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Posted March 30, 2005
Story by Justin Watrel
Fire Chief Joe Taylor
Heights residents dont realize what a heavily trafficked area we live in.
major highways, a small but busy airport close by and a twelve mile trip thats
straight to midtown Manhattan, we really are a town that leads to everywhere.
The drawback of
this type of accessibility is that we have our share of accidents, from bus breakdowns and
car wrecks to the recent plane crash in Teterboro and remind us all too well of where this
type of rapid transit can lead.
Recently I sat
down with Joe Taylor, Jr., who was sworn in as our new Chief of the Hasbrouck Heights Fire
Department. Chief Taylor, as many residents may remember, was one of the firefighters that
led a team of men from Hasbrouck Heights to help with the rescue and recovery at Ground
As the new chief,
I asked what were some of the goals and plans he had for leading the fire department.
"Now that we have moved into the firehouse, its getting everything in order and
getting the proper equipment we need to get the job done.
Our main goal of
the department is to make sure people stay safe when we answer a call," the Chief
The recent plane
crash really put our department and the other new chiefs of the department, First
Assistant Chief Angelo Roccamo and Second Assistant Chief Mike Ratkowski to the test,
which they handled with the utmost in professionalism.
It has also made
Hasbrouck Heights residents aware of what type of situation we have living so close to an
airport that keeps getting busier.
As the population
grows in this area, the traffic in all forms of transportation that caters to New York
City will continue to grow as well.
Chief Taylor is fighting to get new equipment to help the department become proactive
instead of reactive. "Some of the equipment we need are thermal-imaging cameras.
These work on the
heat of the body to help find people. Also, we need a foam pumper to help with airplane
Working so close
to the airport, this piece of equipment is very important and we dont want to waste
precious minutes in putting a fire out," the Chief said.
The ladder truck,
from 1990, is going to need replacing.
dont realize since 9/11 that firefighters carry more equipment for protection,"
the Chief said.
He also added
that the department has also been going through extra training.
He encourages his
members when they want to take classes to improve their firefighting skills.
The state is
requiring more of firefighters in areas such as Hazardous Waste Materials and the chief
also encourages members to take Firefighter Two at the academy in Mahwah (the state
currently requires only Firefighter One).
firefighters are becoming better trained in many different aspects of safety like HAZMAT
and Anti-terrorism. We live in a different world."
Chief Taylor also
would like to see more community involvement.
department now has 54 members and that puts a strain on the membership. All the members
have full time jobs on top of firefighting duties and their family life."
The Chief was
recently talking with a resident in town who has lived here for two years and didnt
realize that our firefighters arent paid.
She was under the
impression that we were always at the house. "We might not always be at the house but
we will always be there for the town.
dont realize that we cover Teterboro as well." If someone wants to get
involved, the Chief added, the department is always looking for new recruits.
On top of a
background check and a physical, once approved and accepted, the applicant goes through
basic training in Firefighter One at the Bergen County Fire Academy. There is also lots of
on the job training with experienced firefighters in the department.
It is not all
fighting fires, the Chief said. The department also participates in The Fire Safety Days
at the schools in town, the Bike A Thon, where the members work all day and cook for the
participants, the Band Events, town parades and the departments annual Visit from
Santa, where the members have various stops around town.
have get togethers as members to build our team spirit. We are like a second family to one
another," the Chief said.
also has an annual appeal as a fundraiser for the department and this contribution greatly
helps the department.
Taylors second career on top of his responsibilities at the firehouse is as a
professional EMT in the Hackensack Fire Department and as a husband to his wife, Colleen
and son, Jason (who the Chief hopes one day will follow in his footsteps).
The Chief is a
life resident of Hasbrouck Heights and a HHHS alumnus. His parents, who currently reside
in Florida, had lived in town for forty years.
When asked how he
got involved with the department, the 19 year veteran said, "I was coming home from
school during my senior year and I saw some firemen putting out a house fire.
Three days later I signed up to
join the fire department." When asked what made it so influential, the Chief said
"I cant mention why for sure, but just something inside said that this was
something I wanted to do."###