Our History

Labor Day Parade

Officers for the year (1972) were John J. Grassi, Chief; Deputy Chief, Earl G. Barnes, Jr.; 1st Assistant Chief, Charles E. Watkins; 2nd Assistant Chief, Donald E. Smith. Secretary and Treasurer were the same as last year and the First Aid Director was Richard W. Apgar. It was felt that 2nd Assistant Chief Smith would have enough to do as Assistant Chief without being Chairman of the Truck Committee so C. David Crotsley was appointed to take the chairmanship of that committee. Specifications were drawn up and the committee started their rounds to look at new pumps to see what kind of new gadgets they wanted. The town officials wanted to have a Labor Day celebration so they asked the Fire Department to set up the parade. Of course, some one else was chairman and this created something of a problem, as the chairman did not know much about setting up a parade. He found out a lot before it was all over but it worked out okay.

The First Aid Rescue Squad received a new Cadillac ambulance in 1972 which would be the last of the “sedan” style ambulance units acquired.

In October a committee was appointed to look into new uniforms, these were to be summer wear. All members on record as of January 1, 1973 were to get them paid for and all ex-chiefs were to get white hats. In November the Mayor and Council were asked to change the original ordinance to show the new age limits, 18 years to 41 years. At the December meeting the following men were elected to officer rank: John J. Grassi recommended to Council as the Chief of the Department. Earl Barnes, Jr., elected as Deputy Chief; Charles Watkins elected as 1st Assistant Chief; Donald Smith elected as 2nd Assistant Chief; William Wertz elected Secretary and Vernon Garabrant elected Treasurer.

Junior Firemen

In February 1972 a resolution proposing the creation of a Junior Fireman Squad was presented. As it was presented it became a part of our bylaws and therefore had to be passed on first reading. In March it was presented for second reading and passage. In April Membership Committee Chairman Garabrant reported application as Junior Fireman of Thomas Porter, Scott Welsh and Douglas Gesell.junior-patch

During the month a covered dish testimonial dinner was tendered to Vernon Garabrant for his fifty years as a volunteer fireman of our Department. Chairman Crotsley made a report on the new truck. It will be a quad type with 1000 G.P.M., 142 feet of ladders; 1500 feet of 2-inch hose; 400 feet of 1-inch hose and high pressure to 600 lbs.

The vehicle became the first “Truck 83”; an Imperial “Quad” with 180’ feet of ground ladders, pumping capacity of 1000 gallons per minute, 1500’ feet of 2.5 inch hose, 400’ of 1.5 inch hose and a “high pressure” booster system rated at 600 psi. The vehicle also was equipped with the Department’s first vehicle-mounted foam system. The purchase was notable for the fact that the vehicle was diesel powered with an automatic transmission, power steering and pneumatic brakes.

In January 1973 all the Junior members having turned 18 years of age were sworn in as regular members of the Department. In October the new fire truck was delivered. It was in time for the Morristown Parade. Although as usual, it is not quite completed, it is in service and has been turned over to the Fire Department. At the November meeting the bylaws again were added to, this time to ask that the Borough budget be enlarged to include new uniforms for all the present firemen and those that join from now on. At the December meeting the following officers were elected: Deputy Chief Charles Watkins; 1st Assistant Chief Donald Smith; 2nd Assistant Chief Ed Tully; Secretary William Wertz; Treasurer Vernon Garabrant. Earl G. Barnes, Jr. was recommended to Mayor and Council as Chief of the Department.

In January 1974 a new radio was installed in truck 183. It can scan 8 frequencies and transmit on two. Also the Wardens are to be equipped with citizens band radios and a license has been applied for. Richard J. Clark was elected to be the Fireman of the Year from our Department at the F & M Shaffer Volunteer of the Year Award Banquet. In February Chief Barnes recommended that Deputy Chief Watkins appoint a Planning Committee to look ahead into the needs of the Fire Department for the next ten years. The main objective will be a new Firehouse, new truck and equipment for our department. Deputy Chief Watkins will chair this committee.

In September 1974 our planning committee met with the Council committee and presented the fire departments suggested plans for a new firehouse. The Council agreed. Our recommendations were sound and the necessary action to set aside the property would be taken and funds put in the upcoming town budget so that the new building might become a reality in the next few years. In November the bylaws got another change, this time to Article 10, Section 13. The proposal was to give life members of the N.J. State Firemen’s Association an assist in funds if they wanted to attend the Annual Convention of that Association. It passed on first reading and became a part of the bylaws at the December meeting.

