Police & Fire

Towaco Board of Fire Commissioners Honors Firefighters with Decades of Service

Wm MacStudy (Pres), Spooner Peer, Scott Russell (Treas), Robert Peer, K Breeman (Chief), Robert Grey, M Ward (VP), Joe Gretkowski, John Connelly (Cmsr).Not shown John Misiewicz (Dstr Clerk) Credits: Courtesy of Towaco Volunteer Fire Department

MONTVILLE, NJ – When you’re a newbie firefighter, you don’t want to make a mistake. So when the other firefighters tell you to “foot the ladder,” or hold on to the base as the other firefighters climb up, you hold on tight and don’t let go, despite cascades of water pouring down on you in sub-zero weather.

It was Towaco volunteer firefighter Spooner Peer’s first house big fire response when he started with the department in 1967.

“I held on tight and didn’t let go – but the water froze to my turnout coat the minute it hit,” he recently told TAPinto Montville with a laugh. “My arms froze stiff! They had to hit the ice with a hammer to get my arms off. I’ll never forget that!”

Sign Up for E-News

Peer, his brother Robert, Joe Gretkowski and Robert Grey were recently honored for their many decades of service with the Towaco Volunteer Fire Department at the department’s annual banquet May 12.

Spooner remembers being able to see the fire station from his bedroom as a boy growing up in Towaco.

“When the whistle blew, I would jump out of bed to watch the garage doors open at the station,” Spooner recalled. “It got me excited to join later.”

Another fact that got him interested in joining the fire department was Montville schools didn’t have enough room in Towaco for all the students, so the fourth grade was held in the fire station.

“They curtained off two classrooms upstairs,” Spooner recalled. “When the whistle blew, the teacher would let us go to the window and watch the fire engines leaving. That was exciting for us. That got me interested in joining, too.”

Spooner joined in 1967 and was recently honored for his 50 years of service. He also served as captain from 1973-1978 and assistant chief from 1979-1988. He worked for the Department of Public Works for 38 years and has since retired. He is married to Susan and has three sons, James, Michael and David.

Spooner’s brother Robert Peer joined the department in 1962 and was honored for his 55 years of service.

“I joined back then because there wasn’t much to do in Towaco,” Robert said. “There was no place to hang out but to volunteer and help out the town. I joined to do a service and help out the town’s people.”

Robert was chief from 1974-75 and again from 1986-87. He also worked for the Department of Public Works. He is married to Diana and has two sons, Robert and Mark, and five grandchildren.

Joe Gretkowski was honored for his 40 years with the fire department.

He was born and raised in Jersey City, he said, and didn’t know much about volunteering until he met his wife.

“My father-in-law was a very active firefighter in Wallingon, and I saw what he was doing, so when we moved to Towaco I applied here – and I’m still doing it,” he said.

Gretkowski said he was president of the department for two years and treasurer for 27. When asked about anecdotes regarding his time in the department, though, he won’t share.

“What happens in Vegas…” he said with a laugh.

Gretkowski was in the Army from 1966 to 1968 and served as a supply sergeant. He worked for United Parcel Service until he retired in 2002, and worked at a golf course for 13 years following that.

“I told them at the golf course two years ago, ‘I’m turning 70; it’s time to have fun’ – which I’m doing,” Gretkowski said.

He said he is still very active with the fire department and even responds to calls in middle of night. He visits retired firefighters at the New Jersey Firemen’s Home in Boonton every week, too.

“Some of them have no one,” he said.

Gretkowski is married to Joan and they have two daughters, Kelly and Nancy, and two grandsons. The couple still lives in Towaco.

Robert Grey was honored for his 40 years with the fire department. Grey was chief from 1990-1991.

Firefighting runs in the family, because Grey’s son Robert, Jr. is a firefighter in Virginia, he said, and son Bill is assistant chief with the Towaco department.

“And I still respond to calls,” he said.

Grey still lives in Towaco. He has a daughter who lives in Branchville.

It doesn’t sound like any of those honored are going anywhere, either, because the firefighters are a close-knit group.

“You really have a camaraderie in the fire department,” said Spooner Peer. “It is so special. We are so close. You get together and they become your good friends - it’s like your own family.”

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Like

Sign Up for E-News


Upcoming Events


Mon, September 25, 4:00 PM

Montville Reformed Church, Montville

Mentor Training for Pathways

Giving Back


Mon, September 25, 7:00 PM

Montville Township Public Library, Montville

Teen Chess Club @Montville Twp Public Library

Arts & Entertainment


Mon, September 25, 7:00 PM

Montville Township High School, Montville

Teenage Depression Presentation - Remembering T.J.



