The Colonia Volunteer Chemical Hook & Ladder Company was established in April 1943, with thirty volunteers. In 1943 there had been eleven fire departments in the township already. Carteret had split from the township and two other fire departments had closed. Colonia became Fire District # 12 with four fire commissioners in 1943. The company received its first fire truck a 1937 International coal truck bought from Chodosh Brothers of Rahway. The truck was parked in Ernie Frey’s garage until a firehouse could be built on Inman Ave (site of the present building). One of the first things that needed to be done was to convert the coal truck into a fire truck. This was accomplished by building a 500-gallon water tank with the help of a local steel company and installing a gas driven pump that was donated by the government to the front of the truck.
When the fire calls first started to come in, they were received by telephone through Vesperino’s general store, which was also located on Inman Avenue. Mr. Vesperino would then go to the firehouse while his family called the firemen and gave them the location of the fire.
With the help of the Colonia Civic Club, enough money was raised to realize the second goal construction of a two bay cinder block firehouse with a meeting room in that same year.
In 1945 the new fire department was put to the test when the Westfield
Airport hangar and planes in hangar burned down. The airport was off of Lake Ave
in Colonia/Clark. Fire departments from Colonia, Clark, Avenel, and Rahway
fought the fire.
Matters with the fire department were okay until 1946 when a split arose in
the rank and file. There was friction between two of the fire commissioners and
an incident at the Colonia Civic Club between these two commissioners brought to
a head all the friction between the commissioners. As a result, three
commissioners started a new fire department on the West End of town and took the
only fire engine. This new fire department operated with some of the previous
firemen and the fire truck was parked in a garage on Inman Avenue near Wood
Avenue. Eventually, another firehouse was built on Inman Ave (where the VFW now
stands). Meantime, the original fire department was still in business; but,
without a fire truck until the Valentine Brick Company of Woodbridge made a
donation of a chain driven drive 1934 Mack pumper, with a 500 gallon tank and
500 g.p.m. pump in 1948. The next year, the company bought a late 1937 Diamond
T pumper from a Long Island fire company, which had been used as a competition
fire truck. The engine was fast but there was no pump, so a 500 g.p.m. pump was
purchased and installed. The cost of this engine was five hundred dollars.
Between 1946 and 1951, the two fire companies competed for the fire calls,
usually racing each other to answer the calls. But in 1951, the commissioner who
did not go to the new fire department attempted to get the town council to
abolish the fire district and the fire commissioners. The other three
commissioners discovered what was happening and planned to fight it. A meeting
was scheduled for February 6, 1951, which was the next regular council meeting.
However, a train crash in Woodbridge on that same day, required that all the
fire departments and first aid squads in Woodbridge Township were called to
respond to the disaster. When Colonia residents called town hall to inquire
about the meeting they were told the meeting was postponed. But, the meeting was
held as planned and Fire District # 12 was abolished. The next day, Colonia
residents read about abolishment in the newspaper. The first thing the original
fire department tried to do was to have the pumper and equipment returned; but,
there was a slight problem the other commissioners of the second firehouse sold
the pumper, firehouse, and equipment to a local citizen for one dollar. Later,
the fire truck and equipment managed to return.
However, another fire engine rotted away in the firehouse until in 1956, the VFW bought the property because the new fire department had never paid for the land. So, the VFW had to pay the original owner the three hundred dollars owed.
In 1954, a petition was endorsed to re-instate the fire district, and a year later (1955) Fire District # 12 was re-instated with five fire commissioners to oversee the fire department. During the early years, the commissioners had owned the firehouse. After 1951, the fire department gave shares to the firemen based on how long they were on. But, the firemen who went to the other fire department and came back were not given shares. Later in 1962, the commissioners placed on the ballot the request that the taxpayers purchase the firehouse and everything in it at a cost of forty thousand dollars.
In 1955, the new commissioners of the newly reinstated Fire District #12 set out to replace some of the older fire engines. The first piece of equipment bought was a 1942 Mack pumper. It was originally a Martinsburg Hose Company # 3 of West Virginia fire engine and had a 500 g.p.m. pump. The cost of this engine was five thousand three hundred dollars. In 1957, the company purchased a 1953 Studebaker pickup and converted it into a utility truck. This truck only lasted a short time and was replaced with a 1960 International utility truck in 1959.