In November of 1974 the Mendham Independent Hook & Ladder Company hired an attorney to defend them in the Civil Rights Action filed by a local woman who charged that her civil rights had been violated because she had been advised that she must join the Fire Department before she could become a member of the Mendham First Aid Squad. She must first join the Independent Hook & Ladder Company, be recommended to Mendham Hose Company and then join the First Aid & Rescue Squad; all are units of the Mendham Fire Department. She concluded that “it was beyond her capabilities to serve in the Fire Department”, also a violation of her civil rights to force her to go be a firewoman before she is eligible for the First Aid Squad. This person has had the opportunity to join the Mendham Township First Aid Squad, an independent organization, and is currently a member of that squad.

The Chief made presentations of silver charms to the Ladies Auxiliary for their 25th Anniversary at the May meeting.

The Department purchased its first full-fledged rescue vehicle in 1974. The purchase was necessitated by a loss of compartment space with the purchase of the “Quad” in combination with an increased need for carrying capacity for the new generation of special tools associated with vehicular and heavy rescue requirements. The vehicle was a used International panel truck originally owned by Epstein’s Department Store in Morristown and donated by them to the Morris County Fire School for use as a public address vehicle. The Department, in turn, acquired the vehicle from the Fire School and refitted it to our purposes at the Borough Garage spearheaded, again, by Dave Crotsley and Don Smith with significant assistance from Ex-Chief John Grassi and Firefighter Ed Swanson.

Retirement of the Oren

The F.I.R.O. is looking at our Oren. It is twenty years old and should soon be retired. It has had a pump test and came through with flying colors. A committee to investigate the replacement of our old Metro truck “185” came up with a recommendation we bid on a replacement that may possibly be purchased for $2500.00.

In August of 1975 a drill was called for the center of Mendham. Called for mutual aid were pumpers, Ralston, Brookside, Chester, Bernardsville and Morristown with their snorkel. The call went out at 7:03 p.m. to all units. Arrival time was Mendham 7:05 p.m., Brookside 7:17 p.m., Ralston 7:16 p.m., Chester 7:21 p.m., Morristown 7:24 p.m., Bernardsville 7:34 p.m. The water tower “snorkel” was in place and up at 7:30 p.m. It had water at 7:34 p.m. It was being supplied by 3 trucks: Ralston, Mendham, Brookside. The “snorkel” was putting out about 700 G.P.M. at this time. Time was very, very, good. Other units could have had hand lines in operation by 7:15 p.m. down and re-set to feed snorkel. Trucks used; Bernardsville, Brookside, and Chester. Water up tower this time 985 to 1000 G.P.M. Mendham, still using hand lines and Ralston hooked to other hydrant could have used hand lines if necessary. Water from the snorkel was delivered above all electric lines at close to 1000 G.P.M. with ample left for hand lines. Our supply at the center of town is adequate for any emergency. Our mutual aid is only minutes away and our fire fighters and mutual aid are well trained. Mendham is a lucky town to have all this protection. In August our truck committee for a new “185” got the good word: Their bid of $2,250.00 was accepted. Many other bidders were at the sale but when they learned that Mendham Fire Department had a bid in they all refrained from bidding. Probable sale price $5500.00. Again we were lucky. The Fire Department voted $4000.00 to rebuild the interior of the van for our purposes and refinish the outside. Again, no tax dollars. A bill was presented to the State Senate by Frank Dodd, “D” Essex to turn all the State Association funds into the State General fund and have a state committee control those funds. The Burial Fund at that time was $1,400.00. This was just another grab by big government and it didn’t set very well with the Volunteer Firemen. The State Senate soon found out that it is pretty hard to take something away from 50,000 firemen. New officers were elected at the December meeting, they were: Charles E. Watkins recommended to Council as Chief of the Department; Donald E. Smith as Deputy Chief; Edward L. Tully as First Assistant Chief; and C. David Crotsley as Second Assistant Chief; Secretary Richard G. Kraft; Robert O. Snedaker Treasurer and First Aid Director Joseph J. Murphy.

At the January 1976 meeting, John Grassi, chairman of the committee to get the new service truck ready for use, reported that the unit was virtually completed. The vehicle was a “bread truck” style used vehicle purchased at auction. Bidding on the vehicle was competitive until the audience realized that a volunteer fire service organization was among the bidders at which point all competitive bidding was graciously halted. Note of that generous public behavior should be made. The vehicle was converted by Ex-Chief John Grassi, Ex-Chief Edward Tully and a host of other Firefighters donated the labor. The truck was converted into the new fire support configuration that housed the “Jaws of Life”, power saws, rescue equipment and a breathing air “cascade” system capable of filling 28 rescue breathing air tanks. The predecessor vehicle which had 105,000 miles on the odometer was sold the Sterling Fire Department for $626—more than we paid for it. The new’185′ is a much larger unit and its entire cost was $5,798.43. The budget for this unit was $6000.00.

