Holmes Marshall Volunteer Fire Company

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History

The Holmes Marshall Volunteer Fire Company was organized on April 3, 1954. Approximately twenty men in attendance at the home of Carlton Smith, 235 Fisher Avenue, Piscataway, NJ, elected Smith as the companies first President.


The men banned together, united by their shared concern for the many serious house fires that were occuring in the community. The slow arrival times from other fire companies in the area resulted in the loss of many homes.  With little to no money to start the company, Mr. M.J. Jackson was instrumental in securing the company's first hand-drawn fire apparatus.


Needing a fire leader, the men elected William “Dee Dee” Jackson as their first Chief.  Mr. Jackson also became their Incorporating Agent. The fire company was incorporated in July 1954, under the name of Holmes Marshall Volunteer Fire Company, Inc.  This name was chosen in honor of a township resident who lost his life in World War I.  There was also a school that stood on the corner of Park Ave. and River Rd. that bared the same name.


A chief with no Indians was no pow-pow.  So they elected their first set of officers:


LINE OFFICERS


Captain - Carlton Smith

Assistant - Henry Linzey

1st Lieutenant - Edward Bradley

2nd Lieutenant - Cuyler McIntosh


ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICERS 


President - Carlton Smith

Vice President - David Farris

Financial Secretary - William "Willie" Jackson

Treasurer - Herbert Presley, Jr.


Their motto was, and still is to this day,

"The man who has done less than his best has done nothing." 

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Cooperation of Other Township Fire Companies

An advertisement placed in the N.F.P.A. Firemen’s Magazine asking for donations resulted in assistance from fire companies from all around. In particular, the North Stelton Fire Company provided a helping hand that will never be forgotten.  Mr. Al Hankerson (Captain), came over to explain the duties of a fire company and also the roles & responsibilities of each line officer. Mr. Hankerson also helped in finding the fire station's first second-hand truck.  It was a 1939 Ford 500-gallon pumper. The truck was purchased from the Breton Woods Fire Company in South Jersey for $1100.


On June 15, 1954, a down payment was made of $200. On September 11, 1954, the truck was delivered and the company paid an additional $600. The final payment was paid off on December 15, 1954.  A three-phase siren for a firehouse (to be constructed) was also purchased from the Brenton Woods Fire Company for $100. Now that the truck had been purchased, a facility was needed to store it.  The problem was solved when a neighbor, Mr. Herbert Presley Sr. offered up his garage.  He had the only garage in town that was big enough to house a fire truck.  The truck arrived and the company paraded it down Park Ave. from Hoes Ln. to the Masonic hall on New Brunswick Ave (now Fisher Ave).


COMMUNICATION

In early 1955 the protocol was to call either the Jackson or the Presley home to report a fire.  This worked well until later that year when the fire company purchased it's own phone system.


The three-phase siren, which was manually operated, was placed on an old windmill tower. It was purchased for $20 from an old farm on Easton Ave. This old windmill tower was centrally located in what was a traffic circle, where Park Ave. and Deborah Dr. intersect today.


The members of the fire company felt it was time to be recognized by the Township Board of Fire Commissioners of District #2. Until they could be recognized by the board they would have to operate as an independent volunteer fire company. Families in the District 2 area were dissatisfied with the poor service rendered under the old fire commissioner’s board. In February 1955, William ”Dee Dee”  Jackson was elected to the board.  Mr. Jackson was the first black commissioner in the history of this board. The highest votes ever were cast on that day. 

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Land Purchase and Ground Breaking

Soon after the truck was purchased, negotiations began involving the purchase of land to build the firehouse. A lot 100’ x 105’ was purchased for $1.00. This lot is located at the corner of Hanson Ave. and Deborah Dr.  The ground breaking ceremony was on Sunday, September 25, 1955 at 11AM.  In April 1956, the footings were poured and in May 1956, the corner stone was placed. The building (35’x50’) was started by the hands of the people in the community. In July 1958 the firehouse was complete and in total operation.


Since that time the company has purchased a 1959 GMC pumper, a 1976 Mack pumper, a 1990 Spartan, a 1997 Pierce, and a 2007 Pierce Saber Rescue. 

Our Misfortune

On February 1, 2008 our home away from home was struck by fire. A passerby called in an alarm when smoke was seen coming from the unoccupied three bay brick structure at around 10:30 am. First on the scene was our chief who reported a working fire and requested a second alarm. Because our turnout gear and trucks were in the burning structure we were forced to stand and watch. Surrounding fire companies assisted in putting the fire out. 


Several attempts were made to open the 3 bay doors to save t