In a recent report from the Pine Barrens Tribune(PBT), several whistle blowers from the Medford Fire Department, came forward to claim that the fire hydrants in the Township of Medford are “in dire straits” after being neglected for “five to ten years”. The report went on to describe an incident that recently took place near Taunton and Tuckerton Road, where a wrench broke when they tried to access the life saving hydrant, which the whistleblowers claim only occurs when hydrants haven’t been opened in a longtime.
One whistleblower blamed the problems on the Township Manager, Kathy Burger, who they said was supposed to work with the chief of the fire department on the issue, but they allege that has only recently begun after Former Chief, Thomas Thorn, was replaced with the current Chief, Robert Dovi, when Thorn retired in December of last year.
Information gathered from an open public records request (OPRA), shows that just two months prior to Thorn’s resignation, a tort claim notice was filed by a firefighter from Medford, who we will leave unnamed. The tort claim notice alleged that during a fire prevention event in October of last year, Thorn maliciously defamed him in front of a large group of people. The unnamed person claimed that when he was standing with a group of people when they were approached by a person holding a baby, and out of nowhere, Thorn maliciously said “(She) now knows what a pedophile looks like”, and gestured towards the unnamed victim.
In that same OPRA response we found another tort claim notice that didn’t seem like much to us at first, but after we read the report from the PBT, it began to make sense.
The tort claim notice was filed by the estate of woman named Kathryn Hoffman, who at the age of 74, tragically perished in a house fire back on the 20th of January of this year in Medford. Hoffman’s home was located at 151 Taunton Boulevard, which sits just off of Tuckerton Road, which coincidentally, just happens to be the same intersection where the whistleblowers said that they had recently broke a wrench while trying to access a hydrant.
Whether the two events are directly related is not yet known, but the fact that a tort claim notice was filed against the Township for the fire located at the same intersection described by firefighters, as well as the fact that it just recently happened, as they also described, leads us to believe that they are directly related. Even if the two events are not directly related, the tort claim notice shows that the deceased’s family believes that the township was negligent in one way or another regarding the death of the 74 year old grandmother
One can only imagine the enormous weight that is placed on a firefighters conscious when they do not have to proper resources to save someone who dies in a fire, resources that should be readily available, but it seems that in the case of Kathryn Hoffman, they were not.