Howell Township Fire Company No #1

Adelphia, NJ
Est. 1927

The Adelphia Fire Company, like many other volunteer fire companies, can trace its origin back to a fire, or series of fires, which proved the absolute necessity of a fire company for the safety and protection of the community.

“Howell Township Fire Company No. l,” Adelphia was organized when a disastrous fire, right in the village, showed the compelling need for the fire protection.

There had been several fires not too far from Adelphia; notable, the house fire in which Charles Cook and his wife lost their lives.

In those days, Adelphia, like many other communities, depended upon the Freehold Fire Department and Farmingdale Fire Department for fire protection.  It was early in the morning between 3:30 and 4:00 A.M. on a day in the latter part of November l926, that a house belonging to the late Charles H. T. Clayton, caught on fire, directly across the street from the Knights of Pythias Hall.  Freehold Fire Company was called immediately, and was on its way with its usual promptness, but due to a very dense fog, speed was greatly reduced and the blaze could not be seen.  They stopped about one-half mile from the scene of the fire and woke up Elliot Clayton to phone back to their headquarters to be sure that they had the right directions.

Charles H. T. Clayton, always interested in every worthwhile project in the community, was not so much concerned with the loss of his own property as he was concerned with what could happen to others in the area.  For many days, much discussion about the obvious need for a fire company took place in the local stores, the Post Office, garage and whenever two or more gathered.  Mr. Clayton took it upon himself to call a community meeting for Feb. 2, 1927, in the Knights of PythiasHall.  This meeting was attended by an enthusiastic group of residents from the area.

On Feb. 9, 1927, just one week later, “Howell Township Fire Company No. l” was officially organized.  Charles H. T. Clayton was elected president, and he served faithfully until his death on Oct. l0, l936.  Others elected at this time were Vice-President, William L. Johnson, Secretary, George N. Irons, Treasurer, Stacey Simpson, Financial Secretary, Arthur T. Bearmore, Trustees: Charles H. Reynolds for 3 years, Jeremiah Stillwell for 2 years and William F. Madge for l year.  Chief was C. Ensley Clayton. Certificate of Incorporation papers were filed on April 28, 1927, signed by twenty-five members.

The first piece of apparatus was a hearse donated by the C. H. T. Clayton Funeral Home.  This was converted into a supply car in which was carried water in milk cans, shovels, brooms, lanterns, etc.  The next apparatus was a new 1927 G.M.C. fire truck having four (4) 40-gallon soda and acid tanks and related fire fighting equipment.  In 1927, this was the very latest type of rural fire fighting equipment.  The unit was placed in service on July 3, 1927.
On Jan. 2l, 1928, the G.M.C. chemical truck and the supply car, affectionately known as “Aunt Martha”, were housed in the newly constructed fire house on a lot purchased from the late Jeremiah Stillwell, who had previously operated a blacksmith shop on the site.  At this time, there were 69 Charter Members.

The first pumper was a new Model “A” Ford with 300 gallon per minute rotary pump, and a 200 gallon booster tank.  It was delivered in March of 1932.  The next pumper was a Mack, with a 500 gallon per minute centrifugal pump and a 400 gallon booster tank.  It was put in service prior to the devastating forest fire in Lakewood in the Spring of 1941.
In 1946, an American-La France Pumper, mounted on a Ford chassis with a 500 gallon per minute pump and 500 gallon booster tank was purchased from the War Assets Administration.

The first tank truck was a borrowed Model “A” Ford, that had a barrel type tank holding 600 gallons of water. The water was transferred to pumpers at fires by the use of a mounted portable, gas driven pump.  During the season for spraying potatoes, it was used by the owner, Lester Barton and Son, who made it readily available in the event of an emergency.

A new tank truck, mounted on a Ford chassis, with a 200 gallon per minute pump and an 800 gallon supply of water, was put in service in 1949.

In 1958, a Great Eastern Class A 750 gallon per minute pumper, with a 1000 gallon tank was put into service.
In 1962, another Great Easter, Class A 750 gallon per minutepumper, and an 800 gallon tank was also put into service.  A new four-bay fire house was built in 1965 at a cost of $30,000, all of which was financed by the fire company, with no cost to the tax payers.

Also in 1965, a John Bean high pressure unit, mounted on a four-wheel drive International chassis, with a 275 gallon tank, was put into service. In 1967, a G.M.C. tractor with a 500 gallon per minute pump was purchased to pull a 5500 gallon trailer.  In 1972, a new Peter Pirsch 75 foot aerial ladder truck with a  750 gallon per minute pump and a 500 gallon booster tank was put into service.  Also, at this time, an addition was made to the fire house; known as the “Blue Room”, it was used as a recreation room for the firemen.

Fire calls were received by the Clayton Funeral Home for nearly fifty years.  They then would sound the siren to summon the firemen.  At that time, the siren, on an electric pole, had to be blown from outside, regardless of time and weather.  At present, the fire calls are received by the Howell Police Department.  They, in turn, activate a modern home-alerting system called Plectron, at the same time activating the siren at the fire house.  The call and directions are dispatched by radio.  In the early forties, the trucks were equipped with two-way radios through Station WAKC, the Monmouth County Police Radio, later changed to KEA 317, and now serving on fire band, KAZ 202.

Chief Clayton recorded a grand total of three (3) fire calls for that portion of 1927 remaining after organization.  The year, 1976, a total of 108 alarms was responded to by a membership of fifty (50) active members plus twenty-three (23) Life Members.  A Life Member is a fireman having served twenty-five (25) years of active service.  The Fire Police was formed as an integral part of our organization.  These men are sworn in by the Township of Howell, and have full police authority at the time of a fire.  Their work has been very efficient and has aided the company in building a reputation for quick response to alarms.

The Fire Company has always been fortunate in having a goodly number of members.  The records reveal a generation trend, which could be due, in part, to the club-like atmosphere that has always been prevalent in the community.

The Ladies Auxiliary has been a steady source of financial help since their organization on October 25, 1927.  The members have always made themselves available for work at carnivals, minstrels, and other projects, as well as preparing and delivering food and refreshment to the scene of all major emergencies.

Fire Company property consists of approximately nine (9) acres which is being used for Little League ball fields, parking areas and facilities for carnivals.  The main source of revenue over the years was realized from Minstrels, Carnivals and solicitations.  Fire Districts were established in 1961 and the elected commissioners presently finance all costs for equipment purchase and maintenance, using monies received from taxation.

In 1927, this Fire Company was the only one in Howell, with the Farmingdale Borough Department serving a large area as it still does today, under an agreement between the governing bodies of each municipality.