Ocean Grove Junior Fire Department
The month of May marked the completion of the first year of service by the Ocean Grove Junior Fire Company, an auxiliary group of twenty-one youth of the sixteen to eighteen age level, aiding the war-weakened manpower of the senior department in the New Jersey coastal town.
The group, organized in May, 1942, has answered alarms of the department for in and out-of-town fires and lias shown a great enthusiasm for working at fires. Despite popular opinion when the plan was instituted in Ocean Grove, the youths have proved of invaluable assistance to the regular department, whose ranks have been riddled by the draft and defense industries, and are now as well trained and as experienced as the majority of the regular men.
The Ocean Grove Board of Fire Commissioners, realizing the growing list of vacancies in the department lists, approved a plan to organize the youths, and have gained the support of school and municipal authorities for the juniors. The school authorities have agreed to allow the juniors to leave school for alarms and air raids.
While the juniors also are feeling the hand of the selective service, seven of the original twenty-one having been inducted into the Army, Navy or Marines, there seems to he a good supply of reserves and enthusiastic applicants continually awaiting a chance to gain entrance into the organizations. Insurance rates have limited the membership to twenty-one seven for each of the three Ocean Grove fire companies.
The junior organization allows for a chief, assistant chief and captain to run the group. The group is responsible only to regular fire officers and not the rank and file of the senior department.
The juniors, through training and constant drilling, are capable of handling auv hose line or ladder the department uses and can do everything except drive the apparatus.
Under the direction of a committee from the senior department, the juniors are regularly drilled in hose work, ladder work and in rescue work in realistic fire drills.
To protect the young firemen, the Board of Fire Commissioners has arranged for insurance coverage for the juniors and has purchased badges for identification, helmets, coats and hoots for them. The juniors are allowed to ride on any of the six Ocean Grove pieces of apparatus, but their equipment is carried on trucks assigned to them.
With the usual enthusiasm of youth, the juniors have been “showing up” many of the seniors with their speed in answering alarms and their knowledge of what to do and how to do it when they arrive at the scene.
To date their only complaint is that there is not enough action, for which the regulars, run ragged by the fast working youths, are well pleased.
So far, junior departments have been organized in Ocean Grove, Hamilton. Whitesville, Allenhurst, Point Pleasant Beach, Point Pleasant Boro, Wanamassa, Wayside, Belmar, West Beltnar, and Lakewood, junior companies are being organized in Bradley Beach and Deal.
In Ocean Grove, Gordon Macauley is the present chief, succeeding Les Broome, now in the Army Air Force, and William Brennecke, in the Navy. Myron Harris is assistant chief and Raymond Lansinger is captain.
The group operates under a senior committee including Curwin F. Dodd, Ocean Grove fire inspector and fire lieutenants William Schwartz, Frank Wilgus, Edward Sweet and Otto Stoll, Jr. FRANK WILGUS