On March 19, 1900 a special meeting was held at Borough Hall to discuss fire protection in Jamesburg. The meeting was overseen by Dr. John L. Suydam and John H. Baremore acted as the recording secretary. Mr Adam Kullmar, treasurer reported that the borough had allocated $666 for fire protection. It was determined that there was a need to create a permanent organization to provide fire prevention and protection to the Borough of Jamesburg. The organization was named “The Jamesburg Fire Protective Association.” The borough began a campaign to solicit the recruitment of competent townspeople to volunteer to protect the fellow citizens and property of Jamesburg. A temporary Board of Officers was elected until the newly formed organization could hold a meeting of its own. The following individuals were elected: President – Joseph M. Perrine, Vice President – James H. Mount, Secretary – John H. Baremore, Treasurer – Adam Kullmar, Chief – Charles Cruger, First Assistant Chief – Charles H. Harlos, and Second Assistant Chief – Charles C. Emens. The first task assigned to the newly elected Board of Officers was to obtain prices for a piece of fire apparatus that would be suitable for the borough.
On April 16, 1900, the Board of Officers reported that they had researched 3 companies that manufactured fire apparatus, Chas T. Holloway Co, H.S. Hayward Co. and Gleason Bailey Co. The officers recommended the purchase of a Holloway Double Fifty Gallon Tank Chemical Engine for $1440. A motion was made to purchase the Gleason Bailey Water Apparatus, but was defeated when voted on. A motion was made to purchase the recommended Holloway Engine and passed. President Perrine was instructed to sign the contract to purchase the apparatus. The president signed the contract on April 29, 1900 and reported that the scheduled delivery date would be July 1, 1900.
On April 30, 1900 a meeting was held at Borough Hall in order to organize the fire department. Fifty-five volunteers were there to offer their services. Changing the name to Eagle Company No. 1 was proposed and defeated. The name of the organization was changed to “Jamesburg Fire Co. No. 1” and officers were elected. In addition to the aforementioned officers three new positions were created: Foreman – William G. Mount, First Assistant Foreman – John Errickson, and Second Assistant Foreman – Edward Sullivan. A new treasurer was elected, Fred E. Nodocker and a new secretary, Isaac N. Petty.
Chief Cruger announced that plans were made to hold a Fireman’s Ball on May 15 at the St. James Hall in order to offset the price of the apparatus. The fundraiser proved successful, raising over $100. The company received an invitation from Sumner Post 74 G.A.R. to participate in their annual Memorial Day Parade. The invitation was accepted and a motion was passed to purchase uniforms. The original uniforms consisted of a blue cap, pants and shirt, and white tie and belt. It was also decided that the company would take charge of the Fourth of July celebration in Lake Park in order to raise money and show the new truck to the townspeople. President Perrine reported that the borough Council had confirmed the election of the chief and his officers and had granted permission for the fire department to use the Borough Hall for meetings and construct a garage adjacent to Borough Hall in order to house the apparatus. The company did not have to wait long before responding to their first fire call. The barn of Dr. H.D. Zandt was destroyed by fire on the same evening of the organization’s meeting.
The department needed an alarm system to summon the volunteers for a fire call. A flange of the rim from the wheel of a locomotive was secured and hung in front of Borough Hall. The alarm was sounded by striking the flange with a sledgehammer. The alarm system did not prove to be loud enough, so the company appointed a committee to find prices for a bell. In November 1900, the committee recommended the purchase of an 1100-pound bell. The bell was purchased and arrived at the freight station in Jamesburg on December 17, 1900. The bell was drayed to the Engine Room the next day by Mr. Samuel Perrine and the help of six firemen. The bell was raised onto a tower in January of 1901 and proved to be an adequate notification system. The bell can be seen today, in front of the present firehouse. Our bell has become the symbol of pride and commitment to Jamesburg and serves as a memorial to all of our past members.
The fire department was assisted by several local youths, all too young to join the department. They would carry water in pails to the fire in order to refill the apparatus. These youths were formally recognized by the fire department as part of the company in January 1901 and became the “Bucket Brigade”. The Bucket Brigade was then permitted to store their pails in the Engine Room and respond to calls with the fire department. The tradition of having local youths involved in the fire department still occurs today. The fire department has a Junior Membership Program that allows individuals ages 16-18 to join the department and learn the skills of firefighting in preparation for becoming certified firefighters.
The fire department continued to be supported by fundraisers with supplement from the borough. Whenever the fire department held a function or fundraiser, St. James Church permitted them to use their hall at no cost. In order to show appreciation for their support, the fire department donated 200 bricks to Father Nolan of the St. James Church in May of 1902. The funds the department raised were needed to pay for the debt of the apparatus, equipment for the firemen, uniforms and horses. The engine was drawn by a team of horses that was supplied by local liverymen for $3 per fire. The fire department discussed purchasing their own horses, but determined that the maintenance cost would be too expensive.
On June 25, 1903, the Ancient Order of Hiberbians, as thanks to the firemen, presented the fire department with a silver trumpet. The same trumpet was carried by the Chief in the 100th Anniversary celebration parade.
