Chief Kanterman’s Journal Entry 63
I got sworn into the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) Bureau of Fire Prevention (BFP) on January 21, 1980, and left after nine years to go on the line. I spent the next 30 years, 20 in New Jersey and 10 in Connecticut in the career fire service. I spent 24 of my 30 years as a chief officer and also served simultaneously as a volunteer for 11 years while living in New Jersey. With all of this, I wasn’t ready to retire yet, so what was left?
On Monday, July 12, 2021, I walked through the lobby of FDNY Headquarters (9 MetroTech Center, Brooklyn), got in the elevator and hit #3. After arriving at my destination, I took the oath of office as the executive inspector of the Bureau of Fire Prevention. My basic charge is to handle special projects as determined by the chief of fire prevention (assistant chief of department) with some advisory capacity to the BFP Training Academy regarding the training of the existing inspection force of 650 personnel, soon to grow to perhaps 750, and for new personnel entering the bureau as well. The BFP, similar to the EMS Division, has its own training academy and is comprised mostly of civilian personnel. Moreover, I’m personally charged with paying everything I’ve amassed over the past 40 years back to the bureau, department, and city that gave me my start.
So, I get to go back and work in the city where I grew up and started to learn the trade. Perhaps the perfect ending to a semi-perfect career. (Notice I wrote semi-perfect. We’ve all made mistakes along the way.) As with my prior commands, I look forward to being surrounded with smart, highly professional people who do their work with a true purpose. All this time, I’ve always believed that fire prevention personnel all over the country greatly contributed to the health and safety of not only the population at large, but to the firefighters on the line as well. As a line chief, the safety of my firefighters was my number one goal. I also maintained my fire prevention certifications over the years as a chief, so I could continue to practice this part of the craft, keeping its importance on the front burner contributing to firefighter health and safety.
I am extremely humbled and honored for the privilege of returning home to the largest, busiest fire department in the world, let alone to the place where I started. (I actually started at age 15 on a brush fire brigade while working Upstate New York, a few summers in Boy Scout Camp. I strapped a five-gallon Indian tank to my back and the rest…well you know.)
I have been truly blessed throughout my career being with the greatest group of people in the world, fire service people, and once again, I’m blessed as I embark on my last career stop looking forward to what it may bring.
Remember that fire prevention programs save firefighters lives. I urge all of you to embark on these efforts.
Be well, stay well, be safe,
RON KANTERMAN is a more than four-decade veteran of the fire service and recently retired as chief of the Wilton (CT) Fire Department. He has a B.A. degree in fire administration and two master’s degrees. He’s a contributing author for Fire Engineering, the Fire Engineering Handbook for Firefighter I and II, and the 7th edition of the Fire Chief’s Handbook.