When the roster of Niagara Falls firefighters is posted later today, for the first time in 50 years there won’t be a Fontanella on the list.
The half century run of the Fontanella family as Cataract City blazebusters came to an end on Wednesday with the retirement of Battalion Chief Mark Fontanella. The 32-year veteran was given a final salute by a phalanx of firefighters at the Royal Avenue Fire Station.
“We shared about 12 years together,” Fontanella said of his firefighting career with his father, Thomas. “We worked opposite shifts, but one time they overlapped and we went on one call together.”
It was his dad who encouraged Fontanella to take the firefighter civil service test. He called it, “The best thing that ever happened to me.”
Fontanella’s first day on the job was Feb.1, 1988. He worked his way up the ranks from firefighter to fire captain, to training chief and finally battalion chief for platoon 2.
“Thirty-two years, you know, that’s a pretty full career,” Fontanella said.