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National Fallen Firefighters Foundation

Roll of Honor

Assistant Chief
Age: 61
Year of Death: 2020

Ronnie Cordero

Ronnie Cordero was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, on December 26, 1958, to Rafael and Irma Cordero. One of seven siblings, Ronnie was raised with his brothers, Carlos F. Bonilla and Ralph Cordero; twin sisters, Norma and Irma; and sisters, Miriam and Lucy Cordero.

Ronnie began his EMS/fire career the day he retired from the Marine Corps in 1976. He was hired by McCabe Ambulance Company in Jersey City that same day and would tell the story:

The day I left the Marine Corps, I went to McCabe’s Ambulance, sat in the chair for an interview, and when I was asked what skills I had, I responded, “Well, I can kill people.” And I was hired on the spot.

This charm and wit would continue to be honed over a long and wonderful career in both EMS and firefighting. Ronnie was always the life of every social event he attended and would always greet you with his iconic smile and quick wit.

In 1980, Ronnie joined the Little Falls Fire Department as a member of Enterprise Engine Co. #2. He later transferred to the Eagle Hose Co. #1, where he rose through the ranks, eventually becoming assistant chief of Company #1 and serving in that position from 2007-2019.

Ronnie was a devoted husband to his wife, Jean Esperanza Cordero, and a loving father to his children, Ronnie Cordero Jr., Karla Cordero, and eldest son Ronnie Brandon Cordero. He was a caring stepfather to Marie, Nelizza, and Imee Calbuso. He was also survived by three grandchildren, eleven nephews, and seven nieces, all of whom deeply loved and cared for him.

On September 11, 2001, Ronnie responded with Company #1 to the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center in New York City. He rode in Ambulance 842 and Rescue 1, responding to calls in the city assisting FDNY and other agencies on that day.

As with many big personalities, Ronnie amassed a wealth of knowledge and experiences in various careers, from private limousine services and toy stores to being in charge of zoning and housing for the township of Little Falls. One of his favorite pastimes was toys and collectable items. Ronnie had an impressive toy and coin collection from various hobbies and countries. Of course, one of his main focuses was Fire and EMS toys.

Ronnie left us too soon on April 22, 2020. To the members of Company #1, he will always be remembered as “Chief.” But to everyone lucky enough to know him as a friend, he will always be remembered simply as “Ronnie.”

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  1. Not a day goes by where I don’t think about my father. 2020 was a storm that changed everyone’s lives. Everything happened so quickly and nothing will ever be the same. As of writing this it has been almost exactly 3 years since the day we lost him and yet just seeing his photo again I can still feel his warmth. All my life growing up in this small town everyone knew my father. No matter where I went or who I met someone had a story to tell with a smile on their face. That’s just how iconic he was and how loved he was. I never once worried that he would never come back. All my life he was a hero, I’ve met countless people who told me they saved his lives. Even though I was young I still vividly remember my father leaving for New York on 9/11. I remember my father leaving the house for countless house fires or other EMS calls. He was someone I was always proud of and will continue to be proud of. He always made sure to support me. And there was still so much more I wanted to show him. So much more memories I wanted to have. I was always an awkward kid on the introverted side which sometimes made his extroverted self so bright. I was often embarrassed when I was told I looked like my father. Even annoyed at times when I couldn’t go anywhere without running into someone who didn’t know my father. But just like everyone else here, I’m sure we would all do anything just to see them again. Since all we could do is move forward, I’ll try to become someone who can proudly share the same name as my father. even if the accomplishments he made in life were huge. All I could do is keep going forward and trying my best. I wish I could have said this more but…

    I love you dad

    – Ronnie Cordero JR
  2. Ron was always pleasant to deal with whether it be at a fire call and/or a fire inspection. Taking from the people who loved him way too soon. Rest Peacefully Ron your Brothers and Sisters in Little Falls have you covered. I was the Fire Chief in North Caldwell and Construction Official in Cedar Grove

    – Fire Chief John D’Ascensio
  3. Tío,

    We couldn’t properly say our last “Goodbyes, I’ll see you later”. Being able to see you honored this weekend is a step closer for the family to get together and share all of our wonderful stories and moments with you. You were amazing tio. I love you.

    (Quack, quack)

    – Melissa Escobar