On June 4th 1900, the home of Dr. Charles Woodward was completely destroyed by fire. A telegram was sent to the Hightstown Fire Co., for help. They loaded a horse drawn steam engine and hose on a flat car, sending it via railroad to New Egypt, but it arrived too late. Conversations turned to serious discussions and as a result on August 1st 1901, the New Egypt Volunteer Fire Company was officially organized.

The New Egypt Volunteer Fire Company was organized in August 1901. Why then? On June 4, 1900 the home of Dr. Woodward on Railroad Avenue (now is Evergreen Road) burned. The large house next door, 18 Evergreen Road, was the home of Senator, George L. Shinn. The town at that time was protected from fire by a "Bucket Brigade". The buckets were stored in a barn behind 35 Main Street. The towns-people would line up with the buckets from a pump to the fire and throw buckets of water on it until it was out. This fire was so intense, it was feared that Senator Shinn might lose his house also. A telegraph was sent to Hightstown for a "steam pumper". It was put on a railroad car. A team of horses met the engine at the Railroad Ave. train station and took it to the fire. Meanwhile wet blankets were hung on Senator Shinn's house for protection and the Fire Brigade started throwing water on them to save the house.

On August 1, 1901 a group of men met at the Francis R. Hope hardware store (25 Main St.), and organized the Fire Company. Elected officers are listed in another section. Things happened quickly. On the 15th of August it was voted to purchase a Fire Apparatus from the Lakewood Fire Co. for a price not to exceed $175. To raise money to help pay for it a dinner and dance was held on August 23 and a profit of $64.60 was made. The committee reported that they purchased the truck for $150. In September a committee was appointed to go to Trenton and buy a fire engine for no more than $500. Mrs. Meirs donated the timber for the firehouse and Senator Shinn donated the property where the firehouse was built (22-24 Evergreen Road). The firemen and other volunteers cut down the trees, took them to a sawmill, and had them cut into lumber to build the firehouse. The original building is the center section of the old firehouse. By March the firehouse was built and W. C. Van Horn took a team of horses to Lakewood to bring the truck home. The truck, a hook and ladder, carried ladders, hooks, and buckets. Nothing more is mentioned about the fire engine from Trenton.

The first oyster dinner was held on New Year's Eve in 1902. A gun was raffled at this time. The oyster dinner receipts were $14.87 and the gun $37.80. The dinner was held at the Odd Fellow's Hall (now the Baptist Church on Magnolia Ave.).

In 1903 a chemical engine was ordered. A hose cart was bought for $75. Fire alarms were placed around the town. The alarms were made of "shoes" from locomotive wheels. They were hung on a bar between two posts and hit with an iron hammer. People living near the alarms would sound the alarm in their section as they heard the alarms from other sections, thus alerting people through the whole town of a fire. The hammers apparently grew "legs", as it is mentioned throughout the early minutes of having new hammers made.

The Firemen's Relief Association was organized in August 15, 1902 (the officers are listed in the minutes). In 1903 a Chemical Engine was put into service.

The firemen worked hard to keep the Fire Co. going. A dinner would be proposed and within a month the dinner would be held and a shotgun raffled. (Today it would take that long to get a committee to meet.) Lake carnivals were popular and the firemen would set up chairs along the lake and rent them. Donkey baseball games, minstrel shows, and shooting matches were also ways in which money was raised.

In 1906 the firemen felt it necessary to add an additional bay to the firehouse. This was erected on the south side of the original building. Professor Stevens gave the trees to the Fire Co. to make the lumber. Firemen and other volunteers cut down the trees, hauled the logs to the sawmill, and then built the addition. In 1908 a belfry was built on the firehouse and a bell placed in it. This would sound to summon the firemen to meetings.

The first person to arrive at the firehouse with a team of horses when the alarm sounded would haul the truck to the fire. He was normally paid $1.00 for his services. In 1917 an apparatus was purchased from West Collingswood Fire Co. for $450. George Halpin, a member and local Ford dealer, offered to supply a Ford chassis at cost. The Cllingswood apparatus apparently was put on the Ford chassis. This was a chain-driven Model T. Mr. Halpin received $438.95. Chief William Van Horn signed a note for $220.00 to help pay for it.

