TOMS RIVER FIRE COMPANY # 1
So now a fire company was formed, but this was not enough. Almost immediately, the company members started raising funds to purchase a fire engine and to build an engine house.
In April of 1896, there was $250 in the fund already, a large sum of money at the time. The members, realizing that they had the full support of the town, decided to take a chance and signed a contract with the Howe pump and Engine Company of Indianapolis, Indiana for a hook and ladder truck, outfitted with ladders of various lengths, axes, poles, buckets and lanterns. The truck also had a chemical tank and a hand pump with suction hose for the water. Two men were required to operate the pump, which was attached to 100 feet of hose with a nozzle on the end of it. The truck was painted red, white and blue and was lettered on each side “Toms River Fire Company.” The truck was claimed to be “the first of its kind” and cost $600.
When the truck was delivered, the fire company put on a demonstration for the whole town. A building was built on the shore of Robbin’s Cove and filled with dried cedar brush and other in flammables. The building was then saturated with kerosene and set ablaze. The firefighters pulled their new apparatus to the scene and out the fire out by using the chemical engine. Again the building was lit up and this time the firefighters used the pump, drawing water from the river. Both times the fire was extinguished in an expeditious manner, amidst the cry of praise from the hundreds of onlookers.
While the company was waiting for their new truck to be delivered, they began planning to build an engine house. A lot was secured on Horner Street (School Street), across from the school. The members began constructing a two story building, the first floor to house the truck and other firefighting equipment and the second floor for meetings. Unfortunately, the engine house was not finished by the time the new truck was delivered; forcing the firefighters to store the truck in R.B. Gowdy’s shed on Water Street. Work continued on the engine house, but because of a lack of funds, it was not completed till the spring of 1897. In July of that year, the railroad donated a locomotive wheel ring to the fire company to be used as a fire alarm. This was hung at the engine house and was rung for fires and drills.
On December 22nd, 1896, the fire company members, through the State of New Jersey, incorporated the fire company and in 1898, the fire company petitioned the Township Committee and proposed to form a fire district. An election was held on May 28, 1898 and Fire District No. 1 was formed, with a budget of $500 for the first year. Also in that year, the Toms River Water Company became operational and the town now had a hydrant system. This change allowed the fire company to purchase hose, nozzles, and hose carts for firefighting. When there was a fire, the members would pull and push the hose carts to the scene, hook the hoses to the nearest hydrant and fight the fire. This was a significant improvement to the fire protection of the town.