2013 marks a change in leadership in the Mahwah Fire Department. Lifetime Mahwah resident and veteran township firefighter Ed Garza, who has served as the first assistant fire chief of the department for the past two years, was sworn in as the new fire chief at a New Year’s Day ceremony Tuesday afternoon.
Because of a township rule stating that fire chiefs may only serve two one-year terms in the position, immediate past chief Brian Potter – who served in the role in 2011 and 2012 – stepped down. A crowd of firefighters, family, friends and township officials welcomed Garza to the role Tuesday.
“I am happy to finally be here,” Garza said after officially being sworn in. “It’s been a long time.
Garza has been a member of the FD since 1981, and has served in various leadership roles throughout his time in the department, including HazMat coordinator, Co. 2 battalion chief and department assistant chief. All of the positions, he said, helped prepare him for his new gig.
“It was good training for what I’ll be doing as chief,” he said. “Going from assistant chief to chief is a good transition.”
Two new assistant chiefs – Tom Loreto and Ray Virgens, who both served as battalion chiefs last year – were also sworn in Tuesday.
“I am proud to be an officer in this company,” Virgens said.
Moving from his previous office to this one, “means working with the entire town,” Loreto added. “It’ll offer some new challenges that I’m really excited for.”
Garza said he plans to use 2013 to “keep the department progressing. Many people don’t realize we’re a volunteer organization because we operate at such a professional level all the time. We’re always looking for ways to stay current, and I want to make sure we keep doing that this year.”
Past MFD chiefs and chiefs from neighboring fire departments attended the swearing-in ceremony, as well as town council members and the mayor, who swore in all of the department’s new officers. Mayor Bill Laforet thanked members for their dedication to the township, and called the ceremony a “celebration of all that you do for the community.”
Firefighters were sworn in to leadership roles in all five Mahwah fire companies, and the township's ambulance corps:
Company 1: Mike Cooper
Company 2: Robert Conly
Company 3: Cord Meyer
Company 4: Chris Konash
Company 5: Harold Wilson
Company 1: Mike Walsh
Company 2: Ken Warnet
Company 3: Matt Sorochynskyj
Company 4: Vic Bartoloma
Company 5: William Mann
Company 1: Chris Rupert, Guy Capello
Company 2: Robert Himber, Michael Roe
Company 3: Stephan Sorochynskyj, Frank Parker
Company 4: Rich Cronenberg, Matt Buonocore
Company 5: James Fox, Ryan Mann
Rescue Captain: Ed Drejman
Rescue Lieutenant: Eric Moritz
Senior HazMat Coordinator: Ken Warnet
Coordinators: Mike Roe, Gordon McIntire, Chris Vandling
Captain: Larry Wright
Lieutenant: Tor Lunde
Co. 4 Ambulance
Captain: Chuck Jandris
Assistant Captain: Victoria Pope
Lieutenants: Charlie Croker, Karl Miller
Department elections are held in November every year. Because of a scheduling conflict, Co. 1 Ambulance Corps was not able to hold its elections in November, and will have a separate swearing-in of its new officers later this month.