A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

History: Washington Fire Company (Matawan) Purchases Latest Fire Fighting Equipment (1905)

 The 22 Jun 1905 edition of The Matawan Journal described Matawan's Washington Fire Company's new piece of fire equipment as a "special ladder cart" with a wide range of capabilities.

This cart, made by the Wirt and Knox Manufacturing Company, 22 North Fourth Street, Philadephia, PA, "consists of a chain winding attachment, with winch handles for reeling on the house, clutch to hold reel in position when not in use; brake on wheels, rope wheel and rope; fireman's axe and crowbar in spring holders; double nozzle holders on tongue, friction roller; two polished copper fire extinguishers; large tool box with compartment for six extinguisher charges; four polished brass lanterns; three sections of ladder, nine feet each, forming an extension ladder 24 feet high; hub caps and other trimmings polished brass. The cart is handsomely finished in vermillion and black, and is mounted on heavy 'Archibald' wood wheels with roller bearings."

The back story to this purchase was a recent action by the Matawan Borough council to reduce the number of firemen employed by the company. Since there were fewer employees to contribute towards the company's private savings and loan account, the company could no longer afford to maintain the shares and had to close the account. The fire company decided to invest part of these private savings back into the community by purchasing this "combination cart", which was considered "a very complete apparatus" for its time, to be "used for the benefit of property owners here."

The newspaper article's photo and text match the description of this special combination ladder cart found in the 1909 issue of Municipal Journal and Engineer, Volume XXVII, No 16, pg 622 (image below), which can be found at Google Books. I couldn't locate a photograph of a restored version of this piece of fire fighting equipment using Google Images. If you have one or know of one, I'm interested in adding it here.


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