Home » Past Fire Chief Joseph Novak Passes Torch to Chief William Mullen

Past Fire Chief Joseph Novak Passes Torch to Chief William Mullen

by Elizabeth Casalnova

The year 2020 marks the 109th anniversary of the Hopewell Borough Fire Department and the appointment of a new fire chief. 

After nine consecutive years as the Hopewell Borough fire chief, Joseph Novak has stepped down from this position as the Department welcomes William Mullen as the newly appointed fire chief. 

“I just felt it was a good time to let the leaders below me take the reigns,” said Novak. “I also have two young children that are starting to play sports and I want to ensure that I devote as much time as I can to them.”

Joseph Novak, former Hopewell Fire Chief (Image credit: Samantha Tomaro)

Though surrendering the fire chief title, Novak will continue to respond and help the Department as much as possible. After all, the Fire Department is like family to him.

“When I became chief, I wanted to make sure I embraced the family atmosphere and have the volunteers and their families feel like a part of the larger family,” said Novak.

For a fire chief in the Borough of Hopewell, the list of duties is extensive. From managing the budget to commanding emergency scenes, the chief is responsible for ensuring the Department is well trained and equipped, according to Novak. 

During former Chief Novak’s term, the Department handled large natural disasters including Hurricanes Irene and Sandy, according to Novak. 

Chief William Mullen (Image credit: Samantha Tomaro)

Annually, a committee presents a slate of suggested potential officers from which members of the Department vote to elect a person into each position, including fire chief. Now, after the annual election, Mullen has taken the reigns and responsibilities that Novak once had. 

For Chief Mullen, Novak has a few kind words. “Will has all the tools and experience he needs to succeed. He has an outstanding group of knowledgeable and dedicated volunteers that are behind him,” said Novak.

Novak also shared a piece of advice: “You are only as good as the people you lead. Don’t take them for granted.”

As for newly elected Chief Mullen, his dream of becoming fire chief has come true. Mullen has been in the Hopewell Borough Fire Department since he was just 19 years old; he has grown and learned thanks to his fellow volunteers in the fire family.

“I am quite humbled to know that my peers believe in me and trust me to lead this Department. I assure them and the community that you don’t serve as a fire officer for 17 years and not have the aspiration to become the fire chief,” said Mullen.

Though he works two jobs aside from volunteering with the Fire Department, Mullen is looking forward to guiding the ship and hopefully staying in this position for three to five years. After that, he says, he would like to step back and give someone else a chance. Above all, Chief Mullen is proud to help his town.

“I look forward to bringing everyone together and boosting membership to get residents involved to make Hopewell Valley a great place to live,” said Mullen.

Finally, Chief Mullen urges residents to be educated about fire safety.
“Make sure you discuss with your family the basics of fire safety. Make sure you have a meeting place — where if anyone were to get lost, you can meet up if there is an emergency at home” said Mullen. “You are our first priority. Stay safe.”

Fire Department swearing in (Image credit: Hopewell Township Fire Commissioner Michael Chipowsky)

Edited 1/23 at 7:41 to correct anniversary year of the Hopewell Borough Fire Department, which was formed in 1911.

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