As you look through the officers' section, you will see many hard workers who did their jobs year after year. You will see three generations of Van Horns, Bill, "Nandy", and Ed, as they were known. "Nandy" was secretary from 1930 to 1967. Bill was Chief for 31 years.

In 1923 a piece of fire apparatus was acquired from Fort Dix (nothing else was mentioned about it). In 1926 an electric siren was installed at the firehouse, replacing the old iron wheel alarms. In 1927 a pumper was purchased from the Child's Foamite Co. for $6750.00. The company paraded (apparently for the first time) at the Atlantic City Firemen's Convention. A second-hand Pierce Arrow chassis was purchased to replace the 1918 Ford. At the November meeting it was announced that the Ocean County Firemen's Association was recently organized. In January 1928 the Fire Co. joined the Ocean County Firemen's Association.

In an article and picture from a newspaper it stated that the Lakewood and New Egypt Fire Companies have the oldest records of the county fire companies. Lakewood was organized on June 6, 1870 and New Egypt on August 1, 1901, being the second oldest. The picture looks like the ladder truck purchased from Lakewood in 1901. This article was probably published in 1935 or 1936.

In 1936 a new International truck chassis was received at a cost of $665.00. The Peter Pirsch Co. installed a 500gpm pump on it and other equipment for $2650.00. Joe Davis installed an oil burner, oil tank, and hot water radiators in the firehouse for $490.00.

In 1937 the township placed the members of the Fire Co. on Workman's Compensation insurance policy. On December 20, 1937 a meeting was organized to form a First Aid Squad, within the Fire Company. In February 1938 the First Aid Squad was separated from the Fire Company. The squad still used the meeting room for meetings. In April 1938 a telephone was installed in the firehouse.

In June 1938 the First Aid Squad was given permission to keep the ambulance in the firehouse. In December 1939 a check was sent to the Peter Pirsch Co. for $5000.00 for a new pumper. In 1942 Senator George L. Shinn presented the Fire Co. with the deed to the land the firehouse had sat on since 1901.

In 1944 the Fire Co. erected a "tablet" with the names of the members serving their country in World War II. The Fire Co. also voted to erect an honor roll of township people who were serving in the military.

In 1946 it was voted to have the Fire Co. incorporated. In 1947 the First Aid Squad was given permission to put an addition on the north side of the firehouse to house the ambulance and have a meeting room. In 1947 a new Mack fire truck was bought. In 1948 the honor roll on Main Street was turned over to the American Legion Post No. 455.

In January 1951 a "A ton Chevrolet pickup was bought as a brush truck. Frank Palmer, President of the Fire Co., paid for the truck. The company was to pay him back when it could. He was paid the next month. In 1955 a Dodge power wagon brush truck was bought equipped for $7031.52.

The present firehouse on Main Street was built in 1960. The firemen and other volunteers did a lot of the work. In 1963 a Ford truck chassis was bought and a 2500 gallon tank was put on it. The first oyster dinner was held on November 14, 1965. This was the first annual that turned into semi-annual and are still being held today. In 1966 the Fire Co. purchased a Ward La France fire truck (pumper) with a l000gpm pump

As the years passed. Fire Co. equipment became more specialized and much more expensive. No longer could you make enough money selling junk, having dinners, donkey baseball games, and such. So in 1989 the Board of Fire Commissioners was organized to raise the necessary funds to run the Fire Company. Those who have served, as Fire Commissioners are Richard Borden, Kenneth C. Ivins, James Schroeder, Ronald Johnson, John A. Tornquist, Bartom Amburgey, Gene Pullen, Ronald Tilghman, Kenneth Fredricks, Aaron Heller, Steven LaChance, Patricia Tilghman, and Sara Jo Mains.

The History of the New Egypt Volunteer Fire Company as I Found It!
By Bartom A. Amburgey


Station 39