Hasbrouck Heights firefighters who’d just been through a harrowing experience when four people died in a plane crash in a borough backyard were reviewing the event at the Municipal Building the next night when they smelled smoke.
Those downstairs got the fire trucks out while those who remained upstairs “looked out the “looked out the window to see flames coming from the Council Chamber windows,” said retired Fire Chief Harry Maisch.
"One thing about firefighters is that when there is a fire, everyone gets into mode and is on the same wavelength,” Maisch once said. “We are there to work together and get the job done."
Colleagues, loved ones, friends and even those he’d never met got onto the same wavelength Monday as word of Maisch’s death spread.
Harry Maisch, 86, was a 42-year volunteer firefighter and department chief from 1985-87 who hung up his helmet in 2006.
He left a lasting impression, however.
“It is with the deepest regret the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department announces the passing of ex-chief Harry Maisch,” the department announced on Labor Day. “Harry was one of the most respected men in our department he is going to be greatly missed.”
A dedicated mason of Euclid Lodge #136, Maisch was born and raised in Jersey City.
He met his wife of nearly 64 years, Audrey, at a church dance. They “were looking for a nice place to live,” he once said, and moved to Hasbrouck Heights, where they raised two sons.
One of them, Harry III – a nursing home administrator who became a borough councilman at only 22 years old -- predeceased his father in 2012. He was 52.
The elder Maisch served the borough as lieutenant and captain for the ambulance, rescue and ladder truck units, as well as the ladder truck first and second assistant before becoming chief.
He remained active with the Retired Fire Chiefs Association, as well as the New Jersey Fire Chiefs Association and South Bergen Fire Chiefs Association.
"My advice to each individual is to find your own way in the department,” he said upon retiring. “It is a rewarding job, but you really have to want to do it."
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