WEST ORANGE, NJ — Members of the West Orange Fire Department invited the public to join them in remembering fallen fire chief Martin Kennedy at the West Orange Fire Memorial Park on April 7—the 75th anniversary of the day Kennedy died in service to the West Orange community.
After 38 years in the department, Kennedy became the only West Orange fire chief to not see retirement. He suffered a fatal heart attack while on duty in 1942.
According to township historian John Dandola, who shared remarks during the memorial ceremony, Kennedy died while directing operations at a brush fire on Stanford Avenue just east of Crestmont Country Club.
Current Fire Chief Peter Smeraldo said that as he was looking at the memorial, which was updated only a few years ago, he realized how many important people were lost and that the department should do something to recognize them.
“We have lost one person in the line of duty, which was Chief Kennedy, and we recognized that we didn’t have any formal way to recognize him,” he said. “We wanted to do that, we wanted to make sure we honor him properly.”
The invocation was given by Father James Chern, Fire Chaplin, Montclair State University, who asked those in attendance to join him in honoring not only Kennedy, but all of those who have offered self and service to the people of West Orange and sacrificed their lives for the West Orange community.