In early 1980, an assembly of township residents came together with the common concern that the expansion of residential population in Holland Township was indicative of the need of their own volunteer fire company. This common idea grew with support and its true need led to the formation of the Holland Township Volunteer Fire Company (HTVFC), which appropriately became an incorporated service on March 1, 1980.
To excite town interest, the first meeting was to held on a Thursday night and announcements were placed in the local Delaware Valley Newspaper and in Holland Township Elementary School’s weekly publication. The first meeting was a well attended success, and the committee formed, had therefore decided to proceed with structuring Holland Township’s first, volunteer fire company; with that, the necessary steps were taken to incorporate and a regular meeting site was secured. As well, at the first meeting the group voted to continue meeting on Thursday nights, and to hold the business meeting on the second Thursday of each month, leaving all other meeting nights devoted to training.
Mayor John DiSarro, head of the township committee, was also a charter member of the fire company; DiSarro’s involvement engendered the committee to initiate the fire-study commission, which was led by township residents’ Bill Herman, Bob Householder, as well as residents Martin Lawlor and William Riehl, both whom were Irvington Firefighters. Further aid and support came from the State’s Fire Marshal Office, which allowed the study of our townships’ needs for effective firefighting (i.e. knowing the towns building types and equipment to purchase). The commission’s concluding recommendation stated a need to be located at three different building sites; the main building was to be located in the vicinity of the Reigel Ridge hill, along Milford-Warren Glen Road (Route 519). In cooperation with Sol Bernard (the developer who proposed to build theGridley Circle development) the township acquired land for municipal use – hence, this became the site of the first station. The second suggested site was to be located, as an ancillary station, between Little York and Mount Pleasant; however, Milford Volunteer Fire Company had decided to locate their substation in that proximity, which filled this recommendations requirement. Lastly, in deciding to look at the third location, the committee chose a substation near Mount Joy, close to the Reigelsville, Pennsylvanian boarder. Therefore, the second station came to exist through the work of HTVFCs first president, Chuck Finkbohner, who arranged land that was donated by the Reigel Paper Company.
Next, having had acquired land for the firehouse and sparking volunteer interest in the community, came the paramount needs of having to acquire equipment and to then begin training. Fire trucks were of first interest, and having heard of two used fire trucks for sale at the East Brunswick Volunteer Fire Company, a group researched the trucks and decided to ask the township to purchase them. The acquisition of the first two fire engines, a Mack pumper and an International pumper, led two our current colors – since East Brunswick had used white, the ideology went that Holland Township, being the newest volunteer fire station, should be a little different – which is how we became the first fire company in Hunterdon County with white trucks.
The next purchase was an old oil truck which had had the capacity to carry 2800 gallons of water (when it was painted white and it had became known as “Snowball,” because it looked like a giant snowball coming down the road). The next fire-vehicle purchase was a Dodge 4×4, which was made into brush truck by buying a skid unit (a transportable unit usually used for brush-fires). While acquiring equipment, our firehouse had not been completed during the initial first years and therefore, we needed a storage depot for trucks as well as the equipment. The first HTVFC Chief, Bill Larsen, had a small farm with a large barn where he allowed storage of some of the engines and equipment (while the rest was stored at the municipal garage) – hence, the fire house, was actually a barn on Route 614! However there was never a response from the barn.
During this time, training in fire-fighter efficacy became an important aspect. The first training was held at the East Brunswick fire house as memberswhere were instructed on the use of air packs and the procedure of entering a building. The fire company’s entrance into existence held parity with Hunterdon County’s initiation of a county fire school, as that HTVFC participated in some of the first classes offered; during this time our training occurred at different fire houses throughout the county since the first fire academy building in Annandale, had yet to be completed. To aid in experience, HTVFC began responding to calls with Milford and Bloomsbury Volunteer Fire Companies, thus acquiring real-life and first-hand knowledge on protocol, procedure, and the perspicacity needed to be an effective Fire Company. Of course, continuation in attending every class offered by Hunterdon Fire Academy occurred as well.
On July 16, 1983, a dedication ceremony was held for the new fire house, Station One. Station One had four bays – two facing, perpendicular to Route 519, and the two opposite facing were parallel to Andersen Road; as well, the original doors facing Route 519 were all glass, which allowed township residents, and passer-bys, to peek in (in term of resourcefulness, they were changed afterwards to more energy efficient doors). Station One also had a meeting room and an office on the South side and originally had an arch off of the north side, facing Andersen Road, which was to represent future expansion. Further, after the acquisition of land, in the Mt.Joy section of Holland, construction soon commenced there. In order to expound upon the current Station One, this subsequent Station Two, was developed for a more utilitarian purpose, and was completed and working nearly ten years after the initial incorporation.
The lull between initial use and construction our first and second fire houses, respectively, provided a time to replace the out-dated pre-owned equipment that was purchased in the company’s infancy. This process, along with many of the feats the HTVFC has undergone, could not have been accomplished if not for the HTVFCs Auxiliary – which was formed when the need to hold fund –drives and –raisers to help with the monetary need required to purchase the new fire-engines and equipment, and aid (food, drinks, and moral support) to the fire-fighters at the scene of the call. They have been a true partner in our endeavors as a volunteer fire company.
Now, here we are. The years keep going by and Holland’s all volunteer fire company keeps on humming, busily, along. As the equipment evolves and progresses, of course, its cost keeps going up. For example, in 1982 it cost some several hundred dollars to outfit a firefighter in their turnout gear (Helmet, Bunker Pants, Boots, and Coat), now it cost a couple thousand. Also, in the ideology of humor, SCBA (Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus) had the 1980’s cost of about $700.00 accompanied with masks that had leaked in outside air and air-tanks weighing an enormous amount – now, the masks are pressure-test fitted to each firefighter, the tanks weight about a quarter as much, and a unit cost about $10,000.00 each. In this manner, while people wander through and equipment changes, we still press on strong, tried, and true toHollandTownshipand all of its beloved residents.
As well, we are always looking for new members to become a firefighter, Contributing, and/or Fire-police member. As a totally volunteer company, we can always use the help of our community to keep us going. We still meet every Thursday night, so please stop by Station One and introduce yourself; hopefully you’ll become a member just as hundreds of dedicated residents have done since our conception in 1980.