RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The most outstanding theme of a testimonial dinner Saturday night for outgoing Rutherford Fire Chief Craig X. Scott was gratitude.
But the talk among the more than 100 attendees at the Fiesta in Wood-Ridge Saturday night -- including friends, family members, local officials and, of course, fellow firefighters -- was also of love and friendship, of brotherhood and loyalty, and of a bond steeped in bravery and service that only those who routinely put their lives on the line share.
Scott played audio of what it was like when beloved restaurant and local hangout Eros burned to the ground on one of the coldest, snowiest nights of 2015. He thanked local departments and his crews for their focused professionalism as they fought both freezing water and shooting flames.
“When we step off that truck on any given call, we never know what we’re going to face,” Scott said.
Police officers were given special awards for staying on the scene that night and going beyond the call of duty, running into apartments above Eros and getting residents out safely.
“A leader is only as good as his team,” said Scott, who’s served Rescue Company 5 since 1995 and has been either chief, deputy or assistant for the past five years. “Every department in this town is part of the fire department’s team.”
Mayor Joseph DeSalvo thanked Scott, the fire department and all borough volunteers who sacrifice not only their time, possible health and even their lives but also their everyday existence: “Duty calls, and they’re there. There is no way to thank them enough.”
Scott above all was grateful to his wife and daughters for their sacrifices. “Without their support, being chief would be 'Mission: Impossible',” he said.
Being chief was an even bigger job than he'd imagined, Scott said. It gave him an even greater appreciation of his predecessors, he said.
Scott said he was grateful for the mentoring of Company 5’s Phil Sartori, an ex-chief, as well as another former chief, Councilman Sean Walker.
“Company 5 truly defines what a brotherhood is all about,” he said.