emergency acts nor the powers possessed by any State agency to protect the public health, welfare and safety.
(Bold italics added for emphasis.)

The act mentions nothing abuot district chiefs. It mentions nothing about created jobs.

Commisioners should resign said...

The absolute silence from the department leadership is an outrage. they only care about protecting their own. let the membership and future of the house be damned. I have no respect for any of them any longer. They should all have to reign for violation of office.

Anonymous said...

Remember in febuary!

Old men that said...

Do the comissioners take an oath of office? Not that it means much since it is an old guy brotherhood with Lou working the strings. So sad it is that these old men don't know when to let go. Soon will come the day when these men who have betrayed us will sit at the retired firefighter home and try and not pee on themselves as they try and remember the good old days. But we are supposed to let them get away with doing nothing about this whole Lou thing. I think not. Push this thing all the way.

Refuse to discuss it ??? said...

I saw Mcaleer yesterday at Shop Rite. I asked him about his own thing with Chief Lou. He refused to discuss it and said I am not a volunteer firemen and it is for them to handle it themselves. Looks like Vin or Jim got to him.

Anonymous said...

Of course they did. He works for the twp.

You can bet JM knows said...

Having known Joe for a long time he has a phenomenal memory. I can only imagine what he has seen and would remember or bring to light if he had to. You can bet a whole lot of people do not want that to happen. He still is very mindful and involved with the goings on in the schools though so he stays in touch.

5-0 involved yet? said...

Don't let this Lou thing get swept away. It is long past the time that this ogre is shown the door. He is not a nice man and everybody knows it. He was instrumental in putting the department together but the price as of late is too high. Time to send him packing for his disrespectful behavior.



Did anyone hear if 5-0 is involved yet. They are late as usual it seems. Some may say on purpose.

Anonymous said...

Hey asshole leave the cops alone

Anonymous said...

I GUESS THE CAT GOT EVERYONES FINGERS NOW THAT THE CHEIF HAS SPOKEN THE TRUTH

? Official misconduct ? said...

I am I wrong? If an assault occurs and the police hear about it are the duly sworn to investigate? If they take no action would it be because of the people involved? So many questions for the asshole who shirks responsibility and lashes out for questioning the obvious inaction by the people paid to investigate an assault. An assault that they know happened. So much for all that money that they cost us out of our taxes.

Trusted leadership? NOT ! said...

What truth is that by the way. What Chief told the truth? Former Chief Ballone do you mean? It cannot be Lou since he is silent on the entire subject. I for one would like to hear from brother Faulk as to what happened. Him i trust. The others should not be trusted to take out the trash at the house.

Anonymous said...

The fire chief.NOT THE DISTRICT CHEIF.The police were not called yet.

Leadership ? Accountability ? said...

Did not anyone have a phone in the firehouse that night to report the assault? Did not anyone think of the liabilities if someone sues over this having occured in a municipal building?

Too many questions on this entire situaution have been left unanswered by the supposed leadership of the firehouse.

What is it that people say about leadership? Everyone wants to be a leader but no one wants to be lead. This is so true in this situation. To say nothing of accountability. That is the other thing that leadership wants no part of.

Anonymous said...

The Police do NOT react to rumor! So far there is only the allegations on this site. Until the assaulted party reports it to the Police Department can they begin an investigation. If there is no complaint there is no investigation. So far as I've seen the Police Department has acted appropriately. Someone needs to call on the assaulted party and have them come forward. If they do not wish to, then it is up to the leadership to initiate the complaint with the Police that will get the ball rolling. Please don't think they are sitting on their hands for political reasons.
That's crap! They are legally bound by law and procedure. Please keep the emphasis where it belongs. Thank You.

ITS THEIR JOB said...

THE P D WONT DO ANYTHING BECAUSE IT IS LOU. EVERYTHING ELSE POSTED ABOVE THIS IS NOT BULLSHIT IT HAPPENED. IT SHOULD BE THE DUTY OF THE POLICE TO LOOK INTO THIS IF FOR NO OTHER REASON THEN IT HAPPENED ON MUNICIPAL PROPERTY. EXCUSES LIKE ARE ANONYMOUSLY POSTED ABOVE JUST SCREAMS GLORIFIED SECURITY GUARDS THAT ARE PAID OVER 100K A YEAR TO IGNORE AN ASSAULT. THE NAMES OF PEOPLE INVOLVED ARE WELL KNOWN. LEADERSHIP INVOLVED ARE WELL KNOWN. THE CONNECTIONS TO POLICE ARE WELL KNOWN. EXCUSES BY POLICE TO NOT INVESTIGATE IS JUST MORE WELL KNOWN BULLSHIT.

Find me yet? said...