At this time, the fire department now was tied into the Woodbridge Police Department for receiving fire calls by sirens and later by plectrons also. The 1959 Mack was returned to Mack Motors because of shifting problems. They loaned Colonia a 1939 Mack until the problem was repaired and the truck returned to Colonia.
The fire department started its journey into the next century, by purchasing
its first new fire engine, a 1959 Mack pumper with a 750 g.p.m. pump 500 gallon
booster tank, one booster reel and a 1 ½ preconnected line in the rear tray. The
cost of this engine was twenty one thousand two hundred dollars.
The old firehouse was getting very small so the commissioners started planning for a new one, which was completed in 1966. The new building had three bays and a large hall on the second floor. The cost of the building was one hundred fifty thousand dollars. In addition, a new pumper was ordered and arrived in 1969. A 1969 Mack with a 1000g.p.m. pump, 500-gallon booster tank, twin 1" boosters reels with high-pressure capacity off a power takeoff. All the equipment was stored in compartments on both sides of engine. All the ladders and hard suction hose was also stored under the hose bed. There were five compartments on each and one in the rear. It carried a full complement of ladders, 35’, 24’, 18’, two 14’ and a 10 ‘ folding. This was the pride of the fleet; it was the first fire engine of its kind. This fact was confirmed by Mack motors and all later fire trucks were built basically the same. The cost of this engine was thirty seven thousand dollars.
In the late 1960’s, the fire department installed fire alarm boxes around the district, which are still in use today but updated to include a computer in its system.
The fire department purchased its first car in 1972, a 1966 Ford Falconfrom
a uniform company. The cost of this car was six hundred dollars.
In 1972, the fire department responded to the Rahway (Avenel) prison riots where the utility truck spent the next twenty-four hours in steady sleet. As a result, the fire department realized the need for an enclosed truck to carry our equipment. So, they purchased a G.M.C. step van to replace the International in 1973. The cost of this truck was four thousand dollars. The truck’s first response was to a fatal Christmas morning fire, which occurred in Avenel’s district of Colonia. Because of this fire, a meeting was arranged with the township council to redraw the district lines. Avenel did an excellent job at the fire. However, many residents felt that they had to travel to far because three major highways had to be crossed to get to them. Consequently, the district lines were changed. Colonia #12 and Iselin # 11 divided the area on the West Side of route # 27.
In the mid 70’s, the Fire Company received one of its most memorable members a Dalmatian, which we named "Sparky". "Sparky’ was a gift from a Colonia resident and his original name was Whiskey. He spent ten years with us riding to calls on the fire engines. The most memorable call was the response to a working fire at Frystock Motors in Colonia. While the fire was being fought, ‘Sparky’ ran off and he found a house with an open front door. He ran right into the house and jumped up onto the dining room table, which was set for dinner and ate the prepared dinner. The very irate homeowner called the police about this and was informed about the fire. ‘Sparky’ was returned to the fire scene, as the fire was a very tough one and ‘Sparky’ lightened it up alittle. ‘Sparky’ was also known as "daddy’ to many of the area dogs. He was a member from 1967 to 1977 when he retired. He died about two years later.
In 1973 we started escorting Santa around our fire district on the fire truck on Christmas Eve, Santa sat in his sleigh atop the pumper. We would cover the whole district, stopping to let children sit on Santa’s lap and ask for gifts, usually finishing around midnight. The people would wait in front of their homes or all meet at one neighbors house to wait for us. It was an instant success with the firemen and the town.
In 1975, the company purchased the "Jaws of Life’ to assist in removing people trapped in car accidents. Colonia district #12 was one of the first in area to use this tool. On a daily basis, we were called upon to assist in car accidents throughout the township and nearby union county towns.
In 1978 our 1969 Mack Pumper was featured in a book by Chartwell Books Inc. called Fire! The Story of the Fire Engine by Simon Goodenough. It was on pages 150 & 151; it used three quarters of the pages for the picture.
