Lake Hiawatha Fire Department



 

 


HISTORY OF
THE LAKE HIAWATHA FIRE DEPARTMENT

St. Peters

           

           The section of Parsippany Troy-Hills where Lake Hiawatha is located was settled as a summer community along the Rockaway River in 1932. At the time only 3 streets in town were available for travel: North Beverwyck Road, Dacotah Avenue and Nokomis Avenue and development only reached the lake in 1935. The lake was the center of summer activities for the area, consisting of a white sandy beach with a pavilion, children’s playground and a barbequing area.
          

           On January 3, 1935, the area suffered its first tragedy. A home on Wenonah Ave was completely destroyed by fire and in February six men met to discuss the need for a fire department. In the basement of Ferdinand Kaiser’s home, Al Hoffman, George Eiscamp, Art Everly, Theodore Spatz, Richard Thompson and Mr. Kaiser formed the Lake Hiawatha Fire Department. The first organized meeting was held on February 25, 1935 at the Lake Hiawatha Club House where Mr. Spatz was elected the first Chief and Mr. Kaizer was elected the first President for association functions.
           

           In the beginning the department didn’t have any fire trucks or a fire house. All the men had there three packs that were referred to as “Indian tanks”. These tanks were filled with water with a small hose and a nozzle at the end which sat on their back. If the fire was too large, the LHFD would have to call for the Rockaway Neck Fire Department (now Parsippany District #5) or the Parsippany Troy-Hills Fire Association (currently Parsippany District #6) to assist.
           

           Throughout 1935, the members worked hard to acquire money to obtain a fire engine and a fire house. There were several fundraisers held, the first of which was a professional boxing match that cost 50¢ for general admission and 75¢ for ringside, although the largest money maker was a Minstrel show where four hundred and fourteen people came to watch the firefighters sing, dance and tell jokes all for a worthy cause. In August of 1935 the LHFD raised enough funds and purchased their first fire engine which was a 1913 American LaFrance. Since there was no firehouse, the fire engine was housed behind Thomas Broadways home (today where the Lake Hiawatha Post Office is located).
           

           Now that the LHFD had a fire engine, they wanted a permanent location to store it. Land was acquired in September 1935 by way of donation from Benjamin Kline. Mr. Kline donated two lots on Lake Shore Drive where a 30 x 36 foot building was planned to be built with cement blocks and a stucco finish. The total cost of construction for the two bay building was $1,000.00. No contractors were hired but instead the members of the LHFD donated their free time and put in many hours to have a place to house the vehicle that would eventually save many lives and property in their area.
           

           Also in September of 1935, many of the wives of the Lake Hiawatha Fire Department members wanted to do their part for the community. They started the LHFD Ladies Auxiliary and elected Florence Herdon as their first President. Their main function was to be a support branch of the department and would provide the firefighters with coffee in the winter and cold beverages in the summer. Over the years the Ladies Auxiliary hosted many events to raise funds for the FD and give back to the community, such as dances, lunch with the Easter Bunny, Candle Light bowling and various raffles. The LHFD Ladies Aux. joined the New Jersey Fire Auxiliary in 1977 and were represented by three delegates and two alternates and served a vital role in supporting the firefighting activities. In 1985 the LHFD ladies auxiliary was down to only five members and over time the interest dwindled and auxiliary was disbanded. Although there is no longer a Ladies Auxiliary, they are not forgotten and many of their awards and photos are displayed in the firehouse meeting room.
           

           The Highlight of the October 27, 1935 dedication was the laying of the cornerstone by Mr. Kline. Placed inside the cornerstone was a scroll bearing the charter members signatures. A siren was purchased for the rooftop from the Upper Greenwood Lake Fire Department for $20.00 to notify the volunteers of a fire. Jesse Hendershaw worked as a paid caretaker for the firehouse, maintaining a constant 40°F year round temperature and turning the outside red light on at night and turning it off at sunrise.

           The fire department’s rules and regulations are spelled out in its Constitution and By-Laws which were approved by the charter members in 1935. Under the original constitution, the LHFD would have a Chief, Assistant Chief, and three foremen although the word foreman was later changed at the next meeting to Lieutenant. In the following years, a Captain was added to the ranks but in 1947 the office of Captain was replaced by a fourth Lieutenant. In the 2000’s the fourth Lieutenant position was again changed back to Captain. Since 1935 the Association has consisted of a board of a President, Vice President, Treasurer, Recording Secretary and a Financial Secretary. Over the years, the Constitution and ByLaws have undergone many revisions. Noteworthy was Article X, Section 2a of the original document which has long been dropped:

Section 2. (a) Any officer or member of this Association shall be subject to the following fines in the amount for the reasons given below. Or if the conditions warrant they may be suspended and brought before the Board of Fire Officers on charges.  

