NHRFR promotes 17 in packed ceremony Many from UC, WNY become captains
by Jim Hague Reporter staff writer
Apr 26, 2005 | 1086 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Seventeen members of the North Hudson Regional Fire and Rescue department received a promotion during a packed ceremony last Thursday at Schuetzen Park in North Bergen.

The 340-man regional covers North Bergen, West New York, Union City, Weehawken and Guttenberg. John Halpin of West New York was one of two NHRFR members to receive the promotion to battalion chief, joining Michael Oriente of Weehawken.

Thirteen men were promoted to the rank of captain. Richard Hess and Mark Masterson of West New York were among them, as was North Bergen resident James Lemke. Seven Union City natives were promoted, including Francis Kemp, Eugene LaMastro, Rory Rivera, Leonard Calvo, James Donnelly, Gary Mureo and Michael Caliente.

In swearing in each officer, NHRFR Chief Brion McEldowney told them about the main ingredient in becoming a fine fire officer.

"It's about trust," McEldowney said. "Trust in your fellow firefighters and officers, trust that you will use the rank with respect, trust that you will be always prepared to serve the public. We want you to lead this department into the future, because this is the finest ire department in the state."

The deputy chiefs

Ever since they were young men working their way up the proverbial ladder - first in the old North Bergen Fire Department and later the North Hudson Regional Fire & Rescue - Martin Mandell and Nicholas Gazzillo went hand in hand.

The two knew each other as high school students in North Bergen High School in the 1970s, but became closer friends and colleagues when both joined the ranks of the old North Bergen Fire Department in the 1980s.

"We have a long history together," Mandell said. "We've known each other since high school, and every time there was a promotional test, we studied together. We've become great friends over the years and do a lot of things together."

So it was only fitting that both Mandell and Gazzillo were elevated to the rank of deputy chief together.

"I don't know if it's coincidence," Gazzillo said. "It certainly wasn't planned that way. There was this same group of firefighters that were all hired from the same list and have all managed to make their way up the ranks together. It's a good thing and a nice thing that Marty and I move up together. Maybe it is fitting."

Mandell and Gazzillo become two of the six members that hold the position of deputy chief.

"It's a great honor," Mandell said. "Earning the rank of Deputy Chief is like getting the Holy Grail. It's a very elusive thing. Not many get the opportunity. I can't say that I had the expectation of getting there, but I'm extremely fortunate to have the chance to make the rank. I feel I have a lot to give and I have a lot in me."
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