By 1909, the water company had laid water mains and fire hydrants on a few streets. On May 10, 1909 the first Hose Cart equipped with 500 feet of hose arrived. In February of 1910, the Borough Council voted to purchase a Hook & Ladder for the department. In late 1910, the fire department purchased a second Hose Cart with an additional 500 feet of hose in anticipation of the water company adding more water mains and hydrants.
The alarm system was electrified in January 1914 by placing an automatic striker in the bell and installing five alarm pull boxes throughout the town. The largest step toward automation was the purchase of a Model T Ford Fire Pumper on September 8, 1919. This was the company’s first motorized piece of apparatus. In 1920, the department acquired a Ford chassis and was able to motorize the Hook & Ladder. This made the Jamesburg Fire Department one of the first departments in the area to be completely motorized. These two pieces of equipment were in service until July 14, 1927, when two new Hahn Pumpers arrived. One of the trucks, a 35-Gallon Chemical Tank was purchased by the borough, the other, a 150-Gallon Booster Tank was purchased by the company. The truck purchased by the company was used for fires in the borough, as well as mutual aid to surrounding communities. In January 1942, a Ward LaFrance Pumper was ordered to replace one of the Hahns. The truck was not delivered until August due to a lack of materials as a result of the war.
The fire department, since inception was located beside borough hall on Augusta Street. In 1945, the fire department purchased the land where the building currently stands from the Davison Estates. Fireman Henry Dobenski was instrumental in acquiring this land. He presented the company with the deed on July 9, 1945. The first shovel of dirt was turned over by the Mayor Nils E. Wideberg and Chief Albert Linke Sr. on July 3, 1949. Plans had been drawn up for a one story 40’ x 80’ structure with a recreation room, a meeting room and a truck room. The building was completed in 1951 and the equipment was moved in. The meeting room was rented out to a contractor for the next year in order to defray the costs and was not used by the department until 1952. Since the original building was built, two additions have been made, an “A-Frame” roof was added and several alterations have occurred.
By the time of the department’s 75th Anniversary, there was a 1970 American LaFrance 1000 Gallon per Minute (GPM) Pumper, a 1960 Mack 750 GPM Pumper, a 1956 Mack 750 GPM Pumper, a utility truck, and two Brush Trucks. The 1970 American LaFrance remained in service until 2001 and the 1956 Mack is used as a Parade Truck.
In 1976 the Fire Department purchased a used 1950 Mack Aerial Ladder Truck from South Plainfield Fire Department. That truck remained in service until 1998 when it was replaced by our current aerial. In 1977 the fire department donated part of its land to the Jamesburg First Aid Squad and allowed them to construct their headquarters. In 1980 the department began to purchase Pagers for all members. This is still the system in use today. Members carry a voice pager on their side that is activated to alert them of each fire call. On August 24, 1982 the Borough of Jamesburg formed a fire district. Until this time the fire department was funded by donations and the borough council allocated funds. Creating a fire district allowed the fire department to tax the town directly through a fire tax. The fire district was to be overseen by 5 commissioners elected by the taxpayers. The commissioners act as liaisons between the fire department and the taxpayers. They make sure the fire department gets the proper funding, yet protects the town from being over-taxed. This is the system that is still in place today.
The first major purchase by the commissioners was a 1986 Mack 1500 GPM Pumper. Two years later, the board purchased a second Mack, a 1988 1500 GPM Pumper. In 1991, the board purchased a Jeep Cherokee to be used as a chief’s vehicle. In 1998, the department purchased a Central States Pumper with a 60’ Aerial Apparatus. Also in 1998, the board approved a Length of Service Award Program for the members of the department and has made contributions to qualifying members every year since its inception.
The Fire Department celebrated its 100th anniversary on June 3, 2000 with a parade through Jamesburg and a celebration in Thompson Park. Ex-Chief Joseph Mazzio served as the Grand Marshal for the day.
In 2002, the fire department purchased the license for two VHF channels for enhanced communications at the fire scene, between trucks and headquarters. The department received a federal grant to purchase a generator and Air Filtration System for the truck bays in 2006.
In 2002, the board purchased a Chevrolet pickup truck with a utility body to be used as a utility truck. In 2004, a Chevrolet Blazer was purchased to be used as a chief’s vehicle and the 1991 Jeep Cherokee was donated to the Borough of Jamesburg. In 2007, the board purchased a 2007 American LaFrance 1500 GPM Pumper, and at that time sold the 1988 Mack Pumper.
The Jamesburg Volunteer Fire Department is a completely volunteer department that upholds the pride and tradition of our ancestors. The department has continued to protect the lives and property of the citizens of Jamesburg for over 100 years. The department is made up of a brotherhood of more than forty men and women, all from different occupations, cultures, and lifestyles, that work together to donate their time and energy without hesitation in order to ensure the safety of the borough. They respond to calls at all hours of the day and night, putting their personal lives on hold to attend to the needs of the community. In addition to providing fire protection to the borough, the department has historically been contracted to respond to calls in Monroe Township and within a specified stretch of the New Jersey Turnpike. The department provides assistance to the community in many ways beyond putting out the fires, from assisting with a broken dam to pumping out basements, from putting up the town’s holiday decorations to brightening children’s faces by bringing Santa through town on a fire truck. Every fire we extinguish or service we provide, each act is performed with pride. Thank you for your support.