USA — New Jersey Forest Fire Service Warden Jeffrey Scheuerer, 35, may have been the first state Fire Service firefighter killed in the line of duty in 36 years. The service at its Bass River Firefighter memorials lists deaths in 1936 and 1977.
Scheuerer was struck and killed by a Jeep on March 28 while working a controlled burn at Round Valley Recreation Area in Clinton Township.
He was Dana Blasberg’s crew chief the day he died. The two were long-time friends and volunteer firefighters. “Jeff was a good friend,” Blasberg said today. “This is a great loss.”
Scheuerer was the reason he became a part-time firefighter with the Fire Service, he said, adding that Scheuerer’s brother Dave, was the reason he became a firefighter in the first place, now as a volunteer in Raritan Township and as a paid firefighter at Joint Base McGuire-Dix.
Giving as emergency responders “runs in the family,” said Blasberg of the Scheuerers. “Their mom was a past member of the Readington and Raritan-Flemington rescue squads.” After moving to Georgia, she served as a parmedic, he said, giving an example.
This giving spirit “shows in the outpouring” of support since the accident.
Scheuerer graduated from Hunterdon Central High School and was a 21-year volunteer with Readington Fire Company, where he lived earlier.
Scheuerer lived in Readington Township before moving to Raritan Township. He was a 1996 graduate of Hunterdon Central High School. He was also a district warden with the New Jersey Forest Fire Service, Division A, Section 8, since 2007.
“He loved this area so much,” Blasberg said so much that he was the only member of his immediate family to stay in New Jersey when everyone else moved to Georgia.
Scheuerer was also quiet and helpful, “a listener who always heard what was going on in the room, and remembered it two weeks later,” Blasberg said. “He always had a smile on his face. There’s not one thing I’m going to miss, I’m just going to miss him.”
Fire fighters arrived with trucks at the Kearns Funeral Home today to pay their respects. Tomorrow, April 2, a funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Whitehouse Station.
As many as 1,000 firefighters, emergency responders, family and friends may attend, Blasberg estimates, with fire trucks coming from throughout New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.
Readington Police have issued a traffic alert between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m because of the funeral.
Readington Fire Company Captain Matt Hoffman said that Scheuerer was “always a member who we could count on at drills, meetings, parades and calls with the agency, no matter what type of event.”
Fellow firefighters are returning the favor with what Hoffman described as a “full fireman’s funeral.” Blasberg has helped plan it, and said there will be pipes and drums and honor guards, in addition to the apparatus and uniformed firefighters.
Hoffman said that truck will line up near the Kearns Funeral Home in Whitehouse and on School and Pulaski roads, starting as early as 8 a.m.
Following the funeral Mass, the procession will move to the Readington Fire Company on Hillcrest Road, with parking in the firehouse lot, at Hillcrest Park and along Centreville Road.
Other roads where delays may be expected include routes 22, 28 and 523.
Motorists may be inconvenienced, but local volunteers are asking for cooperation while they lay “to rest a fallen brother firefighter.”
Hoffman sent a message from himself and his department, “This past weekend and beginning of the week will be a rough time as we lay a fallen brother to rest, but we are able to get through it with the continuous outpouring of support from families, friends, other agencies.”