Fire Department

History of Fire Services in Northvale, NEW JERSEY

On June 26, 1895, 12 men met in the home of Jack Muzzio to discuss the establishment of a volunteer fire company in the Northvale section of Harrington Township. At the time, Harrington Township consisted of the current boroughs of Alpine, Closter, Demarest, Harrington Park, Norwood, and Northvale (East Northvale would later become the Borough of Rockleigh in 1923). The Borough of Old Tappan had already left the township in 1894, the Northvale section of the township was nearing 400 people, and the need for a fire company to protect lives and property in the community was becoming paramount.

In 1896, The Closter Chronicle, a weekly newspaper, announced in two consecutive issues that a special meeting to organize a volunteer Northvale Fire Company would be held on Saturday, December 5, 1896 at Turner Hall. The Northvale Fire Association was incorporated at this session, with Anthony Muzzio being elected both the Fire Chief and Association President, and Joseph Argenti as the Treasurer. The incorporation papers also included the following 10 charter members: 

Frederick Eckel Sr.

Louis DeBiasa

Charles L. DuBois 

Henry Elling

Powles Conklin 

Samuel Gugger

Henry Campora 

Henry Bollinger

Dionigi Arcetti 

David Argenti

With its establishment, the Northvale Fire Association pre-dated the Borough of Northvale by more than 19 years, which wouldn’t be organized until May 16, 1916.  The first fundraiser held was a Great Masquerade and Civic Ball sponsored by the Northvale Fire Association in 1887.  The location of the first and present firehouse, which is on adjacent land, was tied into the development of Northvale in the latter half of the 19th century.  Everything the Association bought was paid for by donations or monies earned by fundraising events.  This included wheels, axles, paint, and fixtures for the first horse drawn wagon a year and a half after the founding of the Association.

Construction of the first firehouse on Washington Street took more than two and ahlf years from the acquisition of land in April 1900.  The firemen planned, purchased the lumber at a cost of $420.00, and built the structure themselves.  Several additions and alterations were added to the firehouse over the years to allow space for new and larger fire apparatus.  This was also done by the Northvale Fire Association members at no cost to the Borough.

During the early days of the horse drawn wagon, firemen had to get a horse from one of three men in town:  Frank Velradi, who live on Franklin Street in back of the firehouse; Joseph Hanasuek, owner of a butcher shop, or Henry Bellerson.  On some occasions when the horses were not available, the members pull the wagon by hand to fires.

In 1927, the Association bought their first motorized fire truck, which was a 1927 Hahn pumper, for $2,500.00.  It was the first and only truck purchased by the members as a later law was enacted by the State of New Jersey that required the towns to purchase all other fire trucks.  The Hahn, a 500 gallon per minute pumper, was an outstanding engine and served at a major fire at Camp Merritt in Cresskill, NJ in the early 1930’s.  It also pumped for 48 consecutive hours at the Robert Gair Company inferno in Piermont, NY.

Additional fire apparatus purchased by the Borough included a 1947 American LaFrance pumper, a 1954 Ford pumper, a 1966 Seagrave pumper, 1972 and 1981 Mack pumpers, and 2 emergency trucks.  In 2000, the Borough purchased a Pierce Dash pumper that is currently our 2nd due truck at fires.  As for chief’s vehicles, a used police car was refurbished and several new SUVs have been purchased ever since.

Discussion on a new firehouse started in 1931.  It took many years to get the funds for construction and it began in late 1938 and early 1939 with the members and public-spirited residents doing the work themselves.  The building, which is our current firehouse, was dedicated on September 1, 1940.  Over time, it housed Borough Hall offices, meetings, and even a one-room jail in the back of the building without any heat.  The building is still owned and maintained by the Association to this very day.

–Historical information provided by Edward Giannotti

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The object of the Fire Department shall be the protection of life and property from fire, hazardous situations, spills, leaks or other conditions endangering the public for which the Fire Department has equipment to handle and the procuring of personnel to accomplish the same.

As a department, we are always seeking new members. No experience is necessary to become a member, all training and equipment is provided to members at no cost. Interested in joining or have any questions feel free to contact us. 

We are happy to answer any questions you may have.