I agree with the post above. They know it happened and the names are on here. What are they going to say that they dont look at this site. That is a lie you can be sure. Got to figure Norm and company have been looking to get
p d help to identify all of us.

Anonymous said...

Fear that day if the police start an investigation of every citizen whose name has been mentioned on the internet in connection with a crime.

Anonymous said...

Fear that day if the police start an investigation of every citizen whose name has been mentioned on the internet in connection with a crime.

Anonymous said...

OK genius, you figured me out. I have allowed the cops to use my blogger detector to identify all of you. I am soon going to order the cops to collect all of you and bring you to be reprogrammed to go along with my plans to take over the world

More B S to cover up for Lou said...

Fear the day that the police that have heard about the assault, been told directly about the assault or have heard it through the grapevine about the assault and did nothing about it. I think they know it happened and chose to do nothing about it due to their close associations with the man who should be known as defendant Lou.

Commissioners silence says ? said...

Some will say to let it go and await news from the Bellone boys who are most involved to speak. If the next meeting is controlled by the commissioners then that is the process.

So we should trust that Vinnie, and the other commissioner will do right by the membership and take decisive action against the abuser and the assaulter? They will make sure there is no legal problems with the assault and berating of the members by Lou? After all you don't think the commissioners will only try to protect or side with their buddie Lou do you? They would not to just try to keep this quiet and out of the public view would they? I mean after all the commissioners have said so much already. Not.

Wait that I forgot that is exactly what they are doing by being so silent on that which some of them witnessed or covered up. Take your pick. I am out.

Anonymous said...

Nobody that knows the comissioners thinks they will do anything against there boy L A. It is just a momentary disruption to all of them that they are hiding from there supposed responsibility. Not like anyone was assaulted or berated by the monster of the FD or anything that should cause them to make proper leadership decisions about or anything.
I understand that the new gov wants to have the FD and school elections voted on in November on election day when the great majority take the time to vote. That change would for sure hurt the little kingdoms like Vin and the others have farmed and protected for years. November elections for all budgets and elective offices is a very good idea for us taxpayers for sure.

Anonymous said...

Is the town council responsible for overseeing the fire department leadership or budget? Should they have been informed or taken any action? I know one of them is on the council and is also a leader at the fire department also. Anyone know anything?

Kenneth J Costello said...

I have been an Aberdeen Firefighter for 14 years and i have watched this company shrink...shrink in membership and also shrink in morale.Lets face it ...as anyone with a family knows life can absorb alot if not all free time...we all have carrers and family commitments that get you up early and to bed late,with little time to spare....and what do we do with that time??? respond to 300 or so Fire related emergenceys a year... if a car hits another and that person cant get out....we get them out and into the hands of Medics....If in the middle of the night a home goes on fire, it is US who leaves the commfort of our homes and go and put the Fire out...If a cat gets stuck in a tree....guess who goes...Your children come home from school and they say the Fireman came to our class and i know what to do in case of an Emergency....US again.This does not include man hours spent on Training...recertifacation's....truck and equipment maintanance....not to mention a parade or 2...and you ask how much we get paid for this JOB....0 dollars and 0 cent...payment for us is a job well done, the fire is out ,the cats out of the tree...and my brother Firefighter's and the citizens of this community are SAFE.These are the reasons we leave our homes NIGHT..DAY...BBQ IN THE YARD WITH 20 friends and family and 2 minutes later you are putting on a mask and going into a burning house,with little notice we stand prepaired to meet these challanges...and meet them we do.
This situation now makes this service bitter and realy shows how little we are regarded by our own people...i am now not sure of my future in an organization that holds such little regard for the very people that make it work...US...not one man as we are being told...but US as a team
I end this post by saying good luck to all my brothers and sisters and be safe
your brother F.F. Kenneth J Costello Station 63-1 Fire dist#1

Anonymous said...

"Commissioners silence @6:58AM and all before and after. Please know that this is not a Bellone boys thing and note that we are only some that post our names rather than rename anonymous. We respond because of the rumor that Todd & I are writing all these responses against Mr. Auriemma. As we mentioned, we both grew up with knowing this man because our father was a firefighter before us.
I respond for myself, as Todd has his own voice. I respond of those who believe I have something against Louis Auriemma for which I do not. As I previously mentioned, I have known him for probably over 40 years and he was the one that pushed me in the Company to where I was before I resigned. Although I have had great respect for the man, I disagreed with him many times and performing the review of this 2/23 incident was something very difficult for me. I reported my results to the membership regarding the Company issues. Although I have only spoken to a couple of Commissioners, they as a body have not asked me for anything and leave it up to them to deal with their issues, protection of this town and support of the Fire Company that works for them. I was only doing the job I was elected by my membership and should there be any hard feelings toward me, that is for that person(s) to deal with.
My fellow brothers know how I feel and my passion for the Company.
Please don't make this a "Bellone Boys" against Lou Auriemma thing because that is the farthest thing from what it is.

