|History of the Wood-Ridge Fire Department|
According to the map of Wood-Ridge in the Walker Atlas and Gazetter, in 1876 there were a dozen or more homes in the area now known as Wood-Ridge, however there was no local fire department. Fire protection was provided by the Village of Carlstadt from the firehouse located on Friedrich Strasse (now Third St.), next to the school house. Around 1890, with the number of houses increasing, it became necessary to form the Hook & Ladder Company No. 2 of the Carlstadt Fire Department. This company was located on Humboldt St. and provided fire protection to the developing area.
On December 5, 1894, the Borough of Wood-Ridge was incorporated and the Mayor and Council organized on January 1, 1895.
One of the inheritances of the newly formed borough was the Carlstadt Fire Department Hook & Ladder Co. No. 2. This company provided fire protection until July 19, 1897 when the Wood-Ridge Fire Department was organized. It cost the borough fifty dollars to take over the building on Humboldt St. and the 1895 hook and ladder with it's long string of buckets hanging underneath.
The first Chief of the department was Louis Euverard. Other charter members were G.P.Young, W.W. Young, J. Keifer, C. Stahl, W. H. White, E.H. Pirovano, C. Krohn, H. Randolph, M.H. Story, E. L. Terry, P. Paret, E. H. Vincent, E. H. Sabin, and S. Scruton.
Wood-Ridge Hose Co. 1 was organized on August 17, 1901. It's first piece of equipment was a two-wheeled hose cart, which resembled a huge garden hose reel. Long handles attached to the axle extended across the width of the cart. Two or three men abreast would pull the cart while other members pushed it. The rest of the company, running along the streets to the fire, relieved them. The hose cart was often kept in the stable on the Robinson property
The hook and ladder was also pulled by the men. To keep it from getting away whenever necessary to go down a hill, a thick rope was tied to the rear axle. The rope was then placed around a stout tree trunk to control the wagon's descent. Many times after a fire, John Adelung lent his team of white horses to pull the hook and ladder back up the hill to the firehouse.
On June 25, 1917, Chemical Co. No.1 was organized and a two-wheeled chemical cart was purchased by the borough.
On October 26, 1921, the Wood-Ridge Fire Department was reorganized by merging the three existing companies. James W. Kerr became the first elected Chief of the Department. Prior to the reorganization, the Mayor and Council had appointed the fire chiefs.
In order to summon the men to the firehouse, three gongs were strategically placed throughout the borough. These gongs remained in use even after the installation of the "1904" bell on the firehouse. The bell was replaced by an electronically operated siren and the gongs were then abandoned. The bell remained in the tower of the firehouse for twenty five more years, serving as a back up should the siren fail. In 1935, the siren was replaced by an air horn, the system that is still in use today.
When the old municipal building was torn down in 1952, the bell was removed and it was placed in Veteran's Park, in memory of the firemen. It was subsequently removed and on May 27, 1964 placed in front of the new municipal building, where it is today. On the bell is inscribed the names of those deceased firefighters who were exempt or had died while on the active roll.
In 1922, the first motor-driven engine, a Reo combination pumper and hose truck, was purchased. In 1924, the men of the department purchased a Model T Ford chassis upon which a body was built to carry equipment.
With the coming of the Sunshine City development, the need for better equipment was evident and the first of many American LaFrance fire apparatus was purchased by the borough. In 1928, an American LaFrance 1000 GPM (Gallons Per Minute ) pumper was placed into service.
During the next two decades, much equipment was purchased. In 1941, a Ford light truck was delivered and in 1947 a Seagrave ladder and pumper combination truck was added to the growing fleet. In 1954, a GMC 750 GPM pumper was purchased and 1956 saw the arrival of the second American LaFrance pumper, 1000 GPM (Engine 905). This unit remained in service until 1996, as a reserve engine.
A new municipal building was constructed in 1953, complete with suitable headquarters for the Fire Department which included space for the housing of four pieces of fire apparatus, a workshop for repairs, a meeting room and a well equipped kitchen.
A new GMC rescue truck (Rescue 903) was placed into service in 1960. This unit replaced the original light truck. In 1967, an American LaFrance 65 ft. / 1250 GPM ladder truck (Truck 904) was delivered, replacing the Seagrave. This unit worked many fires, both in town and on mutual aid, as it was one of the first ladder trucks in the area to be equipped with a pump.
1972 saw the arrival of a 1250 GPM American LaFrance engine (Engine 902) and in 1978 another American LaFrance engine (Engine 901), this one 1500 GPM, was purchased. In 1982, an American LaFrance / Saulsbury rescue - communications truck (R903) was placed into service, replacing the 1960 GMC. (The GMC was then purchased by the Bergen County Sheriff's Department and refurbished for use as a SWAT vehicle). In 1988, an American LaFrance 100 ft. / 2000 GPM ladder truck (T904) was delivered, replacing the 1967 American LaFrance. This unit had the department's first totally enclosed cab.
After purchasing five consecutive vehicles from American LaFrance, the department had to look elsewhere to replace the 1956 American LaFrance engine, as American LaFrance was no longer in business. In 1995, a 2000 GPM KME engine (E905) was delivered. This impressive piece features a ten men enclosed cab, 600 gallon water tank and a 40 gallon foam tank.
In 2002, the department again went back to American LaFrance and purchased a 2000 GPM Eagle engine (E902) with an eight man cab and a 600 gallon water tank.
In 2006, the department replaced the 1978 American LaFrance with a 1989 Pierce Lance 2000 gpm engine (E901). This unit originally saw duty in Rutherford, NJ as Red 2-4 and 56 Engine 4.
In 2008, the department placed into service a new 2008 KME Heavy Duty Combination Rescue (R903). This truck carries a wide array of hydraulic and pnuematic rescue tools, air bags, fans, saws and confined space rescue equipment. It also has a command center and a 9000 watt light tower.
In the Fall of 2011, Truck 904, the 1988 American LaFrance 100 ft. aerial ladder, suffered major mechanical damage and was taken out of service. The truck was considered a "total loss" and ladder truck coverage was provided by mutual aid towns.
In November 2012, the department placed in service a 2012 Sutphen SL100 ladder truck (Truck 904). This truck has a 100 foot aerial ladder and a 2000 gpm pump.
In May 2017, the department placed in service a 2017 KME Predator engine (Engine 901) replacing the 1989 Pierce engine. This engine has a 2000 gpm pump and a 750 gallon water tank.
All of the units from 1995 to 2017 are in service today protecting the borough and its residents from the ravages of fire. The department currently responds to over 400 fire calls a year.
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