It was an early cold snap that fall of 1948. The farmers and carpenters who were the residents of Fairmount would congregate around the oil stove in the garage of Dick Robinson & Son and discuss the concerns of the area. At the time, Chester, Long Valley, and Califon Fire Companies were providing fire protection to the Fairmount area. It soon became the consensus of opinion, however, that a local fire company would be advantageous. On December 3, 1948 forty-one men signed the incorporation papers of Fairmount Fire Company No. 1. Some of the Company’s founding members were also members of the Long Valley and Califon Companies and had received the essential training in fire fighting, which they passed on to the new recruits in Fairmount.
Of course the first requirement was to obtain a fire truck. In those days a carnival was the premier way of raising money. The first carnival was held on the Community House grounds. Through the next several months the members also sponsored a turkey shoot and a raffle. Eventually enough money was raised for a down payment on an International chassis with a Ward LaFrance fire body. The truck was placed into service in June of 1949. A short time later a parcel of land was donated to the Fire Company from the Cleveland Industrial Center as the site for a new firehouse. The efforts of the members resulted in the building of the original firehouse.
Meanwhile, the wives of the fireman organized an auxiliary to support their men. There were no radios in those early days, but the ladies would congregate at the firehouse to see if their men required sandwiches and coffee to sustain them while fighting fires.
Carnivals were not only a means of raising funds to support the Company, they were a focus of sociability for the whole area. Entire families would be involved. The littlest were pressed into service for policing the grounds. The older ones were runners in making change or replenishing supplies, and some of the oldest were even in booths to assist in serving food.
The Company continued to grow and several used pieces of apparatus were purchased and placed into service. These included a tanker truck that was converted from a used oil truck, a Studebaker that was purchased from Oldwick Fire Company, and a brush truck that was assembled on an old pick-up truck body. In 1969 a new International chassis with a Hahn fire body was placed in service. This was the first truck that was painted with the now highly recognized chrome yellow paint scheme. In 1972, a Custom Mack Pumper was placed into service and in the mid-1970’s a large two-bay addition and kitchen were added to the firehouse.
By this time the Company was no longer holding carnivals and pancake breakfasts were the main fund raiser. With increasing operational costs it became difficult for the Company to remain independent. So in the late 1970’s the Company became municipally funded. Washington Township provided money for the Company’s fire suppression needs and also purchased the Company’s apparatus and provided insurance. In addition, an agreement between Washington Township and Tewksbury Township allowed for the Fairmount Fire Company to provide service to Tewksbury Township.
In 1982 a new International front-mount pumper with a Saulsbury body was purchased. Until being retired in January of 2003, this International was our first due engine. The Company acquired another used oil tanker in the early 1980’s and converted it to a tanker. The 1972 Mack was traded-in for a new Pierce custom pumper-tanker and the converted tanker was sold in 1987.
To keep pace with the growth of the Company’s apparatus, new modern four engine bay addition was constructed in 1987. In 1989 the original portion of the firehouse was remodeled to better serve the Company’s needs. In 1991 the engine in the Hahn blew-up and it was retired. The Company used a retired pumper from Long Valley until its new custom Pierce pumper arrived in 1993.
Today the Fire Company remains an active part of the Fairmount community with over fifty years of continued service. The Company has grown in many ways to keep pace with modern fire fighting tactics. The fire apparatus has grown to a fleet of five modern vehicles and the Company’s highly trained members continue to serve and protect the residents of Washington and Tewksbury Township. But the Company would not be where it is without the support of the Ladies Auxiliary. The Auxiliary continues to assist in fund raising as well as provides food and drink to the firefighters at fire calls.