FLANDERS, NJ (Morris County) – It’s tough being married to a firefighter, which would make it a real challenge when both halves of a couple are part of the fire department. Mount Olive Township Tuesday night recognized such a couple who, together, have given almost of a century of service in the Flanders Fire Company #1 and Rescue Squad.
Fred Detoro Sr., the second of three generations of Flanders firefighters, and his wife, Catherine, were honored by the Town Council at its regular meeting. Mayor Rob Greenbaum praised the Detoros and presented each with a plaque honoring their service.
Detoro joined the fire company in 1964. Although Mrs. Detoro joined the Ladies’ Auxiliary the same year, she didn’t become a regular member until 1972. Both Detoros were a little overwhelmed with the attention.
“Everyone deserves one of these,” said Mrs. Detoro, nodding to all the uniformed Mount Olive firefighters in the council chambers.
The Flanders Fire Company, which offers fire suppression and emergency medical services, is a Detoro family tradition. Detoro’s dad was chief of the department from 1956 through 1957. Detoro served as a firefighter, as Mount Olive’s first fire marshal and as president of the fire company. His son, Fred Jr., also served as chief of the department. He is currently the town’s fire marshal and the president of the association. Mrs. Detoro was a member of the Ladies’ Auxiliary, a dispatcher and a captain of the Rescue Squad.
“They are both invaluable assets to our department,” said current Fire Chief Tyler Wargo. Both are mentors and leaders. Fred is a true definition of a firefighter. The Detoros are staples of the township.”
Over the years, the two have responded to hundreds of calls, but the two had no question about which call they remember most vividly. The call began just before 7 p.m. on March 28, 1973, when a tornado tore through the Clover Hill subdivision, injuring 12 people.
Mrs. Detoro also remembers the first baby she delivered. The baby was Brian Dolan. When he grew to the appropriate age, he joined the fire company and eventually served as captain of the Rescue Squad.
The pair has seen other changes over the years. Detoro remembers years ago when he and another firefighter each grabbed a truck to go to a fire near the firehouse. The two of them pulled off a hose and attacked the fire, waiting for other firefighters to arrive. Today, trucks roll with full, well-equipped, well-trained crews.
“It’s all the young people,” said Mrs. Detoro. “I hope they stick with it.”
She notes another important change. Fire officers came to Mrs. Detoro and other members of the auxiliary in 1972. The fire company was having trouble staffing the ambulance, so the officers asked the auxiliary members to train as first aiders.
“Eleven of us started,” she recalls. “Three of us completed the training. We learned to how to bandage wounds on an instructor’s great dane.”
Women, however, still weren’t allowed in meetings. Even as captain, she still couldn’t participate in meetings. She had to have her captain’s report delivered by a male member.
Today, the Flanders Fire Company has several female firefighters and women serve in several key roles in the department.
On Thursday, the Detoros will be at the Flanders firehouse for the fire company’s weekly drill, just as they have for more than a half century.
About Flanders Fire Company #1 and Rescue Squad
The Flanders Fire Company No. 1 and Rescue Squad provides fire protection and emergency medical services to residents and businesses in Flanders and, through mutual aid, surrounding towns. Members receive training in fire suppression, rescue, hazardous materials response, homeland security issues and emergency medical services. The fire company operates one fire engine, one tower truck, one combination rescue/engine, a brush-and-foam truck, three ambulances, a multiple-casualty unit and a mass decontamination unit. The fire company has openings for people interested in becoming firefighters or emergency medical technicians. Training is provided.
In addition, the fire company offers public education services including lectures, demonstrations, training and a trailer that safely simulates a smoke-filled home. For information about membership, donations or public education, call (973) 584-7805, click on www.flandersfire.org or visit us on Facebook.
(Photo Credit: Anthony Preziosi)