Wed, September 27, 4:00 PM

Montville Township Public Library, Montville

Teen Yo-Yo Class @Montville Twp Public Library

Arts & Entertainment

Help Educate At Risk Teens (HEART) Fundraiser for Morris County Youth Wellness Summit

September 18, 2017

Hi, my name is Veronica Tullo and I am the current International United Miss Junior Teen 2017.  Last year I chose as my platform the cause of teen suicide and depression awareness because this issue has affected so many of my friends and people I love.  Since then I have been working closely with The Society for the Prevention of Teen ...

Addiction Recovery Services Van Traveling to Pine Brook Sept. 14, Offering HOPE

September 12, 2017

MONTVILLE, NJ – In its previous life, the HOPE ONE vehicle had been utilized in police tactical operations. Now, all law enforcement logos and lights are gone.

The exterior is decorated with a purple ribbon to signify recovery. “HOPE ONE” is inscribed within the purple ribbon, along with the Morris County “Stigma Free” logo. A 24-hour contact number for Morris ...

9/11 Commemorated in Montville Township

September 12, 2017

MONTVILLE, NJ – Montville Township residents gathered for a somber 16th anniversary remembrance of the six residents lost in the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the two residents lost in the Pan Am flight 103 terrorist attack in Lockerbie, Scotland.

But former VFW Post 5481 Commander Frank Warholic also wanted to make it clear that the heroes should also be remembered. He called the group ...

Morris Essex Tuesday Senior Softball (METSS) League Holds Ninth Annual BBQ

September 15, 2017

RANDOLPH, NJ- The Morris Essex Tuesday Senior Softball (METSS) League recently held its ninth annual barbecue in Randolph.  Over 200 players participated in the morning round robin tournament and then joined their fellow athletes at Brundage Park to enjoy the end-of-season picnic.  Food was provided by the Randolph Diner and beverages by High-Grade Beverage ...

Holmdel Mourns Tragic Death of High School Junior Who Collapsed During Lacrosse Game

September 19, 2017

HOLMDEL, NJ — A GoFundMe page has been launched to support the family of Jack Dowd, the 16-year-old who died after collapsing at a lacrosse game at Rutgers University.

The Holmdel High School junior and varsity lacrosse player collapsed on Sept. 17 on the field during a scrimmage at the New Brunswick-based university. According to a Rutgers spokesperson, emergency services ...

Lecture on Diagnosing Learning Disabilities to be Held by NJ Assn of Learning Consultants

September 19, 2017

MONTVILLE, NJ – The New Jersey Association of Learning Consultants presents a lecture on “Using the Pattern of Strengths and Weaknesses Model to Diagnose Specific Learning Disabilities and Other Disorders,” to be presented on Oct. 4 at 4:30 p.m. at the Columbia Inn in Montville. Dinner will be provided.

Steven Korner, Ph.D will be presenting information to help us better ...


U.S. Air Traffic Control Isn’t Working; Here's How to Fix it

September 6, 2017

For over 30 years the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has tried – and failed –to modernize America’s woefully dysfunctional air traffic control system (ATC). It is time to get ATC out from under the thumbs of federal bureaucrats and partisan politicians, and create a completely new structure that will get U.S. air traffic moving.

American ATC is stuck in the 1950s.

JCP&L Provide Support Across the Companies Service Area

JCP&L linemen and support personnel are among a large group of linemen, damage accessors, electrical contractors, forestry crews and support personnel from FirstEnergy Corp. utilities  that have mobilized to help utilities in Florida with restoration efforts as a result of Hurricane Irma.

Open Houses on Sunday for Century 21 The Crossing

MONTVILLE, NJ - Following are the open houses for Century 21 The Crossing on Sunday, Sept. 10:

2 Macleay Road, Montville from 1 - 4 p.m.
12 Pond View, Montville from 1 - 3 p.m. 

Sam Shepard's 'Simpatico' takes off

Sam Shepard’s “Simpatico” has a forceful workout at McCarter Theatre.

By Liz Keill

PRINCETON, NJ – If you’re at all familiar with the works of Sam Shepard, you know that he writes about gritty, unforgiving characters in what appear to be hopeless situations.

In “Simpatico,” we learn that Vinnie and Carter are former partners in a race horse ...

Pet Corner