DAVID YATES, grandson of career Camden firefighter John W. Yates, was appointed to the Camden Fire Department on November 14, 1985. After rising through the ranks as Captain, Battalion Chief, and Deputy Chief, he was named acting chief of the Camden Fire Department on June 1, 2010. and was made permanent shortly thereafter. He was the twenty-third person to hold the post of Chief of Department. Chief Yates retired on December 24, 2010..

The Yates family's history in Camden goes back to at least 1850. Chief Yates' great-great-
great-grandfather John W. Yates brought his family over the river from Philadelphia. He worked as a marine engineer aboard a steam-powered ship on the Delaware for many years. Great-great-grandfather George W. Yates worked as a flagman for the Pennsylvania Railroad in East Camden, and great-grandfather John W. Yates Sr. was a stationary engineer at the Victor Talking Machine Company, known later as RCA-Victor. 

Two Future Chiefs
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Thomas Quinn, Engine Company 6 and David Yates, Squad Company 7

Ladder 1 at the RCA-Victor Building
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David Yates, Angel Molina, Samuel Balakas, Frank Saia


Thomas Quinn - Larry Smith - David Yates

April 7, 2008 - Fire at the old Haddon Bindery

Camden Deputy Fire Chief David Yates gives orders by radio as a 3-alarm fire destroyed the old Haddon Bindery at 10th and Linden streets in Camden.

April 7, 2008 - Fire at the old Haddon Bindery


Camden Courier-Post * June 3, 2010

Longtime Camden firefighter named acting chief

Deputy Fire Chief David Yates has been named acting head of the department, Mayor Dana Redd said Tuesday. The 25-year veteran replaces Interim Chief Thomas Quinn.

Quinn resigned via e-mail effective Monday, Redd said. The Gloucester City resident was chief for six months.

He followed Joseph Marini, a 37-year veteran who retired in November after the settlement of a bias suit against the fire department.

Before a permanent chief is named, Yates and other deputy chiefs who are eligible for promotion will take a state Civil Service Commission exam. 

Philadelphia Inquirer * June 3, 2010

Camden names a new acting fire chief

A longtime Camden firefighter has been named acting chief of the Fire Department, city officials announced this week.

David Yates, named by Mayor Dana L. Redd, has been a member of the department since 1985. He replaces acting Chief Thomas J. Quinn, a 23-year-veteran, whose retirement took effect Monday.

Yates had served as captain, battalion chief, and, since 2004, deputy chief, officials said. He has to pass the civil-service test to formally become chief, said Redd's spokesman, Robert Corrales. 

Mayor Dana Redd, Chief of Department David Yates,
and Congressman Rob Andrews

Camden Courier-Post * June 22, 2010

Firefighters get grants for equipment, job training

Courier-Post Staff

Standing at a firehouse Monday, Rep. Rob Andrews heralded a federal grant of more than $400,000 that will allow the city fire department to pay for safety gear, training and other equipment.

The money will provide emergency generators for four firehouses, $300 safety harness kits for each firefighter and training to practice rappelling in the new gear.

Only about 25 firefighters currently have the kits, which they purchased on their own, said acting Chief David Yates.

The harnesses, also called bailout kits, are used to escape from the upper floors of a burning building when all other exit routes are blocked.

Capt. Frank Sandrock, a Camden firefighter, shows a photograph of a fire rescue as acting Chief David Yates (left) and Capt. David Dilks look on Monday at a grant presentation. (DOUGLAS M. BOVITT/Courier-Post)

"This is our last-ditch effort right here," said Capt. Frank Sandrock, patting the pack that contains the harness. "It's either burn or do this."

Camden Fire Department Capt. Frank Sand-rock stands next to a bailout kit bag that helps a firefighter rappel from a building during an emergency. (DOUGLAS M. BOVITT/Courier-Post)

On top of Monday's $404,424 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the city received a $640,000 federal grant earlier this year that went toward the purchase of a ladder truck.

Altogether, the $1 million in federal funds that Camden won accounted for half of the $2.2 million in Assistance to Firefighters Grants that were awarded to 15 communities in Andrews' congressional district over the past two years.

Andrews, a Haddon Heights Democrat, estimated $25 million has gone to tri-county fire departments since the grant program started in 2001.

"Departments are so strapped just meeting their basic costs," said Andrews, who announced the latest grant with Mayor Dana Redd at the Liberty Street Station.

Grants like these make it possible for fire departments to purchase safety equipment without touching taxpayer dollars needed to cover operations, he said.

The bailout kits are especially important in Camden, where long abandoned buildings have a higher chance of crumbling during a fire, Andrews added.

"This grant is about providing the brave men and women of our fire departments with the very best and most modern equipment for them to get the job done and return home safely," he said.

Camden Chief of Department David Yates and Battalion Chief Mike DePascale

Fire Headquarters - December 23, 2010
From Left: Ed Glassman - Dave Yates - Bill Schumacher
Steve DiPompo -
Mike Harper - Greg Murphy
Click on Images to Enlarge

Philadelphia Inquirer - January 1, 2011

Interim Camden fire chief to retire to save someone else's job

Camden's interim fire chief, David A. Yates, would have liked to stay on the job a few more years, but he figured he could do more good by retiring.

