Donald J. Trout

Donald J. Trout

Lieutenant Donald J. Trout, age 53, of the Middlesex County Hazardous Materials Unit died on August 27, 2021, after suffering a heart attack while responding to a hazardous materials incident on the New Jersey Turnpike.

John Van Dorn

John Van Dorn

Lieutenant John Van Dorn, age 66, of the Clifton Fire Department died from illness related to the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on August 20, 2020.

John T. Ruddy

John T. Ruddy

Battalion Chief John T. Ruddy, age 49, of the Jersey City Fire Department died on December 8, 2021, after suffering a heart attack following multiple emergency responses.

Nicholas A. Prioli

Nicholas A. Prioli

Safety Officer Nicholas A. Prioli, age 89, of the Jackson Township Volunteer Fire Department died on October 23, 2021, after suffering an abdominal aortic aneurysm on the scene of a motor vehicle accident.

Israel Tolentino Jr.

Israel Tolentino Jr.

Israel was an amazing man, an awesome father, a wonderful husband, and a great son and brother. His family was his pride and joy. Israel knew at a very young age that he wanted to be of service to others. As a young boy, trying to help put out a small fire in his home in Puerto Rico, that was all the confirmation he needed that this is what he was born to do.

Israel loved helping people, regardless of what the need was. He served his community with pride and dignity, and his community loved him. Everyone cherishes all the laughs and lessons that he shared with them. His personality just pulled you towards him, and his laugh was infectious. I remember thinking that he could save a life with his smile. Israel had a heart of gold, and he didn’t like seeing injustice. He made sure to stand up for those who weren’t able to. He was their voice and their advocate. Many found their voice because of him.

On his time off he enjoyed being out on the open road riding his motorcycle. He was known as the fun uncle who enjoyed wrestling with all his nieces and nephews or just being at home enjoying quiet time. Israel was a man of many talents. He enjoyed playing his guitar. Music was one of his first loves, and he was an amazing self-taught musician. He was a wonderful leader and patient when working with others. When he wasn’t playing his guitar or out on the open road, you could find Israel fishing or camping. He enjoyed being in nature.

Israel began his journey with Passaic Fire Department in 2019. This was his ideal dream, and he was so excited. He continued to volunteer for CERT but couldn’t wait to continue being of service in this new place he was in life. He always put his uniform on with pride on the morning of his shifts and always left the house with a smile, ready for what the day would bring.

He and his brothers knew the sacrifice, but together they continued fighting in the midst of this pandemic. When answering a call, Israel was exposed to this deadly virus. He was a strong young man who fought. He was adventurous, and he loved life. He accomplished everything he said he wanted to do and, at the young age of 33, he left nothing undone. At times he didn’t realize the great power he possessed and how he touched so many lives. He was the light we all needed in our dark times.

His light will never be dimmed. His memory and his legacy will always be kept alive. He lives every day in his children, Ailani and Israel III. He lives in his brotherhood, the impact in his community, and in who I am as his wife. He is truly missed and will always be in our hearts.

Dennis Bruce Shennard

Dennis Bruce Shennard

Dennis Shennard was born in Trenton, New Jersey, and was a lifelong resident of the small town of Kingston, New Jersey.

He joined the Kingston Volunteer Fire Company in January of 1969 and was a constant presence at the firehouse for the rest of his life. During his years of active membership, he served in different positions as both a line officer and executive officer and was serving as a trustee at the time of his passing. You couldn’t stop him from going to a fire call. At times, it felt as if his truck would turn into a 747 in his hurry to get there.

Dennis truly dedicated his life to firefighting. We lost him on June 26, 2021, while he was training with his fellow firefighters during a live burn drill. He had just turned 70 years old two weeks prior.

Besides his love of firefighting, Dennis loved camping and motorcycle riding. He was an active member of the New Jersey Red Knights Chapter 22. He also enjoyed hunting, fishing, and spending time outdoors. Most people will also remember for him for his love of eating. When ordering pizzas for the firehouse, it was always recommended to order another pizza pie just for Dennis.

In 2019, Dennis retired from Global Terminals, where he worked on the docks in Bayonne for 25 years. One of his most remarkable memories from working in Bayonne was that he witnessed the planes flying into the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001.

Prior to his time on the docks, he was a welder and mechanic for Princeton Nurseries in Kingston for 27 years. He loved to fix things and enjoyed a challenge—so much so that things around the house were put aside while he was helping someone else with something more interesting to work on.

He will be missed by all that knew him, especially his family: his wife of 52 years, Patti Kay Shennard; his son, Dennis B Shennard II, and his wife, Louise Shennard; plus his two grandchildren, Michaela and Joseph Shennard.

