Employee celebrates 40 years as volunteer firefighter

Photo of Bob TernayBob Ternay’s inspiration came driving down his street in Pittsgrove Township when he was still a boy. He’d see Centerton Fire Company head down to Elmer and, as his eyes followed the behemoth down the road and saw them in local parades, he had little idea that he’d eventually spend 40 years riding on one.

“I loved seeing the fire trucks, just like every other little kid,” he said.

Ternay, manager, internal audit for SJI, is currently a volunteer firefighter for Vineland Fire Department Co. No. 5. He balances both jobs and credits his experiences as a volunteer with giving him training for his role now.

Photo of Bob Ternay“It’s great training for any type of management position,” Bob said. “Actually, the entire fire department is good management training. You have to learn to make the best decisions with the best available information you have and act on them. As with any battle plan you are making decisions on the fly as conditions change.”

He officially started his career at the behest of a teacher at Sacred Heart High School in Vineland. Unprompted, the teacher told him he should join the fire department and stop by the Centerton Fire Company.

The Centerton firefighters knew Bob from his dad’s convenience store and voted him in before his 18th birthday – despite some concerns that the insurance company would claim he was too young. His first official day was Dec. 27, 1981.

Bob spent the next nine years at Centerton before getting married and moving to Vineland. During that time, he responded to calls, joined parades and even rescued a few cats from trees. Two of his siblings – Steve and Jennifer – eventually followed in his footsteps and joined Centerton as well. Bob even served as the City of Vineland’s fire department director for a time.

What’s his recommendation for those who are interested in joining? Visit your local fire department and ask about it.

“It’s life changing to be able to go out there and help somebody,” Bob said. “I’ve been fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time to make a difference.”

Young Bob Ternay Young Bob Ternay
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