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In the wee hours of the morning, Stanley Frey could be seen jumping out of bed, racing out of the house, and heading to the fire station to respond to a call. Only mere hours later, he’s back at work at The Chelsea at Bald Eagle in West Milford, NJ. It’s a routine he’s gone through since he first started working at the senior living community 22 years ago.
As he walks through the hallways, he’s typically got two different radios on him; one for communication with Chelsea staff; and the other for fire dispatch within West Milford.
As the Building Services Director, Frey manages maintenance and housekeeping for the entire community. But there have been times when he’s had to drop everything and head to a serious fire call.
“Fortunately, here at Chelsea, they let me leave, no problem – I can go and help, and come back,” he said.
Frey is now in his fifth stint as the town’s Fire Chief. He said he’s returned to the position so often in large part due to a lack of volunteers, but it’s also a passion.
He joined at 16 years old with the support of his father, who had been a longtime volunteer firefighter before retiring.
But before his dad hung up the fire gear, they spent more than 20 years together, side-by-side fighting fires, rescuing those in need, and protecting West Milford from danger.
“It gave us father-son time,” he said. “With him working all the time and you’re working, you’re always busy. At least at the firehouse that was the one time that you were together.”
His dad passed away about 15 years ago, but Frey still carries his legacy with him.
Even during 9/11, Frey’s commitment was tested.
“We all got assignments and we relieved guys that were there for days at a time,” he said. “We all helped out and did our part.”
Frey was 37 at the time, and only a year after he started working at Chelsea, although at the time it was under a different name (Chelsea acquired the community in 2012).
When the community first opened, Frey said he was the electrician on-site and helped wire the entire building.
His attachment to West Milford goes back to when he was nine years old. His family moved to the lakeside township in Passaic County from Fair Lawn. He hasn’t left since.
He said when he goes out in the town, most families tend to recognize him. And when they see him at Chelsea, he said he believes it brings comfort to them knowing their loved one is being looked after with him and other staff from West Milford around.
“It’s nice giving back to the community,” he said.