In March of 1985, shortly after turning 16 years old, Gary Breuer responded to his first call with FRFARS. Located only a short distance from our station on Brown Street, an individual had sustained a minor injury to their foot and required assistance to get to the hospital. Gary had been on the department since August of 1984, completing a basic first aid course before being old enough to go on calls. He responded, along with the rest of the crew, to assist.
“To say I was nervous was an understatement,” Gary said, “Looking back, it wasn’t the most exciting or dramatic first call, but it really sparked a passion for helping others.”
This August, Gary marks the completion of 36 years of service to our Squad, a tenure marked by both dedication and change. Since that first call on Brown Street, Gary has continuously advanced his training and the Squad’s capabilities, served in various operational and administrative positions, led the development of the Squad’s Rescue Services Unit, contributed to the design of multiple emergency vehicles, and started a family. Over the years, he has responded to approximately 3000 Squad calls within our community.
Growing up on Long Island, Gary was inspired by the example of his father, George Breuer, a volunteer firefighter and EMT with the Bellmore Fire Department. Gary wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps as long as he could remember. When the Breuer family moved to Flemington in 1983, he found his opportunity to make this goal a reality at the Squad.
“It was pretty much the one thing that I always wanted to do since I was a little kid. Once I learned about the junior member program that the Squad had, I knew I wanted to join.” Gary says.
Joining at 15 years old, Gary quickly completed first aid training before enrolling in EMT class at the age of 16 in 1985. He earned his Firefighter I certification in 1986. Gary quickly progressed and was appointed as a Squad Line Officer in 1987 by then-Captain Mike Romano. Gary has remained a line officer nearly every year since, most notably Assistant Chief for 12 years and Chief in 1999. Gary has also held numerous administrative positions including Secretary and Vice President. He currently serves on the Board of Trustees, chairs the New Building Committee, and holds the rank of Captain, overseeing Rescue Services. He has recently taken on the unofficial role of Historian, researching and documenting the agency’s past members, practices, and responses, as well as the many changes that have taken place throughout the organization’s history.
In 1988, during an EMT refresher class, Gary met Laura Orlowsky, a member of Whitehouse Rescue Squad. Gary and Laura began dating, ultimately marrying in May of 1992. Laura joined FRFARS in 1991, and is currently a life member. Gary and Laura now live in West Amwell Township with their three children, James, Thomas, and Danielle, along with three dogs and a tortoise.
Since joining the Squad, Gary has gained a wealth of experience and knowledge in Technical Rescue, which he often puts to work to benefit our community. Since 1995, Gary has taught rescue and firefighting classes at the Hunterdon County Emergency Services Training Center (HCESTC). He was appointed Chief Instructor in 2001, a position he still holds to this day. Since its inception in 1997, he has been a member of the nationally-recognized and elite New Jersey Office of Emergency Management / FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Task Force (NJ-TF1). With NJ-TF1, Gary has deployed to the World Trade Center in 2001, the Atlantic City Tropicana Parking Garage Collapse in 2003, and Hurricanes Floyd, Ivan, Hugo, Sandy, Mathew, Harvey, Florence, and Dorian, as well as several other in-state building collapses and technical rescue responses. He is also a member of the West Amwell Fire Company and a Deputy OEM Coordinator at the Hunterdon County OEM.
Gary leverages his knowledge and experience to better prepare Squad members of all levels for any emergency they may encounter. Gary personally leads at least two internal training drills per month. For our newest and oldest members alike, Gary sets both an expectation and an example of ownership, pride, and constant improvement in the organization.
“Take pride in YOUR Squad. Don’t get complacent. Do the best job you possibly can, every time - whether it’s maintaining a critical patient’s airway or mopping the floor at the station,” Gary reminds crews, “Everything is a reflection on you. You’re only as good as the next call—Never Stop Training!”
Throughout his career, Gary has been instrumental in growing the scale and capability of the Squad’s technical rescue services and technical rescue services in Hunterdon County. In 1990, Gary pioneered the Squad’s Rescue Services Unit, an informal group of Squad members providing specialty rescue services. He also helped form the Hunterdon County Technical Rescue Task Force, combining resources from several county agencies to provide comprehensive services to Hunterdon and the surrounding region.
Gary took leading roles in the design of several emergency services vehicles, including: a 1992 Mack Heavy Rescue (now TR-495); a 1997 collapse rescue trailer; a 2010 Pierce Heavy Rescue (HR-495); a 2016 conversion of a retired military vehicle into Special Services 495, specially equipped for rescues and patient access in swift/flood water, snow, and other extreme conditions (SS-495); and a 2019 BLS ambulance (BLS 49-52). Each of these vehicles are still in service today providing emergency responses throughout our community.
“I have an immense amount of pride in what the Squad has been able to accomplish over the years, going back long before I joined. Not just in being able to handle the everyday emergencies that have come our way, but also with how the agency has evolved over the years to keep up with the growth of our community.” He says.
Outside of the Squad, Gary earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Trenton State College. He was hired by the Raritan Township Police Department in 1992, graduating from the Somerset County Police Academy in 1993. He has since retired and has several jobs providing rescue services and training throughout the region.