Atlantic Highlands Fire Department

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History of AH Fire Department

The story begins in 1882; at a time when construction in Atlantic Highlands section of Middletown Township was beginning to boom. Two years earlier, it had been deemed economically feasible for John J. Leonard and Thomas H. Leonard to found a lumber yard known as Leonard Brothers on the west side of First Avenue at the corner of Bay Avenue.

The property was bounded on the north by Foster’s Pavilion, which went down in history as a headquarters for several societies and associations.

It was there on Sept. 5,1882 that citizens including William M. Foster, Dr. J.H. Van Mater, Jacob T. Stout, P.Y. Everett, and D. Lane Conover met to discuss formation plans for a fire company, which would be come the first organized fire fighting in Middletown Township, in which at the time included Atlantic Highlands and Highlands.

An account of the meeting, which appeared in the Sept. 7, 1882 edition of the Atlantic Highlands Herald, reads as follows:

“On Tuesday evening last a number of our citizens assembled at Forster’s Hotel to perfect the organization of the fire company started last June.

Mr. P.Y. Everett was called to preside and M.T. Fleming acted as secretary. On motion the members, after paying their initiation fee, proceeded to elect officers, which resulted in the unanimous choose of the following gentlemen:

J.H. Van Mater, Forman
Frank Fortesque, Assistant
John Foster, Secretary
G.D. Fay, Treasurer

J.H. Van Mater and P.Y. Everett with W.H. Foster and Frank Fortesque as alternates were elected delegates to the Firemen’s State Association, which meets at Elizabeth shortly. It was unanimously adopted that the company be known as Everett Hook and Ladder Company No. 1.”

It was not, however, until April 6, 1883 that Everett Hook & Ladder Company could buy a truck. The first piece of equipment, an extension ladder wagon truck built by the Fred J. Miller Co, of New York was delivered free of Charge by the New Jersey Southern Railroad Co. via the Kill Von Kull, a steamer boat which made daily trips from the city.

Since this was the first fire truck in Middletown Township (which at that time included Atlantic Highlands and Highlands), a holiday was declared.

Fire company members “manned the drag” as soon as the truck reach the pier and marched up Bay View Avenue to the Tabernacle, where it was housed.

A description of the historic pierce of equipment appears in Thomas Henry Leonard’s “From Indian Trail to Electric Rail”:

“The new truck, although not a very expensive one, is built for service, not for a plaything. It is similar in style to the trucks used by the New York and Brooklyn Fire Departments, but not so large.

The longest ladder (extension) is forty feet, and can be raised by two members, while it carries a complete set of ladders, from the baby up to the extension. It is well supplied with hooks, axes, chains, and shoving piles. It is compact, strong: the ladders are built with a view to hold all the men that can crows on them, including half-a-dozen lines of hose.”

 Other equipment included the truck mounted 40 ft. extension ladder, a 15, 18, and 20 foot ladders, lanterns, buckets, and pails.

Members of the company transported the truck by “man-power” although provisions were made to often have horses from nearby stables made available.

First Fire

The First Fire was on February 9, 1883 at Forster’s Hotel at the foot of First Avenue near the beach. Although the structure was completely destroyed, firemen carrying water in buckets were able to save surrounding buildings, including the Leonard Lumber Yard.

As noted in  ‘from Indian Trail to Electric Rail, “ The morning of the ninth of February will be indelibly impressed upon the mind of every citizen of Atlantic Highlands. On that occasion, in the history of this new place, came the first visit of the fire friend.

Forster’s Hotel, within the walls of which so much has been done for the advancement and progress of Atlantic Highlands, has ceased to exist—to be remembered only as one of the cherished spots that will be historical. In the short space of thirty-five minutes it was laid in ashes, not a vestige of what was once the famous resort left…

The alarm of fire rang out, and soon the members of the Everett hook and Ladder Company No. 1, a new organization, just chartered under state law, were at their post, aided by citizens in general. Every one lent a helping hand to rescue the contents of the building.

A new organ was rescued without a blemish. Most of the linen and sitting-room furniture were rescued, but the flames soon drove the firemen back, and all the most valuable portion of the contents of the building fell a prey to the devouring elements.

Dr. Van Mater, Foreman of the Truck Company, with his able assistants, Frank Fortesque and David Burdge, and the members at their command, were untiring in their efforts to keep back the flames; for some minutes, they kept it at bay, until they could demolish the Western Union Telegraph building, which stood between the hotel and the lumber yard. Fortunately, at the time it happened, it was high tide, and pails were brought into requisition from every household, lines were formed, and water passed with remarkable rapidity, which, we must say, kept the fire back, while those men were getting the telegraph building out of the way…

… The loss on the hotel and furniture is estimated at six thousand dollars, insured for four thousand five hundred dollars, in the London and Liverpool, and one other company. Dr. George D. Fay occupied an office in the hotel, loss about fifty dollars, and no insurance.”

