History of Port Norris Fire Company

As written by Glenn William “Bill” Horseman

Early minutes and available records indicate the Commercial Township Fire District #1 came into being at a meeting held May 25, 1907 in the K of P Hall in Port Norris. A Board of Fire Commissioners was appointed and Charles Maxfield was named the first Chief at a salary of $25 per year. Other officers elected we Charles B. Powell – President, Harry Bowden Jr – Vice President, Morton Bateman – Secretary, and G. Christy Yates – Treasurer.

The first engine was horse-drawn and it was voted to give $2 for the first horse arriving at the fire station after the alarm sounded. The east end of a building near “Dickey’s Ditch” was rented for $50 a year to house the fire engine.

Later that year a two-wheeled fire engine with two 35 gallon chemical tanks was purchased, and served the community for many years. A few years later a Reo motorized chassis was purchased and the two chemical tanks and hose were installed on it. Early accounts make reference to the purchase of a hook and ladder wagon for $135 and a Babcock chemical engine for $850

Mr. Maxfield and Harrison Hollinger shared the Chiefs responsibilities through 1907 and Jesse Prichard was named Chief in 1908. Other Chiefs who followed were: Champion Hollinger, Jesse H. Bacon, John C. Hollinger, Daniel J. Adams, George P. Berry, Norman Oliver, Floyd Morris, Henry W. Taylor, Warrington L. Hollinger, Edward H Horseman, Eugene Eichelberger, John T. Hoffman, Kenneth M. Reed, Kenneth Delrossi, John T. Hoffman, William Rhubart III

In 1936 a Diamond-T fully equipped fire truck was purchased from Ernie Day of NJ Fire Equipment in Dunellen, NJ. This engine served until 1957 when a 500-GPM Ford pumper/tanker replaced it. Today our fire company proudly boasts a 2012 3,000 gallon Mack Tender, 2005 1,800 gallon Elite Pumper, 1989 75′ Mack Aerialscope.

The brick fire hall was built on Main street in 1916, and although fine in appearance it eventually outgrew the company’s expansion and the community’s needs. The present fire house on Brown Street was constructed and dedicated in 1950. The rescue-bay was added in 1975. The fire house was remodeled in 1997 with a new roof, facing, painting and lettering.

Plans are in progress to restore the original fire hall on Main street and turn it into a museum along with a 1936 Diamond-T fire truck.

The Port Norris Fire Company has been a member of the NJ State Firemen’s relief association since its inception in 1907, and early records indicate delegates to the Convention in Atlantic City were paid $9.12 expenses. As of 1997 each delegate from Cumberland County received $379 for expenses to the Convention now being held in Wildwood.