To meet the increasing demands in 1979, a large bay was added to the building and also an elevator. The cost of this addition was ninety seven thousand dollars. The elevator was to enable the handicapped accessibly to events being held in the hall upstairs or to the commissioners meeting room also upstairs to attend their meetings. With the new addition, the commissioners finally had a meeting room and a storage area was also added for the hall. The commissioners also purchased the corner lot to expand the parking lot for the hall. While they tried to purchase the entire lot from Inman Avenue to Florence Avenue the taxpayers voted this down.
The first pagers were bought to facilitate communications. The men could carry them anywhere enabling them to know there was a fire call.
In 1975 the Colonia Fire Department with the other eight districts and Carteret started the Woodbridge Township Fire School. All firemen were sent to this school and all new members attended this school. We would give classes in the different fire houses.
Also, in 1979, the next new pumper was delivered, a 1979 Mack pumper with a 1250 g.p.m. pump, 600 gallon booster tank, and designed like the 1969 Mack with the addition of two 1 ½ " crosslays and a foam system. A 1979 Chevy Suburban for company use was also bought. The cost of the pumper was one hundred thousand dollars and the cost of the truck was eight thousand dollars. The cost of the car was eight thousand dollars.
In 1979 we expanded our Santa, Christmas Eve escort by using two pumpers now
that we had two that looked exactly alike. One pumper would escort Santa around
the streets west of the parkway and the other would escort him on the East Side
streets. Both had Santa’s in sleds on top of the pumpers.
In 1982 the fire school was changed to the Woodbridge Township Fire Academy, with Rich Anderson taking over the school. Rich was a fire officer in Colonia at the time. Rich was responsible for the changes which the state finally adopted. Our Fire Fighter 1 & 2 program was established and running when the state came out with theirs. We would train in different firehouses and then go to Burlington County Fire Academy for the live burns twice a year.
In 1984 the company purchased its first aerial. A 1972 Mack Aerialscope purchased from the Baker Company. It was a refurbished unit that saw its early years in New York City. It was ladder tower 146 of the Green Point section of Brooklyn. This was a 75’ tower ladder, and the first one in Woodbridge Township. It has gone to all major fires in the area including Woodbridge Township, Plainfield, Elizabeth, and other parts of Middlesex and Union Counties. The cost of this truck was one seventy five thousand dollars. Shortly after getting truck in service it was called to Plainfield for a fire in a plastics factory, which burned for three days.
In 1986 the Woodbridge Township Haz-Mat Team was formed to assist the Middlesex County Haz-Mat team in covering Woodbridge Township. Middlesex Haz-Mat was the busiest Haz-Mat team in the country at the time. The initial idea was to have five men from each district and Carteret on the team to insure a haz-mat Technician on the scene of any incident right away to assist command. We ended up starting with thirty- five technicians.
In 1986 a Ford Crown Victoria wagon was leased to the company by Bell Ford, they even paid the lease until we purchased it outright. It was the first Chief’s car for the company. The cost of the car was fourteen thousand dollars.
In December of 1989 the fire department responded to a major fire in an industrial area of Piscataway.
In 1990 the first enclosed pumper was purchased. It was a 1990 Emergency-One with a 1500 g.p.m. pump, 750 gallon booster tank, 50 gallon foam tank, 10 man Spartan Eurospace cab, diesel engine, automatic transmission, 8 preconnected hand lines seven 2’ and one 3’ lines. A Wilbur light tower was added in 1994. This was our first non Mack (since Mack went out of the fire truck business). No booster reels were used on this engine, only large volume lines. The 1959 Mack was sold to Woodbridge Township for one dollar. The cost of the pumper was two hundred thirty eight thousand dollars.
In 1991 two new Chevy Suburbans were purchased with four-wheel drive, which were needed for the snowstorms. One was a chief’s car and the other was a company car for men to go to schools or meetings. The Ford wagon was given to the fire prevention bureau. The costs of the trucks were nineteen thousand dollars each.
In the early 1990’s the Fire Company started getting dispatched by Iselin # 9. Six companies were dispatched by district # 9 and the other three by Fords # 7. Prior to that there were four dispatch points Woodbridge Police, Woodbridge Fire, Fords Fire and Iselin # 9 Fire. The township also went to a enhanced 911 system, when the state went to 911. Presently, all calls go into police headquarters and are sent to the dispatchers by computer and to fire and first aid buildings also.
