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Democrat Photo by Ted Waddell

HAROLD “IGGY” KRONENBERG is surrounded by his fellow Woodridge firefighters at a retirement dinner held in his honor at Kutsher’s Sunday night.

Saying Goodbye To
SC 'Car One'

By Ted Waddell
MONTICELLO –November 29, 2002— After 27 years as Sullivan County’s Fire Coordinator, 71-year-old Harold “Iggy” Kronenberg decided to retire, thus hanging up his turnout gear and permanently parking his distinctive red emergency response car, “Sullivan County Car One.”
On Sunday, November 24, the local volunteer fire services community turned out in force to wish him well at a retirement dinner held at Kutsher’s Country Club. An estimated crowd of 250-275 attended the event originally scheduled for last Sunday, but postponed due to a severe ice storm.
Twenty-one years ago, Kronenberg and Sullivan County District Attorney Stephen Lungen teamed up to establish the Sullivan County Arson Task Force.
“To me, Harold is the ultimate public servant,” said Lungen. “Years ago when he first started, he did the job for free, sacrificing his business and family, only because he loved it.”
He got to know Kronenberg through the fire service, as well. Lungen has been a member of the Mountaindale Volunteer Fire Department since 1965. He was chief of the department for 10 years.
Lungen called the retiring county fire coordinator “Sullivan County’s number one public servant. . . . He’s the best.”
Deputy Fire Coordinator Richard “Dick” Martinkovic was recently appointed by the county legislature to take over as fire coordinator – after working for Kronenberg for 24 years.
“Harold was always there for us,” said Martinkovic of his boss’ dedication to the local firefighting community. “As fire coordinator, he represented 40 different fire companies. ... He’s done a lot for us.”
No retirement dinner would be complete without some “roasting” stories of the honoree’s exploits during a long career.
Martinkovic recalled racing to a fire scene when a hubcap popped off the coordinator’s car and passed him on the road on the way to a bumpy landing in a field.
Several other guest speakers made joking references to Kronenberg’s propensity for hitting deer – or did they aim for his car? – enroute to fires.
Lungen presented Kronenberg with a box of old car parts – compliments of the mechanics at the county’s Department of Public Works (the guys who fixed the cars).
According to the county’s DA, he “investigated” Kronenberg’s driving records over a three-year period and came up with a total of eight DPW repair estimates for his 1988 station wagon, all deer-related incidents, “that you killed because they got in the way of your car . . . and in that regard I have a gift for you.”
Lungen then presented Kronenberg with a special “DEC big game hunting license, with motor vehicle permit,” a fictitious document he called “unique in the State of New York.”
But Kronenberg did get “real” awards. In presenting a certificate of special recognition on behalf of the county’s arson task force, Lungen added that Kronenberg was named the organization’s first life-time member.
“He never undertook his responsibilities [as fire coordinator] for money, ego, ambition or notoriety,” said Lungen. “In my mind, Harold is responsible for putting together and coordinating a united fire service, with all the benefits of an advancing technology – radio systems, mutual aid, ambulance corps coordination and now 911.
“Your commitment to the fire service has saved lives and property,” he added. “You have always given to others.”
Sullivan County Sheriff Daniel Hogue said that, of his 42 years in law enforcement, he’s known Kronenberg for a good 30.
“We fought an uphill battle to get things done in Sullivan County,” he said. “You were there for the cops in this county – the troopers, the deputies and the cops.
“He got us educated in firematics,” added Hogue. “A lot of bad people [arsonists] who never got caught before are getting caught now.”
Sullivan County Manager Dan Briggs said, “When you mix training and dedication, you’re called a professional; when you mix compassion and caring, you’re called a friend; when you mix bravery and selflessness, you’re called a hero. When you mix all three, you’re called a firefighter.”
Jim Cavello, NYS Fire Instructor, served as emcee for the honorary dinner.
“Harold put Sullivan County on the map,” he said. “Firematics got our name out there in the state.”
NYS Fire Administrator James A. Burns of the Office of Fire Prevention & Control in Albany called Kronenberg “a real gem in the fire service.”
“He was one of those fire coordinators who held the line,” he said. “If the state needs you, we’ll call. That’s the way the system is designed.”
Reading a letter to Kronenberg from NYS Governor George Pataki, he said the governor cited the retiring fire coordinator’s life’s work, “as exemplified by his devotion to the fire service.”
Other guest speakers included NYS Police Captain Patrick Reagan, who referred to Kronenberg’s efforts to build “positive relationships between the State Police and emergency services personnel,” and Andrew Dickinson of the NYS Office of Fire, who said, “Harold was always looking out for the firefighters and their departments.”
Kronenberg was recognized by numerous politicians and organizations: the Sullivan County Legislature, State Sen. John J. Bonacic, Assemblyman Jake Gunther, the Association of NYS Fire Districts and the NYS Emergency Managers Association.
The final guest speakers were members of Harold Kronenberg’s own volunteer fire department in Woodridge: Chief Paul Podhurst and Isaac “Yits” Kantrowitz, past president of the Sullivan County Volunteer Firefighters’ Association (SCVFA).
They presented the outgoing county fire coordinator with a blue roof light and good wishes for his retirement.
“He was a ball-buster, but he was a great guy to have in our department,” said Kantrowitz. “Harold, in the eyes of our department, you’ll always be Chief Harold Kronenberg.”
At the conclusion of the retirement dinner, Kronenberg said he was “very humbled and honored” at the large turnout.
According to Kronenberg, he plans to take it easy for a little while after turning in the keys to Sullivan County Car One, “but I hope to find something to do, because I don’t like just hanging around.”

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