Fire Department

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The beginnings of the Englewood Fire Department cannot be discussed without first mentioning "The Protection Society of Hackensack Township," [citation needed] which was organized during the Years immediately following the Civil War. The man who originally came up with the idea of this organization was James W. McCulloh, a longtime resident, then living in Teaneck [citation needed]. The purpose of this organization was "the maintenance of order and the protection of property," which may have been looked upon as an early police department rather than any type of fire department.[citation needed]

Founding (Volunteers)

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1st Firehouse.jpg
The society was incorporated on February 6th, 1869,[citation needed] with the first membership of thirty-one members including the greater part of the able bodied male residents of Englewood. The first five years of the society were the most difficult, the active members being always subject to call for service other than apprehending thieves, for Englewood had no fire department.[citation needed]


Moving ahead, during the summer of 1886, the Hackensack Water Company completed the laying of the large mains in Englewood and supplied the township with an abundance of pure water, drawn from the upper sources of the Hackensack and filtered at the reservoir and pumping station at New Milford. A committee of citizens, appointed at a taxpayer's meeting, presented a petition to the township committee that the authorities rent forty fire hydrants from the Water Company and have the same placed in proper locations. The petition was granted and a contract was made with the company for three years for the number specified in the petition at $15 each per year.[citation needed] In 1887, with the introduction of a public water supply, on Oct 10, Donald Mackay, Dr. H. M. Banks, John E. Miller, Joseph H. Tillotson, Jacob taylor, and George R. Dutton, An application was drawn up asking the the township committee to call a special meeting to vote an appropriation of not over $2,000.00 to "establish and equip a hose company". The meeting was held and the motion carried in November. the company was incorporated on November 1st, 1887. Later Mr. Brinckerhoff advanced $1000.00 to buy the hose, to be delivered in a few days. But on Nov 22nd, a township night watchman discovered fire in a room over Magner's confectionery store, in the Athenaeum. There were hydrants and water, but no hose. All onlookers could do was to save some contents, but the records were destroyed. A bucket brigade saved adjacent buildings by pouring water on their roofs. Donald Mackay who was a former Brooklyn volunteer firefighter, directed the efforts. The boy's of Smith's School (located in the Athenaeum, were delighted with their new found vacation. [1]

By the year 1889, Englewood had now some measure of protection in the fire company, with Jacob Taylor, foreman, and Charles C. Townsend, assistant foreman. Foreman and assistant foreman were titles from this era and would most likely be equated with chief and deputy chief, which is more common and familiar these days. Moreover, the Englewood Fire Association had a firehouse on Van Brunt Street, with a tower and a bell. Inside the house were a hose cart and a fire truck, both horse drawn. When a fire broke out, horses were quickly brought from the foreman's livery stable, near at hand. The company was a lively one, with plenty of esprit de corps, and got under way in short order. There were times, however, when the best of will to do and the strongest muscles were hindered by the peculiar physical conditions to which Englewood was subject. With an icy hill to negotiate on a winter night, the company found promptness virtually impossible, no matter how the horses were lashed.

In 1896, the city council held it's first meeting on May 4th. The Protection Society, which had given such aid in Englewood's youthful days, held its 28th annual meeting on May 2nd. The consensus of opinion of the directors and members present was that change in the form of Englewood's government did not necessitate doing away with the society, and a vote prevailed for continuance and cooperation with the city authorities. The change of the form of Englewood's government being referred to, is the township's move to become incorporated as a city. [citation needed]

The active days of the society, however, were practically over, though the form of organization was maintained for several years. It was at this organization meeting of the council that Mayor Currie presented his first message, reviewing the status of the city as to finance, health and fire protection. He recommended the election of a fire chief and the establishment of a fire alarm system. Jacob Taylor was reelected foreman of the fire company. During the year of 1897, the Gamewell fire-alarm system was ordered installed. This system remained in service for nearly one hundred years, ultimately being removed from service in the 1990's. Also, in the latter part of 1897, the council noted that when fires occurred on the hill the speed of the hook and ladder truck was lessened by the number of men riding upgrade. A new rule set a limit of two men, and the chief was authorized to send the rest "by express" through the hiring of an express wagon. [citation needed]


In 1900 a bond ordinance was passed which resulted in breaking ground on May 19th for a new fire house.