In 1993 the company bought its first rescue pumper. It replaced the 1969 Mack (which was sold to a fire explorer group from Staten Island for eight hundred dollars) and the 1973 G.M.C. step van was sold to a volunteer fire department in the Clinton area for twenty five hundred dollars. It was a Emergency-One Hush pumper with a 1500 g.p.m. pump a 500 gallon booster tank 50 gallon foam tank, rear engine diesel, automatic transmission, air conditioning, 10 man cab, Wilbur light tower, Harrison hydragenerator. This pumper carried all of our rescue tools: Jaws of Life, air bags, air tools and piercing nozzles. The cost of the rescue engine was three hundred seventeen thousand dollars.
As allowed by the state, in 1993 an ambulance was purchased for the Colonia First Aid Squad. The squad was in desperate need of a new rig and could not afford one. It was leased to them for one dollar. Other fire departments have started to do the same for their squads. We also give the squad ten thousand dollars a year to help them operate. The cost of the ambulance was sixty three thousand dollars.
The state has not made training mandatory for volunteer fire departments yet. All paid departments must meet fire fighter 1 requirements, which consist of eighty hours of training. The Colonia Fire Department has been meeting this requirement since 1982 long before the state even considered this requirement. We started the Woodbridge Township fire school in 1975 with the other township departments. In 1982 it was changed to the Woodbridge Township Fire Academy, with Rich Anderson taking over the school. Rich was a fire officer in Colonia at the time. Rich was responsible for the changes which the state finally adopted.
In its fifty- four-year history the fire department has come along way since 1943, it has progressed greatly through the years. From old style cotton turnout coats to total Nomex (fire resistance) turnout gear (coats, pants gloves and hoods), from 1 ½ ‘ and 2 ½ ‘ hose to high volume 2’’, 3’’ and 5’ hose. From fixed gallonage nozzles to lighter weight automatic nozzles. From sirens to pagers and computer operated dispatchers.
In1994 our 1993 E-One Hush Rescue Pumper and the E-One Ambulance were
featured in the 1994 E-One calendar.
Now in 1998, the company looks toward to the twenty- first century and the challenges ahead such as: better equipment, training, and knowledge of our job. In the near future the district will be replacing the tower ladder and the purchase of a new truck should be coming this year To better meet the needs of the changing community, the Fire District #12 is not only assisting the Colonia First Aid Squad with calls, financial contributions but also is contemplating taking over the squad financially. In 1998 we will be buying the Colonia First Aid Squad another new ambulance and buying the better of the two old ones. This will free up money for the squad to pay a crew to man an ambulance during the day. By us owning the ambulances we can insure them and maintain them, helping the squad financially stay afloat until more can be done to help the community.
In 1998 the fire budget was defeated in a close vote, also a question to expand the firehouse was also defeated. This is the second time that a budget or question was defeated to anyone’s knowledge. We still need the office space and will try again next year to get addition passed by a different means. The township council cut forty thousand dollars from our budget.
Also in 1998 we ordered a new Ford Expedition to be the new chief’s car and the 1991 suburban will be passed down to the fire prevention bureau, both will be equipped with lap top computers, printers and cell phones. The 1986 ford wagon that the bureau used will be sold, as was the 1979 suburban this year. Also ordered was the replacement of our twenty six-year-old tower ladder. A new L.T.I. Ladder Tower will replace the Aerialscope. It will be a lot different than what we have now; this one will have a 2000 G.P.M. single stage pump and a 93’ climbable ladder. The problem of cabinet space no longer exist with this truck, every bit of available space on this truck was utilized for storage of equipment.
In 1998 we received our new Chief’s car a 1998 Ford Expedition. This car was set up with all new radios to give the chief the ability to communicate with everyone he has to. A new emergency lighting system was added for better visibility responding to or being at a fire scene.
