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A Mechanic Dedicated to the Fire Service

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June 21, 2024 | NEW JERSEY RON JEFFERS, New Jersey Editor
This article is a direct street report from our correspondent and has not been edited by the 1st Responder newsroom.

Frank Baer was a professional truck mechanic. After working for local businesses, he became a fire department mechanic and a volunteer firefighter.  He lost his long and hard battle with cancer, in May. 

Baer was a Vietnam veteran and, later in life, he was a town mechanic in Secaucus, specializing in the town's fire apparatus.  He was a member of Washington H & L Co. 1. Baer later moved to the North Bergen Department of Public Safety shops, which also became the shops for the North Hudson Regional Fire & Rescue in 1999, when North Bergen and four other municipalities merged into one fire department.

At a recent firehouse retirement lunch, firefighters discussed their high respect for Baer. Many said they learned a lot about taking care of their rig from Frankie.  He also held pump operation classes for local departments; and, these firefighters said they learned a lot from his lessons.

In addition, he was part of a Repairs & Transportation team that would come out at all hours of the day or night, in hot and cold weather, to assist and repair apparatus at fire scenes.  Usually, side-by-side with his best friend Pete Giunchini, the shop's supervisor. Baer would also drive the department's rehab bus, a former transit coach, to fire and emergency scenes.

There were many times when companies would report to the shops to fuel up, and members would then stop in at the shops to say “hello” to Frankie and company. Again, he was highly respected  by department members.

He was strong as a bear, with a heart of gold. He was the guy that would give you the shirt off of his back, as well as taking care of a sick kitten and other creatures that showed up at the shops.  

In between his cancer treatments, he would continue to serve the fire service by working part-time, again with his best friend, at NJ Fire Equipment Co.'s Ridgefield Park facility.  If he made a delivery to North Hudson Fire Headquarters, he would always stop at the office to greet firefighters that once visited him at the regional shops.      

When firefighters paid him a visit at his home, shortly before his death, and the conversation became fire department related, his pain was temporally gone and he perked up for the conversation.

We lost another war veteran and dedicated first responder on Memorial Day weekend. 

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RON JEFFERSNew Jersey Editor

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