Prior to 1911 the city of New Brunswick was responsible for fire suppression in the borough of Milltown. Factors such as the speed of communication and the distance from New Brunswick usually resulted in a loss of property. As the town continued to grow the need for a local fire department became evident.
The Milltown Fire Department was organized under the leadership of Mayor Conrad Richter on February 22, 1911 with a charter membership of 83 men. Henry Kuhlthau was the first foreman and performed the duties as chief, since at that time the jobs were combined. A.L.P. Kuhlthau was his first assistant foreman and Addison Thompson was the second assistant. The name “Eureka Fire Company No. 1” was selected by committee.
The department received its first fire apparatus, a two-cylinder Autocar, on August 5, 1911 and celebrated with a picnic at Milltown Park. The Autocar, which boasted two 40-gallon chemical tanks, hose and ladders, cost $4100. Uniforms came next, which members furnished at their own expense.
September of 1911 saw the first fire call for the new Autocar. The location was the farm of Foreman Kuhlthau’s mother. Fortunately, the fire was confined to a haystack by Eureka Fire Company until their Autocar hose extinguished it.
March of 1912 was a time of mourning with the passing of the first member, Oscar C. Kuhlthau.
On June 27, 1912 the department became a member of the New Jersey State Relief Association. In October of the same year the members attended their first parade, as guests of Washington Engine Company No. 1 in New Brunswick. Milltown was the only fire company with a motor-driven apparatus and, with 60 men in line, also made the best showing.
A Ford chassis was purchased by the borough in 1916 for use as a hose truck on the north side of town. The next piece of equipment received was a LaFrance 750-gallon pumper, presented by the borough on March 12, 1921 at a cost of $12,500.
Other milestones marking off the early years included the April 1919 presentation of exempt certificates to all active firemen who had served seven years; and the adoption of a new fire ordinance in September 1922. The ordinance formally appointed the first fire board consisting of Chief John Bauries, First Assistant Chief Henry Christ and Second Assistant Chief John Glock.
On October 26, 1922 a reorganization took place dividing the department into two companies, Eureka Engine Company No. 1 and Eureka Hose Company No. 1.
The Graham Brothers Dodge chassis was the next addition to the department’s equipment. The purchase was made in 1923 by the borough council.
The new Cottage Avenue Firehouse was erected in 1925 at a cost of $16,000. In 1930, the custom of holding an annual ladies night banquet on the Saturday nearest the department anniversary was initiated.
The Mack, consisting of a combination hose carrier, hook and ladder, and 750-gallon pump was purchased in March 1939. In 1945, the borough council bought from the government a Chevrolet 500-gallon pump, hose carrier and aerial nozzle. January 1947 saw the purchase of an American LaFrance 1000-gallon pumper and hose carrier.
In 1956, a monument dedicated to the deceased members of the fire department was erected in front of Engine Company, on South Main Street. Since then every Memorial Day, the department along with the Ladies Auxiliary pay tribute to their departed members.
A Chevrolet was purchased in 1966 and converted into a salvage truck and placed in service at Engine Company. A 1969 Seagraves Model KO 75-foot, four-section service aerial ladder and 1000-gallon pumping apparatus was purchased to replace the Mack at Hose Company.
During 1968, under the leadership of Chief Joseph Gasper and the Fire Board, a new fire ordinance was adopted by the Borough Council. This updated the operations of the department to it’s present standards – consisting of 3 members to the fire board and 35 members to each company, totaling 73 men in the department. At present all new members are required to attend Fire Fighting I during their first year in the department. Officers are sent to school to update their knowledge and techniques of fire fighting.
Some 5000 people were on hand, in 1971, to help the Department celebrate its 60th anniversary. Over 4000 paraders, including 75 fire departments, marched in the three-hour process from Personal Products to the Borough Park. There were 2000 pounds of hot dogs, 10,000 mugs of soda and 59 kegs of beer consumed at the event.
In the Fall of 1976, Engine Company received a new $35,000 Ford savage truck parked in a new $40,000 garage that was added to the firehouse on South Main Street.
In 1982 the “Eureka Fire Museum” was opened to the public. A collection of fire apparatus, helmets, photographs and other memorabilia, dating back to the late 1800’s, is housed in a converted garage behind the South Main Street station.
The 1947 LaFrance which had been auctioned off in 1973 returned back home to Milltown in the Summer of 1983. After hours of research and numerous phone calls, firefighter Bill Petry Jr. found that the truck had been sold to the Peekskill, NY Fire Department. Before that it had been owned by Franklin Pierce College in New Hampshire.
A new 1984 Mack 1000-gallon pumper was purchased to replace the 1962 edition.
A 1994 American LaFrance 1500gpm Century 2000 Pumper was delivered to Engine Company, and in 1998 a Saulsbury/American LaFrance Pumper replaced the Ford salvage truck.
A 2003 Seagrave 1500gpm Engine was delivered to Hose Company to replace the 1984 Mack.
A 2016 E-One 78HP 2000gpm Ladder truck was delivered to Hose Company to replace the 1988 Seagrave Aerial. A temporary shelter was built on the side of Hose Company to house the new ladder truck.
On February 1, 2020, after 78 years of operating out of two separate firehouse, Eureka Engine Company No 1 and Eureka Hose Company No 1 were relocated to Fire Headquarters located on Washington Avenue to operate out of one firehouse which houses the following apparatus.
Engine 62 – 2001 Pierce Dash
Engine 63 – 1998 American LaFrance
Engine 72 – 2003 Seagrave
Ladder 73 – 2016 E-One HP 78′
We are also the proud owners of a 1921 American LaFrance 750gpm Pumper, which is used for parades and shows.