In 1885 the Everett Hook & Ladder Company No.1 changed the name of the company to the Atlantic Highland Hook & Ladder Co No.1.

The second fire company in Middletown Township was organized during a meeting at the All Saints Parish House in the Navesink section on May, 1, 1886. The most active in this new company were T.M. Maxson Sr., A.J. Swan, and Edwin E. Burdge. The new company was named the Navesink Hook and Ladder Co No.1.  On August 12, and13 th of 1886 a Fireman’s Fair was held to help with fund raising. This fair has been held every year from 1886-2016 with the exception of the blackout years during World War II.

The company ranted part of the Stearns building in 1887 to house the wagon and provide space for meetings. Also in 1887 Joseph Stankiewitz of Stone Church Section of Navesink built a horse or hand drawn fire truck. T. M. Maxson Sr. was elected the first chief of the Middletown Fire Department which only included the Atlantic Highlands Hook and Ladder Co No.1, and the Navesink Hook & Ladder Co. #1.

By the end of 1887 Atlantic Highlands separated from Middletown Township and formed the Borough of Atlantic Highlands. However Atlantic Highlands Hook & Ladder Co. and the Navesink Hook and Ladder Co. continued to work together and help each out on fires and other emergency for the next 120 years. Today many members of the Atlantic Highlands Fire Departments are also members of the Navesink Hook and Ladder Co. as a close bond has always been in place between both fire companies.

It was realized, however, that there was a need for protection other then afforded by bucket brigades and a meeting was held on October 1, 1892 for the purpose of organizing a chemical and hose company to be known as the Atlantic Highlands Hose Company # 1.

Those who signed the certificate of incorporation were Charles H. Lovett, Joseph W. Gardiner, Gorge Barrett, Charles R. Snyder, Jacob M. Quackenbush, Wilson Stryker, George H. Manning, R.S. Snyder, John Oliver, Patrick Halloran, William Leonard, Lewis H. Foster, William J. Lodge, A.E. Irwin, and William B. Kelly.

Plans were soon made for the purchase of both, a two-wheel, man-drawn chemical and hose carts. The Chemical cart was manufactured by SF. Hayward. According to secretary Charles R. Snyder’s minutes taken on Feb. 4,1893: “Mr. R.S. Snyder produced sample uniforms and stated that he had secured from Mr. Charles L. Duvale a check for $ 200.00 towards paying for uniforms: and that the very best uniforms could be secured for about $ 324.00 net.

The Grand View Hose Company No. 2 was formed June 19, 1893. The company was initially called Grand View Hose Company because it was at the Grand View Hotel on Bay Avenue that a party was held in 1893 as a benefit to raise money for the purchase of firefighting equipment. From the proceeds, a hand-drawn hose cart was obtained. It was housed first in a shed on Grand Avenue near Bay View Avenue.

The first fire station was built on Center Avenue near First Avenue, by the municipality in 1889 and was used to house the Atlantic Highlands Hook and Ladder Co No.1 only! Other parts of the building were used as the “Town Hall” as well as the jail.

By 1894 Hose Company No.1 sold off the Hayward Chemical wagon.

Even though Atlantic Highlands was a separate borough, the three fire companies that served Atlantic Highlands remained in the Middletown Township Fireman’s Relief Association. At the end of 1895 plans were made to start the Atlantic Highlands Fireman’s Relief Association, and each company received 1/5 of the funds in the original Middletown Association.

 By 1910 Grand View Hose Company acquired a White chassis with hose wagon body, the builder is unknown. Old timers believed the first truck was a Ford Model T, which was not true.

It was in the summer of 1915 that a Shakespearian play was presented by the Robert B. Mantell Players in the amphitheater at Bay View Avenue and Hill Road. Receipts were reported to have enabled members of the Grandview Hose Company to help purchase a motor-driven fire apparatus pumper which was first housed in the then new Hartcorne Building on First Avenue (later the site of the Monmouth County Bank). The Truck, however, there is some uncertainty over which truck was bought. It is believed that Grand View Hose Co. #2 had the First Motorized apparatus, photos show a circa 1910 White hose cart lettered for Hose Co. #2.  Mantell was reported to give money for a fire truck after the 1915 summer season.  Either way the first fire truck was housed at the Hartcorne Building until a new fire station was built in 1917 on Mount Ave. near 1 st Ave. The truck was reported to be a pumper; however, it was believed that this money that was raised may have been part of the order of three new fire trucks in 1917.  Later the name of the Grand View Hose Company was changed to the Robert B. Mantell Hose Company No.2 to honor the work of Mr. Mantell and support that he gave to the company.