Also in 1998 we purchased a new Ambulance for the Colonia First Aid Squad. It was a two-year-old demo; (this is what squad wanted). It was a much bigger rig and a lot more money when new. We purchased an Emergency One ambulance again like in 1993 for seventy nine thousand dollars. On the day before delivery the older rig that the squad owned was in an accident, hit broadside while transporting someone to the hospital. Everyone was okay but the rig was totaled. Thanks to good planning by the squad the rig was replaced with a new one. After delivery of the new rig the Fire Commissioners took ownership of that rig from the squad and now own all the rigs. The new ambulance was purchased for seventy eight thousand dollars (seventy three thousand from insurance company) from Wheeled Coach. This rig is about the same as the demo from E-One.
Also in 1998 the squad had asked us if they could get the old inspectors car (1986 Ford station wagon). We felt that the car was on it’s last leg and not worth repairing, so the squad got a donation of a 1986 Chevy Caprice from the South Old Bridge Fire Commissioners. This donation was made through the Colonia Board of Fire Commissioners, and we registered it in the fire company name and let the squad use it as a first responder car. This was the first in the township.
In 1998 we started a trench rescue /confined space team. All the necessary equipment was purchased and the Colonia First Aid Squad gave us the old ambulance to use for the team. This team is combined with the Keasbey Fire Department. Within the first few months of the team they responded to calls in Perth Amboy and Sayreville.
In 1998 we are into our twenty fifth year of escorting Santa around town. We now go out with as many as three pumpers with Santa riding at the pump panels. We stopped Santa from riding on top of the hose beds a few years ago because the pumpers are so much higher now and safety was getting to be a major concern. We had a couple of close calls with branches hitting firemen or Santa. We still see a lot of enthusiasm from the people of our district, they are out there every year waiting for us, many of them were the kids that sat on Santa’s lap and now their kids were doing the same. A lot has changed in twenty-five years but Santa is stilled welcomed every year, some things never change.
The 1999 elections brought LOSAP (Length of Service Awards Program) this will allow the Board of Fire Commissioners to put money aside each year for the firemen as long as they make their drills and calls for the year. This will hopefully help keep the men we have and bring new members in. Since the cost of the addition is way less than the reported cost the Board will put money away each year to pay for the addition in the next couple of years.
In June of 1999 we took delivery of our new tower ladder. It is a L.T.I.( Ladder Tower Inc) It has a 2000 G.P.M. pump, 93’ steel ladder,6 cabinets on each side and one in the rear, 15,000 kw Amps hydrogenertor, 6 man American La France cab,a/c,auto,series 60 Detroit diesel, carries 700’ 5" hose, 1 2" preconnect with solid bore nozzle, 1 3" preconnect with solid bore nozzle, dual nozzles in bucket capable of flowing over 2000gpm, 200’ of 2" hose in cabinets attached to bucket, parapit adapters on each side of bucket. The price of this truck was $735,000.00 but because the commissioners were able to get $35,000.00 for a trade in on the aerialscope ( it was only worth $15,000.00 because it was a New York City truck) and they saved another $55,000.00 by putting money up front and getting 9% interest on that money off the price of the truck. Total money paid out to L.T.I. was $645,000.00 There was a few problems with truck in the beginning but they were worked out.
Also in 1999 we started an Explorer program in the fire department which has worked out well, we have 10 explorers and they are trained up to wearing air packs. They ride on all calls and can do everything but enter a burning building, and they also have restricted hours that they can ride.
Also in 1999 the trench rescue team had it's first trench rescue in Colonia, a backhoe operator was working on a trench across the street from the Colonia First Aid Squad building, when he entered the trench the wall collapsed on him burying him from the waist down. The fire department was called and implemented the rest of the team( Keasbey Fire Department). Mutual aid was called for additional manpower to help remove dirt and stabilize the incident. A total of 8 fire departments responded to the scene or stood by o cover Colonia in case of another fire call. The incident was brought to a successful conclusion when the man was freed with no major injuries, in a short period of time.
Also in 1999 the fire departments of Woodbridge Township went to one dispatch center. All fire and first aid calls now come out of the 911 system and goes to the Fords Firehouse for dispatching.
In 1999 our 1993 E-One Hush Rescue Pumper was featured in a book by MBI
Publishing Company called Pumpers Workhorse Fire Engines by Larry Shapiro. It
was a picture with the light tower up and the roll up cabinets open to see
rescue equipment layout. It was on page 105 and it was about a third of a page.
