Kudos for retiring fireman

Chuck Kerr


By Anthony J. Machcinski


When Chuck Kerr retires from the Kearny Fire Department on July 1, he will be taking home with him the Kearny Fireman of the Year award. Kerr ‘s award comes at the twilight of his career with the Fire Department, where he currently is the Chief Inspector of the Bureau of Combustibles and Fire Official for the town of Kearny.

“I was surprised and honored,” Kerr said. “It’s nice to be selected as fi reman of the year (since) your fellow firefighters select you. It’s always nice.”

Kerr joined the department in 1984 at the age of 24. After leaving his job as a fueling supervisor at Newark Airport, he took the state Civil Service tests for both the Police and Fire Departments in Kearny. Kerr placed 53rd out of 600 Kearny residents for a position with the Police Department, but 11th out of 600 with the Fire Department.

Hired along with Kerr that year, by the Fire Dept., was current Kearny Fire Chief Steven Dyl.

“He’s got a great deal of knowledge and has everything under control,” Dyl said of Kerr. “He has a lot of training. He’ll be missed.”

The award, presented annually, is based on a candidate’s service record and outstanding actions and is voted on by a committee of firefighters within the department. In recognition of his pending retirement, the committee hailed Kerr for lifetime achievements, both with the department and with the community at large. The ceremony was held in March.

Chief Dyl recalled that Kerr “was involved in the rescue of a firefighter who was injured in a fire at a chemical plant in 1993. They were fighting the fire on a loading dock and had to evacuate because the fire was advancing. One of the firefighters fell, severely injuring his back. He fell between two burning trailers and Kerr went and dragged him out.”

Kerr has also been lauded for his actions, along with two fellow firefighters, in saving a man who suffered a heart attack in 2000 and for selfless actions in connection with a fire on Forest Junction.

Despite receiving accolades for his deeds, Kerr remains humble, saying, “There’s a lot of things that you do every day, but I know those incidents were represented in the nomination and with presentations with the chief.”

“Chuck is a very caring individual,” Dyl explained. “He’s always willing to help people.”

Kerr’s pending retirement in July has allowed the 52-year-old to start working with a possible replacement.

“Hopefully, Inspector John Donovan will get promoted in my place,” Kerr said. “He’s been serving under me since 2008. … It was good to pass on what was passed onto me,” Kerr said. “Hopefully, if the town promotes someone to fill (Donovan’s) vacancy, he’ll do the same. Things get passed on generation to generation. You learn from the past, but you still keep learning the new things.”

After July 1, Kerr will look for a short retirement, hoping to find another job and get back into the workforce.

“Sometimes circumstances beyond your control dictate what you have to do,” Kerr explained. “I love my job, but sometimes, you just have to move on.”

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