Mary Elmer Lake V.F.D. Matures in Four Years
The nation’s enterprising volunteer fire service continues to grow apace. And the story of that growth, as written by the histories of small community and rural fire companies, makes fascinating reading for those who see in the volunteer service the epitome of American civic progressiveness.
Here’s a unit that matured in just four years. It is the Mary Elmer Lake Volunteer Fire Company, address: R. D. #1, Bridgeton, New Jersey.
The company was organized in February, 1950, and chartered and incorporated in 1951. It presently consists of 35 members and protects approximately 400 homes in an area that is growing rapidly.
The volunteers started out with a 1923 Reo pumper and later floated bonds for $3,000 to purchase a 1940 Reo 500 G.P.M. centrifugal unit. This vehicle was smashed up in an accident, about the time the vamps were building a tank wagon upon which they installed a pump and which became for a time their only piece of fire fighting equipment.
Not discouraged by the smashup that made inoperative their one pumper, the company members went to work to replace it and expand their rolling stock. With the help of money received from the insurance company, and presentation to the company of a GMC chassis by the Seabrook Farms, the volunteers constructed a GMC pumper in 1946 which they outfitted with equipment salvaged from the wrecked vehicle.
Acting upon suggestions of members and others, the apparatus was painted white, which the members believe is helpful in night operations and in negotiating highway traffic.
A 550 Mack pumper was acquired later, largely as a result of the efforts of ten members of the organization, who gave of their spare time to cut up and dispose of junk in a fund-raising program. This unit has a 500-gallon booster tank and mounts a 1500 watt generator and two floodlights.
The Company has an auxiliary of about 20 women, who have been helpful in acquiring helmets, boots and coats for the volunteers.
The main project of the organization is the financing of a fire house. At present the Company is self-sustaining, expenses being met through contributions, cake sales, rummage sales, fairs, carnivals, scrap drives and barn dances. The organization receives no money from the township (Hopewell) which has one other fire company. Together the two departments protect an area of about 38 square miles.
Company meetings are held the first Wednesday of the month and fire drills conducted on the 3rd Wednesday. The Ladies Auxiliary meets the second Wednesday.
Present officers are: George Peterson, President: W. R. Jess, Fire Chief and Reuben Dunfee, First Assistant Chief.
If the past is any criterion, the Mary Elmer Lake Volunteer Fire Company, R. D. #1, Bridgeton, N. J., will not have to wait long to have its own fire station, and it will continue to expand its fire fighting facilities as the days pass.