Hackettstown Fire Department

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Hackettstown Fire Department History


Fire Company "Relief No.2"


A group of Hackettstown men organized themselves into a volunteer fire fighting group known as fire company Relief No. 2 in 1855. About this time they came into possession of an ancient piece of fire fighting apparatus called "The Relief". This hand pumper was purchased by a few local men, along with leather buckets and 60 feet of leather hose from a group of Philadelphia Fire volunteers. This company fought many fires in town using their old pumper.

By 1865 interest and membership in the group was declining and it disbanded. The Gazette defended the men stating that with no new equipment or formal training, disinterest among member was understandable.

     On December 3, 1877, with the express desire to organize a new fire company, dedicated men banned together and formed the Cataract Hose Company #1. Meeting in Klotz & Ackley's butcher shop on Main Street, thirty-six charter members dedicated themselves to the protection of life and property in Hackettstown. The constitution and by-laws of the organization were adopted on April 18, 1878 and became an incorporated company on July 1, 1891.

     The Hackettstown Firemen's Relief Association was born on May 23, 1879 whereby firemen could help each other in times of illness or death.

     Their first equipment consisted of a two-wheeled hose cart and the hand pumper, to which they fastened 10-foot lengths of leather hose when they reached the scene of the fire. Each firemen carried a section of this riveted hose, kept workable by the constant conditioning with neat’s-foot oil. Water for the pumper was supplied from a brook or a well by the bucket brigade. This pumper, which is still preserved and in working condition at the Moore Street Firehouse, is believed to have been built in London, England in the late 17th. century. Operated solely by manpower, this pumper was capable of throwing a stream of water 50 or more feet in the air at a rate of 78 gallons per minute.

     Their early celebrations consisted of dinner dances at Warren House Hotel on Main Street, but on August 30, 1907 a gigantic parade was held, to which more then 10,000 people came to enjoy or participate in. It was quite an accomplishment to have an affair that large as at that time the only way to get men and equipment for town to town was by the train or horse.

     Prior to 1900 there was at least three different firehouses or engine houses. In 1900 the main building was erected on Moore Street with the truck bays being added in 1950, when the old wooden floor couldn't stand the weight of the modern trucks. As the town grew, a need was seen for another fire station and in 1971 the Miller Street Firehouse was built.

     On October 30, 1899 the Cataract Hose Co. #1 was called on to fight its first major fire when the main building at Centenary College for Women was completely destroyed. It was at this fire that the need for a group of of men to man the ladders was evident and in 1901 the Vigilant Hook & Ladder Company #1 was organized by more dedicated townspeople.

     In 1942 the Cook Department Store and the Peoples Bank were leveled by a major fire that hit the town's business district. Hackettstown has seen the destruction of two lumberyard in town-the Hackettstown Coal & Lumber Co. in March of 1956 and the Williams and Hibler Lumberyard in August of 1970.

     In December of 1946 the women of the firemen's families organized a Ladies' Auxiliary. By providing refreshments at extended fires and financial support, these women have provided and invaluable service to the Hackettstown Fire Department and the town.

    During the early years only a few alarms of fire were given per year, but today the dedicated men of the Hackettstown Fire Department answer between 300 and 400 alarms per year. Whether it be day or night, when someone needs help and the alarm is sounded, the dedicated men of the Hackettstown Fire Department will be on their way, in a matter of minutes, to answer the call.


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