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Photos by Fritz Rethage  ·    Posted February 26, 2006

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Thank You Harry

Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department
[Related Story] Hasbrouck Heights Installation Dinner 2006

Story by Justin Watrel

After 42 years in the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department, Harry Maisch finally decided to hang up his helmet. Harry said, "I always wanted to do the job to the best of my abilities and won’t accept less of myself. (I got all the things out of it that I wanted.")

Harry Maisch was born and raised in Jersey City, the son of Harry Sr. and Jane Maisch. He and his sister, Carolyn spent their childhood in Jersey City.

While at a church social dance, he met his future wife, Audrey and it sparked a romance that has lasted over the years.

The couple celebrated their 50th wedding anniversery last October. When asked why he moved to Hasbrouck Heights, he said, "Simple, my wife and I were looking for a nice place to live and we found that we liked Hasbrouck Heights."

Here they raised their two sons, Harry III and Stephen, who are both Hasbrouck Heights High School Alumni. Son, Harry, still lives in town with his wife, Valeri and their son, Harry IV. Having lived in town for 45 years, Harry added, "It’s a great place to raise a family." Harry was a long-time employee of the New Jersey Bell and retired a few years ago.

When asked why he decided to join the Department, he explained, "It was something that I always thought about and when I moved to town, I looked into joining."

Back then, they had a two year residency rule and I had to wait. Along the way I got to know many of the members and after two years were up, I got a phone call that asked, "Are you still interested?’ "I joined right up."

When Harry joined, things were somewhat different. "The demand today is much more than when we started. Even then, you got used to the way things were because you didn’t know any different.

Today there is so much training with EMS, Anti-Terrorism and First Responder that we didn’t even fathom back then."

In his time on the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department, Harry served as our Ambulance Lieutenant and Captain, Rescue Lieutentant and Captain, Ladder Truck Lieutenant and Captain and Second Assistant, First Assistant and finally as our Fire Chief from 1985-87.

"Having gone through the different chains of command prepared me for my role as Chief, which I felt was a natural progression in the Department. I always felt that I gave my best when I was Chief and looked out for the members."

Harry, ever the true leader, has set the bar and an example that all firefighters now strive to achieve.

"One thing about firefighters is that when there is a fire, everyone gets into mode and is on the same wavelength. We are there to work together and get the job done."

"Every fire is different," he added, "there is no one particular fire that resembles another.

When the Municipal Building was on fire, it was ironic because we firefighers were in the building having a meeting about the plane crash that happened in town the night before and as the meeting broke up, some of us had left the building and some members were still inside talking.

We looked around and smelled something burning.

That’s when we went into action and got the trucks out of the building. When those remaining upstairs heard the engines starting up and pulling out, they looked out the window to see flames coming from the Council Chamber windows and were able to escape down the stairs.

Then it was time to fight that fire. It really was a crazy week. Again another unique fire."

When 9-11 happened, Harry, along with most of the Department, was on stand by to find out if they had to help in New York City.

"What 9-11 did for the Fire Department was make people aware of how dangerous this work in the Department can be. We are a very busy department and are getting busier.

You have to be taught the right way and be willing to listen to the people around you. You have to know what you have to do when you go in and fight it and come out okay."

When asked why he finally decided to hang up his helmet, Harry said, "You reach a certain age when enough is enough. It’s time to step down and let others take control. I loved the department and did it right to the best of my ability."

Harry is still involved with the retired Chiefs Association in town as well as The New Jersey Fire Chief’s Association and South Bergen Fire Chiefs Association.

"My advice to each individual is to find your own way in the Department. It is a rewarding job, but you really have to want to do it." When asked for his greatest memory, Harry added emotionally, "To be honored by my peers the way I have been the last few months and to be respected by the community. Who could ask for anything more? I never expected any of it. I have made a lot of great friends over the years and have a lot of great memories and I want to thank everyone for everything they did for me."


Fire Department Note:

Harry, from all of us on the Fire Department, we want to thank you for all you have done for us and the community.

You have been a teacher, a role model, a friend and one hell of a firefighter and we are all proud to call you our brother. Thank you for always looking out for us. Good luck and Godspeed! ###


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Borough of Hasbrouck Heights Proclamation

WHEREAS, Harry M. Maisch, Jr. was appointed to the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department, Hook and Ladder Company#1 on October 16, 1963; and

WHEREAS, Harry M. Maisch, Jr. has served the community diligently for many years in many capacities. He served as Secretary to the Ambulance Squad in 1964, Lieutenant from 1965-1967, Captain from 1967-1969; Treasurer of Hook & Ladder Company #1 in 1964, Lieutenant from 1970-1972 and 1976-1977, Captain from 1972-1974 and 1977-1978; Lieutenant of Emergency Squad in 1966-1968 and Captain from 1968-1970; Second Assistant Chief of the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department from 1981-1983, First Assistant Chief from 1983-1985, Fire Chief from 1985-1987 and Mechanic of Hook and Ladder Company; and

WHEREAS, Harry M. Maisch, Jr., who has served the Borough of Hasbrouck Heights faithfully and with exceptional dedication over the past 42 years, tendered his resignation as of December 31, 2005; and

WHEREAS, during these 42 years he actively and unrestrainedly performed the duties of firefighter and/or ambulance squad member to assure the safety and well being of the residents of the Borough of Hasbrouck Heights;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Mayor and Council of the Borough of Hasbrouck Heights, County of Bergen, State of New Jersey, that we do hereby extend sincere appreciation to Harry M. Maisch, Jr. for his dedication and perseverance which have influenced and enhanced the Borough and the progress of our community and accept his resignation with sincere regret, wishing him and his family all good health and happiness in the future.

Dated: January 14, 2006

Mayor Ronald R. Jones
Councilman Justin A. DiPisa
Councilman Ronald F. Kistner
Councilman Thomas E. Meli
Councilman Leonard Introna
Councilwoman Carol J. Skiba
Councilwoman Maryetta Saccomano

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