On Jan. 6, the Bergen County Fire Chiefs Association donated $4,000 to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, and accepting on behalf of the nationwide nonprofit were Wilton Fire Chief Ron Kanterman and Deputy Chief Mark Amatrudo.
In spring 2015, Harney Eisner, the editor of Firehouse Magazine, died unexpectedly. For many years prior to his untimely death, Eisner was a volunteer firefighter and fire chief in Bergen County, N.J.
To benefit a cause with which Eisner was aligned, and to thereby honor his memory, the Bergen County Fire Chiefs Association in October held a fund-raising seminar with plans to donate the proceeds.
A training day, the seminar consisted of classroom sessions taught by nationally renowned firefighters and fire officers. The chiefs association worked closely with Eisner’s family to select a charitable beneficiary “that would continue his legacy of education and community service,” Kanterman said.
Chosen was the NFFF, a national nonprofit in Emmitsburg, Md., that honors and remembers firefighters who have died in the line of duty by providing resources and assistance to those who survive them. It also works within the fire service community to reduce firefighter deaths and injuries.
Each October, the NFFF sponsors what is known as the Memorial Weekend, a tribute to all firefighters who died in service during the previous year. This official event is held annually at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg and features special programs for survivors and co-workers as well as public ceremonies.
Kanterman has volunteered with the NFFF for 18 years, and has served as the chief of operations of the Memorial Weekend for the past 13. This year, he will also assume the role of Memorial Weekend deputy incident commander.
For more than 10 years, Amatrudo has been a member of the Connecticut Statewide Honor Guard, one of the “most active units participating in the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation Annual Memorial Weekend,” Kanterman said.
At Wilton fire headquarters, the Bergen County Fire Chiefs Association’s charter president, Jack J. Murphy, presented Kanterman and Amatrudo with an oversized check representing the $4,000 gift. “I thought it would be fitting to bring it up here to Ron because of all he does for the National Fallen Firefighters,” he said.
“Harvey’s legacy was to help firefighters,” Murphy said, “and he helped everyone out with all his books and everything — even after 9/11, he wrote a book on the firefighters [who responded].
“He was just a great guy, and he was down to earth. You wanted to go into the kitchen and listen to him talk — that’s what he was all about.”
Of the funds raised through the training session, Murphy said, “we donated $4,000 to the National Fallen Firefighters, and another $4,000 to the New York City Firefighters Foundation, for the burn center.”
“And having had such a successful go the first time, we’re going to do it again next year,” he said.
“We do this because we think it’s something that needs to be done,” Kanterman said of his and Amatrudo’s involvement with the NFFF. “There’s no other reason.”