In February of 1902, Volunteer Company #4 on the hill, formed, wih St. George Barber as President; Theodore Childs, Vice_president; Reginald Halliday, secretary; and Malcolm Mackay as treasurer. William Baldwin was chosen as foreman and Stuart Eakin as assistant foreman. The Company had 20 members. In April, celebrated the installation of a hose reel on the property of E.P. Coe, east of Woodland St., and and north of Palisade Ave., by having a grand parade open-air speaking and a collation.[1] There was also the Nordhoff Company, with Peter Spindler at its head, and the Highwood Company with Thomas Curry in the van, joined at the parade. Fire Chief Jacob Ullrich and three Councilmen were in evidence. [1]


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In 1901 citizens living in Nordhoff (Ivy lane area) met to organize a firehouse in their area. The first night they enlisted 21 volunteers.They organized picnics and balls to raise money to build Firehouse #3 (pictured above). After the new building on William Street opened this building was sold and eventually became Siracusa's "Highwood Auto Service". [2]

Palisade Ave Firehouse

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"It was a glad day when we marched out of the old firehouse into our new one on Palisade Ave".By 1902 the department owned four horses, one namde "Dan" presumably for either Mayor Daniel Currie, or Councilman Daniel Platt. [2]

The first orde of business under the administration of Mayor Vernon Munroe in 1912, was the creation of a paid fire department. [3]. Emil Ruch was appointed Chief; Thomas Markham lieutenant and six privates. The volunteers refused to work with the paid department and the Council abolished the company. A new volunteer company was started at Firehouse #1 with those still willing to serve. Later in that year, the office of fire commmissioner was created with Charles W. Frost, a veteran of the New York Fire Department hired.[3] In June 1911 under Mayor Hezekiah Birtwhistle an American Lafrance engine was purchased with $7,500.00. Later, Mr. William Conklin suggested that we form a paid department with 5 members. It was tabled until 1912. [4]

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William Street

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In 1923 the department moved again, this time to the (present) building on William street. They, by this time had three fast moving trucks and no longer needed neighborhood associations. E.W. Hecht bought the Palisade ave building and opened the "Paris Store". [2]

South Van Brunt St. Contract awarded

Dec 13, 2013- The Record-- "City leaders are considering building a $6.2 million firehouse on South Van Brunt Street and naming it after the late Jack Drakeford, a longtime councilman whose 50-year career in public service began as one of the city’s first black firefighters.

Those plans moved along with a presentation Tuesday night by an architectural firm hired to design a new fire station that would replace the crumbling 90-year-old headquarters on Williams Street that has been repeatedly cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for its deplorable conditions.

The firehouse has had problems with leaking ceilings, broken urinals, cramped locker rooms, faulty wiring and asbestos-contaminated pipes. In 2009, firefighters had to kill an opossum rummaging near a water cooler. And that same year, the building had a rodent infestation so severe that a space between two refrigerators was nicknamed the “Mouse Turnpike.”

“Nothing has changed,” Fire Chief Gerald Marion said that evening, though “I haven’t seen any mice. But we have an exterminating service: Luckily, we seem to have a cat that’s taken up residence. I’m sure that’s helping to control the mice problem.”

Marion said the proposed building would be a more fitting home for one of the largest fire departments in Bergen County.

“A new firehouse would do wonders for morale,” he said before the meeting. “Having a safe and decent place to work for people who literally risk their lives for our community doesn’t seem a lot to ask.”

The proposed brick firehouse would be a wheelchair-accessible, L-shaped building with 22,700 square feet of space, nearly double the size of the current fire station. It would sit on a vacant spot between the police station/municipal court building and the ambulance corps building, enlarging the public safety complex near the city’s downtown business district.

The new station would have larger truck bays and allow vehicles to pass through the building from Jay Street onto South Van Brunt Street, so trucks would no longer have to back into the bays. It includes offices, multi-purpose rooms and larger living quarters, and prepares for the day when Englewood has female firefighters, with a separate dormitory, shower and bathroom for them."

May 21, 2014 - NJ.Com --- The city council awarded a Hackensack construction firm $7.1 million to construct a new firehouse, according to The Record.

External Links


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Sterling, Adeline (1922) (in English). The Book of Englewood. Mayor and Council of Englewood. p. 142-148. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Bouton-Goldberg, et al.. "Images of Englewood and Eng. Cliffs". Englewood Fire Department. Arcadia Publishing, SC. p. 107. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Sterling, Adeline (1922) (in English). The Book of Englewood. Mayor and Council of Englewood. p. 277-278. 
  4. Sterling, Adeline (1922) (in English). The Book of Englewood. Mayor and Council of Englewood. p. 268.