Fire Apparatus readers knew my husband Pete, whose obituary follows, for his column and his bow ties.
His love for the fire service began when he was a child in Medford, Mass., and lived near a fire station. In recent years vintage Macks were his favorite trucks and he owned several of them.
Pete took fire safety seriously. Our house and office have a fire alarm system, lightning rods and many fire extinguishers. Since we are in a rural area he stored 3,000 gallons of water in buried tanks and installed a fire suppression system with foam in the house with hose that reached the office building.
He scheduled fire drills so we in the office knew how to turn on the water and foam and operate the nozzle. In addition, he bought an old tanker to store water on site in case it was needed on our road.
When Pete was 18 he joined the Arlington, Mass., Auxiliary Fire Department. As a photojournalism student at Boston University he documented life in one of the Boston firehouses and helped run a news photo agency. Many of his dramatic fire rescue and fire scene photos appeared in the Boston Record-American and were sold to United Press International.
For many years Pete joined other photographers on weekend nights running their scanners and responding to Metro Boston emergency calls.
After we moved to Vermont in 1993, Pete joined the local volunteer fire department, started and equipped a private ladder company, joined the rescue squad and became a nationally certified EMT, being on call as many as four days a week.
He was a dedicated first responder and carried his own jump kit and defibrillator. A highlight of his career came in May 2003 at a black powder shooting competition event near Winchester, Va., when he revived a collapsed man with his defibrillator.
Pete belonged to the Massachusetts and New Hampshire chapters of SPAAMFA (Society for the Preservation and Appreciation of Antique Motor Fire Apparatus in America) and enjoyed taking his trucks to muster events and parades.
He was 28 when we bought his hometown newspaper, The Arlington Advocate, in 1969. In announcing the purchase, Pete wrote about his goals for a community newspaper, goals that he followed as the publisher of this magazine: “I think a newspaper can best serve the community by establishing itself as a credible source for information….”
I was recently reminded of two early examples of Pete’s principles. He turned down a job offer after graduate school because the interviewer padded the expense account for Pete’s travel and meals. And he refused to run a picture our photographer took of a beer can on the high school lawn, to illustrate a story about teen drinking, when he learned that the photographer had turned the can.
Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment readers can be assured the magazine will continue to honor Pete’s principles to the fire service industry and to good journalism.
C. Peter Jorgensen
Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment publisher C. Peter Jorgensen died of cancer at his home in Tunbridge, Vt., on Sept. 25 at age 68.
He and his wife Kathryn, a Boston University journalism master’s program classmate, founded Century Publications in 1969. When they sold the company in 1986 they had six suburban Boston weekly newspapers.
He also published four Vermont and New Hampshire weeklies in the mid-1970s and The Commercial and Financial Chronicle in New York City, which he bought in 1973.
In 1986 Jorgensen and his wife started Historical Publications, which now publishes The Artilleryman, a quarterly magazine he founded in 1978; Civil War News, a current events newspaper started in 1988; and Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment, the national fire service industry magazine with more than 35,000 circulation that Jorgensen started in 1996.
He owned Firetec Apparatus Sales from 1996 to 2002 and served on the Fire and Emergency Manufacturers and Services Association board of directors from 1998 to 2001.
Jorgensen received the Golden Quill Editorial Award from the International Conference of Weekly Newspaper Editors for the best editorial of 1972 and a variety of regional and national press awards for editorial writing and photography.
He was a director of several state, regional and national press associations, was on the board of New England Television Corp. and WHDH-TV Inc. in Boston, and was a board member and early organizer of Boston’s Fourth of July Inc., host of the July 4 Boston Pops Esplanade concert.
Jorgensen was an Orange County deputy sheriff and member of the Tunbridge Trustees of Public Funds at the time of his death. He was former chairman of the town’s E-911 Committee.
He was an authority on Civil War field artillery, at one time having a large collection of 3-inch projectiles and cannons, one of which he fired annually at the Tunbridge Memorial Day service.
Jorgensen’s varied interests and collections also included military history, especially Civil War and World War II books and art, John Deere tractors and bamboo fly rods.
He held an associate in arts degree and bachelor of science and master of science degrees in journalism from Boston University.
His wife, Kathryn, of Tunbridge, Vt., a brother, sister and two nephews survive him. The Oct. 3 funeral was followed by a committal service and party, both at his home. The Fire Apparatus staff produced a memorial program and exhibit of some of his photographs for the day.
Memorial donations may be made to the Civil War Preservation Trust, 1331 H. St. NW, Suite 1001, Washington, DC 20005-4761; the Tunbridge Public Library, PO Box 9, Tunbridge VT 05077; or the Tunbridge Church, c/o Townsend Swayze, 56 Swayze Rd., Tunbridge VT 05077.