Madison Borough NJ Homepage

1872 - 1939

November 5, 1872

The stables of James Bryce located on now Rosedale Avenue, were completely destroyed by fire.
The flames spread and carried the embers to the adjacent property of William Bryce named "The Locust." The Morristown Fire Department aided the city. 

October 28, 1875

A call was transmitted over the telegraph to Morristown requesting assistance at a fire at Van Wagners Drug Store on Waverly Place. Morristown Fire Department aided the city saving a great deal of property. Quite a time was had securing horses, and mishaps were experienced enroute, but 3 pieces of apparatus finally reached the blaze, which was in Van Wagners drug Store (corner of Waverly and Lincoln). Heroic work kept the fire from spreading to F.J. Harman's confectionery store. Madison at the time had no fire apparatus and the suppression of the flames was accomplished by means of buckets.

October 21, 1877

A severe fire started in I.J. Ayers grocery store in the Allen Building located at 11-13 Waverly Place. Some of the officials of the Town of Morristown were preparing to retire, when a man rode up from Madison, in the midst of a driving storm, with the news that the town was on fire, and requested aid from the Morristown Fire Department. 7 Waverly Place (the old Methodist Church) was saved when firemen removed a tin roof and shielded it from the flames as well as keeping the building wet. 3 Morristown firemen were rescued from the basement after a 1st floor collapse. Other buildings consumed by fire were George Squire's furniture shop, the Railroad Depot, a cigar shop, a  two story residence and the Y.M.C.A. which was located above the grocery store. The Masonic Lodge, which was on the third floor of the Old Methodist Church, was damaged.

May 23, 1881

The Madison Hook and Ladder Company No. 1 was duly incorporated "for the purpose of protecting life and property from fire."
April 7, 1882
The first ladder truck was purchased.
1st Firehousetmb

June 6, 1882

The first "truck house" was occupied. Which is now the corner of Central and Elmer. 
Two large cisterns were installed what is now the Waverly Green Lot for fire protection.
July 31, 1882
The Firemen's Relief Association of Madison was duly incorporated "for the purpose of relieving disabled or indigent firemen."
July 6, 1884
The first response by the Madison Fire Department was at Duncan's Drug store at 3:00 A.M.
May 23, 1886
The Hook and Ladder Company went under the control "Township of Chatham." This was before the town of Madison was established.
December 24, 1889
The Borough of Madison became official. With a vote of 308-145, the borough separated from the Township of Chatham due to the fact that residents wanted a better water supply that would protect them from fire and provide them with better access to water. The Township did not want to invest in that. 
The water plant was built on Station Road with a "Dean" pump capable of pumping 700 GPM. The cost was $60,000 and it could pump about 1,000,000 gallons a day.
Water Plant
A municipal water system was established. This cartoon apeared in New York World in 1891. It represents James Albright (Madison's first mayor) using a standpipe near the current Midwood Terrace water tower.

April 1, 1891
A hose cart along with 800 feet of hose was purchased for $700.
Hose Carttmb
April 10, 1891
The Borough of Madison takes over control of the Hook and Ladder Company.
March 21, 1898
The old truck was sold to the Afton Fire Company (Florham Park) for $150.

June 10, 1898
The old hose "jumper" was sold to the Chatham Fire Department for $75.
August 1, 1898
A new hook and ladder truck was acquired for the cost of $1,125.
Ladder Truck 1898
April 24, 1900
A plan to "Blow Up" the Brittin Building failed when citizens noticed fumes of acetylene gas coming from the building. Patrick Dougherty (driver for the Fire Department who is always on hand), was summoned to assist. He forced entry into the building and found open flamed bicycle lights which he then extinguished. 6 pounds of acetylene powder was found below a plugged up sink that when overflowed, would create acetylene gas. The first Brittin Building  was located at 44 Main Street on the west bound side. It housed the YMCA on the second floor after the 1877 fire displace them from Waverly Place. The YMCA moved to 12 Main Street in 1908. 
1903 Firehousetmb
December 7, 1903
A new fire headquarters was occupied built by land donated by the Burnet Family at the North corner of Central and Cook Avenues.
Madison Fire Dept 2007tmb
September 6, 1904
A supply wagon was purchased for $650.00. Later it was mounted on a Pierce Arrow chasis and used as a auxiliary hose truck.
Suply Wagon
May 17, 1906
The Madison Borough council adopted "an ordinance to establish, regulate, and equip a fire department in the Borough of Madison" (Ordinance #61).
May 13, 1907
A new bell had been purchased for $647.00 and placed in the bell tower next to fire headquarters. The new bell was used until 1935. In 1936 the bell was sold to a church in Moorestown. 
Bell Tower c 1908tmb
January 23, 1908
C.F. Force's machine shop, now the site of the 44 Park Avenue, was totally destroyed with a loss of over $30,000.
CF Forcetmb

