BERKELEY – A lot has happened since 1946. Anyone will tell you that the population has grown as people realize what a great place it is to live. It makes you wonder if they knew that all those years ago when the Bayville Fire Company formed.
The official day was June 17, but the company has been celebrating its anniversary all year with special events like Hops For Heroes.
In the 1940s, the Ocean Gate Fire Company was providing coverage for the area but because Berkeley was growing, they weren’t able to do so any more. So, a group of firefighters started their own.
The company would meet at the home of Hilbert and Mildred Potter whose house still stands next to The Berkeley Township Historical Society, which used to be Town Hall. The first fire truck was a 1942 army fire truck with a 300 gallon per minute pump. It was stored in a public works garage behind what is now the Recreation building on Route 9.
If there was a fire, a phone call was made to the Potters or their neighbor, Elwood Butler. That person would then use the pull box on the side of Town Hall to activate the siren.
As the town grew, so did its fire company, and the current firehouse was built in 1960 where it sits today at 645 Atlantic City Boulevard (Route 9). This was on land graciously donated by the Potters.
“We’ve had a lot of expansion in Berkeley,” Chief John Anderson said.
Over the decades, there’s been senior communities, mini-malls, public storage facilities, and amusements. The fire company has adapted to each new challenge, he said. The vehicles needed to be able to respond to fires at any of these different kinds of buildings. There are also acres and acres of forest that present a different type of situation. The Bayville company also responds to waterfront fires with a boat and a jet ski.
The company also has a FAST team that is specially trained to respond to working fires, Anderson said. That team is there to lend support and possibly lifesaving to a firefighter who is injured.
These days, there are more than 50 volunteers who staff the firehouse day and night and go on more than 600 calls per year. They are known throughout the state for their quick response time, Anderson said.
How To Join Or Help
If you’re interested in helping your community, feel free to stop by any Tuesday night at 7 p.m. for an application and to talk to the firefighters.
While the township funds suppression needs, other costs fall to the volunteer company, such as utilities and uniforms. Donations are always welcome. You can email Info@BayvilleFire.com or visit their Facebook page.