The Grenloch Fire Company was organized on February 16, 1922 at a meeting held in the basement of the Grenloch Presbyterian Church. Meetings were held at this location until May 14, 1927. The first president elected was Edward Bradshaw, Mr. Bradshaw held this position until 1923. William Thorn was the first chief elected. He held this post until 1928.
A commercial truck was converted into a fire truck with the members doing most of the work including painting and stripping. This truck was housed in the area of Lake and Eastview Avenues in Grenloch. A locomotive wheel rim being struck by a hammer was used to alert the fire company members of a fire. This rim was later located in 1973 by members using a metal detector in a yard in the area of Lake and Eastview.
On January 28, 1926 Grenloch joined the Gloucester County Fireman's Association; the first delegates were William Murphy, George Spain, Albert Wescott, and James Simcox.
At its business meeting on June 9, 1927, the Company authorized the remodeling of the Bateman Power House next to Grenloch Lake for use as a firehouse. This new location actually places Grenloch Fire Company in Gloucester Township, Camden County. The firefighting apparatus was still the original truck. During the Second World War, with many members in the armed forces, fire company membership was reduced to the point where it was almost ineffective. A dwelling fire in the winter of 1944, just up the hill from the firehouse, drew a barrage of public criticism on the poor performance by the fire company. On February 22, 1944, headed by Elmer Murray, a reorganization of the fire company took place, putting Murray in the President's chair, a position he held until 1957. In 1946 a 200 GPM booster truck was purchased and housed. This truck was later converted to a 500 GPM skid mounted pump and engine with a 675 gallon tank. During the late 40's and early 50's a base station was located in the home of Loring Thorn and two mobile radios were installed in the tricks. When a fire call was received someone would run to the firehouse and activate the siren. Installing a button in the house and sending the signal thru Bell Telephone lines to activate the siren later changed this.
In 1954 a new Great Eastern pumper on a Ford Chassis was purchased and placed into service. The cost of this truck was $9,800. In order to complete the financial transaction, two members (Elmer Murray and Loring Thorn) had to co-sign the loan, using their homes as collateral.
Site for First New Fire Station
With the additional purchase of a used Bell Telephone truck in 1960 for use as a utility vehicle, Grenloch started plans for a new location and building. The company had outgrown the old firehouse. A parcel of land located on Hurffville-Grenloch Road, approximately 400 feet from Woodbury-Turnersville Road, was purchased and a new three-bay firehouse complete with meeting room and kitchen was constructed for $35,000. The building was dedicated in 1962 and Grenloch moved into its new quarters. The old firehouse was sold to Hydes Plastic, who had their manufacturing plant across the road. This building, used for storage, was destroyed by fire in 1969.
The additional expense soon made us realize we would never make it on what the township allotted us plus what was taken in on donation drives, so a plan was formed to start bingo. Licenses and equipment were obtained in 1963 and thereafter on Tuesday nights for the next three years the apparatus room became the bingo room.
In order to do this, the apparatus had to be put outside in all kinds of weather, so an addition to the building was planned. A 45' x 85' social hall was added to the rear of the existing building in 1966. All work, with the exception of the steel and block work, was done by the membership.
First Truck Purchased by Washington Township
In December of 1967 Grenloch received from Washington Township a new 1967 Ward LaFrance 1000 GPM Custom Pumper. Whitman Square and Hurffville also received 1000 GPM pumpers. Many hours of work between the Township Committee and the Washington Township Fireman's Association were put into this joint venture. To celebrate the new arrivals, a Triple Housing parade was held on Saturday June 29, 1968. It was no doubt the biggest parade ever held in this township, with the line of marching bands and fire apparatus extending over two miles. Stops were made at each of the firehouses long enough to house the new pumpers.
Careful allocation of our bingo earnings put us in a position to pay off not only the original building mortgage but also the money we borrowed the build the social hall. This prompted another celebration and parade. On September 20, 1969 the mortgage was burned in the shovel that scooped the first dirt at the ground breaking for the new firehouse in 1961.
In 1971, specifications for another new truck were drawn up, and on December 19, 1971, a 1971 Ward LaFrance 1000 GPM pumper on a Ford chassis was delivered.
On Saturday December 1, 1973 at 4:00 AM, one of the biggest disasters that could happen to a fire company happened: a fire in the station that was started by an arsonist. The fire destroyed the apparatus room and severely damaged the three pumpers and one brush truck. The rest of the building suffered heavy smoke damage. The arsonist was eventually arrested, convicted, and sent to jail. The long job of rebuilding was started. At the time of the fire a high bay was being added to house a 100 ft. ladder truck that was on order and scheduled for delivery in 1974. Grenloch received over 100 offers of unsolicited help from other fire companies and civic organizations throughout the New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware area. This was very gratifying and a real morale booster. The company was bound and determined not to go out of service. The 1954 Ford had been retired several years before and stored in a barn at the Lakeland Hospital Complex. This was going to be our antique and parade piece. Equipment and hose not damaged by the fire was placed on this truck and also in member's cars.
Since the station was in no condition to respond from, the Lakeland barn became our temporary firehouse. With support from Hurffville, Whitman Square, and Blackwood, Grenloch answered all calls.
In less than a month the apparatus room was fit to use. Woodbury lent us a reserve pumper; Pennsauken sold us a reserve pumper for $1.00, and Whitman Square lent us a power wagon. With that and a variety of turnout gear given to use we started to run for our own station again. Special mention should also be given to the Washington Township Jaycee's for their gift of 12 new turnout coats and Enderlien Foundry for its $1,000.00 gift.
First Aerial Apparatus in Washington Township
In 1974 we took delivery of the first ladder truck in the township, an Imperial, built by Pem-Fab with the last 100-foot ladder built by Grove Ladder Company. This was the first truck purchased by the Board of Fire Commissioners. By this time the need for a substation became a reality and plans for construction of one at Greentree & Hurffville Roads were formulated. On July 12, 1975 the new substation was dedicated and the formal housing of the ladder truck took place, complete with a parade and other festivities
Further Purchases of Fire Apparatus
In 1977, the company received its first pumper through the Fire Commission. It was a 1976 Pierce. This replaces the pumper sold to us by Pennsauken after the fire in 1972.
In 1981, the Fire Commission purchased six new engines from American-LaFrance, three of those engines going to Grenloch.
The year 1988 saw the company getting another new engine, a Hahn.
Then in 1992, the Company sold its original ladder truck and received a new LTI 100' Ladder Tower. This apparatus continues the tradition of its predecessor in winning many awards throughout New Jersey.