Department History, Part 6

Continued from Part 5.

On December 16, 1991, members voted to purchase a used 1974 CF model Mack tractor drawn 100 foot aerial ladder from a used truck dealer in Allentown, Pennsylvania at a cost of $5000. The truck had served the Allentown Fire Department. The membership agreed to a spending cap of an additional $30,000 to prepare and equip the new ladder for service. Lee’s Emergency in Tuckerton, New Jersey did the major work and the members did the rest. The ladder was housed on July 4, 1993 after being placed in service only weeks before.

Work began on specifications for a new pumper during 2000. The truck committee investigated several manufacturers before compiling final specifications in January, 2001. Borough Council placed the apparatus out for bid and awarded the contract to Seagrave Fire Apparatus in Clintonville, Wisconsin. This new 1250 gpm pumper was delivered in late November, 2001. The engine was placed in service in late January, 2002 replacing the 1979 Pierce pumper.

Meanwhile, plans were under way for the housing of the new 2001 Seagrave pumper and the 100th anniversary of the department. On April 20, 2002 a banquet was held at Nicolosi Catering in Woodbury, New Jersey to celebrate the century of progress. Many presentations were received by the department in honor of the event. The Seagrave was to be housed on the 4th of July following the borough’s parade in which several local fire companies were to participate as was the Camden County Emerald Society Pipes & Drums. Unfortunately, a major fire occurred in Gloucester City just after midnight on July 4th. Oaklyn was called to assist in battling the blaze which took the lives of three firefighters and three children when the home collapsed on them. Two of the fire fighters were close friends of Oaklyn’s members.. The day was tragic and their was not a dry eye to be found when the Pipes & Drums stopped in front of the fire house and played Amazing Grace in memory of our fallen comrades. The parade ended and the members participated in the borough’s festivities. The housing of the new apparatus was quietly done and the station closed in mourning. We shall never forget that day!

The next purchase of apparatus was a 1974 Mack 75 foot Aerialscope. The unit had served the Perkasie, Pennsylvania Fire Company and was heavily damaged in a downtown fire during 1988. The apparatus was totally rebuilt and updated in 1989 and placed back in service by Perkasie. After being replaced by a new truck in 2006, the Aerialscope was sold to the Cherry Hill Fire Co. No. 1 in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Borough Council purchased the apparatus for $30,000 in late 2008. Additional funds were provided by the department to make necessary repairs and the truck was placed in service in early 2009.

In February, 2012, the membership appropriated $62.000 to purchase a used 1999 Freightliner/ E-One rescue truck from the Borough of Collingswood. This apparatus had a 20, 000 kw power take off generator, a winch, mobile radios, permanent and portable lighting and other equipment. The unit was equipped from the 1982 Chevrolet utility and newly purchased equipment and placed in service later that month as a utility support vehicle. It has a walk-in box that is heated and air conditioned for fire fighter rehab.

Marine units have been part of Oaklyn’s fire service since the 1930s, serving neighboring communities as well as our town. Over the years, the marine units have responded as far away as Mercer County, NJ during massive flooding and locally in Newton Creek and the Cooper and Delaware Rivers in Camden, Gloucester and Burlington Counties.

Through their proud history, the fire fighters of Oaklyn have responded to many large fires both in town and out of town. The largest fire in Camden County history was the R.M. Hollingshead Co. chemical plant on July 30, 1940. Both fire companies provided valuable service to Camden during this conflagration. Other major fires included a May 24, 1923 inferno that destroyed the Mantua Lumber Yard, the water works and numerous homes in Mantua, NJ; several multiple-alarm blazes at the Suburban Lumber Co. in Oaklyn during the 1940s, early 1950s and 1982 and 1991; the Oakland Garden Apartments in town on September 18, 1976; Oaklyn’s Club Honey Dew on June 1, 1977; the New York Shipyard warehouse fire in Gloucester; and the famous Garden State Racetrack fire in Cherry Hill on August 14, 1977.

Oaklyn’s fire fighters have responded to calls for assistance from Camden City on numerous major fires. Valuable service was rendered during the August, 1971 riots and on Mischief Nights including the year 1991, which proved to be the busiest 24 hour period of fires in Camden’s history.

One of the largest blazes in town was the Terminal Vending building on August 20, 2006. Fire fighters from throughout Camden County battled extreme heat, dense smoke and flames before controlling this seven alarm blaze. More recently, Oaklyn’s finest battled major blazes in Camden during June of 2011. Those fires reached 12 and 8 alarms respectively.

Our members continue to be dedicated to protecting life and property in our community and in nearby communities. This dedication personifies the department’s motto of “Pride in Service”. We continue to strive for improvement to better serve the citizens of the borough and Camden County.

Written by Lee Ryan