Anonymous said...

Great Job Kenny That was a great way of putting things. I think having you in this fire company is a asset to ATHC and to the citizens of Aberdeen. I hope you stay with us. Because us because ATHC is not the same without you.

Todd A. Bellone (1st fire Malden Dr) said...

I see my brother Gary responded to the Bellone Boys comment. Where is that shit coming from? I know my name has been discussed multiple times by the Commissioners as being the author to the percentage of these postings in all three threads and believe me or not, with the exception of one, the remainder bear my name as does this one. it is easy enough for them to blame the parties that walk out of the meeting that night than to look at the person or persons that are still showing up on tuesday nights and to fire calls.

This is not a Bellone thing, our name reaches far back with this company with myself, Gary, Scott and my father who also was a Commissioner for 9-1/2 years.

This fire company has taken from the Bellone's and given us beyond measure and Lou has been in intricate part of both facets.

I made it perfectly clear the evening of the meeting that I had NO vendetta against Lou and most of you know we have clashed in the past. I also made it clear that evening that if it were two seperate individuals involved in this incident I would have made the same motion against the individual I witnessed as being that who assaulted or battered the victim.

I can't imagine my life without the fire company being part of it and I hope to return to it one day as although I only have 26+yrs on the books I have invested over 44yrs (my age) by virtue of my father being a memeber when I was born. Lou and his lovely wife Carol have been in my life since I was a baby and I remember as a young child visiting their first house in Keyport and Carol would take me swimming in the pool and swing me around in the water. It pains me to know that Carol will never see that young child in me ever again because of miss informative individuals putting my name on all these anonymous post. I am not disputing Lou lied that evening nor would I, He knows the truth and if he chooses to never utter it is his choice as he is the one that has to live with it.

I am saddened by what it has become and I suspect others feel this same way but will not speak for them. No one will come out of this unscathed and the outcome of that meeting night has set a precedence never to be duplicated.

Speaking for myself, I do not want to see Lou go down in flames but I feel the right thing has to be done here. If I were the one providing the advice, he should step down, retire and be the life member that he deserves to be. If the Commissioners need assistance with specing out a new truck, there is no one better to call on than Lou, help with the budget, call Lou, etc, etc.

My point in all of this is that the power needs to change hands and I can only hope that no one gets hurt anymore emotionally than all ready has happened no matter what the outcome.

And as for the police getting involved, its a non-issue and without warrant. Battery or not, it was one individual shoving another without recipercation. I do not condone anyone laying their hands on an other individual and if you choose to do that than be prepared to pay the concequences.

Anonymous said...

I HOPE THIS ENDS SOON THINGS NEED TO GET BACK TO NORMAL. THINGS NEED TO CHANGE. WE NEED OUR CHIEF BACK AND THE OTHER MEMBERS WHO WALKED THAT DAY. THE PLACE IS NOT THE SAME, ITS SAD TO EVEN COME TO THE FIRE HOUSE ANYMORE. LETS END THIS AND GO BACK TO NORMAL.

It needs decisive action now said...

Normalcy will be attained only if Lou is sent packing. No other result will benefit the house and its future then his dismissal or final and for good retirement. It is very sad that Lou did not go out on top and has lowered himself out of an ego that knows no bounds. He will now go out as a man who stood before the house membership and lied to each and evry one of us. He assaulted or pushed another member in a heated argument. For that act and more along with his abusive know it all behavior he should go. Now. The leadership needs to seperate itself from their long time relationship and ensure the future of the house. Lou is not the future he is the remnant of an arrogant and often secretive past.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the post above. It is very disappointing for Lou A. to have lowered himself to this type of behavior. His downward spiral was sad to watch. Some of us saw it coming for some time now. Some others who had firstahnd experiences with Lou A. and chose not to share them could have shed more light on his problems. Problems that Lou A. brought upon himself of course.

Anonymous said...

An investigation happened over a procedural incident? An assault occured over accountability? What does the FD leadership not understand?

It is time for him to go. If not try responding to situations with just the leadership. Eventually others with follow the Gary and Todd example and others who have had enough abuse or worse from him will leave as well. Better put out a new volunteers needed sign for the FD.

Anonymous said...

Hey QTPie wash the black shoe polish out of your hair and face the facts that change is needed

Anonymous said...

Huh?

Anonymous said...

LOL, they have been talking about Reagan alot too recently, kinda reminds me of that guy. Must be the hair.