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MAY 10, 2005

SIGNAL 5-5-5-5

Metuchen Fire Department,
Borough of Metuchen, Middlesex County, N.J.

On the morning of Tuesday, May 10, 2005, several members of Lawrence Road Fire Co. traveled with Engine 22 and Car 22 to the Borough of Metuchen in Middlesex County to attend the funeral of James Michael Ratcliffe, a 40-year veteran and past chief of the Metuchen Fire Department who died in the line of duty.

James Michael Ratcliffe, the father of Lawrence Road Fire Co. Capt. Michael J. Ratcliffe, died at the age of 62 on May 3, 2005, as a result of complications of a hemorrhagic stroke that he suffered while driving Metuchen Engine 4 on April 11, 2005, during an official fire department funeral procession for Past Metuchen Fire Chief Harold Breen Jr.

The state Division of Fire Safety classified Ratcliffe's passing as a line of duty death and the flag at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Maryland, was lowered in his honor.

James Michael Ratcliffe joined Metuchen's Washington Hose Engine Co. #1 in 1965 and faithfully served the Borough of Metuchen for 40 years. He served a full three-year term as chief of the Metuchen Fire Department in 1991, 1992, and 1993. At the time of his death, he was serving as Metuchen's safety officer.

The funeral was held at Saint Francis Cathedral Church in Metuchen, followed by a procession of fire apparatus and bagpipers along Route 27 and Main Street in the borough. Firefighters from throughout the state attended the funeral and the viewing services, which were held on the day before (Monday, May 9, 2005).

Attending the funeral to honor their fallen comrade, James Michael Ratcliffe, and to support their fellow Lawrence Road volunteer, Michael J. Ratcliffe, and his family at their time of sorrow were: Deputy Chief John Fleming, Past Chief and Current Training Officer James Yates, Rescue Capt. Andrew Fosina, Capt. Shaun Dlabik, Capt. Michael Byrd, Lt. Edward Kitchen and Firefighter Evan Kutzin.

(The below photos are courtesy of Dennis Symons Jr.)

The follow Executive Order was issued by New Jersey Acting Gov. Richard J. Codey in recognition of James Michael Ratcliffe's passing:

State Of New Jersey
Executive Order #35
Acting Governor Richard J. Codey

WHEREAS, James Michael Ratcliffe joined the Metuchen Fire Department in 1965; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Ratcliffe served the Fire Department and the People of Metuchen with exceptional courage, dedication and professionalism, genuine courtesy and abiding commitment to the finest humanitarian traditions; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Ratcliffe proudly served in the Fire Department for forty years, in various capacities as a Firefighter, Lieutenant, Captain, Assistant Chief, Department Chief and most recently Department Safety Officer; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Ratcliffe has made the ultimate sacrifice, giving his life in the line of duty to help New Jersey’s citizens and, therefore, it is appropriate and fitting for the State of New Jersey to mark his passing and to honor his memory.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, RICHARD J. CODEY, Acting Governor of the State of New Jersey, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and by the Statutes of this State, do hereby ORDER and DIRECT:

  1. The flag of the United States of America and the flag of the State of New Jersey shall be flown at half staff at all State departments, offices, agencies and instrumentalities during appropriate hours on Tuesday, May 10, 2005, in recognition and mourning of James Michael Ratcliffe, the former Chief and current Safety Officer of the Metuchen Fire Department.

  2. This Order shall take effect immediately.

GIVEN, under my hand and seal this 10th day
of May in the Year of Our Lord, Two Thousand
and Five, and of the Independence of the United
States, the Two Hundred and Twenty-Ninth.

/s/ Richard J. Codey

Acting Governor

/s/ Mark J. Fleming
Deputy Chief Counsel to the Governor

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