Submitted by his children – Stephen‚ Kathleen‚ Eileen‚ Kevin and Mary
Ronald W. Fitzpatrick was a 68-year old father‚ grandfather and firefighter who collapsed and died while fighting a structure fire in Long Branch.
His days started as it did for most men of his generation and education. A college graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting‚ a second Lieutenant with the US Army ROTC‚ and a promising career with the IRS. He obtained all of this by the age of 24. But none of these accomplishments could quell his childhood dream of becoming a firefighter. In 1959‚ Ronald exchanged his white collar for a firefighter’s blue collar by joining the Newark Fire Department. Thus began his long‚ distinguished career. His career could be summed-up in the famous quote of Charles Dickens‚ ‘It was the best of times‚ it was the worst of times.’
Ronald was among a unique breed of men. Those times would bring the Newark Fire Department of the forefront of firefighting. These men faced an onslaught of fires and events unprecendented in the city’s history. Ronald became a Fire Captain in 1970 and was known to many as Captain Fitz. His years of experience with the Newark Fire Department lead him to a position as an instructor with the Monmouth County Fire Academy and Training Officer with the Long Branch Fire Department.
There wasn’t a fire call our father would miss; to the point where we would sometimes go along for the ride to watch him in action. Firefighting was a big part of our lives. Our brothers followed in his footsteps; Steven became a paid firefighter while Kevin became active as a volunteer for the Department.
Ronald obtained the rank as Senior Instructor with the Monmouth County Fire Academy. A position he held up until his death. During his 32 years of training‚ Captain Fitz would share his knowledge and expertise with rookie and veteran firefighters. His aggressive teaching‚ along with other academy instructors‚ certified more firefighters from all over the state‚ making Monmouth County the top Academy in New Jersey. His commitment to the safety and well-being of others was a priority. He remained a mentor to generations of firefighters.
On December 6‚ 2003‚ Ronald answered his final alarm. Being dedicated to the fire service and his love for the profession his legacy will continue on in all the firefighters’ lives he has touched.