Old Village Fire Company
1340 Highway 35
To the members of the Old Village Fire Company, the most important interval of time in the history of our organization was the time between March 14, 1955 and June 11, 1956. During that time our founding members envisioned, planned and subsequently created a new fire company.
On March 14, 1955, a group of nine men met at the Reformed Church of Middletown with the intent of forming a fire company in the Village section of Middletown Township. These men would hold an organizational meeting the following week and thus the vision was born. On March 23, 1955, 25 men assembled at the church and took part in the first discussions. That meeting produced a working organization headed by Harold Jacobsen Sr., President; E. Hall Kempson, Secretary; and Nick D'Anthony, Treasurer.
With little else to work with these would be Firemen would contribute $1.00 each, every meeting until a total of $500.00 was raised. Meetings were held every Monday night for almost a year. First on the list of goals was the acquisition of a piece of fire apparatus. Second on the list of goals was obtaining a piece of property, and next was a firehouse.
On May 4, 1955 the members held our first fund raising event in the form of a spaghetti dinner. In June of 1955 the company purchased its first truck, a 1938 Brockway hook and ladder, from the Borough of Fair Haven. The Brockway was paid for in monthly installments of $50.00. At that point the fire company had a fire truck but no place to house it. Soon after acquiring the truck, Anthony Bishoff offered the company the use of his old machine shop on Liberty Street, provided the truck would fit. With the housing of the truck, Bishoff's Garage became the company's first firehouse. Soon after, the company accepted an offer of Middletown Township Fire Company No. 1 for the use of its old siren, and thus another step forward was taken. With the approval of the Middletown Township Committee, the Old Village Fire Company was incorporated on September 7, 1955. One critical step remained before the company would be placed in service, a vote and acceptance by the Middletown Township Fire Department.
In November, 1955, the fire company moved its hook and ladder from its original home to a barn on the old Schulz farm on Route 35 near the intersection of the Keyport-New Monmouth Road. The company contributed hours and hours of labor to make it a suitable location for a firehouse. The barn eventually became the company's second firehouse and remained so until July, 1957.
In December 1955 the company purchased its first pumper from the Borough of Rumson. The pumper, a 1927 American-LaFrance 1000-gallon pumper, had been the first fire truck of the Rumson Fire Department and became the pride and joy of the Old Village Fire Company.
With two pieces of equipment, the company began holding fire drills. Many of the members had no prior firefighting experience, but were determined to master the intricate skills of efficient firefighting. During these months drills were held all over the township and the members of other Department companies provided invaluable aid in instruction and guidance.
The company required one more item in order to meet the requirements of the Department, a piece of property. The members of the company approached Herman Barkei, who donated a piece of land suitable for a fire house. With clear title and plans, for a building, a committee attended a special meeting of the Fire Department to present the Old Village Fire Company for acceptance into the Department.
On May 29, 1956, an initiation drill was held for the members by the Department on Route 35 and the Central School.
On May 14, 1956 at a meeting of the Middletown Township Fire Department and on a recommendation of Chief Joseph Munch, the members voted to accept the Old Village Fire Company as a company of the department. Old Village had officially become Company No. 11 of the Department.
In September of 1956, the fire company took another step forward with the purchase of a third truck, a 1000-gallon tanker unit.
On March 18, 1957, the deed for a new piece of property on Route 35 was acquired. The new property was larger in area and more centrally located than the previous Route 35 site. Groundbreaking of the new firehouse began on March 28 with Mayor Frank Blaisdell hefting the first shovelful. Our members contributed to most of the construction themselves and would have the new building ready by the summer of 1957.
On July 20, 1957, with its three pieces of equipment, the Old Village Fire Company moved into its new firehouse on Route 35. The building contained a kitchen, meeting room and three apparatus bays and located on two acres of land. The company still owns, operates and responds from this location today.
All of this effort and energy, which began officially on March 23, 1955, was in reality aimed at an unknown date in the future. That unknown date was the all-important "first" -- the first alarm that the Old Village Fire Company would roll out on. On June 11, 1956, the Old Village Fire Company responded to and extinguished its first fire, a car on the Garden State Parkway near Red Hill Road. The company's first structure fire was on August 25, 1956, on Middletown Road. Thus the Old Village Fire Company became an active element in the safety and security of its community, an organization dedicated to service and protection.
The path between March 23, 1955, and June 11, 1956, was a long and arduous one, open to many pitfalls between the idea and the realization of a new fire company. In the decades to come, the Old Village Fire Company would grow with Township and has develop into a highly trained, well equipped firefighting organization. All of us can look back with appreciation and gratitude to that group of 25 men who banded together to establish one of the most important organizations any community can have.
The Charter Members of the Old Village Fire Company
Today the members of the Old Village Fire company dedicate themselves in the same manner as the men who came before them. In 2005 the firehouse underwent a thorough make over and much needed addition. A member's room, additional bathroom, several offices and ample storage space were added to create a fully functional firehouse.
Old Village Fire Company is an IRS-designated 501(c)3 non-profit
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The information displayed on these pages are property of the Old Village Fire Company Inc., Middletown, N.J. 1955-2018