The Oceanport Hook & Ladder Fire Co. is one of two companies that comprise the Oceanport Fire Department (OFD). We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, who operate and maintain our firehouse directly through the generosity of the residents of the Borough of Oceanport.
History of the OPH&L, circa 1950:
The history of the Oceanport Hook and Ladder Company goes back to March 18, 1895, when the Village of Oceanport was a part of Eatontown Township. It was on that date that a group of Oceanport men held their final organization meeting and requested a certificate of incorporation for the newly formed Oceanport Hook and Ladder Fire Company.
This request of incorporation for a term of fifty years was signed by nineteen Oceanport residents and submitted to the county clerk of Monmouth County. Notable among the signatories at this request was Charles R. Walling, Police Chief of Oceanport Borough in 1950 and the only living charter member of the Oceanport Hook and Ladder Company at that time. Chief Walling officiated at the cornerstone laying ceremony of the new Fire House in 1950 as well.
Being duly organized in 1895, the Oceanport Hook and Ladder Company purchased a one story building previously owned by the Oceanport Fife and Drum Corps. That same building on Oceanport Avenue near Main Street, with a second story added in later years, was been used by the company till June 3, 1950, when the new Fire House was Dedicated.
A horse-drawn hook and ladder wagon was the original rolling stock of the Oceanport Hook and Ladder Company. This wagon was pulled by the willing hands of stout-hearted smoke-eaters to many a fire.
When this original truck became un-serviceable, a chemical tank wagon and a hand-drawn horse reel were purchased for the company by Eatontown Township.
The next milestone is December, 1946, when a Building Fund was started. The money for this fund was raised by fairs and automobile raffles. By the hard work of the members, this fund grew to the extent that a new building could actually be started. On November 25, 1949, a contract was signed with Anthony J. Piccola of Eatontown, to erect the splendid new building. Four years before the signing of the contract, the old fire house was auctioned off to the highest bidder, on November 21, 1949.
In April, 1909, the second-floor addition was added to the original building; and a horse wagon was obtained. Nine years later, in April, 1918, a used Ford auto-Model T of course-was purchased and converted, in order to motorize the old horse wagon
Two years prior to the purchase of the Ford, in March, 1916, the Oceanport Fire Department had given birth to a second fire company, the Port au Peck Chemical Hose Company. In that same year, 1916, Mr. C. Whitney Conrow became President of the Oceanport Hook and Ladder Company, an office which he was to hold for 28 years, until 1944. Under his able guidance, the company prospered and progressed.
The year 1920 marked the formation of the Borough of Oceanport, a new municipality which offered its residents the superior protection of two fire companies, one in Oceanport proper and one in the residential district of Port au Peck.
In February, 1923, a Mack Triple Combination Truck, equipped with a 500-gallon pump. was purchased for the Oceanport Hook and Ladder Company by the Borough of Oceanport. This truck was affectionately termed a “Bulldog Mack” truck; and is remembered to this day for the service and dependability it gave. Also in 1923, a one-room addition was added to the original building, to be used as a furnace room and kitchen.
The Ladies Auxiliary to the Fire Company was first recognized in February, 1924.
In March, 1936, the present Mack Triple Combination Truck was purchased for the company by the Borough of Oceanport. This truck is equipped with an efficient 550-gallon pumper.
In December, 1945, the Ladies Auxiliary was reorganized and recognized by the company.
Such is the history of the Oceanport Hook and Ladder Fire Company from 1895-1950. In 55 years it grew from a man-drawn and horse-drawn truck in a one story building to a modern firefighting equipped company housed in a handsome spacious quarters.
A far cry indeed from the distant days when that old children’s verse was making the rounds:
Oh for the life of a fireman, the rounds,
oh, for the life of a fireman,
With a horse-cart painted RED,
Yelling gruffly to his horses,
Go ahead, go ahead, go ahead!”
For 120 years, the Oceanport Hook and Ladder Company has faithfully served the Borough of Oceanport, the surrounding communities, and the State of New Jersey. It is well known and will continue in this glorious tradition, for another 120 years!