MONTVILLE, NJ – The Montville Fire Department announced with regret the passing of Montville Fire Commissioner President James Berry on Saturday, July 22, said Chief Alan Cook. He was 75.

Berry succumbed to a prolonged illness after serving on the fire department and its administration for 55 years, Cook said. He had been a chief of the department and a commissioner since 1993, according to Cook, and Montville Board of Fire Commissioners president for many years. Each fire district is governed by an elected board of fire commissioners, whereas fire protection operations are headed by the fire chief.

“He was always a mentor to the younger guys,” Cook told TAPinto Montville. “He was a stern but disciplined teacher. You did it his way or you didn’t do it. He was extremely knowledgeable about firematics.”

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Cook said that in the late 1970s Berry was part of a team of fire fighters who restored a 1932 Buffalo fire engine.

“He was instrumental in that, and it has won numerous awards,” Cook said.

The engine is housed at the old Taylortown fire station and will be used for his funeral.

Berry was a U.S. Army veteran and was predeceased by his wife, according to his obituary. He had worked as plant supervisor for Mechanical Institute in Boonton.

“He still responded to calls until he became ill,” said fellow Montville fire fighter Carol DaCosta. “He has done so much for this community.”

“He was a good friend, a great fireman, a good teacher, and a great father-in-law,” said Cook. “He basically always put the fire department in front of his personal life.”