In May a new truck committee was appointed. This truck will replace the Oren as it will be about 25 years old by the time we can get a new one. At the June meeting First Assistant Chief Tully reported that the gongs had been mounted by the front door of the firehouse. The large locomotive tire was one of the original tires that had been used as a gong to alert the firemen before there was a church bell system and before the electric siren was installed in 1922. This tire was hung by the East end of what is now the Sunoco gas station. It was at that time the Freeman Ford Agency. It isn’t our business to train fire fighters for all the world but Bill Betz (on leave from our department for college) received congratulations from our Chief. It seems he helped his college on their Fire Safety program and said college sent a letter to our Chief commending him, hurrah for training schools and training programs. Our Public Relations man is taking lots of pictures. They are in albums and help preserve happenings.

We have our 75th Anniversary coming up in 1980 and a committee has been appointed to work on it. John J. Grassi is General Chairman. In October a poster contest was run for the school children, grades 1 through 8 participating. The winner’s names and posters were submitted to the State Wide Contest. The local contest was sponsored by the Fire Department as a Fire Prevention demonstration. John Grassi reported that a car raffle had been held; 600 tickets were sold at $50.00 each. The money is to be used for the 75th Anniversary parade and celebration. New officers were: recommended to Mayor and Council as Chief of the Department, Donald E. Smith; elected as Deputy Chief Edward L. Tully; elected as First Assistant Chief C. David Crotsley; elected as Second Assistant Chief Robert D. Raymond; elected Secretary Richard G. Kraft and Treasurer William F. Wertz.

At our January 1977 meeting Mr. Gordon Tasker, a representative of the 200 Club, spoke to us on the purpose of the Club. It is a very wonderful thing as it is set up to aid the families of firemen or policemen in emergencies following accidental death of firemen or policemen. Cyril (Joe) Lounsbury has been selected as our Fireman of the Year, Joe will complete his 40th year as a member of the Department in November of this year. At the May Council meeting our request for a new firehouse was presented. Some specifications and the reasons for the new building were presented and the request that an architect be hired. The Council will consider our wants and needs and let us know. The bid has been chosen for the new fire truck and the chassis ordered. The architect, Mr. George Back, has been selected for the new firehouse and a lot of the initial work done. The Council passed a resolution on the bond for the firehouse.

75th Anniversary

At the January 1979 meeting Robert Raymond resigned as Second Assistant Chief. Joseph E. Eible was elected Second Assistant Chief. A new map of the water system, roads, hydrants, etc. was put up in the firehouse. As the town grows, so does the need for information on streets, etc. grow. Our town employees realize this and keep us abreast of things.

Early in the year the 75th Anniversary Committee Chairman reported on the progress of the committee. As all firemen know, these things take a lot of planning parade routes, trophies, mug and glasses, plaques and all the various sub-committees doings, its no small deal. The main thing is to see it grow and I am sure it will be a big bash for Mendham Junior Firemen were on the minds of us all. There are nine young men, some sons of firemen, that are interested and some others that are not sons of firemen that are also interested. Some of them were inducted in July and others followed. We have a very nice group of young men now and room for more. In September we had the ground breaking for the new firehouse. With any luck we may be in it for our 75th Anniversary.

In November a testimonial dinner was given Dick Clark. It was a complete success as neither Dick or his wife knew about it before hand. It was a success in every way and sure was appreciated by the Clark’s. The new ambulance was delivered in December. It sure has room in it. New officers were elected for the coming year. Recommendation to Mayor and Council of Edward L. Tully as Chief of the Department. Deputy Chief C. David Crotsley, First Assistant Chief Joseph E. Eible, Second Assistant Chief Edward T. Finlay.

At our December meeting the new truck committee reported the truck was nearly finished and should be delivered in March or April. March 28, 1980 the new truck is in. Cat-Diesel, automatic transmission, 1000 G.P.M. pump, all pump dials and controls midship. Excellent. Pump operator can see all around and on both sides of the truck. All we need now is the place to store it. The firehouse will be finished by June so we will be Ok. It is ready now for the steel for the roof.

The Mendham First Aid Rescue Squad took delivery of its first “modular” style ambulance from K & S, in 1979, replacing the 1965 Chevrolet Suburban (with the Nat Alexander body) and moving the Squad into the modern era.