In 1917 the Borough of Atlantic Highlands approved a bonded $ 9,500.00 to fund the purchase of three motorized pieces of fire apparatus. A Mr. O.R. Lichtenstein offered to donate $ 3500.00 to help buy these three trucks. In addition, a new fire station was built to house all three fire companies in the same fire station. The new fire station cost $ 8000.00 dollars to construct. The new station was designed in an Italian Renaissance Revival-style by an unknown architect. The new station was considered centrally located and not to interfere the fire departments response with the trolleys and main street traffic.

The three new trucks were delivered during the later part of 1917. The first went to Hose Company # 2 which was a 1917 American LaFrance Type 40 Combination pumper with a junior pump, which was shipped 8/27/1917 from Elmira NY. The Hose Co. # 2 truck was a custom American LaFrance pumper, the money raised by Robert B. Mantell may have been used to supplement the money from Lichtenstein and the town. Hook& Ladder Company #1 received a 1917 American LaFrance City Service Ladder truck on a Brockway chassis. The third truck was a 1917 American LaFrance Hose & Chemical truck that also was built on a Brockway chassis; it was operated by Hose Company # 1

In 1928, a Maxim triple combination pumper was delivered to Hose Co. No. 1. The new pumper had a 750 gpm pump and a 300-gallon tank. This unit carried 300 ft of booster hose and 200 feet of 1 ½ hose.

In 1930 the Atlantic Highlands Fire Department founded and chartered the Atlantic Highlands First Aid and Safety Squad. The members were firemen, and to accommodate an ambulance, a fourth bay was added to the 1917 fire station. The Charter members of the First Aid Squad included Leslie Antonides, Edmund Blom, Roy DePalmer, James Egidio, Edmund Gehlhaus, William Gerkins, Charles Huber, Arthur Irwin, Morris Joslin, James Kerrigan, Edward Minn, Peter McLaughlin, Theodore Norcross, Norman Olson, and Harry Poston.

The First Ambulance is believed to be a 1928 or 1929 Studebaker with a Superior body, over the next four decades Cadillac’s were bought as replacements. It is believed that every ten years the squad would buy a new Cadillac ambulance one in 1938, 1948, 1958, and in 1968.

Another pumper was delivered in 1931. An American LaFrance triple combination was delivered to Robert B. Mantell Hose Co.No.2. The new pumper had 600 gpm pump and a 300-gallon tank.

Also in the early 1930’s the Fire Patrol was established, this unit made up of older members of all three companies that performed Fire Police duties including traffic/crowd control, and utility work. The fire patrol had their first truck equipped with a generator and flood lights. Their first truck was a 1933 Chevy 1 ½ ton truck. This truck was later sold to the nearby Community Fire Company in Leonardo in 1954.

In 1935, a group of fireman’s mothers, wives and daughters got together to form a Ladies Auxiliary of the Atlantic Highlands Fire Department. This job was to provide hot food, drink, and dry clothes to the fireman on the line during the long hours spent at large fires. This function is carried on to this day and their efforts are greatly appreciated by all of our firefighters.

At some point during the 1930’s, another addition was added to the rear of the fire station, three more bays were added, first to house the Fire Patrol (Fire Police) truck, later, also housed police cars and fire chief offices.

During World War II, permission was granted by the mayor and council to form an auxiliary of boys and men—under or over the establish age limit (16-70)—for the protection of the borough since many of the regulars were serving in the Armed Forces.

Because department members have fought in every war since its inception, it was a natural step that though be given to a memorial for those who had given service to their county.

Thus, from 1946 to 1947 funds were raised and consideration was given to establishment of an athletic field within the borough. Many sites were suggested but, following an inspection; the choice was land adjoining Many Mind Creek and West Highland Avenue. It was purchased by the Atlantic Highlands Fire Department in 1947 and became known as the Firemen’s Memorial Athletic Field.

In gratitude, the Atlantic Highlands High School Class of 1948 dedicated its yearbook to the fire department. “This is very appropriate and proper”, it was noted in the dedication, “because the memories which this book will recall are to a large extent due to the untiring this dynamic group of men. Of course, in the minds of us students the greatest achievement this organization has attained is the realization of the ever-elusive Athletic Field. It was their hard work, and money which transformed this dream into a reality.

“The beauty of this club lies in the fact that an ordinary Fire Department… besides doing a splendid job at its basic duty has taken it upon its shoulders to think about and help the usually distant student. Yes, by all means, you have done a wonderful job and now it is up to express our appreciation and do your club and town credit”.

On October 26, 1944, a brand-new Seagrave Quad or quadruple combination truck was delivered to Hook & Ladder Co. No.1. A Quad has a pump, hose, water tank, and ladder company equipment such as hooks and ladders. During the war years, it was very difficult to receive a new fire apparatus, most manufacturing was to support the war effort, and few fire apparatus were delivered to municipal fire departments. The new “Quad” was delivered with out any chrome finishing, all lights, bumpers, and even the siren was painted. Chrome was held to military use during the war years.  The new Seagrave had a 500 gpm pump and a150 gallon tank. It took several years during the war to get a federal rating high (permission) enough to order the new Quad.