In 2000 we were given okay to start addition on building. We bought more rescue tools from Hurst, a synmo pack, ram extensions, and a multipurpose tool (Maverick Tool).
In 2001 we purchased a Dodge 3500 4-wheel drive with dual rear wheels and a 20' trailer for the trench rescue team. It went into service in May.
We started paying a fireman to be around in the daytime to take messages, deliveries, and handle the day to day business of the firehouse. This was previously done by Raymond J. Hughes Sr. for twenty years. He was a Commissioner and retired.
We did a major overhaul of the firemens room and the bathrooms
In the township the Joint Board of Fire Commissioners bought a Fire Safety Trailer with a weather package to be used by all the township companies, all year instead of just around Fire Prevention week or having to wait two years to get the trailer from St. Barnabus Hospital. Colonia Fire Commissioner was the President of Joint Board of Fire Commissioners when this was purchased.
In 2001we continued to support the Colonia First Aid Squad by paying for the Rahway First Aid Squad to supply day coverage with paid crews, and we also replaced roof and heating/air conditioning system in building.
On September 11th 2001 the New York City World Trade Center buildings were struck by commercial jet liners that were taken over by highjackers along with another highjacked plane that struck the Pentagon building in Washington D.C. A fourth highjacked plane in route to Washington D.C crashed in Pennsylvania after passengers fought with the highjackers in trying to regain control of the plane. The World trade Center buildings collapsed in about an hour and a half trapping three hundred forty three firefighters inside. All of the rest of the city firemen rushed to the scene to help rescue their fallen Brothers from the rubble leaving the rest of the city without fire protection. Fire departments from Long Island, New Jersey and towns north of the city were called into the city to fill the firehouses and cover all other calls. The Colonia Fire Department sent one engine to Brooklyn for twenty-eight hours before being relieved by another fire department. They covered a firehouse on Rogers Street as engine 249 and they ran with FDNY ladder 113. The firehouse was nick named Rogers Rats. In all rescues teams from the Merck, Elizabeth, Metuchen fire departments were sent to Staten Island to stand-by for use on the pile(as it was referred to). At least fifty fire departments were sent to New York City from Middlesex and Union Counties on the first response. Over two hundred ambulances from New Jersey were sent to Liberty State Park and to ferry ports to treat the injured the Colonia First Aid Squad sent two ambulances that day. This was the first time in the history of the FDNY that this much mutual aid was given to the city. In all the FDNY lost three hundred forty three fire fighters that day, the largest lost of fire fighters at one time in the history of the country and most likely the world. About one hundred of the fire fighters lost were officers including the Chief of department. On a personal note my cousin April lost her husband Lieutenant John Ginley of Engine 40 in Manhattan. The collapse also crushed about eighty of the department vechiles. There were also about eighty NYPD police officers and New York/New Jersey Port Authority police officers killed who were stationed out of the trade center.
In 2001 we started seeing our old 1969 Mack pumper which we sold to the Explorer group from Staten Island in advertising and television shows like Sex in the City and Third Watch. They rent out pumper to help raise money to run the group.
In 2002 the addition to the firehouse was completed with two bays and office space up stairs. At cost of three hundred thousand dollars. We also did away with Rahway EMS doing the day calls and we started paying for EMS service to the Colonia EMS for daytime coverage.
In 2003 we took delivery of a new Spartan/Emergency-One 2000 G.P.M. single stage pumper, with a750 gallon booster tank, 50 gallon foam tank, 10 man cab, Wilbur light tower, 15000 hydrogenerator, 7 pre connects. The cost of this engine was Three Hundred Eighty-Eight Thousand Dollars.
We also took delivery of a new Ford Excursion for a company car with a diesel engine to be a back up to the Dodge pick up for the trench rescue team. A new Ford Explorer was purchased at same time for the Fire Prevention Bureau. The cost of these two cars was Fifty-Seven Thousand Dollars.
In 2004 the township Haz-Mat Team was disbanded in October of that year for lack of support from the districts, lack of calls and lack of response from the members. The team was in service for eighteen years to give support to the township working with the County Haz-Mat team. The Haz-Mat team covered the whole township except for fire district #1, because of a union issue. The Woodbridge career fire fighters were in the same union as the county haz-mat team.
