Deputy Chief Fire Marshal Gene M. “Gussy” Dannenfelser, age 59, of the Camden County Fire Marshal’s Office, died on November 8, 2017, from an illness related to his response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.
Submitted by his wife
John D. West‚ Sr. ‘Westy’ was a 12-year career firefighter/emt. with the Camden County Fire Marshals office‚ and a volunteer serving over 23 years with the Mt. Ephraim Volunteer Fire Dept. John along with two other firefighters died on the morning of July 4‚ 2002 while attempting to rescue three little girls from their burning home. John or ‘Westy’ best known on the fire grounds and around town‚ was also a Fire Investigator and K-9 handler for Camden County and a K-9 handler for the ATF. John and his partner Raider were one of 46 K-9 teams‚ the 1st. Federally certified team in N.J. Raider is now retired and lives at home with Alyssa‚ Nikki‚ and Johnny D.
While at the Camden County Fire Marshal’s office John was a Licensed Fire Official/Fire Inspector‚ a New Jersey State Fire Instructor Level II‚ also trained in confined space and high angle rescue. He instructed at the Fire Academy and for both the Camden and Gloucester County Police Academies. John assisted with the Fire Watch program but he most enjoyed Firefighting and Fire Investigations. His ability and dedication were evidenced in some of the prolific cases he tirelessly worked to conclusion. John truly loved his job!
At age 16 Westy joined the United Fire Co. of Mt. Ephraim. With no other family member involved in the fire service he had his own passion to be involved‚ and involved he was. Westy went from a junior firefighter‚ to holding ranks as Lieutenant‚ Captain‚ and Asst. Chief and as Chief. He was also Secretary and a member of many committees‚ purchased fire trucks and organized April Awareness our towns Fire Prevention that includes the schoolteachers‚ staff‚ children and community. With that passion he along with others reorganized and consolidated the town’s two fire departments into what we have today as the Mt Ephraim Fire Dept.‚ were he served as Deputy Chief.
John was a member of many organizations‚ the Camden County Municipal Detectives Assoc.‚ International Assoc. of Arson Investigators‚ the U.S. Police Canine Assoc.‚ C.C. Fire Chief’s and Officers Assoc.‚ N.J. State Juvenile Arson Task Force‚ Life Member of the State Firemen’s Assoc‚ N.J. Fireman’s Exempt Assoc. and the N.J. State F.M.B.A. Local 111.
John also received a few awards along the way‚ Professional Firefighters of NJ- Meritorious Service Award‚ Camden County Fire Chiefs- Class IV Valor Award‚ Camden County Prosecutors Service Award. and Camden County Detectives Assoc.- Meritorious Service Award.
He was also very involved in our town‚ the town he grew up in and stayed to raise his family. A past member of the Mt. Ephraim Volunteer Ambulance Squad. Coached and played for the former Mt. Ephraim street hockey league‚ he played and then coached for the Mt. Ephraim Boys Little League‚ and coached for the Girls Softball. John was a member of the Mt. Ephraim School Board‚ and played a very active roll in our schools. The only goal he never fulfilled was to serve on the town’s board of commissioners and having his own investigating business with daughter Nikki.
John was a wonderful husband to Angela of 15 years and a very devoted father to Alyssa 13‚ Nicole 10‚ Johnny Jr. 2‚ and adult son Daniel. John always made time to call in the middle of the day just to say hi or in the middle of the night to let us know he was okay. He came home for lunch to see his baby boy‚ and he never missed a Friday night Flyers firehouse date‚ dance recital or a school activity. He was my best friend‚ a great friend and co-worker and respected by all that new him. We will forever miss your enthusiasm for life and the great ‘Westy’ smiles that lit up the room and our world.
I’m not sure why god took you from us‚ but I do know he knew he was getting a great guy. You left this earth doing what you loved and with the highest of respect a true HERO.