As you are well aware, the fire at the Hoboken Charter School had devastating effects on hundreds of families. Although not displaced from their homes, the children of the Hoboken Charter School were displaced from the security of their beloved school.
I would like to acknowledge the principals and staff for the Hoboken Charter School, All Saints Episcopal Day School and A Whole New World Daycare Center. I personally was one of the first police officers on scene and found that all students were out of their respective schools waiting to go to their safe areas. Every teacher and administrator I encountered during those critical first minutes was incredibly calm and professional. Though half a dozen police officers helped escort and evacuate the schools, the teachers and staff of the schools were truly heroic.
Once again, the Hoboken Fire Department overcame their dangerously low staffing level. The twenty or so on-duty Firefighters were not enough to keep the blaze back. The much relied upon mutual aid from Jersey City and North Hudson Fire Departments were drastically delayed due to their own emergencies. If it wasn’t for the quick response of over a dozen off-duty Hoboken Firemen, the fire (which was contained to one building) could have spread leading to a far worse outcome. As usual, the citizens of Hoboken received the services they expect from a professional and dedicated Fire Department.
The Hoboken Volunteer Ambulance Corp showed that they are worth their weight in gold. There were 15 of these unpaid EMTs on scene in a matter of minutes setting up staging and treatment areas. Six Hoboken Firemen and one North Hudson Fireman were treated and transported to Hoboken University Medical Center by the Ambulance Corp all while continuing to provide ambulance service for the rest of the city. As one EMT put it, “Unfortunately we are use to fire scenes.”
Unfortunate and lucky. It is unfortunate that over the past few years so many families, businesses and now a school have been displaced by one of the most traumatic events a person can endure. Lucky in the fact that a city of 50,000 residents with tens of thousands of daily commuters, can sustain itself with such limited resources. Luckier still that those who are a part of what keeps this community safe, its emergency services personnel, are the most dedicated and professional in the state.
All in all, a horrific day was averted; A bad day at work brought more hugs from family and friends; a destroyed building will make a school stronger and a community come together.
Sergeant John Petrosino
Hoboken Police Superior Officers Association President.