Ex Chief Bombace looks to resuscitate image after behavior was blasted by judge in Reilly verdict
Kevin Reilly alleged that he reported two incidents in which firefighter safety was compromised because of violations by his superiors.
The recent decision by Judge Menelaos W. Toskos reducing Firefighter Kevin Reilly’s 3.5 million dollar jury award to $500,000.00 told only half of the story.
Firefighter Reilly’s “whistle blower” claim that he and his colleagues were ordered to clean up an unknown chemical spill at The Valley Hospital was proven to be false during the court proceedings. The chemical had been identified by The Bergen County Hazardous Materials Team, which was called to The Valley Hospital at 7:30 PM on Sunday, August 12, 2007, at the request of the Fire Department, for what was then an unknown spill in the area of the Hospital Pharmacy. I was also called to the scene by the on duty Fire Captain.
The members of the Ridgewood Fire Department and Bergen County Hazardous Materials Team contained and then identified the spilled material, which was identified as 1000 cc of Glacial Acetic Acid. Bergen County Hazmat and Fire Department members then used an absorbent to pick up the liquid. Once all of the liquid had been picked up they double bagged the absorbent and the broken bottle for disposal. The bagged material was turned over to a Hospital Representative for disposal in the Hospitals normal hazardous waste flow. This action was documented in a report filed by the Bergen County Hazardous Materials Team (BCDHS Case Number 2007-8-71) see attachment.
The next day, Monday, August 13, 2007, Deputy Chief David Yaden and I returned to Valley Hospital in the morning to speak to the Valley Hospital Safety Officer about incident and to insure that the already contained and bagged material was going to be disposed of properly. When we went to check on the hazardous material it was noticed that the outer bag had been torn at some point. We called for the on duty firefighters to respond to The Valley Hospital and I instructed Firefighter Reilly and the other Firefighters to wear their appropriate respiratory protection with gloves and to place the torn bag into another bag and then place a hazardous materials label on the new bag.
None of the already bagged absorbent material had spilled from either of the inner bags. No spill was cleaned up by Firefighter Reilly or the other Firefighters. At no time were these Firefighters placed in any danger and because there was no spill there was no need to call the Bergen County Hazardous Materials Team for this situation.
James Bombace, Chief (Retired)
Ridgewood Fire Department