City Honors Firefighters Retiring after 38 Years

The city council honored six of its oldest firefighters yesterday, three days before they were set to retire. Each has worked 38 years for the fire department.

Camden Courier-Post – September 29, 1989

By SEAN McKINNEY, Courier-Post Staff

CAMDEN — It was the end of an era.

The city council honored six of its oldest firefighters yesterday, three days before they were set to retire. Each has worked 38 years for the fire department.

Also honored was Deputy Chief James McMaster, who is retiring at the age of 48 after 26 years of service.

“If I’m not mistaken, we have just witnessed 254 years of dedication,” said Council President Gwendolyn Faison after proclamations were read honoring each man.” Let’s have another round of applause.”

Among the retirees was John Mogck Jr., chief of the 250-member fire department since 1981. Mogck received a standing ovation from the council members and members of the audience at the regular caucus meeting.

Mogck’s replacement, Battalion Chief Kenneth Penn, 45, is to be sworn in on Monday by Mayor Melvin R.” Randy” Primas.

The others retirees included Capt. Anthony Orme, 65, and Capt. Robert Olesiewicz, 69.

Also honored, but not attending the meeting, were Capt. John DiMaggio, 70, and firefighters William Stone, 65, and Phillip MacDonald, 69.

All but McMasters had been forced to retire by a recent state Supreme Court decision upholding the mandatory retirement age of 65 for public safety employees.

The six were among 50 men who were hired in 1951 to increase manpower in the fire department to reduce work weeks from 72 to 56 hours. The current work week is 42 hours.

“I started at $2,400 a year,” said Mogck in a recent interview.” Now I make $52,000. I’ve seen many changes, most of them improvements brought about by the unions.”

In other action yesterday, the city attorney’s office was criticized on three fronts.

Frank McGuckin, president of Local 788 of the International Association of Firefighters, accused city Attorney Patricia Darden of trying to force firefighters Charles Arline, 40, and Robert Allen, 44, to retire because of work-related injuries.

Arline was involuntarily retired by city council Aug. 24. No official action was taken on Allen’s case.

McGuckin said after the meeting that Darden was trying to use forced retirement to pressure injured firefighters into returning to work before they recovered.

But the union president said the practice was illegal. He said Arline’s forced resignation, which was to go into effect today, was reversed by city Business Administrator Patrick Keating. That could not be confirmed last night.

Darden, making a rare appearance at a council meeting yesterday, walked out of the meeting as McGuckin spoke. Later, in an interview, she said she knew nothing about the issue, saying pension decisions were made by Keating, who could not be reached late yesterday.

“She’s a liar,” said McGuckin, also contacted later.” I spoke to her about this.”

In another matter, two recipients of $10,000 grants from the city charged the legal department was holding up contracts that would release the grants.

Carlos M. Soto of the Mi Casita Day Care Center said he had been waiting since June 9 to use the grant to repair a roof at the center. Carlos Peraza of the Latin American Economic Development Association Inc. (LAEDA), said he had been waiting since Aug. 24 to use the grant to assist Hispanic businesses.

Darden said her department was not asked by the city purchasing department to draw up a contract for Mi Casita until Sept. 20 and that her office was still awaiting notice on the LAEDA grant.

Courier-Post photo by Curt Hudson Shown are (from left): Capt. Robert Olesiewicz (38 years of service), Faison, Capt. Anthony Orme (38 years), Chief John Mogck (38 years) and Deputy Chief James McMaster (26 years).

Firefighters honored: Camden Council President Gwendolyn Faison (center), surrounded by retiring firefighters, holds a resolution honoring their years of service to the city.


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