In 1949 a contract was signed to deliver a Mack 505S 500 gpm pumper with a 300 gallon tank. The truck was manufactured in December of 1949 was not delivered until January of 1950. The 505S was based on the E series chassis. This engine was operated by the Hose Co No. 1 until 1970. From 1970 to 1986 it served as a reserve engine. The Old Mack as it was called sat unused in the West Side Field house for almost 6 years’ units Jim Phillips, Bill Reed, and John Rieth brought it back to life for parades, shows, and charismas tree deliveries. Unfurturnly the department sold the truck in 2001. Mr. Rick Hennessey purchased the Old Mack in 2001 and had the truck completely restored.

An unusual 1952 Seagrave Model 400 BH, (75 Anniversary) Covered Wagon triple combination pumper was delivered to the Robert B. Mantel Hose Co No. 2. This type of apparatus was developed for the Detroit Fire Dept. A walk way through the spilt hose bed let to the front of the body, where a bench jump seat was located. All the hose and equipment was protected and out of the weather. The unit could also be used to transport patients during a disaster. This unit had a 750 gpm pump and a 300-gallon tank. Old timers reported that the big V-12 engine powered this rig like a “rocket” on flat ground, but “forget it” going up the hills in town. The gearing was such that going up Mount Ave; the truck would almost stall out! This truck was later sold to a piling company in Staten Island NY.

The Fire Patrol received a new truck in 1954 Chevy 4100 1 ton chassis with an Atlantic Truck Body Utility/service body, delivered Feb. 10, 1954. Note Atlantic Truck Body was located on West Highland Ave, Atlantic Highlands, and was owned by member Demonic Caruso. The “light truck” as it was called carried a 2500-watt generator, three large 500 watt flood lights, as well as smaller lights and assorted tools.

During the 1960’s the 1944 Seagrave Quad was showing its age, and the need for a power aerial ladder was evident. The large Victorian houses located through out town required the use of a power ladder as apposed to the ground ladders that had been the only option. In 1958 Belford, Independent bought a 75 ft American LaFrance aerial. This was the closest aerial around, the next nearest were in Long Branch, Red Bank, Rumson and Keyport! In 1966 American LaFrance 900 series 85 ft midship mount Quint was delivered to the Hook & Ladder Co. No.1. This unit has a 1000 gpm pump, 300-gallon tank, 85ft ladder, and carried 1000 ft of 2 ½ hose, 213 ft of ground ladders, and all required ladder company equipment. In 1975 this unit received air brakes, in 1977 it was retrofitted with a Detroit Diesel 8V71 engine, and in 1979 was refurbish/repainted yellow by TASC fire apparatus. Hook & Ladder’s committee had recommended a Mack C with a Maxim ladder, but for an unknown reason Mack did not bid on this truck. A Crown/Pierce/Snorkel was also brought to Atlantic Highlands as a demo, and several members of the truck committee were impressed with the unit, however an aerial ladder was preferred by the company.

In 1970 a Mack CF 600 pumper delivered on 10/12/70 to Hose Company No. 1. This pumper has a 1250 gpm 2 stage pump, a CPK high-pressure pump, and a 750-gallon tank. This unit was delivered with a Maxidyne Diesel engine, which was the first diesel in the department, and was the first unit painted Yellow, which the engine was nicknamed “The Yellow Bird”. Also this was the first rig to have preconnected mattey dales hose trays. This unit was later refurbished in 1991 by Pierce with a new body, and enclosed cab, and is still in service (2015).

By 1974 the 1952 Seagrave Covered Wagon needed replacement, so in 1975 a Mack CF 600 1250 single stage pump with a 500 gallon tank pumper was delivered to Robert B. Mantell Hose Co. #2. This unit was delivered 4/16/75 had was the first automatic transmission in the department. This unit had a 1000 gpm Stang Gun mount in the front of the hose bed, this was the first prepiped deluge gun. There was some contuversy with this unit, the Hose Co #2 committee was hoping to receive a Ford C with a Young Body, and however the Mack won the bid.

During the 1970’s the department signed into the Mid-Monmouth Mutual Aid Association in which all of the fire departments in the area agree to help each other.  The 1966 American LaFrance Aerial first in the early 1970’s had air brakes installed, and then later in the 1977 a Detroit Diesel Engine replaced the Continental Gas engine. A major problem developed during the repowering project. The original Congenital gas engine had a problem and the truck had to be towed to the American LaFrance service center in Rahway NJ., the tow truck operator lifted the truck and bent the frame, American LaFrance try to fix the frame but was never able to fix it the “right” way, the town enter into civil action and the mater was settled. In 1979 the first female member was welcomed by the membership. Also, a Junior Firemen’s program for young people under 18 could joint the department. By 1986 the program was converted into a Fire Explorer program. The 1966 American LaFrance aerial was sent to TASC Fire Apparatus in Woodbridge in 1979. The truck was refurbished and repainted into the Fruehauf Yellow like the two Mack pumpers.

