Michael Chormanski was a graduate of Cliffside Park High School and had served in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam conflict with the United States Air Force. Michael came home to help financially support his widowed mother. He was 26 years of age and worked for J. Fletcher Kramer & Sons Construction Co. while attending Bergen Community College in the evenings. Michael also made time to follow in his late father’s footsteps, and join his 2 brothers, and cousin to serve in the Cliffside Park volunteer fire department. He had 2 uncles who were serving as career firefighters in the same department, making him the 7th family member to serve.
On Sunday, November 4, 1973, at 1:38 in the afternoon both men answered their final alarm. A building fire was reported at 783 Palisade Avenue, a mixed-use occupancy that contained The Founders Restaurant on the first floor, and multiple apartments on the second floor. Firefighters Ferraro and Chormanski entered the smoke-filled basement in an attempt to locate victims and find the seat of the fire. Both members ran out of breathing air and perished before they could reach the stairs to exit.
In the face of danger, and without concern for their own wellbeing they performed their duties with courage and without hesitation. They honored the sworn oaths they took to protect lives and property and in doing so, made the supreme sacrifice leaving their families, their fire department and the community they served in unimaginable grief. Over 1,000 firefighters and first responders turned out for their joint funeral mass at St. John’s Church. The Chormanski and Ferraro families lived in neighboring apartments in the same multiple family home on Gorge Road