The Livingston Fire Department
was formed in November of 1921 following a meeting of
the Livingston Gun Club. The town was extremely rural
at the time and did not have an organized form of fighting
fires. Buckets and wells offered the only true water supply
for protection. There was little or no money to spend
on equipment, so the first months were spent discussing
what could be done to provide fire protection. Eventually,
twelve fire extinguishers were purchased, which were picked
up the members when there was a fire. The town then installed
eighteen large metal rings, which were placed throughout
the town. When a fire was detected, residents would go
to the nearest ring and begin hitting it with a hammer,
alerting others to do the same, hitting the rings until
firefighters could hear the alarm.
In 1923, the Township
Committee allotted $3,500 to the department. The
men took the money and purchased a Reo Chassis and
mounted a horse drawn chemical truck, which was
loaned to them by the Newark Fire Department. The
department's first engine would be forever known
as "Mary Ann." Soon after, a wooden firehouse
was built on donated property in Livingston Center
where today's Fire Headquarters still stands. Getting
the department's next engine would not be so easy.
The members attempted
to gain funding from the town in 1926 for a new
fire engine at a cost of $12,000. The Township Committee
denied the request, setting off a huge controversy.
The public voted in 1927 to allot the money for
a new engine, over ruling the Committee. The members
voted 29-5 to use funds to purchase an American
LaFrance, but the Committee accepted bids and Mack
beat American LaFrance by $2.00. The contract was
awarded to Mack, over the objections of the men.
Ann", the Department's first fire truck in
front of the first firehouse. (Members Unknown)
|The controversy led to
the Chief (Hockenjos), the President, and seventeen
other members resigning. The department received the
1928 Mack and painted it white, earning its historical
name, "Snow White". A new masonry Headquarters
building was constructed in 1929 where the old one
stood. This building, with major alterations and additions,
still serves as Fire Headquarters today.
The New Fire
Headquarters built in 1929. This building
with major additions and renovations, is still Fire
In 1933, the Township
purchased a Packard automobile, which the men altered
by welding on cabinets for equipment. This vehicle
was the first Rescue Company in the area. In 1935
the department received delivery of its' third engine,
a Ford Pumper. At about this same time, the town
installed a siren alerting system for firefighters.
Sirens were located throughout town with an alarm
box in Police Headquarters. The system had a number
of round metal rings, each with a different set
of teeth. Each ring would result in a different
series of siren sounds, much like Morse Code. The
different patterns would not only alert firefighters
to a fire, but the codes actually instructed them
which part of town to respond to. The system did
not work as well as originally thought. It would
be replaced with an air-horn system in 1946.
In 1937, the department
purchased a LaSalle ambulance to provide emergency
medical care and transportation to residents. The
department would handle such calls until 1950, when
members voted to give the LaSalle and $250 to the
newly formed Livingston First Aid Squad, made up
of 25 firefighters. The First Aid Squad is still
operating today and can be found at http://www.lfas.org.
Construction of the department's
second fire house, the Northfield Station, was completed
in 1952. During construction, the department acquired
another engine, a 1949 Mack, which was temporarily
housed in a bay at Merrigan's Northfield Esso, now
the Shell station next to Sam's in Northfield Center.
By this time, the 1933 Packard Rescue was feeling
the effects of age. The department purchased a 1952
Dodge Power Wagon Rescue Truck.
In 1955 the department
acquired yet another engine, a Mack, as the Township
continued to grow. The engine was known as "Sweet
Pea". Around this time, "fire bells"
were installed in each firefighter's home. The bells
would activate with the sirens and air-horns, ensuring
quick notification and response. A short time later,
in 1957, the Circle Station was completed. By 1960
the department had also added two more engines,
a 1959 Mack and a 1960 International.
In 1963 the department
took delivery of its' third rescue vehicle, an International
truck equipped with a hydraulic winch and boom.
A major addition to Fire Headquarters was completed
in 1965, adding three equipment bays, offices, and
a squad room to the building constructed in 1929.
Major additions were also completed on the Northfield
Station in 1967 and 1970.
In the late sixties and
early seventies the Township continued to grow with
major commercial building being completed. St. Barnabas
Medical Center was completed and the Livingston
Mall opened and is still the town's largest structure.
This in part prompted the purchase of the department's
first aerial apparatus, a 1974 Mack 85-Foot Snorkel.
By 1975, the department was averaging more than
a thousand runs per year.
Equipment upgrades continued
in 1976 when the department installed its' first
set of hydraulic Hurst Jaws of Life on the rescue
truck. In 1977, a Self Contained Breathing Apparatus
(SCBA) refill system was installed at fire headquarters.