In 1983 the first of the car shows sponsored by the Fire Dept. Was held at the firemen’s field. Car shows were held until the 1990’s. In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s the car show was brought back but ended by the end of 2000’s.

By 1983 the 1966 American LaFrance was showing it’s age, the frame was bent in 1977 when a tow truck lifted the truck to tow it to be repowered with a diesel engine, the ladder failed a ladder test, other problems were apparent. Eventually the 66 American LaFrance was taken out of service and placed into storage in Shrewsbury at Boro Bus Company’s garage. After almost 2 years of political fighting between the council, the Mayor and Council approved the purchased a new ladder truck equipped with a platform. This unit was delivered in June, 1985, but was paraded in the Memorial Day Parade. This truck came equipped with a 1500 gpm pump, 200-gallon tank, and a 102ft ladder tower which has platform at the end of the ladder. The Spartan chassis was built in June 1984, and Grumman Fire Apparatus built the ladder and body in the spring of 1985. The truck also has 15KW diesel generator, and 10,000 watts of flood lights.  In the late 1997 this truck had major upgrade preformed by KME who bought out Grumman Fire Apparatus in 1992. Other upgrades have kept this truck in-service after 30 years. In 2007 the truck was sent out again to KME for repairs and a major upgrade. Again in 2011 the truck suffered some damage at a fire on First Ave., and was sent out to KME to have major repairs.

In 1986 several changes happened, first the 1949 Mack (Old Mack) responded to its last call, (on July 4 th several brush fires) and was placed out of service.  The 1954 Chevy fire patrol was also taken out of service and replaced with a 1970 Chevy van style ex ambulance that was donated by the Atlantic Highlands First Aid Squad. The Police department gave up the extrication tools (Jaws of Life) to the First Aid Squad. A brand new 1986 Ford E-350 PL type III ambulance was delivered equipped with compartment to carry the extrication equipment. The Police Department Dive team was taken out of service, and the boat was turned over the Fire Department & First Aid Squad. The 17 ft Boston Whaler, was operated in cooperation between the Fire Department and First Aid Squad, until 2004 when the First Aid Squad received a donated 20ft Boston Whaler.

Another major change in 1986 included the reorganization of the Fire Police into the Squad Company #1. After a change in state statues, it was decided to convert the Fire Police from the Old Fire Patrol in to the Squad Company #1. The job really was not changed too much, their authority to control traffic, and crowd control, as well as security on fire scenes are more defined now. The old 1970 Chevy ambulance now carried all the equipment used to provide traffic and crowd control and security.

After July, 1986 when the Old Mack was taken out of service, a void was created; in addition, the 1975 Mack CF had serious rust problems. It was though that by receiving a new “Midi” pumper, the 1975 Mack could be placed into reserve to try to prolong its life. In 1987 an International S 1954 chassis with a Grumman Attack Cat Body was delivered to Robert B. Mantell Hose Co No. 2. This unit had a 1000 gpm two stage pump, 500-gallon tank, and 40 gallon of AFFF foam. This engine was originally assigned to Hose Co # 2., and the 1975 Mack became the reserve engine. After a few years, the 1987 International Grumman engine was reassigned as the dept. reserve engine and the 75 Mack went back to Hose Co # 2. Due to the fact that no firefighters could ride on the back tailboard, and this rig had seating for only 3 firefighters and an effective attack on a structural fire was difficult. The 87 International became the reserve engine, and was used first for brush fires, wires downs, and other smaller calls. This would be the last fire apparatus delivered to Hose Co. No. 2.

In 1990 the 1970 Mack CF pumper was showing its age, Hose Co No. 1’s committee recommended that 1970 Mack CF should be sent to Pierce Manufacturing Fire Apparatus to be completely refurbished. The rig came back with a brand-new body, new 750 gallon water tank, and a enclosure built on to the existing cab. This was done to save money, so that in the near future the badly rusted out 1975 Mack could be replaced. As time play out the 75 Mack never was replaced until 2002!

In 1995 a 1986 Dodge Pick up was acquired from the town water department, it lasted until 1999, when a 1986 Chevy 4-door 1 ton pick-up was acquired from Federal surplus. Originally the pick-up was used by the department to support Christmas tree sales, run for supplies for the fair, and used for emergencies. In 2005 this truck received a new Reading utility body, and carries extra equipment, including portable pumps, generators, and an over head ladder rack with a 35-ft. ladder. The truck can also pull any of the several trailers the department now has.