William “Billy” Shaffer

William "Billy" Shaffer

On July 14, 2021, Chief William J. “Billy” Shaffer made the ultimate sacrifice while operating at a fire in Hillsborough Township, New Jersey. At the time of his death, Billy was recently reappointed as an assistant chief after completing his term as chief of the department. Chief Shaffer was a lifelong resident of Hillsborough, son of the late William and Lillian Shaffer.

He graduated from Hillsborough High School in 1987 and went on to obtain his first job at ShopRite Supermarket, where he worked for over 36 years. Billy was the manager of the non-foods department; he was well known and respected by store management and his coworkers.

On February 28, 2019, he, along with two other individuals, saved the life of a ShopRite employee and was recognized by Wakefern (parent company of ShopRite) and Hillsborough Township for his heroics. Billy was very dedicated to his work family and continued that by being a great employee and friend of many at ShopRite.

Chief Shaffer joined Hillsborough Volunteer Fire Company #2 in 1983 at age 16. From the very beginning, he gave countless hours to the community in a volunteer capacity. Billy was the top responder in the fire company for 34 of his 35 years of service. He served in every rank of the fire company and served as chief of the department for calendar years 2018 and 2019.

Chief Shaffer was named Firefighter of the Year twice during his career. He went to daycare centers and schools to teach children about fire prevention and attended local events to support the community youth athletic programs. Chief Shaffer was always looking to expand his knowledge and skills in firefighting/rescue, taking courses and attending drills on a wide range of topics. He faithfully and unconditionally served his community 24/7, 365 days a year. His knowledge and experience were second to none.

Chief Shaffer touched many lives through his involvement in the fire company. He did random acts of kindness every day, both at his job and as a firefighter. Billy was always professional, caring, and showed compassion to those affected by loss and adversity. He never put himself ahead of anyone else and never wanted to be the center of attention.

Billy is survived by his wife, Marian, the love of his life; they were joined in marriage on August 1, 2009. He is also survived by twin daughters, Rebecca of North Carolina and Stacey of Hillsborough; his son, Thomas, of Hillsborough; and his beloved dog, Molly.

John A. Jonker Sr.

John A. Jonker Sr.

John Albert Jonker was born on April 7, 1940, in Prospect Park, New Jersey. After some time, John, along with his wife of 62 years, Amelia Jonker, moved to Hawthorne, New Jersey, where he began his career in the fire service. The Jonkers later moved to Ringwood, New Jersey, where they raised a family and John served as a 55-year member of the Erskine Lakes Fire Company #1. John Jonker passed away on February 10, 2021, after returning home from a drill night at the firehouse.

If there was one thing John loved just as much as his family, it was serving the community as a volunteer firefighter. After swearing the oath to serve and protect the community of Ringwood, John held almost every position, administratively and firematically, at the Erskine Lakes firehouse, including a number of years as the department’s fire commissioner.

Despite all these great achievements, his greatest pride was having his family serve alongside him. His son, John Jonker Jr., is the current fire commissioner of Erskine Lakes Fire Company #1 and has been a member of the fire department for 42 years. Like his father before him, he has also held almost every position within the department. John Sr.’s grandson, Daniel Jonker, joined the ranks of the Erskine Lakes Fire Company #1 about ten years ago and has begun to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps by holding positions administratively and having the privilege of being a lieutenant. John Sr.’s granddaughter, Cortney Jonker, has also served alongside her grandfather as a volunteer, joining the department about six years ago. After Daniel joined, the Jonkers made history by being the first family in Erskine Lakes Fire Company #1’s history to have three generations of family members serving side by side.

Nothing made John Sr. prouder than having his family join him in something he was so passionate about. He was eager to teach the trade and tradition, volunteer his time, work hard, and was the very definition of what “service to others” and “brotherhood” was all about. To this day, new members of the Erskine Lakes Fire Company #1 are told stories of his character, respect, kindness, and honor. His gear and awards still hang proudly within the walls of the firehouse as a reminder to old friends of his dedication to the community and his fellow brothers and sisters, and as a lesson to new members about pride for this trade and all its traditions. Our hero may be gone, but he will never be forgotten.

James Sweeney

Deputy Chief James Sweeney

Deputy Chief James Sweeney, of the Paterson Fire Department, along with four other firefighters, were killed in a wall collapse at the 4th alarm Quackenbush Warehouse fire on March 12, 1938. At the time of the collapse, the firefighters were making a plan to pull it down, as they knew it was in danger of falling. This was the greatest tragedy in the fire department’s history.

Leo Walsh

On June 28, 1941, Firefighter Leo A. Walsh, of Truck Company 3, fought a second alarm fire, during which there was heavy ladder use, at Bornstein Ribbon Mill. He became ill following the return to quarters and later found in the firehouse cellar with obvious signs of a severe stroke. He was hospitalized, never discharged, and died on December 24, 1941.