History

Introduction

For over 90 years, the firehouse as served as a community center and hosted hundreds of events. Thousands of people have walked through our bay doors and witnessed our volunteers answer calls. Multiple generations of firefighters have served the community., The following is the written history of the firehouse that has been handed down for decades and has been included in numerous pamphlets at company events. Everyday we continue to add to that history and will continue to update this page to reflect changes within our organization. We hope you enjoy learning about how Port Monmouth Fire Company became a company of “Pride and Tradition.”

1922 – 1930’s

During the summer of 1922, the following men endeavored to form a volunteer fire company in Port Monmouth: Henry Pulsch, Ernest Rutt, Percy De Grote, Lloyd Carhardt, Charles Meyers and George Burlew. It was through the inspiration of Ed Oakes and Tom Williams of Red Bank, NJ that this meeting was held as they spoke of the need and advantages of a volunteer fire company in the community. That November, a meeting was held at the Port Monmouth School to incorporate the Port Monmouth Fire Co. No.1. Marcus Moller was elected President by acclamation and one ballot cast by the acting secretary, Louis Jensen. The Fire Company Charter was promtly drawn up and signed by the following men: M. Moller, L. Jensen, H. DeGrote, Walter DeGrote, John Dowens, Charles Rutt, Sr., C. Meyers, Ben Mills, Arthur Aker and Jim Hepburn.

Various fundraising drives were undertaken and from the results of these the first fire truck was purchased at a cost of $2,500 and housed in a frame garage built by the men on a site purchased for $300.00 from the Cowalton Realty Company. The Ford truck was delivered in July of 1923.

In 1926, it was decided a larger truck was needed and a Buffalo 500 gpm pumper was purchased and housed in Walter Walling’s barn until an addition to the firehouse was completed.

The next event of note was the purchase of property, for site for a new firehouse. The lots on which the present firehouse stands were purchased from William Coe, in 1928. The firehouse was started in the fall of 1932, the total cost was $11,900. By the spring of 1933, the new firehouse was completed and occupied.

1940’s – 1960’s

In 1940, Port Monmouth Fire Company purchased a third piece of apparatus, a GMC. The new truck was equipped with a 250 gpm pump, 750 ft. house bed, and floodlights. Six years later the company decided to purchase it’s first 1,000 gpm pumper, an Ahrens-Fox Model HT. The vehicle was purchased in 1946 for $15,500 (Equal to roughly $211,000 USD in 2018).

Twelve years later, in 1958, the company purchased an American LaFrance Pumper, with a 750 gpm pump. This truck had been the heart of firefighting operation from 1958.

On December 18, 1960, Port Monmouth Fire Company suffered a tragic loss. In the early morning hours, a fire started in the upstairs hall. Before the fire was discovered and could be brought under control, damages of approximately $30,000 had been sustained. The building was renovated in 1961 at a cost of $50,000.00.

In 1965 construction was started for a new air-conditioned addition which was used as an entertainment and bingo hall. Mid-February of 1967 the Company held its first $1,000.00 Bingo in the new hall and the Colonial Room became the center of fundraising operations.

1970’s – 1990’s

With two of the three trucks in excess of 25 years of age and demands increasing significantly, a truck committee was formed in 1970 for the purpose of selecting an optimum vehicle to meet firefighting needs for the next decade.

The selection was a 1,000 gpm Seagrave pumper, with a 500 gpm deluge set, 2000 foot hose bed, high pressure booster unit and self- contained electrical generator system for exhaust fan and emergency lighting system. Seagrave Corporation was awarded the contract at a cost of $47,000 and the truck was delivered seventeen months later in March of 1973. This was the company’s new Engine 164.

During the fall of 1980, the company added a 500 gpm mini-attack pumper manufactured by Pierce on a Dodge chassis (unit 160). This vehicle was extensively used primarily in support of our two Class A pumpers as well as for vehicle and brush fires. This unit remains in service today and is used mainly for brush fires.

The company now had five fire apparatus in active service and they were running out of room in the engine bay. It was during this time that a group of members took the initiative to expand the truck room so that all of the vehicles could be housed under one roof. Literally hundreds of man hours were put into this effort and in late 1980 the project was complete.

During late 1988 a truck committee was formed for the purpose of deciding the feasibility of acquiring a new class A pumper to replace our aging American la France pumper. After several months of deliberations, this committee presented there recommendations to the company for the purchase of a 1989 Hahn 1500 GPM pumper with a seven-man enclosed cab. This new apparatus was to be designated as Engine 161 and it was expected that this unit would now lead the company into the 1990′s, well equipped to handle the needs of the community. During the fall of 1988 the new engine was delivered, and it was at this time that the company decided to “sell” the old LaFrance to the Middletown Fire Academy for $1.00 in order to keep this distinguished piece of  fire apparatus in service training the volunteers of the future.

In 1998, a new Pierce Pumper was purchased to replace the aging Seagrave. Around this time we closed the Bingo Hall and rented it out to a daycare. Also, the building was extended for the new larger fire apparatus. Then in 1999, Port Monmouth Fire Company celebrated it’s 75 anniversary with a Wet Down for the new Engine 164 and a building dedication.

2000 – 2013

In 2003, the Fire and Police departments celebrated their 75th anniversary.  A 75th-anniversary parade and celebration was held at Croydon Hall.

The year 2012 will forever be an important date in Port Monmouth Fire Company’s History. Starting on October 28th, the Middletown Fire Department was on put on standby for the approaching Hurricane Sandy. The next morning, October 29th, members of the fire company stayed at the firehouse while the water began rise down the street.  In the company’s 90 year history the firehouse never flooded. Around 7 p.m. members began to notice the firehouse’s parking lot was quickly filling with water and everyone began to move their personal vehicles to Romeo’s Shopping Plaza on Highway 36. The Fire Company’s bus was used to bring people back to the firehouse to help move the apparatus.

As Port Monmouth rebuilt following the storm, a new problem arose. The state required house to be raised to a certain height, with some homeowners choosing to raise their houses higher. This meant that some of the former single-story summer homes transformed into three story tall houses.  In 2014, a recommendation was made from the Middletown Township Fire Department for Port Monmouth Fire Company to acquire a ladder truck. The matter was presented to the company, which voted to move forward with assuming a truck company role. In 2016, a truck committee was formed, which reviewed a number of potential trucks, eventually deciding to move forward with KME.  As per the department numbering system, the new truck would be numbered 160.

In 2017, the new 160 was delivered and entered service in August.


Have information or old photos of Port Monmouth Fire Company? Share them with us! Email info@portmonmouthfire.com