2011-06-30 / Front Page

Navesink Hook & Ladder celebrates 125 years

Legacy of volunteers connects generations
BY ANDREW DAVISON
Staff Writer


Top: Navesink Hook & Ladder’s current firehouse and vehicles, Brushtruck 112 (1992 Ford), Engine 110 (2004 Smeal) and Engine 111 (1995 Pierce). Middle: Navesink’s firehouse and fire trucks in 1932. The vehicles are a 1924 Buffalo-Reo (l) and a 1928 Chevrolet. The company occupied this firehouse from 1932 to 1969. Below: Navesink’s firehouse from 1890 to 1932, which was located across the street from the current firehouse. Top: Navesink Hook & Ladder’s current firehouse and vehicles, Brushtruck 112 (1992 Ford), Engine 110 (2004 Smeal) and Engine 111 (1995 Pierce). Middle: Navesink’s firehouse and fire trucks in 1932. The vehicles are a 1924 Buffalo-Reo (l) and a 1928 Chevrolet. The company occupied this firehouse from 1932 to 1969. Below: Navesink’s firehouse from 1890 to 1932, which was located across the street from the current firehouse. Navesink Hook & Ladder Company No. 1, Middletown’s oldest volunteer fire company, turns 125 years old this year.

The company was founded on May 1, 1886, during a meeting at the All Saints School House, the present-day All Saints Memorial Church, known as Old Stone Church.

“One hundred and twenty-five years is quite a long time, and to still be in service and doing what we do is very important to us,” member and 125th Anniversary Chairman Joe McCarron said.

Navesink Hook & Ladder currently has 79 volunteer members and a ladies auxiliary.

McCarron said that he has seen many changes during just his 10 years with the company, including three new fire trucks and an addition to the firehouse.

What he likes most, McCarron said, is watching the new members come in and continue the tradition, which, for some, goes back hundreds of years.

“If you look at our rolls, you can see that way back in the 1800s and early 1900s there are certain names that pop up again and again, like a legacy,” McCarron said.

McCarron said that his father and brother before him also served with the company

“Just like my family, other families have continued on,” he said.

The company’s first firefighting apparatus was a wagon donated by Eliza Barnes in 1886 and outfitted with a ladder donated by her son, Walter.

Its first fire alarm was a gong made from a mounted locomotive rim and struck with a heavy hammer, and was located at the part of the Stearns Building on Monmouth and Stearns avenues that the company rented in 1887.

The first motorized fire truck was a used 60-horsepower 1911 Thomas Flyer automobile and a pump purchased for a total of $875.

To raise money for these and future improvements, the company initiated its Firemen’s Fair, originally called the Peach and Ice Cream Festival, in 1886, which continues today as a staple summer event for locals. The fair will be held Aug. 13-15 at the firehouse, located on Monmouth Avenue.

Looking forward, McCarron said he hopes that the company continues to maintain its membership, training and equipment.

“Our main goal is to protect Navesink from fire and other emergencies,” he said.

“We’ve made it 125 years; we can only hope we can last another 125 years so we can continue to serve the community.”

McCarron said the company primarily serves the Navesink community but assists the other fire companies in Middletown and surrounding municipalities, such as Rumson, Fair Haven, Sea Bright, Atlantic Highlands and Keansburg. The company’s actual anniversary was in May, but the celebration itself was postponed until June better weather, McCarron said.

A ceremony and community picnic was held to mark the on June 18.

Middletown Committeeman Gerard Scharfenberger praised company at the Township Committee’s June 20 meeting.

“You have to think about way things were in Middletown 125 years ago: they had a wagon, few buckets, and that was the fire department,” he said.

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