Learn more about the extensive history behind the Flemington Fire Department.
In 1842 an organization known as the Fame Fire Company of Flemington was incorporated by an act of assembly. Although little is known about this early charter, the company, was composed of leading citizens of that time:
Early equipment consisted of leather buckets manned by a bucket brigade. Later a hand engine of the “tub” variety, known as the “Fame” was acquired.
It was a simple wooden box on low wheels with a hand pump on the front – the water was hand carried to the machine in buckets. Leather hose was used, but due to its high cost very little was owned.
William P Emery
Joseph P Boss
The Fame served the town until 1862 when a Chapman Steam Fire Engine with a hose carriage was purchased for $4,000.
The same group that purchased the Chapman...
The Flemington Water Company
Albert G Smith
William P Emery
George F Crater
Anderson and Nevius
Jos. H Higgins
The Flemington Railroad Company
John G Hopewell
John L Janeway
John G Reading
John H Capner
Thos. G Howard
Alexander V. Bonnell
...erected a two-story Engine house and organized a Volunteer Fire Company called the Hopewell Engine Company. After a few years, this company was disbanded. For a short time Flemington had a paid fire department with each member receiving $2 for every day of actual service, including drills and cleaning.
In 1878 this company also disbanded but the same year a volunteer company was founded calling itself the Flemington Fire Company and was organized on December 28, 1878 with 25 men:
John A Bullock
William H Bellis
Theo B Bellis
George T Gray
John B Hunt
Samual B Hill
Jacob H Johnson
James A Kline
John C Pyatt
John H Stockton
Baltus P Stout
And the following officers were elected:
First President: AT Connet First Secretary: John C Pyatt First Foreman: John H Stockton
A Constitution and By-Laws were adopted and a committee was appointed to gain the Street Commissioners consent to have the engine and apparatus turned over to the company. Regular monthly drills were held under the direction of the Foreman. A hose carriage committee was appointed on a monthly basis to give a full report at each meeting on the condition and availability of the hose for the apparatus. By 1881 membership in the company swelled to over 45.
On August 27, 1883 a large number of citizens assembled at the court house with an interest in forming a Hook & Ladder Company in Flemington. Mr WA Cotter was made temporary chairman and JD Farrand became temporary secretary. Initial membership topped out at 40 men and William F Chamberlin headed a committee to solicit funds to purchase a ladder and truck house.
In September 1883, the building committee reported that Mrs Wurts had given her consent to the erection of a truck house on her land adjoining the engine house – upon condition that the company agreed to remove the building within a month’s notice from her. Rent of one dollar per year was paid.
Election of officers took place:
President: WA Cotter
Foreman: WF Chamberlin
Secretary: John D Ferrand
Assist. Foreman: JS Higgins
The building committee reported that a truck house would cost $146 to build and $60 had already been raised. The building was completed in October, 1883.
Drill uniforms consisting of a cap and shirt were procured and each member paid $1.35. At this meeting it was decided to send delegates to Flemington Fire Company #1 to see about establishing a united Fire Department of Flemington.
A used hook and ladder truck was acquired from Princeton Fire Department and was delivered to Flemington on October 18, 1883. It was escorted into town by Flemington Fire Company #1 and the Flemington Band.
In April of 1884 it was decided that although the Fire Company #1 and the Hook and Ladder Company were two distinct organizations put together, the “Fire Department of Flemington” needed one Chief. Joint meetings were held to elect a Chief and Assistant Chief.
John H Stockton of Fire Company #1 was elected Chief and JS Higgins of the Hook and Ladder Company was elected Assistant Chief and in June, 1884 the first joint fire drill between the two companies was held by order of Chief Stockton.
In December of 1886 the first Fire Police were appointed to a term of one year. Their duties included stationing themselves at the doors of a burning structure to keep unauthorized persons out.
May of 1918 saw the installation of a new fire alarm system in town. The steam whistles at the Electric Light Plant, Flemington Steam Mill and Fulper Pottery Plant utilized the following signal code to alert the firefighters as to the location of the fire when the alarm was sounded:
District 1: One Blast. South Main Street, including east and west, south of Mine Street
District 2: Two Blasts. Main Street, from Mine Street to Lehigh Valley RR and Branch Street to Old Gas House.
District 3: Three Blasts. West of Main Street, Mine Street and north to North Main Street.
District 4: Four Blasts. East of Main Street from Central RR including Bloomfield Avenue.
District 5: Five Blasts. East of Main Street from Bloomfield Avenue to Hopewell Avenue, including Pennsylvania Avenue
In February, 1951 the department purchased and installed the first fire band radios in Hunterdon County. Radios were used in the four trucks and a base was installed in the firehouse.