top of page


Fire Chief James Voorhis reports that the Westwood Fire Department was called 19 times for emergency
assistance during the month of February 2023. Chief Voorhis reports that one of the calls turned out to
be a serious incident.
In the late evening hours of February 4, the Westwood Fire Department was called to Care One at Valley
Nursing home. Arriving quickly Fire Chief Voorhis was met by a smoke condition in the halls of the
complex. Due to the potential for numerous victims, he immediately called for assistance from the River
Vale, Emerson and Hillsdale fire Departments and local emergency medical services. He ordered staff to
close all doors in the hall to prevent smoke from entering any patient rooms. Fire crews entered the
building immediately upon arrival and initiated a search for the cause of the smoke. The cause was
determined to be four large electric motors arcing and smoking in building mechanical rooms. The
closed doors to these rooms contained most of the smoke. After shutting the electric power to the
building and determining that fire did not extend beyond the immediate area fire crews started a vent
operation with large fans to clear the smoke out of the entire building. Firefighters determined that a
large transformer that fed the building short circuited causing the motors to malfunction. No injuries
were reported and the building was turned back over to the building maintenance department.
These 19 emergency calls, five training events and two maintenance nights required approximately 380
hours of volunteer time.
The Westwood Fire Department was called to assist the Emerson Fire Department three times, the River
Vale Fire department on one occasion, and received mutual aid from Hillsdale, River Vale and Emerson
Fire departments at one call.
Automatic fire alarms were received seven times in February. Although no fires existed at any of these
incidents, a full fire department response is required. Firefighters check the entire building to determine
if an actual fire exists. A variety of problems caused these automatic alarms: workers in the buildings
unintentionally activated alarms on one occasion, cooking smoke caused two alarm activations, water
leaking onto a smoke detector was found at one response and malfunctioning systems on one other
One fire department response was for Carbon Monoxide (CO) alarms. Carbon monoxide, CO, is an
odorless and colorless gas given off by improperly burning heating or cooking equipment. It can be fatal
at high levels. Again, each of the CO calls required a full fire department response. Fire crews check the
entire building with meters and determined that at one CO incident fire crews found slight readings,
vented the building. The occupancies were turned over to PSE&G gas technicians for further
One time citizens smelled natural at a residence. Fire crews checked with meters and did not find any
gas readings.
One call for emergency assistance was for two occupants trapped in a malfunctioning elevator. A Fire
rescue crew responded, secured the elevator car and removed the citizens without incident.

The Westwood Fire Department and Fire Prevention Bureau would like to remind readers that some
older smoke detectors are equipped with batteries that need to be changed. These batteries should be
changed twice a year. A good time to change batteries is when we change our clocks forward or back
each spring and fall.
This article was submitted by the Westwood Fire Department. Any Fire Department related questions
can be e-mailed to or by calling 201-664-0526. The fire prevention bureau
can be reached at or by calling 201-664-7100 ext 308. PLEASE NOTE; THESE PHONE

bottom of page