March 1909

The council approved a fire siren to be purchased similar to the one in Summit. The siren was located on Convent property and was operated by the steam boilers at the water plant.

July 19, 1910

The Madison Hose Company No. 1 is formed after twice being petitioned and denied by the borough council.
April 24, 1911
A new No. 3 Webb auto pumping engine with 12 3-gallon chemical tanks was purchased for $6,000. The truck was sold in 1937 to the Cedar Knolls F.D.
January 26, 1912
Adolph DeBary "Cecilhurst" mansion (St.Paul's Behind the Wall Mansion sits on its foundation) was completely destroyed. Described as the most costly blaze in the history of Madison. There was a loss of $300,000.00.
July 4, 1913
The barns of Aicken Greer, on Central Avenue was destroyed along with 5 horses, harness, a large moving van, 3 spring wagons, and other equipment. The most valuable horse was saved.
April 21, 1915
Several occupants were trapped in a boarding house fire at the corner of Green & Hillside Avenues. Occupants were rescued by firemen. At least one victim died due to smoke inhalation.
April 29, 1914
The Flanagan Building, which occupied the site of The Madison Trust Company on Waverly Place was damaged beyond repair. The fire threatened the whole business district of the city. The Morristown Fire Department sent assistance and 8 powerful steamers were in use. "The firemen were hampered by intruding citizens, who had to be sprayed with water." The DeHart home located on the far right of the photo was saved. It still stands today!
November 12, 1916
It was reported that the home of Henry Feuchtwanger on Loantaka Way was afire. The department made ready to respond, but were notified that the fire was out. Shortly afterwards it was discovered that the whole top floors were fully ablaze. Assistance was provided by the Morristown Fire Department and the Washington Engine Company.

January 5, 1917
Webb's barns, situated on Ridgedale Avenue, were completely destroyed by a spectacular fire which destroyed 5 valuable horses and 5 cows.
November 30, 1918
A fierce blaze was fought for over 24 hours by firemen at the Green and Pierson's lumber yard. Numerous houses on Main Street were ignited by flying embers. The ruins were still smoldering 2 days later. Assistance was provided by the Morristown Fire Department.
Green  Pierson 11-30-1918001tmb
July 20, 1920
Several barns on the Dodge estate were destroyed by fire resulting from lightning.
November 26, 1925
A "Staged" photo shoot for the Fire Department in action occurs at 24 Waverly Place.
March 14, 1926
A fire caused $3500 dollars worth of damage on 15 Green Hill Road.
15 Green Hill Rd 3-14-26001
January 5, 1928
A large mansion on Madison Avenue (now in the area of Shadylawn Drive) owned by H. Brooks Nichols was the victim to a large fire. The fire which burned for over 24 hours was finally extinguished with assistance from Morristown Fire Department.

January 28, 1928

The same mansion on Madison Avenue burned again. This time the fire resulted in the demolishing of the residence.Due to the low water supply at this fire, Chief I.R. Wilson stated that no more 4 inch hydrants be installed in the borough. 
May 30, 1935
The Hartley Marcellus Dodge Memorial building is dedicated and occupied.
MFD June 13, 1935
June 25, 1935
A fire claims the life of two 7 month old twin girls at 62 Keep Street. The mother of the girls leaped from the second story window with girls in hand. One girl suffered a fractured skull and the other died at the hospital a few days later. The mother suffered a broken nose and minor burns. 
keep sttmb
October 5, 1936
At 12:50 a.m. the alarm was sounded for a fire in the Castle's Building (Old Methodist Church) on Waverly Place. Although fully involved, the department made a splendid stop, and saved the structure. This building is reputed to be the "Day and Searing" store building, which was saved in the 1877 fire.
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