WILTON, Conn. — Wilton Fire Chief Ronald Kanterman leads a department that protects nearly 27 square miles and 18,000 people. But he is also chief of operations of a foundation that looks after loved ones of fallen firefighters.
On Wednesday, he accepted a $4,000 donation from the Bergen County Fire Chiefs Association in New Jersey on behalf of the National Fallen Firefighters Association. Jack J. Murphy, a representative from the association, presented the check to a Kanterman during a ceremony in front of Wilton's Truck 5.
Following the check presentation, Kanterman told the Daily Voice that he was grateful for the donation, which drives home the fact that people want to support their firefighters.
“Anytime we see funds coming into the treasury for the foundation, it makes me really understand that there are people out there that really care about the firefighters and not just about the firefighters but about their families,” he said.
The donation was inspired by the death of Harney Eisner, a volunteer firefighter and chief in Bergen County, N.J. He was also the editor of Firehouse, one of the largest fire service magazines in circulation.
In the fall, fire services in New Jersey held a fundraising seminar they called “Harvey Training” and planned to donate the proceeds to the foundation.
The foundation supports the families of firefighters who die in the line of duty and was promulgated in 1981 by an act of Congress. It holds a National Memorial Weekend weekend each year on the grounds of the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Md.
Kanterman said he has been affiliated with the foundation for 18 years, starting as a volunteer. Once you attend your first weekend, “you’re drawn in,” he said.
In addition to his volunteer efforts with the foundation, Kanterman said his firefighters participate in many charity activities through the union. The firefighters collected 2,200 donations for Toys for Tots last year and served a meal to seniors at Ogden House last year — an annual tradition.
“It’s the highlight of their year — when the firemen serve them lunch,” he said of the seniors. “They love it.”
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