New Jersey 07647
Rockleigh Borough since 1932"
of the Rockleigh Volunteer Fire Department
Rockleigh Borough developed on its own, the need for a Fire Department
became evident. Between 1923 and 1931, Rockleigh had relied on the neighboring towns
of Northvale and Norwood for fire assistance and paid an annual fee for
their aid and cooperation. In 1932 the Rockleigh Volunteer Fire Department
was organized and incorporated and requested they be recognized as the
official Borough fire fighters. With the approval of all concerned they
received financial assistance from the Borough to purchase a Mack truck
and equipment from Ridgefield Park Fire Company for $200.00. Rockleigh had
truly progressed! But what would they do with the fire engine...there was
no Fire House! Tallman's garage was "rededicated" as the
official "Fire House". Over the next few years, they would
disband and reorganize again in 1944. Within their early history, it is possible
that they were the only fire company in Bergen County to boast having a
"lady Fireman" in their ranks. Mrs. Paula Hinson Muzzio
Willett was a full-fledged member of the department and even drove the engine!
lived there [at Rosehaven] from 1934 until I went away to college in 1952.
I remember our first fire truck which we got after WWII..."
Peter Van Strum, 2004
(Special to the Bergen
Newark, Apr, 21 -- Surplus fire trucks designed for military use have
moved into peace-time fire-fighting organizations in 30 North Jersey
communities. Director Robert W. Allan of the North Jersey District Office,
War Assets Administration, said here yesterday.
"These fire trucks, for the most part, were used
at airports where there were few if any hydrants." Allan said.
"Each truck carries several hundred gallons of water and this is ideal for
the suburban and rural community."
Most of the engines were sold at less than $1,000
and many were practically new, some with
as few as 30 miles on the speedometer. Conversion to peace-time use seldom
costs more than $500, Allan said. He added that for a maximum of $1,599 a
community could get a fire truck valued near $10,000.
where volunteer fire departments have purchased War Assets Administration
fire trucks are Moonachie, Allendale, River Vale, Franklin Lakes,
Rockleigh, Wyckoff, and Upper Saddle River.
War Surplus Fire Truck arrives in Rockleigh
the Day Brigade was not officially formed until 1964, it had long been
recognized as a vital part of the Department. Today, its volunteers come
from many firms that make up the Rockleigh-McBride Office an& Technical
Park. The Day Brigade is the vital bridge that joins the commercial and
residential communities in the daily life of the Borough.
Members of the 1973
R.V.F.D. Day Brigade,
outside the new Fire House with old R-1,
open-cab 1958 Mack pumper, in the left background.
for the Fire Department has always been a problem. Most Rockleigh men left
each morning to work outside the Borough, leaving the town undermanned in
the event of fire. A solution to the problem came in the 1950's when male
employees of Astral Industries and Carlee Corporation volunteered their
service for fire duty during the daylight hours. Hence, the "DAY
BRIGADE" of the Rockleigh Volunteer Fire Department was born.
Members of the R.V.F.D.
lead by Chief George Kershaw line up for inspection at the
Annual Fireman's Parade with old R-2, an open-cab 1954 Mack quad, in the
background. October 1973
the next dozen years, the R.V.F.D. would acquire a new 1978 Hamerleigh
Mini-Pumper (R-1), a new 1979 Ford-Pirsch Maxi-Pumper (R-3) and a new 1984
Ford-Pirsch Maxi-Pumper (R-2), both equipped with state of the art 5"
supply lines. In competent hands, these modern
firefighting rigs would take the R.V.F.D. into the 21st century.
also served on Council
By Chris Catania of The
Suburbanite August 30, 1995
grandson of Paula Willett, and his wife Alisa of Northvale present present
a photo and history article about the First Female Firefighter to Dr Ernie
April, Rockleigh Borough Fire Chief.
(1995 Photo by Don Horsey)
ROCKLEIGH 30 August 1995 -- Several Valley town have marked the 75th
anniversary of the woman's suffragette movement with ceremonies and even
in a song. In Rockleigh, Paula Willett, one of the first local female
officials, was recently remembered in a ceremony at the firehouse.
Besides serving on the Borough Council in the 1920's
and being Bergen County Republican Committeewoman, Willett, now 92, and a longtime
resident of Corning, NY, was one of the first female firefighters, if not
the first in the country. She appeared on the cover of several national
magazines, including the Saturday Evening Post.
Some of Willett's mementoes from those days, when the
Miami Herald dubbed her America's Number One Good Neighbor, were donated
to Rockleigh by Willett's grandson, Daniel Perretti, and his wife, Alisa,
"Why should we keep it," her grandson asked. "Let's give it to Rockleigh.
They might really like to have it."
Willett was surprised and pleased when told some of her
photos were now on display at the Rockleigh Firehouse.
"That's something," she said. "I did a lot of work in town." Among her works was moving the borough hall to a better
location and building a new firehouse alongside it.
While on the Council, the
volunteer fire department started to dissolve, and there was talk of
buying fire protection from another town, Willett thinks it was Norwood or
Northvale, a move that would have cost considerably more.
Her reaction? "I said nothing doing. Over my dead
Willett then joined the department and learned how to drive the truck.
"We had a lot of brush fires and many house
fires," she recalled.
Besides the obvious differences with modern trucks, Willett said her truck
had no siren, and employed a unique method of warning traffic. "It had very
big wheels and you hit them with a hammer," she said.
Besides working at the phone company in Closter,
working in politics and fighting fires, as well as being chairwoman of the
fund raising committee for Englewood Hospital, Willett found time in
Rockleigh to be on the building committee, the postmistress, road
commissioner and secretary of the board of health.
been back to Rockleigh in almost a decade, but continues to be a good
neighbor in New York and is still asked to be the grand marshal and ride in
the fire truck at local parades.
Pauline Louise Muzzio Willett died
in August, 1996, at the age of 93.
Her funeral procession passed the Rockleigh Borough Hall and Firehouse
as well as her former home on Willow Avenue.
AMERICA'S NO. 1
Miami Herald / King
Rockleigh, NJ, -
7 Nov 1951. If the nations of the world followed the personal "good
neighbor" policy of Mrs. Pauline Louise Muzzio there never would be any
wars. Attractive and red-haired Mrs. Muzzio believes that neighborliness
should extend beyond the people "next door." That it should include everyone
In her town, Rockleigh, N.J., (pop. 130), she not only drives the fire
truck—she's the only lady fireman in the country—but holds down six other
Mrs. Muzzio is postmistress of the borough, road
commissioner, secretary and registrar of the board of health, member of the
building committee, Bergen County Republican committeewoman, and senior
member of the town council.
Mrs. Muzzio's only salary comes from being a telephone operator from 5 p.m.
to 11 p.m. During the day, she takes care of her house and grounds and
conducts town business.
Five years ago, Mrs. Muzzio and the town council decided it was time
Rockleigh has its own fire department. State laws were checked to make sure
that a woman could be a fireman. Nothing said she couldn't, so she took
As registrar of the board of health, "Mrs. Rockleigh" issued a marriage
licenses to both her daughters. Now she's waiting to fill out certificates
for her new title" "grandmother."