1. Failure to report a fire

25 ˘

2. Deserting a post of duty

25 ˘

3. Disobedience of orders

25˘

4. Disrespect to an Officer

25˘

5. Being guilty of passive resistance

25˘

6. Failure to attend 3 consecutive duty calls or drills without a leave of absence

25˘

7. Failure to attend 5 consecutive meetings

10˘ each absence

8. Failure to pay dues or fines for 4 months

10˘ each absence

9. Failure to report for a fire call and a roll call after a fire without a leave of absence

10˘ each month

10. Answering roll without serving at duty for which the roll is called

25˘

11. Being disorderly or vulgar while on duty

25˘

12. Driving over a fire hose

25˘

13. Incompetency, inability or neglect to perform fireman's duties

25˘

           

           In January 1936 in conjunction with the other fire departments in Parsippany Troy-Hills Township, the Lake Hiawatha Fire Department became known as Parsippany Fire District #4. Every fire company in town was assigned a number, but never changed from its original name. In becoming a fire district, Fire Commissioners are elected by the residents of Lake Hiawatha to approve purchasing of fire apparatus and equipment. The first elected Commissioners were Dr. Herman Minzesheimer, Al Edelman, Vincent Lubrano, George Eiscamp and George Glaser.
           

           In 1939 the LHFD made plans to build an addition onto the firehouse for a meeting room and a kitchen that became known as the “club room”. A pool table, bar, shuffle board and piano were added to the room so the members could socialize at the firehouse and a heating system was also added to keep the firehouse 70°F year round.
          

           After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the members of the LHFD rallied in support of America by joining the Military Service Organization of Parsippany Troy-Hills. The department conducted air raid drills, purchased black-out shades and collected $80.00 in a 1942 scrap drive. Those members who were of age enlisted in the U.S. military and were granted military leave as to not affect their standing in the department. During the holidays the department sent cards and gifts to their brother firefighters overseas and proudly displayed a service flag year round inside the firehouse.
           

            In 1960 the Lake Hiawatha Fire Department held a celebration in honor of its 25th Anniversary. The highlight of the weeklong celebration was a parade held on May 28th and gave out trophies to several other departments that participated in the parade.
           

           In 1969 the LHFD broke ground for a new firehouse. This fire station was built at the corner of Lake Shore Drive and North Beverwyck Rd, the current location it is today. Much of the construction was done by the members and an extensive building fund campaign was needed. The fire department started the fund drive with a large parade in 1968.
           

            In 1972 Vincent Lubrano was named Fireman of the Year by the Schaefer Brewing Company and James Gill was the Schlitz Fireman of the Year in 1978.
            

           During the year of 1974, the LHFD took delivery of their first “Command Unit” which also was the first that acted as a fire department utility/transport vehicle. It was designed by Firefighter Paul Koert to fit the district’s needs in terms of scene lighting, firefighter transport, and equipment storage.
          

           In 1980 Vice President George Bush visited Parsippany and the LHFD was part of the detail that provided protection for the V.P. The fire department received no monetary reward for their service and was proud to do their part to provide safety to the V.P. of the United States of America.
           

           In 1995 the Lake Hiawatha Fire Department realized that a small ladder truck would aid the community and bought a 65’ aerial truck. It was the first of its kind for the area and has been a great asset in fighting fires in Lake Hiawatha.
           

           During the year of 2006 it was determined the LHFD needed to expand once again. The fire department hired a contractor to add a fourth bay, an elevator, and a commissioner meeting room with a basement. Along with these other rooms, an outdoor patio was also constructed for members’ use during the summer months.
          

           In 2008 the LHFD dedicated the block of Lake Shore Drive from Washington Ave to N. Beverwyck Rd as “Vincent Lubrano Dr” in honor of the dedication that Mr.  Lubrano has had for the LHFD. Mr. Lubrano is still a member of the fire dept. and is the Chairman of the Constitution Committee.

           On August 14, 2010 the Lake Hiawatha Fire Department hosted its 75th Anniversary. Unlike the past celebrations, there wasn’t a parade but instead hosted a large barbeque completely funded by the LHFD to give back to the community for their support over the last ¾ of a century.

Firehouse


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Last Updated: Tuesday, December 13, 2011 3:29