The History of Riverview Park Fire Co. #3
Organized in 1924 as the “Riverview Protective Association,” it was recognized by the State of New Jersey, the Borough of Totowa, and then incorporated as Riverview Park Fire Company #3 on May 7th, 1925; becoming the third fire company of the Totowa Fire Department.
The charter members were: Edward F. Lawrence, Henry Redfern, Alfred E. Hulmee, William F. Francis, Richard P. Shink, Tunis Breeman, Harry F. Bradley, Louis E. Hunziker, Andrew Otte Sr., Anton Mulleenberg, Henry Kurpershoek, John Grayson, and John Ulrich (Mayor of Totowa from 1931-1932).
When the present Memorial School was built, the old wooden school was sold to the fire company for $1.00. It was dismantled and moved to its present site on Riverview Drive and reconstructed. The land was donated to the fire company by one of its charter members; Henry and Dina Kurpershoek.
For several years, the only equipment consisted of a hand drawn hose cart and a wagon wheel rim fire alarm. Its first motorized apparatus was a Reo Chemical Wagon (year unknown). A ramp was built from the hall so the engine could be jump started. If it didn’t start, the engine had to be pushed back up the ramp and then the firemen would have to try again. Some years later, the fire company received a 1940 Ford pumper. A garage was added to the front of the building on Riverview Drive, taking the engine out of the hall. The years that both units were acquired was unknown and both units had previously served other fire companies.
The fire company has a rich tradition of cooperation and spirit. It was among the first to organize and sponsor a rescue squad. Its members consisted of the Riverview Firemen and were directed by Larry Roome, who is an Honorary Member of the fire company.
The first Department Fire Chief from the fire company was Elmer Wagoner. He served as Department Chief from 1956 through 1959. During his term in 1957, the Riverview Park Fire Company received delivery of a new American LaFrance pumper. Known to its members of “Old Reliable,” it served for well over 20 years before being retired and donated to a community in Alabama during the early 1980’s.
In 1977, the fire company had its second Department Fire Chief, John W. Warnet. He served as Department Fire Chief from 1978 until his untimely passing in 1980. During his term the fire company received delivery of a new 1977 American LaFrance diesel pumper. The service of this apparatus was dedicated in his memory. He was instrumental in having Fire Rescue recognized as the fourth fire company in the Borough of Totowa. He also re-established a better working partnership with our mutual aid towns.
With the planned arrival of the new 1977 pumper, a two-garage bay addition was added to the opposite end of the existing building on Rosalie Street. Through the supportive efforts of the members, both the 1957 and the 1977 pumpers were housed in the new engine room; and renovations were made to both the interior and exterior of the meeting hall.
In 1998, with a donation received from the will of a citizen of Totowa, the fire company purchased a 1987 CIVIC Suburban. It was used to transport manpower, equipment and trailer the department boat. It was also used for traffic control and any support role needed for the Fire Department.
In 2001, the company received delivery of a new Pierce Dash pumper. It offers a top mount pump, which provides safety for the pump operator by keeping him off the street and away from traffic. The pumper is equipped with a 750-gallon water tank, a 50-gallon foam tank, an on-board diesel generator, side trash lines and large diameter hose.
In 2007, the fire company purchased a 2002 Chevy Blazer for it’s Assistant Chief, from Little Falls Fire Company #2. Prior to this, the Assistant Chief would have to use their personal vehicle and outfit it with the necessary emergency equipment employed by the chief.
Also in 2007, a monument was placed on the firehouse property which was dedicated to all of their members; past, present and future; for their unselfish service to the Riverview Park Fire Company. Purchased from and made by Phoenix, Arizona, fireman Paul Olesniewicz. The monument is called “The Last Alarm.” It is a bronze casting of a fireman’s boots, jacket and helmet displayed on an engraved granite base. It symbolizes the “Last Alarm” answered by a deceased fireman as his funeral passes the firehouse.
The members of Riverview Park Fire Company look forward to continuing our dedicated service to the citizens of the Borough of Totowa in the years ahead.