Fire Companies

The following sections are reproduced from Grace Trott Roper‘s historical retrospective on how the Borough of Belmar came to be. The original booklet is © Copyright 1978 by Grace Trott Roper, Belmar, NJ and was printed by Hoffman Press, Belmar, NJ.

Duplication or reproduction is not permitted

In 1888 on New Year‘s Eve James Freeborns Market burned down. The Masonic Hall which occupied the top floor was completely destroyed and by dawn 1889 the entire block on 9th avenue between “F‘ street and the railroad lay in smoldering ruins. Damages totaled $20,000 and the worried property owners circulated a petition seeking a Bond Issue of $5,000 to purchase a “Steam” fire engine. The Bond Issue was voted on Feb. 19th, 1889 and in June a bright yellow fire engine came to town. This was the entire equipment of the first fire company formed in January of that year.

Prior to the fire The Ocean Beach Association owned a small hook and ladder wagon, purchased on April 10th, 1883. This was manned by the unorganized men available and was rounded out by the protection given by barrels of water kept ready throughout the community and the privately owned fire buckets which hung in each family‘s “back entry” or wood shed.

The Union Fire Company was organized and incorporated on Jan. 31st, 1889. Two other companies followed, The Volunteer Hook and Ladder in May, 1894 and The Goodwill Hose Company in Jan. 1900, when an ordinance creating a fire department was adopted.

Since their organization, these three companies have worked in close harmony and have so combined their efforts that they operate at each fire as one unit. The Union Company, with its modern engine, takes over the pumping. The Volunteer Company mans the hook and ladder, and The Goodwill operates the hose lines.

Facts About the Fire Companies

The first home was F” street between Eleventh and Twelfth avenues. Later moved to 9th and “F”. Its present headquarters is 519 Ninth Avenue. The first building used as a fire house was moved to 10th and Railroad.

The First Fire Chief was Milo H. Crego, known as the “Squire” because he also held the office of “Justice Of The Peace.”

In May 1890 the official uniform consisting of a Fire Hat, Belt, Red Shirt and Black Scarf was adopted.

The first motor truck was purchased in 1920.

The Union Hose Company tested a new triple combination pumper.

The apparatus was termed a “Canopy Cab” and at that time was the newest Seagrave product. It offered protection for three firemen within the cabs and six comfortably on the rear.

Major, The Union Fire Company‘s firehorse was retired in May 1938. He was purchased for the company from Wm. Bergen who owned a livery stable in Belmar. Major‘s mate Harry was bought at the same time but died. Major was half the team that first pulled the Union Company‘s Fire Engine. He hauled the engine until 1922 when he was replaced by a motor. Until his retirement he pulled a municipal wagon.

Members of the Goodwill Company are active socially and in charitable work. Funds used to carry their work and the two companies are raised by an annual envelope solicitation. Envelopes for donations are distributed by firemen among the residents and business places, and collected at a later date. Monies raised are devoted to the kiddies Christmas Fund and other worthy causes.