In 2005 the Township of Woodbridge will be starting the process of going to a trunked radio system for the township. This will include police, fire, ems, and other municipal departments. It will take about three years to get it up and running.
In 2005 the hall on the second floor was remodeled with new paneling. Also we updated our camera security system with more cameras and better recording capabilities. On May 14th of this year the Colonia Fire Department responded to an unusual call for an assist. The New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife needed assistance in capturing a 164lb 1 ½ year old Black Bear on Jordan Road. The Woodbridge police received a early morning call that a black bear was roaming around their backyard. When the police arrived they started looking for it. They called in the fire department to help in the search. Once the bear was sighted they called the Division of Fish & Wildlife. Being a weekend a crew had to be called in. When the Division arrived in the afternoon the fire department was called back to the scene to assist the Division. The bear was found, tranquilized and climbed up a tree. The fire fighters waited under the tree with a net to catch him once he fell out of tree. The bear then fell out of the tree into the net, and he was bought up to the Divisions pick up truck. It was a successful operation, between the police, fireman and the division, with the many bystanders glad that the bear was not killed or injured.
In 2006 the fire boxes were removed due to lost of reliability and cost of bringing system back up to par. The decision was made based on the fact that almost everyone has access to a phone or cellphone.
We installed a emergency call button at the front door direct to the 911 system in case of emergencies when no one was at firehouse. We also installed a finger print reader to eliminate the need to key access to building. This also made it easier for our maintenance people to access the building when they needed to do their repairs.
In 2007 the Chief's office, stairway, hallway, and elevator entrance way were remodeled, and a new sound system installed in hall.
In April of 2007 our area was hit with a nor-easter that drop 7 inches of rain in two days. We responded to seventy alarms in twenty-seven hours, most were water emergencies and rescues. We requested mutual aid from the county because the township companies were all busy. We received two pumpers one from Cheesequake FD(Old Bridge Township) and the Plainsboro FD on Sunday. Both of these departments were from the furthest edges of the county from us. A pumper from PineWald Pioneer FD (Ocean County) was sent to us on Monday. All of the Middlesex County fire departments were busy on Monday in their own towns so the county co-ordinators went to Ocean County for help because Ocean County was not hit that hard by the storm.
In August of 2007 the Fire Commissioners purchased Freddie the Fire Truck robot for the purpose of promoting fire prevention all year.
In November the floors in the two new bays and back room were done with a epoxy flooring and the four other bays were refurbished for a cost of twenty nine thousand five hundred dollars.
In November of 2007 the Fire Commissioners purchased a 2007 Wheeled Coach ambulance for the Colonia First Aid Squad. The cost of ambulance was one hundred eight thousand dollars.
In March of 2008 the Fire Commissioners purchased a new 2007 E-One Rescue Typhoon X Rescue with 20' walk around box with some new rescue tools and other equipment. The cost of rescue with equipment was three hundred ninety thousand five hundred In 2007 and again in 2008 the Colonia Fire Department helped cover the city of New Brunswick for a twelve hour shift while they attended a funeral of one of their own.
In 2009 fire department received a FEMA Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) for a diesel exhaust system for our house two(Colonia First Aid Building) for $26,125.
A second FEMA Assistance to Firefighters Grant(AFG) in 2009 was awarded to fire department for computers for all the fire apparatus for $35,000.
In December of 2010 the Fire Commissioners purchased a 2008 Ford450/P&L Custom Ambulance from the Avenel/Colonia First Aid Squad for $100,000.00 to replace 1998 ambulance. Avenel/Colonia was selling off equipment to reduce their debt. Lee's Auto Body in Avenel repainted and re-lettered ambulance for Commissioners at no cost to them.
In January of 2011 contract was signed to start construction of Colonia First Aid Squad building, renovation of bays on first floor and adding a second floor for living quarters. First floor doors to be raised and widen with two bays being drive through. The squad will run out of fire station during construction.
In January of 2011 Woodbridge Township went to a trunked radio system. This was in works since 2005. The system has 15 frequencies with hundreds of talk groups. The cost at about 10million plus all departments had to replace all their radios at and additional cost. We also went to UHF paging in late 2010
History Authored by Raymond J Hughes Jr. Ex-Chief 1980