An August ’14 New York Times Op Ed lamented the dwindling number of volunteer firefighters across America. Overall since the mid-80s, the number of volunteer firefighters has dropped 11%. There are several reasons for the decline, everything from an aging rural population to an overall increase in two-income households.
Yet this year in Mendham, the Mendham Fire Department celebrates another important milestone. 2015 represents our 110th anniversary, and at a time when volunteerism seems to be waning overall, we’re pleased to report that your friendly neighborhood volunteer fire department has never been stronger:
- Our Response Time: We respond to more than 250 calls per year. The bulk of these are not fire calls, they’re traffic accidents, carbon monoxide alarms and other community emergencies. And still, our average response time is 7:22 minutes—nearly two minutes less than the national average for all volunteer fire organizations;
- Community Engagement: Protecting, serving and responding to emergency calls is not our only role. We’re actively involved in just about every facet of Mendham community affairs, ensuring safe, successful and memorable experiences for all;
- Junior Membership: We’re proud of our growing junior membership. Since 1972, we’ve provided opportunities for young men and women aged 16-18 to participate in various firefighting activities. The makeup of our junior membership reflects the best and brightest of Mendham, and the confidence and skills we instill in them is something they carry to college and beyond.
Knowing how much progress we’ve made and continue to make, the early Mendham Fire Department members would certainly be pleased. The formation of the Fire Department actually predates the establishment of the Borough of Mendham. In June, 1905, residents gathered for the purpose of forming a Bucket Brigade, and made plans to raise money and purchase a fire apparatus – a ‘hook & ladder’ – for $885.
Needless to say, the cost of running a volunteer fire organization—equipment, vehicle maintenance, ongoing certification and training for members—is much higher these days. This cost continues to rise dramatically, requiring tremendous support in the form of fundraising. The Mendham Fire Department is fortunate to receive year-round commitment from the community, whether it be from our biannual direct mail drive, donations associated with Christmas Tree pick up, or support from our annual Casino Night fundraiser.
Whatever the need or emergency, for 110 years, we’ve been able to maintain and grow a wonderful relationship of trust and respect with the Mendham community. The Mendham Fire Department is planning a number of activities to help us celebrate our 110th birthday.
At a time when the number of volunteer fire departments is decreasing, and given the importance that fundraising has on sustaining our volunteer organization, we want to thank the community for all their support and encouragement. This reciprocal commitment and relationship we have helps make Mendham a truly special community, and we look forward to another successful year together.
Thank You Again for Your Support!
Chief, Mendham Fire Department