Elmwood Park (NJ) Fire Captain Charged with DWI After Crashing Fire Apparatus

An Elmwood Park fire captain who authorities say was intoxicated while at the wheel of a ladder truck struck two utility poles as he returned from a call over the weekend, putting the truck out of commission.

Russell Fenn IV has been suspended from the Elmwood Park Fire Department pending results of an investigation by the Bergen County police, Borough Administrator Keith Kazmark said on Wednesday.

In the immediate aftermath of the accident, Kazmark said, the consumption and possession of alcoholic beverages have been banned at all four of the borough’s firehouses, at least for the time being.

Fenn’s blood-alcohol content was more than twice the legal driving limit at the time of the accident in the early morning hours on Sunday, according to Capt. James Mullin of the Bergen County Police Department. The borough’s acting police chief, Michael Foligno, said he asked the county police to handle the investigation to avoid the appearance of a conflict.

Fenn was not injured in the accident, which occurred at 54th Street and Molnar Avenue about 1 a.m., but another firefighter in the truck was taken to a hospital with minor injuries, Mullin said. They were the only two in the truck, Kazmark said.

There were no reports of injuries to civilians.

Police charged Fenn with assault by automobile, driving while intoxicated and reckless driving, Mullin said. He was released on his own recognizance.

Mullin said that the truck — the fire department’s only ladder truck, according to the borough website — sustained $250,000 in damage. It was unavailable on Wednesday when borough firefighters responded to a four-alarm fire at the Red Carpet Inn on Route 46. Garfield, one of several departments that helped fight the fire, provided a ladder truck.

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