In 1998 The Department bought a slightly used Dodge 1 ton 14 passenger van from Avis rental in Matawan. This unit was retrofitted with shelving, and tool boxes, and converted into a fire police unit for Squad #1, the Chevy ex Ambulance was donated to the Monmouth County Fire Police.

In 2001 state funding provide monies for a small fire boat. A Sonic Jet boat was delivered to the Department, this boat could reach almost 50 MPH was used for rescue and to a lesser extent firefighting. The jet drive on the boat was used to power the deck gun mounted on the bow. The boat could flow 750 gpm.

Unfortunately the boat proved not to be effective for firefighting in the bay’s choppy waters and unreliable service. The limited firefighting capabilities made fire fighting challenging. The boat bought with state grant money was transferred to the Red Bank Fire Department, where the protective waters of the Navesink River is more suited for this boat. The boat is currently in service with Red Bank Fire Dept.

On September 11 th 2001 the Atlantic Highlands Fire Department responded to the terrorist attack in New York City, by staying home! Thousands of evacuees were transported out of lower Manhattan via all type of boats and vessels including ferry boats, some of which sailed to both Highlands and Atlantic Highlands. The Atlantic Highlands Fire Department responded to the Municipal Marine and set up a decon area, and assisted the Atlantic Highlands First Aid with a triage area. Additional engines from Brevent Park Fire Company, Belford Engine Co. #1, as well as Millstone Twsp. Fire Company’s air unit. Other local fire companies had set up decon at the Highlands Ferry Boat landing, as well as Middletown Railroad Station. Various EMS units from through out the state supplied BLS units to all three locations. Luckily few injured passengers ever arrived! By Mid-night all operations were completed at the Harbor.

In 2001 a Spartan Gladiator chassis was bought and was used by Spartan as a demo for almost a year. In 2002 the chassis was sent to S&S Fire Apparatus and a stainless-steel body was fabricated. This engine 85-75 has a 1250 gpm pump, a 1000-gallon tank, and a 50 gallon class A foam tank. This unit also has a class A foam proportioning system. This is the first unit in the department with Class A foam and has been very successful for structural, brush, car, and trash fires. This engine replaced the 1975 Mack and was not assigned to any company, it become a department engine, and was the first ever unit not to be lettered with a fire company name.

During the early 2000’s the junior fire fighters or cadet program was restarted, for young people over the age of 16.

In 2003 the County Prosecutors office and Fire Marshal’s office obtain funding for 10 mass decon trailers, one which was accepted by the members of the Atlantic Highlands Fire Department. The trailer carries equipment including showers, heaters, tents ect for mass decon. Of course mass decon was preformed in the Harbor on September 11, 2001 when dozens of ferry boast brought thousand of survivors from Manhattan.

Also 2003 the department reorganized the officers. Until 2003 each company had a captain, 2 lieutents, a chief engineer and several assistant engineers. The department had a Chief, and two assistant chiefs, each from a different company. This would mean that almost 25 officers were needed to run the department. In the 1990’s more and more requirements for training and certification had place a toll on the volunteer fire departments, and Atlantic Highlands was no exception. The department dropped all company officers, and now has 1 chief, 1 deputy chief, and a captain. These are all sworn town officers. Four lieutenants, 1 Chief Engineer, 4 Ast. Engineers, now run the department. A small marine division is responsible for the department boat(s).

In 2004 a major refurbishment of the 1987 International/Grumman was started by the members of the Atlantic Highlands Fire Dept. plumbing was upgraded/enlarged, generator was installed, air bottle compartments cut into the body, as well as repainting and remounting equipment in the compartments. A new chassis was purchase by the borough, which was a late 2005 International 7400 4-door chassis which could carry 5 fighters 4 equipped with SCBA. The original chassis and body was driven to Precision Fire Apparatus in Mo. and the body was mounted into the new chassis. The completed unit was delivered in the spring of 2005. Engine 85-74 has been upgraded to a 1250 gpm pump, 500 gallon water tank, 40 gallons of Class B AFFF foam, and 50 gallons of Class A foam.

In 2006 the decon trailer was rebuilt to include a rehab section in the rear. The rebuilt trailer now has all the decon equipment as well a microwave, portable heaters, tents, bottled water, misting fans, and other equipment.

By the mid 2000’s all the company names were removed from the apparatus, this move was controversial, many felt the names should have remained on the apparatus.

In 2007 a new Chief /Command unit was ordered by the department. A 2008 Ford F-350 4-door 4x4 pick up that was outfitted by KME Fire Apparatus and delivered in 2008.

