History of the Avenel Fire Company

historical1A group of Avenel residents banded together in 1912 with the purpose of organizing a fire company. The group held its first meeting at the home of Mr. J.B. Edgar on July 1, 1912, to appoint fire commissioners for the district. Dr. A.F. Mount, J.B. Edgar, E.A. Moran, H. Posner and J. Praver were appointed to serve the ensuing year.On February 18, 1913, a fire company was organized. A charter under the name of Avenel Chemical Company No. 1 was obtained. On July 12, 1913, the name was legally changed to Avenel Fire Company No. 1. The charter members included Messrs. Joseph Bizdery, Fred Ciegotura, Emil C. Earhart, Edward L. Fagan, Andrew Fuss, Rudolph Hrinyak, Edward A. Moran, Edwin J. Perry, Joseph Praver, Henry Striker, Joseph Szabo and William Van Styke.

Joseph Szabo served as the first Fire Chief and the first President was Edward Moran. By the end of the year, a seventy gallon chemical hand-drawn apparatus was purchased, as well as a carboy of acid and a barrel of soda used for firefighting which was all housed in a shed owned by Joseph Praver. The following year, the firemen built a small building on a lot leased for five years by a fireman named Frank Hacker. Joseph Szabo continued to serve as Fire Chief through 1915.

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As years passed, and as donations from public-spirited citizens poured in, a piece of property was purchased on Hyatt Street, at the corner of Ziegler Avenue (today known as Routes 1 & 9), upon which a hollow brick house was built in 1919. In 1921, funds were raised through an appropriation voted by the people in the fire district, which resulted in the purchase of a motor-driven fire engine - a 250 gallon per minute pumper. The same year, fire hydrants began to be installed along Avenel Street and eventually throughout the fire district.

On April 7, 1926, the Avenel Exempt Fireman's Association was organized.avenel_ladies

In 1929, the fire company was forced to vacate its property at Hyatt Street and Ziegler Avenue, when the latter was chosen as the right of way for the new "Super Highway". 

New property was purchased on Avenel Street and the new highway and the new firehouse was built. It has been at the present site since.

In 1930, the Avenel Fire Co. No. 1 Ladies Auxiliary was organized.

In 1936, a 500-gallon per minute fire engine was purchased. Also, a fire alarm system in the fire district with eight fire alarm boxes was installed.

Looking back on the fire company's first 25 years, we cannot forget the gala parade which was held by the department every July 4th during the 1920's and the early part of the 30's. There were activities for the children throughout the day, with fireworks and a block dance in the evening.

In 1953, a new Gamewell Fire Alarm system was installed to replace the one of 1936.

In 1955, an addition to the firehouse was built, making it a three bay building. In 1963, the fire company celebrated its 50th Anniversary with a parade, activities and the purchase of a new 750-gallon per minute pumper, replacing one which had been in service since 1936. At this time, there were 49 fire alarm boxes in the district, 152 fire hydrants in Avenel and 85 fire hydrants in the Colonia section of our fire district. At this time, the roster consisted of 50 active volunteer firemen.

In 1966, an 85 foot aerial ladder with pump was purchased, replacing a pumper that was in service since 1946. In 1970, a 1,000 gallon per minute diesel powered pumper was put in service, for a total of four firefighting pieces of equipment to operate.

In 1976, the building was again expanded to house five fire trucks and a new radio room. A new 1,250 gallon per minute pumper was also placed in service and this began a color scheme change from red to yellow with our apparatus.

In 1980, another new pumper, a 250-gallon per minute Midi-Pumper was purchased to replace a pumper that was in service since 1956. In 1986, advancing again, a 1,500 gallon per minute pumper was purchased to replace one that was in service since 1963.

In 1988, the fire company celebrated its 75th Diamond Anniversary. In that year, there were 15 alarm boxes and more than 300 fire hydrants. With advancements in technology, the 46 active firemen were being notified of fire alarms through individual paging devices that were issued by the Board of Fire Commissioners.

Firefighting equipment stood at five pieces plus a Fire Chief's vehicle and van used by the Bureau of Fire Prevention.

In 1990, advancements in water supply were made with the acquisition of 5 inch hose for all fire engines. A layout consisting of a dual 3 inch supply system was the primary water source at that time. In addition, the movement came about from having firefighters riding on the rear step to riding inside the cabs, enhancing firefighter safety.5816478320_65b862dcb2

A gut-rehab project began in 1995 that brought about an updated firehouse that was completed in 1996. The project included the razing of a single-family home on site that housed offices for the Board of Fire Commissioners and the Bureau of Fire Prevention. It also provided much needed office and storage space, a gear room and fireman's room.

In 1996, a new 95 foot aerial platform ladder truck was purchased. This ladder truck was battle tested just days before the planned wetdown celebration, at a tank explosion at the Shell Oil refinery in Sewaren.

In 2003, the department began acquiring the necessary tools to extricate victims from motor vehicle accidents.

Since 2006, half of the department pumpers have been replaced with updated equipment. These new pumpers each have the capacity to pump over 2000 gallons per minute, an increase of over 25% over their predecessors. This capacity was put to the test at a 9-alarm fire at the Woodbridge Village Apartment Complex on August 31, 2012. This same year, Super storm Sandy battered the east coast and left much of our fire district without electricity for a week and in some cases, up to 11 days.

As the Avenel Volunteer Fire Company celebrates 100 years of service to our community, 42 members respond to an average of 600 alarms per year; fire alarm boxes are non-existent; our apparatus includes 4 engines, a ladder truck, fire chief's vehicle, a passenger van, and a auxiliary trailer and zodiac boat. Our district has more than 300 fire hydrants and our firefighters service more than 5000 addresses in Avenel and parts of Colonia, Iselin and Woodbridge.