Paul Hartstein, who retired in 2011 after 45 years of firefighting in Camden County, died March 6. He was 62.
Hartstein had served as Camden County’s chief fire marshal until his May 2011 retirement. Before then, he was Audubon’s fire chief, vice president of the Audubon Fire Department and a New Jersey Fire Commissioner, according to a proclamation Rep. Rob Andrews (D-1) read into the Congressional record in 2011.
“Try as he might, the chief cannot fully retire; he will be acting as a part-time code official for the cities of Audubon and Haddonfield,” Andrews said at the time.
Hartstein’s tenure as fire marshal was marked by one of the most devastating tragedies in Camden County history—the July 4, 2002, fire in Gloucester City that killed three young sisters and three firefighters. Among the dead was Hartstein’s assistant fire marshal, John West.
The fire marshal told the Philadelphia Inquirer a year later that the tragedy was a “mark that will never be erased.”
Hartstein, who lived in Audubon, battled health issues in recent years. He had a kidney removed in 2007 and developed renal cell carcinoma in his remaining kidney, leaving him dependent on blood transfusions. His illness inspired an American Red Cross blood donation drive in June 2012.
The late chief won accolades for his work, receiving the Greater Philadelphia Burn Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award and the International Association of Arson Investigators’ President’s Award and Investigator of the Year Award.
Hartstein was married to Annette and had two children, Jennifer and Paul. A funeral Mass is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 16 at St. Vincent Palotti Church in Haddon Township. The family is accepting visitors at the church on March 16 from 9:30 to 10:45 a.m. and at Healy Funeral Home on the White Horse Pike in Haddon Heights on Friday, March 15 from 6 to 10 p.m.
Contributions in Hartstein's name may be sent to the Audubon Fire Department, 221 West Merchant St., Audubon, NJ 08106.
As news of his death spread this week, area firefighters and emergency personnel paid tribute:
Audubon Fire Department is mourning the loss of a legendary Chief. Chief Hartstein was not only a member but a huge asset to the town, the county, the state and more. Prayers and love to his family and friends. We will miss you dearly.
The men and women of the Gloucester Township Police Department were saddened to learn of the passing of Chief Fire Marshal Paul Hartstein, of the Camden County Fire Marshal’s Office. Chief Hartstein, who was a Camden County native, had over 45 years in the fire service, including serving as Fire Chief for Audubon Fire Department prior to working for Camden County. He also served in many other roles for his community, and was a great friend to many. Please keep Chief Hartstein’s wife, children, family, and friends in your prayers. RIP Chief.
The Executive Board and represented membership of International Association of Fire Fighters Local 3249 extend our sincere condolences to the family of Retired Chief Camden County Fire Marshal and past Local 3249 member Paul Hartstein.
The (Camden County Firemen's Association) is extremely sad to announce the passing of Chief Paul Hartstein. Paul was a Past President of the CCFA and Camden County Chief Fire Marshal. He was a great leader, friend and mentor who will be very sadly missed by all who knew him. Our condolences go out to his family and we send warm thoughts and prayers. The lord chose a great one to sit by his side. RIP Chief until we meet again!
The Haddon Heights Fire Department is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Chief Paul Hartstein. Chief Hartstein was the retired Chief Fire Marshal of Camden County as well as the long time chief of the Audubon FD. Chief Hartstein was a great friend of the HHFD and helped us provide the best service possible to our residents. The HHFD wishes to send our deepest sympathies to Chief Hartstein's family, the Audubon Fire Department, and all who knew him.
The members of the (Oaklyn Fire Department) offer their sincere sympathies to the family of Chief Paul Hartstein, the retired Camden County Fire Marshal and a former chief of the Audubon Fire Dept. After a long illness, he died earlier today. Many of us were friends with Chief Hartstein. His dedication to the fire service was evident to all, and his presence will be missed here, in the county, and also the state of New Jersey.
Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli also paid tribute to Hartstein:
Our entire Camden County family is saddened by the passing of Chief Paul E. Hartstein. His leadership and dedication made the Camden County Fire Marshal’s Office a model of professionalism across our region. He became employed by Camden County in 1981 as a Deputy Fire Marshal. In 2011, he retired as Chief Fire Marshal, a position he had honored for 16 years. His more than 30 years of distinguished service to the residents of Camden County, and his affable manner will not be forgotten by those of us that were fortunate enough to have had the pleasure of working with him.