Retired Passaic (NJ) Fire Chief Louis Imparato passed away Monday after suffering a massive heart attack. He was 68.
Lou was the original author of the FIRE Act, which he ghost-wrote for Congressman Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-NJ). Introduced in March 1999, the Firefighter Investment and Response Enhancement (FIRE) Act was the first comprehensive legislation dedicated to meet the special needs of the nation's fire departments, ultimately authorizing $400 million over two years in competitive grants to departments.
"The passing of Lou Imperato is not only a loss for Passaic, but a loss for the entire firefighter community," said Congressman Pascrell. "Lou was a fireman's fireman and a great friend. The FIRE Act and the SAFER Act would not have been possible without Lou's tremendous assistance. Firemen across our nation will be indebted to this man forever. My family prays for him and his family."
Imparato's career in the fire service started January 1968 when he was sworn in as a Passaic firefighter. He quickly rose in rank to lieutenant in September 1973, captain in May 1976, and to battalion chief in July 1979. During this time, Imparato served as President of the Passaic Firemen's Mutual Benevolent Association (FMBA) and state delegate for more than 16 years.
"Chief Lou to me was someone I admired someone I respected, and as a firefighter I made him one of my mentors that helped me become the type of leader I am today," said Chief Patrick Trentacost of the Passaic Fire Department. "He always put the firefighters' safety and well being above all. His dedication to his family, friends and the people he served was clearly apparent by his actions. My family and my department is devastated by this loss, I lost a great friend. We will always have him in are hearts and minds forever."
On June 1, 1988 he achieved the rank of deputy fire chief, which then led him to become chief of department on October 1, 1991. He served as chief for 11 years and was appointed Fire Director in 2001 until his retirement in 2003. He completed over 35 years of distinguished service to the City of Passaic and surrounding communities.
Chief Imperato was a highly decorated firefighter and received many awards and citations some of his most proud were presented by the State FMBA Valor Committee and the Passaic Optimist Club. His dedication to the community was clearly evident as to the organizations he served as a member such as to only name a few; Passaic and State Firefighters Mutual Benevolent Association, Professional Chiefs Association, Passaic/Clifton UNICO, Clifton Moose Lodge, Passaic County Mutual Aid Association, Bergen County CREW Mutual Aid.
"Chief Lou was an absolute legend in the fire service. Respected by his officers and the firefighters labor union, the FMBA, alike. Chief Imparato is largely responsible for the creation of the FIRE Safety Act, along with Congressman Bill Pascrell, which is federal legislation responsible for hiring firefighters across America," said Bill Lavin, president of the New Jersey F.M.B.A. "Dedicated to safety and committed to his firefighters, Lou Imparato left an indelible mark on the Passaic Fire Department and the fire service as a whole. Chief Lou had the unique ability to be both a friend and a leader of men. He will be greatly missed and our prayers are with his family and the men he served with."