A Muddle at Long Branch.
Trouble has been brewing for some months past between the members of some of the Long Branch fire companies and the Fire Commissioners. The disturbing element was a hose carriage which the Commissioners transferred from one company to another. The West End Hose Company was the loser by the transfer and the Oliver Dowd Byron Engine Company the gainer. Things came to a climax on Decoration Day. It was the date set by the Commissioners for the West End Hose Company to vacate their house. ‘I’he Commissioners directed the West End to disband at noon and take what property belonged to them from the house they had been occupying.
The West End Company had 35 members. It was the best equipped company in the town and probably the most effective working company. ‘I’he territory which is guarded was the most valuable in Long Branch. The lowest estimate of the property value guarded by them is $15,000,000. The houses are owned by wealthy New Yorkers and Philadelphians.
Through the generosity of the summer residents the company was fitted up in better style than any of the others.
The trouble arose over the West find Company having loaned a hose carriage to the Oliver Dowd Byron Company. ‘I’he latter company had to send its carriage to be repaired. I nstcad of the commissioners returning the carriage they sent the one which had to be repaired to the house of the W est End Company. The Oliver Dowd Byron Company was directed to keep the new one. The West End refused to do lire duty until their carriage was returned.
The commissioners directed the West Ends to put their private carriages in service. The West Ends refused.
‘I’he matter rested in this shape for weeks. On Monday night the commissioners voted to disband the West Ends, but gave the members three day’s grace to consider their determination anil put their hose-carriage in service. The vote by which this was done was close, four to three. The company was firm in its refusal, and as a result had to vacate.
In addition.to owning a hose carriage the West Ends owned their own horses, swinging harness and furniture. ‘I’he value of the furniture was over $2,500. At noon the members marched from the hose-house taking everything with them, except the old carriage. The commissioners then took charge. Four men were placed in charge. A team of horses was provided from a livery stable.
The residentsof West End sympathize with the fire company. The company has had liberal contributions from the owners of the villas. In one instance $1,000 was subscribed towards the purchase of an engine, at another time $1,800 was given for the erection of the house; $600 for the purchase of a hose carriage and harness, and whenever the horses became worn out or injured the cottagers quickly replaced the animals with a new team.
I’he cottagers have taken up the matter with vigor. They say the company was simply trying to assert what was its right and the commissioners had no right to dispense with its services. It is understood the members of the company have been advised to remain inactive until the cottagers have acted. It is proposed to carry the matter into court and require the commissioners to show’ cause.
I’he commissioners appropriated $150 per month for the support of the company. The company and its friends made up about as much more. Like the other four companies at the Branch the West End gave their personal services for nothing.
The late John Hoey, of the Adams Express Co., aided the company liberally. Now that the team owmed by the company has nothing to do, Phil Daly has offered to use it and pay for it on the Elkwood Park race track.
On Thursday it was discovered that in ordering the company from the engine house the commissioners exceeded their powers. ‘I’he property on which the house stands does not belong to the town. It belongs to a property owner whose sympathies are with the company and he intends, it is said,’ to take action,