In July of 2009 ex Chief Henry Rieth spoke with Bo Morrise at the time Chief of the Departments about asking the NJ Forest Fire Service on obtaining an ex Coast Guard buoy tender via the federal excess property program. NJ Forest Fire Service Section Forest Fire Warden, John Rieth who is an ex Asst. Chief of the Atlantic Highlands FD, brought Chief Mourise to the Forest Fire Service Office to look at a boat, another boat was offered to the chief, which was a 2000 Sea Ark 23 ft ex US Coast Guard buoy tender. The boat has a diesel inboard-outboard drive, and is in very good shape. Several local businesses have offered to help refurbish the boat. The boat went into service in 2010, had has responded to several dozen water rescues by the end of 2011.

In 2011 a member of the AHFD donated two wave runners to the Marine Division. Both units were dedicated at the fair in July of 2011 they were painted yellow and have a trailer to transport them. In addition the Department paid for a new 750 gpm pump for the fire boat.

In 2011 there were over 130 calls answered by the Atlantic Highlands Fire Dept. There are 35 active members, 10 auxiliary members, and over 15 life members.

October 30-Nov. 1 st 2012, Hurricane Sandy hit NJ. Atlantic Highlands got hit hard, but not nearly has badly as almost every other town on the Bayshore as well as the Ocean Towns. Atlantic Highlands harbor was destroyed; the fire department boat was hauled out and kept at the field house, it was not damaged. The rehab/decon trailer was also parked at the firemen’s field and received damaged. In early 2013 the members had to gut the trailer replace all the flooring and repair or replace the equipment. Over 20 structures in Atlantic Highlands were severely damaged. The Fire department responded to dozens of calls over the week, as well as assisting the hard-hit Highlands Fire Dept.

July 22 2015 AHFD responded as a strike team of engines to the 1 million square foot ware house fire in North Brunswick Middlesex County Engine 8575 pumped for more- then 14 hours.

In October of 2015 The Department (Inc.) bought a pre-owned 1991 Spartan/E-ONE pumper from 1 st . Priority Emergency Vehicles. This engine was originally delivered to the Whitehouse NJ Fire Company in Hunterdon County NJ.

In the fall of 2015 a 2015 Ford Transit van was bought by the town to replace the 1992 Dodge van for Squad #1.

In the early part of 2017, the Atlantic Highlands first Aid Squad, turned over all of the auto extrication equipment to the fire department. At first the equipment was loaded into the 1988 Chevy utility truck; however the truck was not running well, and could not hold all of the equipment.

In June of 2017 the department bought a 1991 Mack MR/Saulsbury walk-in rescue truck, from the Howell Fire District #2/Adelphia Fire Co. It has a cascade system, 50kw generator, 35ft light tower, built in extraction system, and will be used for RIT, water rescue, special services, and auto extrication.

2018 The department bought a UTV 4x4 to help reach place down the Henry Hudson Trail. In Oct. 2018 the dept. approved to buy  a 1988? Monarch 32 ft crew boat,  from the Secaucus NJ FD, nee N. Hudson NJ FD, nee, NJ State Police.

Some Big fires

1945 Methodist Church Fire

12/16/1951 Rail Road Station Fire

1959 Box factor fire on Highland Ave.

1960s? First Ave Dodge car dealer fire

7/4/1960 Jersey Central RR pier Fire #1

5/6/1966 Jersey Central RR pier Fire #2 One of the largest ever, over ten companies responded.

1960?   Lenard Ave Fatal fire.

1974    4 th Ave Fatal Fire

1977    Large Brush/Forest Fires off Highland Ave

9/1979 American Lumber Yard Fire/ One of the Largest ever. 3 ladders, 13 engines, 4 tankers

1979    Highland Ave House Fire fatal fire

1980    Bayshore Plaza Stores Fire

1981    Bowling Alley Fire Center Ave.

1982    Franklin Store Fire on First Ave.

1991    Ice Cream Store Fire on First Ave

1996    Bay Ave House Fire double fatal fire           

2001   Leon’s Carpet and other stores fire on First Ave. 3 ladders Atl. Highlands, Highlands, Middletown #1, 6 Engines from Highlands, Community, Belford Engine, Middltown #1.

First Ave Fire One of the largest ever, 5 ladders Atl. Highlands, Highlands, Belford Ind., Rumson, Keansburg, 11 engines Community, Belford Engine, Earle, Rumson, Highlands, Red Bank, Keansburg, one light truck 5 engines for pipe-line Hazlet #1, North Centerville, Matawan, 2 additional ladders, and two additional engines for cover and or relief.

2011  Roof fire on several stores on First Ave.

Hotel Fires in Atlantic Highlands

1883 Foster’s Pavilion

1894 Grand View

1900 Sherlock

1900 American heavy damage

1900 Alpine Cottage

1903 Portland

1902 Sea View Hotel damaged

1920 Florence

1921 Bay View

1929 Breezy Point

1929 Lockwood

1931 Atlantic

1935 Mandalay

1950? West End


Other fires the dept responded to on mutual aid.

