At a meeting of the “Monmouth Junction Red Sox” baseball team on August 8th, 1924, a discussion took place on the number of serious fires that had taken place in the area over the last two years. The idea of forming a fire company was brought up. Mr. J.J. Ryan, president of the Red Sox, set August 15th as the date of a meeting dedicated solely for the purpose of forming a fire company. At the meeting, a motion was passed to hold a meeting open to the entire town in Al Lewis’ movie theater on New Road (now Pierson Street) on August 24th, 1924. Thirty-four men from the community attended this meeting. Those men became the charter members of the Monmouth Junction Volunteer Fire Company. They had no property for a station and did not have a fire truck. They determined the one item needed most was money to purchase land and equipment. It was agreed to hold a carnival on September 18th, 19th, and 20th. During the three-day event, $2,400 was raised. The fund raising carnival was held every September for over 20 years.
The Trustees, being optimistic in their ability to raise the needed funds, entered into an agreement with the American LaFrance Company for a 1925 Brockway American LaFrance Soda and Acid Fire Truck at a cost of $3,850. The truck was delivered on January 20th, 1925 and used at a fire that same day. The truck was housed in a garage on Walnut Street next to the hotel that once stood between the garage and the railroad and rented for $8.00 a month.
As there were no electronic fire alarms, the first device used to get the men to the fire station was the outer wheel of a freight car hung from a pole and struck by a sledgehammer. That device was given to East Brunswick when Monmouth Junction obtained an electronic alarm. This freight wheel now stands at the Brookview Fire House in East Brunswick.
In early 1925, a Ladies Auxiliary was formed. They raised and turned over to the Fire Department $118. Of this sum, $100 was used to purchase a building lot 45’x75’ from Mrs. Emma Morten Rowland.
Notice of Incorporation was advertised in the Daily Home News on January 29th, 1925, and the company was incorporated on February 13th, 1925. The first officers were:
Corbit S. Luker, President
David Stewart, Vice-President
John T. Ritter, Secretary
John J. Ryan, Financial Secretary
Elbert C. Pierson, Treasurer (for the next 30 years)
Chief David Stewart
Foreman Leroy Carlisle
Assistant Foreman Asa Morrell
On February 13th, 1925, Township Committeeman George Walters informed the Department that the Township Committee would donate $200.00 to help them get started.
On December 31st, 1926, The Trustees reported that ground had been broken on the Ridge Road lot on December 23rd, 1926. The trustees reported the building was completed and accepted at a cost of $645.03. In order not to have the truck freeze, men were assigned to stoke the pot-bellied stove. Minutes from the December 23rd, 1926 meeting indicate that a motion carried to have an opening-night affair on January 15th, 1927.
On August 23rd, 1928, a motion was passed to sell life membership in the Department to members between 35 and 40 years of age for $30 and $25 for those over 40 years. Later that year on November 19th, 1928, another motion was passed to take all of the ladies who helped for the four days of the carnival to dinner at the Forsgate Country Club. The cost was not to exceed $2.00 per person.
In 1933, the wooden garage was torn down and a wooden frame, stucco faced, 2 bay garage with a meeting room was erected on the Ridge Road site at a cost of, as near as can be determined, $2,852.
In 1936, the need became apparent for a modern truck that could pump water from a well of creek and push it through a hose to the fire. The Company entered into a contract to purchase a 1937 Dodge “Smokeater” Pumper. The Township Committee agreed to provide to the company $1,500 a year for three years to pay for the $4,486 truck. The Company would be responsible for the purchase of hoses, fittings, and any other accessories along with any interest charged.
In late 1939, the Fire Department began talking about the Township’s need for ambulance service. Over the period from 1939 to 1940, there was much debate as to the merits of the Fire Department operating the squad, or if it should be a completely separate organization. There were those in town who desired to serve in the First Aid, but did not wish to be members of the Fire Department. By 1941, the squad was formed as a separate body. Bill Voorhees was named Captain and Bill Van Dyke was named President. The first ambulance was purchased in 1941 and was housed in a barn behind the Fire House.
In August of 1940, the firehouse meeting room was loaned to the New Jersey Bell Telephone Company in order to familiarize the public with a new concept in telephone systems, a dial system. Monmouth Junction was one of the very early dial systems in the country.
In 1947, the company purchased a 1947 International 1,000 Gallon Pumper at a cost of $8,200. The 1925 LaFrance chemical truck was taken out of service and sold to Charles Tammaro, better known as Charlie the Barber.
In 1956, a Ford pumper was ordered from TASC Fire Apparatus. As the Department was now going to have three trucks and only room to house two of them, the members completely built an addition onto the rear of the station. The ’56 Ford is still owned and operated by the Fire Department as an antique parade piece.
In 1964, the 1937 Dodge was involved in an auto accident on Route 1 and Lambert’s jug handle and was taken out of service. As the pump was still usable, the truck was sold to Holsten’s Farms and used as an irrigation pump.
In 1965, a Ford, specially built to handle field fires, was purchased at a cost of $8,500. This truck is also still in service as Engine #202.
In 1967, the company had outgrown its 3-bay stucco building and also was in need of a new pumper. As a new building and a truck were beyond the reach of the Company, the Township Committee purchased a 1967 Ford Pumper at a cost of $32,000. The Fire Department went to bid for a new building designed by Vozek and Mahoney. Magill Construction constructed it at a cost of approximately $70,000 under the direction of President Anthony Santowasso, Sr.
In 1975, with industrial expansion in the township, a new specialized piece of equipment was needed. Under the direction of Chief Charles Spahr and the Township Committee, an 85’ Snorkel aerial truck was purchased at a cost of $141,000 by the Township Committee. After 26 years, this truck is still in service as Truck #201.
During the late 1970’s, the Township Fire Departments, with the cooperation of the Township Committee and Mayor Carolyn McCallum, went to the Fire District concept where funding for fire protection was provided by a separate tax. Since the change to districts in 1977, several pieces of apparatus have been purchased by the district and operated by the Fire Company.
In 1980, the Fire Department proceeded to erect a two-bay fire station on the Georges Road property in Dayton, built by Michael Toth. In 1990, a two-bay addition was added onto the building. One bay houses an ambulance operated by the Monmouth Junction First Aid Squad.
In 1998, The District built a new state of the art Fire Station on Ridge Road and Route 522. The new 17,000 square foot facility cost $2.3 million dollars to build. The building consists of 3 engine bays that can hold trucks two deep, a full kitchen, member’s room, training room, workout room, as well as offices for commissioners, line officers, and the District Coordinator.
In 1999, the Monmouth Junction Volunteer Fire Department celebrated its 75th Anniversary. The Kingston Volunteer Fire Company also celebrated their 75th Anniversary the same year.
Currently, in 2012, the company presently maintains and operates twelve pieces of fire apparatus out of two buildings. The equipment consists of 3 Engines, 1 Bronto Sky-Lift 118’ Aerial Tower, 1 Brush Truck, 1 Rescue Unit, 1 Support Unit, 1 Antique Engine, 1 Utility Pick-Up Truck, a Trench Rescue Trailer, and 2 Command Vehicles.