Several years later, in 1981, a new Mack 1250GPM
engine was put into service at Headquarters.
The 1963 International
In November 1982, the
department responded to perhaps its' most unusual
call when two small planes collided in midair over
Manor Road and Demarest Drive. Both planes plummeted
to the ground killing the two pilots and one passenger.
Miraculously, both planes landed on grassy areas
of two residences, which were not damaged and fortunately
there were no injuries on the ground..
The departments first
Annual Open House during Fire Prevention Week was
held in October 1985 in conjunction with the First
Aid Squad. The event was designed to allow the Township's
residents to view the department's apparatus and
learn about fire safety. The event was also used
as a fund raiser for the St. Barnabas Burn Foundation.
The event is still held each year and continues
to raise money for the foundation.
Progress continued in
1986 when a large addition was constructed at the
Northfield Station in anticipation of the arrival
of the new rescue truck due to be put in service
in 1987. The new rescue truck, a 1987 Mack, was
the department's fourth rescue vehicle and came
complete with hydraulic boom, winch systems, scene
lighting, two sets of hydraulic jaws and cutters,
and many other tools. The new truck was joined by
a new Mack Engine, which arrived and was assigned
to the Northfield Station n 1989.
in the early years
In 1990, Chief
Charles Schilling retired after thirty-six
years as chief. Chief Schilling still serves
as a member today, and is also an extremely
active member (and original Charter Member
of the First Aid Squad), as well as working
for the Building Department as a Code Enforcement
Officer. Chief Craig Dufford took over when
Schilling retired and served until his retirement
in 2003. Chief Dufford also remains an active
member of the Fire Department and First Aid
Squad, and is now a Fire Inspector with the
department. Chief Christopher Mullin took
the helm in July 2003, when Chief Dufford
round "Ever Alert" insignia, used
for decades, was changed in 1991 to the more
recognizable Maltese Cross. The original design
was incorporated in the new insignia as the
center circle of the Maltese Cross. Soon after,
the department purchased its' first enclosed
cab engine. The new 1992 Mack replaced the
1971 Mack stationed at the Circle Station.
In 1996 the department
celebrated its' 75th Anniversary. A huge celebration
was planned to coincide with the delivery
of the second enclosed cab engine. Although
the event was well planned and one to remember,
the new Mack was not delivered in time. The
show had to go on, and the 1992 Mack was polished
and filled in for the missing one. Not all
could be fooled, but enough were and the celebration
went ahead. The new engine did eventually
The Insurance Service
Office also came to town in 1996. Following
the in-depth inspection, Livingston's classification
was changed from a Class 4 to a Class 3. This
change was the result of many hours of work
upgrading equipment and training.
2005 American LaFrance Pumper - 9/1/2006
to September 11, 2001, the department
took delivery of its' second aerial
piece, a 93-foot American LaFrance Ladder
Tower. Just days after the wet-down,
the terrorist attacks of 9/11 shocked
the world. In the aftermath that followed,
the department's rescue truck covered
mutual-aid assignments for FDNY's Rescue
5, based at the Clove Street Station
on Staten Island. Rescue 5 had responded
to the World Trade Center, losing 11
of 12 men that rode that day. Engine
5 from the Circle Station also covered
for FDNY as they worked at Ground Zero,
answering calls from the Watkins Street
Station in the Brownsville Section of
In September 2005 the Livingston Fire Department placed in service a 2005 American LaFrance Pumper. This is the latest addition to our fleet. A photo of the new engine is seen here at left. The new American LaFrance replaces a 1982 Mack Pumper that now serves in reserve as Engine 6 at the Headquaters Station.
In October 2005, the Fire Department and First Aid Squad members decided it was time to redesign the Center Island that sits between the Fire Department and First Aid Squad buildings.
The two organizations presidents (Thomas Cooney - LFD & Craig Melhorn - LFAS) created special committees in order to begin forming ideas as to how the Center Island should be redesigned. The idea was to create an area that could be viewed from Livingston Ave., with Memorials dedicated to each departements members visible from the parking lot. After countless hours and meetings, a design was formulated with the help of a local landscaping company and plans were drawn up. Since Livingston Ave. was being completely redone by the Business Improvement District (BID), our plans were reviewed with them for concurrence.
The new Center Island was completed on May 26, 2006 and now stands as a testement to these departments tradition and dedication to their community. Photos of the Center Island can be found by clicking here.
Updated June 17, 2007