Five Questions for West Caldwell's New Fire Chief
Chief James "Jim" Alvine assumes the role of chief during an exciting time for the WCFD.
When West Caldwell's new fire chief isn't busy fighting fires, he's out investigating them.
James "Jim" Alvine, 56, was sworn in for a two-year term as chief of the West Caldwell Fire Department on Jan. 2 after some 39 years with the department. For his "day job," he has investigated fires, arson cases and explosions for insurance companies for more than three decades.
In his free time, he enjoys boating on Lake Hopatcong as well as golfing.
Alvine assumed the role of chief at an exciting time in the department's history. West Caldwell will move into an expanded and renovated firehouse later this year and is also gearing up for its 100th anniversary in August.
Patch sat down with Alvine this week to get to know him—and the 56-member and growing WCFD—a little better.
1. Tell us how you got involved with the West Caldwell Fire Department?
I was the first 18-year-old to join when the law got passed (lowering required age from 21). I used to watch my neighbor respond to fires. I was captain, second assistant chief and deputy chief for the last six years.
2. How do you feel about achieving the rank of chief?
I never thought I would get there. I have a lot of things I would like to do to help the fire department get into the 21st century. My main concern is that everyone comes home.
3. How does your experience as an insurance investigator help you on the scene of a fire?
I know how fire reacts. I have over 1,000 hours of investigative training. I am past president of the New Jersey Chapter of the International Association of Arson Investigators.
4. Have you ever been honored for heroism?
I received the Carnegie Hero Fund Award in 1987. I pulled a man out of a burning car right before it exploded in Pine Brook at 1 a.m. He was seat-belted in and we had to cut the seat belt. Soon after we dragged him out, the car exploded.
5. What's the status of the firehouse?
Bricking the front and the bay doors and finishing the inside remains to be done. The firehouse is expected to be completed by June 1.
Earlier this week, Chief Alvine gave Patch a tour of the firehouse.