Longtime Service Author, Speaker Harry Carter Dies

June 19, 2022
Dr. Harry R. Carter, who authored the Firehouse Command Post column, retired from the Newark, NJ, Fire Department and volunteered with the Adelphia Fire Company.

Editor's note: Funeral information has been added below.

The fire service lost a giant Friday with the passing of Dr. Harry R. Carter, a dedicated author, speaker, expert and man fond of his bowtie. 

Carter, 74, died after a two-year battle with cancer.

He joined the Adelphia Fire Company in Howell Township, NJ, in 1971 and served as fire chief in 1991. He also served as chairman of the Board of Commissioners in Howell Township Fire District 2

In 1999, he retired from a 26-year career with the Newark, NJ, Fire Department as a battalion commander. Other roles he served in include Chief of Training, Commander of the Hazardous Materials Response Team, and administrative assistant to the fire chief. 

For 32 years, Carter was a Firehouse Contributing Editor. His work was most frequently found under the Command Post column heading that covered topics from fireground command to volunteer fire service management, politics and management styles. The last column, "What Is Our ‘Brotherhood’?" was published in August 2021. 

During the 40th anniversary of Firehouse in 2016, Carter wrote: "I guess that it was in 1988 that Harvey (Eisner) caused something to happen that altered the course of my life as a writer. He arranged for me to go out to lunch with Dennis Smith...I must have made an impression on Dennis, because not long after this, I was asked to create a series of articles for Harvey, which I prepared with great care. Not too long after these articles were published, I was approached to become a contributing editor—a position I have held since October 1990. In addition, it has been my good fortune to speak at the Firehouse Expo for many years now. "

When Firehouse.com launched on Christmas Day in 1998, Carter was the first columnist to be published, and was always proud to be Columnist #1. He was among the first bloggers and often shared commentary on hot topics. Find his contributions to Firehouse.com and Firehouse Magazine for the last two decades here

"The Firehouse family will have a tremendous void with the passing of Harry," said Editor-in-Chief Peter Matthews. "He was a friend to everyone here, every firefighter and everyone else he ever met. He clued me into so much about the fire service, including leading in the fire service, volunteer fire department challenges and what he learned during Newark's War Years. This time of the year is always hard for the fire service with the anniversaries of the Charleston Sofa Super Store fire, the collapse of the Hotel Vendome in Boston and the Father's Day Fire for FDNY. Now, we will always remember Harry for all of his contributions and his friendship."

"What I will remember most is that Harry taught me the need to listen to others and how to be open-minded. I'll miss our long calls that always left me encouraged," Matthews said. 

He authored over 3,100 articles and his reach was well beyond Firehouse, writing for Fire Engineering, Fire Chief, The Pennsylvania Fireman, and the IFSI Newsletter.

In 2017, Carter was inducted into the Firehouse Hall of Fame at Firehouse Expo in Nashville.

Committed to the fire service, he is a past president and life member of the International Society of Fire Service Instructors (ISFSI), a life member of the NFPA, past president of the U.S. branch of the Institution of Fire Engineers (IFE) of Great Britain and served as president of the New Jersey Association of Fire Districts and the New Jersey Society of Fire Service Instructors.

His love for the fire service reached others' through 14 textbooks that he either authored or co-authored.

A road warrior, rarely did he say no to the chance to travel to a new city or return to a favorite venue where he was asked to lecture on myriad topics.

Carter also spent years teaching at higher education institutions including the School of Public Safety Leadership at Capella University and community colleges around New Jersey. He served as a frequent lecturer at the National Fire Academy.

"With more than enough fireground and street smarts and a load of common sense, coupled with his education achievements that he made work for him, Harry always made his comments, articles, or presentations well worth ones' attention!" said retired Pittsburgh Fire Chief and Deputy U.S. Fire Administrator Charlie Dickinson. "It was like stopping by the tailboard and hearing or learning something that could improve or help what we do!"

Firehouse founder Dennis Smith died Jan. 22 and longtime Fire Studies columnist James P. Smith passed away March 1.

A visitation is scheduled for Sunday, June 26, from 2:00-6:00 p.m. at the Higgins Funeral Home, 20 Center St., Freehold, NJ. The funeral will be 10 a.m. on Monday, June 27, at the Higgins Funeral Home.

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Content curated and written by Firehouse editorial staff, including Susan Nicol, Steven Shaw, Peter Matthews, Ryan Baker and Rich Dzierwa.

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