The lecture hosted many speakers such as mayor of Union City and state Sen. Brian Stack, North Hudson Regional Fire and Rescue's Battalion Chief Michael Cranwell, the city's own Capt. Lenny Calvo, and other officials. (see sidebar)
The seminar, spoken in English and Spanish, was the second of in a series of three held throughout the city in order to educate the public on issues of fire safety such as fire prevention and the importance of smoke detectors.
Cranwell also emphasized emergency preparation, cooking safety, electricity maintenance, responsible smoking, and, due to their overwhelming popularity during the winter, space heaters.
"Fire safety is something the public should think of everyday, not just one week out of the year," said Cranwell who has been promoting fire safety for 20 years and has been a firefighter for 34 years.
If the aforementioned methods didn't work, Cranwell emphasized the fire department's accessibility.
"Never hesitate to call us [firefighters]," said Cranwell. "We'd rather deal with a small problem before it turns into a big one."
In order to fortify the lecture, officials were on hand to distribute 36 smoke and carbon dioxide detectors, stove rags, temperature sticks, and other items such as pencils and literature all promoting fire safety.
Union City's fire prevention unit also brought their mobile van to demonstrate what to do in case of a fire. Police officer Mike Garcia was on hand to guide and educate those Roosevelt students who wanted to experience what it is like to be in a fire.
Capt. Calvo of Union City's Engine No. 5 - located on 43rd Street near Bergenline Avenue - was also on hand to interact with the community.
"We want people to put a face on the fire department so folks can see what great guys we are," said Capt. Calvo. After the lecture, residents were encouraged to speak and introduce themselves to the firefighters of the community, many of which were able to answer concerns and questions citizens had.
Twenty-year Union City resident Lucy Guinnen had one of her longtime concerns answered.
"I had a question about electricity," said Guinnen, adding, "I was worried about my [old house]. When I shut off the lights, it shocks me a little bit, and I learned it was more dangerous than I thought it was. I now know what steps to take [to fix it] thanks to the firefighters. This is good for the Union City community."
Resident Francisco Mercado best summarized the sentiments of both sides.
"A lot of lives would be saved if people paid attention [to the lecture]," said Mercado.
Nicolas Millan can be reached at NMillan@hudsonreporter.com
BY THE NUMBERS: Capt. Cranwell began his lecture by explaining to residents the roots of North Hudson Regional Fire and Rescue; however, the true story lies in the numbers. In 1999, five municipalities (Union City, West New York, North Bergen, Guttenberg, and Weehawken) regionalized their fire departments, forming the NHRFR. With over 300 firefighters, NHRFR serves nearly 195,000 residents in a 10-square-mile area and approximately 50,000 people who commute and work in the community. The 12 engine companies, 5 ladder companies, 1 rescue unit, 1 marine unit, and 1 haz-mat unit; are on hand to assess the dangers that could rise out of any of the region's 74,000 housing units. -NM