Yates, who has been acting as chief since June, officially retires Saturday, ending a roughly 25-year career with the department. He hopes the elimination of his salary from the payroll will benefit one of 67 firefighters who face layoffs.

"My hope in leaving is that I will preserve a job for someone who has a mortgage and a family," Yates, 51, said Thursday. "If I can do that, then I can walk out of here with my head held high."

Yates said he is worried that cutting firefighters will compromise public safety.

"I oppose the cuts," he said. "The companies we have, we need. If we didn't need them, we wouldn't have them."

By January 18, Camden could lay off up to a third of its fire department and half of its police force. The city recently received $4 million of an overdue payment from the South Jersey Port Corp., a quasi-state agency, that could reduce the previously announced number of layoffs.

According to a formula city officials have used in union negotiations, $4 million would save 58 of the 247 police and fire positions slated to be cut. City spokesman Robert Corrales said the city has not yet determined how many jobs might be preserved.

Mayor Dana L. Redd has appointed Michael L. Harper, 48, of Lawnside - deputy fire chief of administration and a nearly 24-year department veteran - as acting fire chief, Corrales said.

Harper's promotion is pending approval by the state Department of Community Affairs. His previous jobs in Camden include battalion fire chief and deputy chief tour commander, according to the city.

Yates, who will collect a pension, said his own job had not been in jeopardy. He said several factors, which he declined to discuss, contributed to his decision to retire. But the primary motivation, he said, was to save someone else's job. He encouraged other veterans to follow his example.

He made the decision about two months ago, when layoffs seemed inevitable, he said. His letter informing the city of his retirement was dated December 1.

"The reality is that this isn't a scare tactic," he said.

Yates has been outspoken about the effect layoffs could have on emergency-response times in the city.

"Less manpower and fewer companies means longer response times," he said. "The ability to complete the tasks at hand becomes more difficult."

Camden has one of the few fire departments in the state with paid personnel, and is surrounded by towns staffed with volunteers. The city has been leaning more on those volunteers for mutual aid since temporarily closing companies to reduce overtime, he said.

Yates joined the department in 1985 after working five years as a machinist at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. His late grandfather worked for the Camden Fire Department for 35 years, he said.

"I grew up around it with my grandfather," he said. "It was pretty much in my blood."

Yates' starting salary was around $13,500. As chief, he made $150,704, according to the city.

During his time as chief, the department has secured about $1.4 million in federal grants for a ladder truck, along with fire safety gear, a station generator, and training, Yates said. A $350,000 state grant is pending to buy a pumper.

Harper recently submitted another federal grant proposal for $5 million over two years to retain firefighters facing layoffs.

The department also has initiated a verification policy to curtail unauthorized use of sick time, he said.

Yates lives in Long Beach Township in Ocean County. He and his wife have a 28-year-old daughter, a 14-year-old son, and 12-year-old twin boys.

Yates is not sure what's next for him professionally. Firefighting, he said, "was a lifetime dream.

Camden Courier-Post - January 3, 2011

Interim Camden fire chief retires

City officials on Saturday confirmed that David Yates, who has been serving as interim chief of Camden City's fire department, has retired.

The 51-year-old Yates has been the acting chief of the department since June and has served in the department for 25 years. He could not be reached for comment on Saturday.

Cutting his $150,000 salary from the city's budget will only account for a small fraction of Camden's $26.5 million budget deficit.

Nearly 70 firefighters -- roughly one third of the department -- are among 383 city workers who are expected to be laid off January 18.

It is unclear how many jobs could be saved from the salary freed up by Yates' departure.

Camden spokesman Robert Corrales said the city is thankful for Yates' service.

He added that Michael Harper, who is presently the deputy fire chief of administration, has been named the city's acting fire chief.

However, final approval of the appointment, which was made by Mayor Dana Redd, will have to come from the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs.

A provision in an agreement between Camden and the state requires the approval from Trenton for any new hires or promotions in city agencies, Corrales noted.

Meanwhile, the fate of city employees remains in the balance. The city applied for nearly $76 million in state aid. The Department of Community Affairs instead sent $69 million to the financially strapped city.

The additional funds went largely to unanticipated pension costs and coverage for uncollected taxes. Only a small amount was left to minimize layoffs.

That funding, though, also came with conditions from Trenton. Gov. Chris Christie outlined guidelines that must be adhered to in order for communities to receive the full funding.

Municipalities will receive 75 percent of the aid when they agree to accept certain state oversight, reform and reporting requirements. They will get the remaining 25 percent when the state determines they've met the requirements.

City officials have been meeting with county, state and other local officials to discuss possible coverage in the event that police and firefighters are let go.

The state firefighters' association has also condemned plans by city officials to cut the firefighter positions in a recent full-page advertisement in the Courier-Post.

"Can Camden Get Any More Dangerous?" read the headline of the ad, which was paid for by the Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey. It went on to say that Redd's cuts "will make matters worse."

The PFANJ ad listed several negative effects if the cuts occur: "it will take longer for engines to reach fires; there won't be enough personnel to effectively respond; Camden will be an even more dangerous place to live, work and visit.".