Lakewood Forest Fire 1941

Various Forest Fires in Ocean County and Monmouth County 1930,s 1940” 1950’s 60’s 70s.

Middletown/Navesink Forest Fires April 20, 21 and 22 nd , 1963

IFF explosion and fire Union Beach 1977

Peninsula House Fire Sea Bright 1986

Sandy Hook Marine Labs 1985

Long Branch Pier Fire 1988

Navesink Rt 36 shop fire 1989

Baker Building the First fire, Leonardo 1992

Condos Fire in Belford 2006

Mansion Fire in Rumson 2006

Keyport Fishery Fire 2005

Fountain Condos Fire in Sea Bright 2007

2012 Oct/Nov. Assisted various local fire depts. after Hurricane Sandy

Sea Bright Store fire 12/2014

Mansion Fire in Rumson 4/2015

North Brunswick (Middlesex County) Warehouse fire 7/2015

Aberdeen wood working factory Lloyd Rd 10/2015

Various large restaurant fires in the 1960, 70, 80, and 90s. in Highlands.

Various house fires in Highlands, Navesink, and Leonardo

First Aid Squad responded to the

Morral Castle Steam Ship Fire Asbury Park

Train crash Wood Bridge.


Hook & Ladder Co #1

1917 Brockway/ALF city service ladder truck type A Service truck #B-086

1944 Seagrave Quad  500 gpm 150 gallon tank ladder truck delivered 10/26/44

1966 American LaFrance 900 series 85ft aerial ladder 1000 gpm/300gwt

1985 (1984) Spartan chassis/1985 Grumman body /ladder-tower 1500 gpm/200gwt

Hose Co. #1

1917 Brockway/ALF Hose and chemical truck # B -085

1928 Maxim 750/300 pumper

1949 Mack 505E 750/300

1970 Mack CF 1250/750 91 Pierce refurbished w/new body

Hose Co #2

1910 or 1911 White Hose wagon

1917 American LaFrance type 40 pumper w/junior pump, # 1694 shipped 8/27/17

1931 American LaFrance 600 gpm pumper

1952 Seagrave 750 gpm pumper

1975 Mack CF 1250 gpm 500 gwt pumper

1987 International/Grumman 1000 gpm/500 gwt pumper/ refurbished in 2004 with new International Chassis

Dept. Engines

1975 Mack CF ex Hose Co #2

1987 Int./Grumman ex Hose Co#2

2001 Spartan/02 S&S 1250 gpm/1000 gwt pumper

1986 Dodge Pick-up

1986 Chevy Pick-up/new 05 Utility body

In 2015 Dept. bought a 1991 Spartan/E-One 1500/1000 pumper from Whitehouse NJ. Which replaced the 1970/91 Mack CF/Pierce which was donated to the NJ Fire Engine Museum.

Fire Patrol/Fire Police/Squad 1

1933 Chevy

1954 Chevy 1 ton chassis/Atlantic utility body

1970 Chevy van type ambulance ex First Aid Squad

1998 Dodge van

2015 Ford Transit van

In 2017 the Dept. bought a 1991 Mack MR/Saulsbury walk-in rescue from Adelphia NJ FC.Rescue 85-85

Chief cars

1970? Plymouth Grand Fury   ex Middletown FD

1982 Dodge Diplomat

1992 Chevy Caprice station wagon later Fire Marshal

1995 Chevy Tahoe 4x4 first 4x4

2008 Ford F-350 4x4 pick-up/KME

Fire Prevention

1992 Chevy Caprice station wagon ex chief car

2006 Dodge Durango

2015 Ford Explorer


1976 Boston Whaler 17ft portable pump, ex Police operated in co-operation with FAS

2000 Jetsonic boat with 750 gpm pump

2000 Sea Ark  25 ft boat 750 gpm placed into service in 2009

1988?  Monark 32ft 500 bought in 2018, in service 2019?

First Aid & Safety Squad


1928 or 29 Studabaker/Supieror body

1939 Cadillac/ Sliver Knightstown body

1949 Cadillac /Meteor body

1959 Cadillac /S&S body

1968 Cadillac/ Superior body

1970 Chevy Van first white and orange unit later repainted white and yellow in 1980?

1978 Dodge/ Starline?  Van white and red

1979 Ford E-350 van first white and yellow unit

1986 Ford E-350/PL

1992 Ford E-350 diesel re-chassis of 86 body repainted 1995 to match 1994 Ford

1994 Ford E-350/PL demo bought in 1995 1 st blue and sliver unit

2004 Ford E-450/Road Rescue was 85-56 now 85-63

2009 Ford E-450/Horton

2013 Ford F-450/ EMS Taskforce supply unit

Boats 19??Boston Whaler?

2005? UTV