The History of the Fair Lawn Fire Department


The history of firefighting in Fair Lawn prior to the organization of the first volunteer company in 1911 is fragmentary. Some 19th Century stories, however, relate to several notable fires that roused the hamlet during its Saddle River Township Days.

In 1880, a pyromaniac set fire to the Van Riper-Ellis Sunday School, originally known as the Passaic Valley Union Chapel, and to three barns. Tales are still told of how the culprit stole a horse and buggy, and lashed the steed with demoniacal glee from one building to the next.

Another fire which caused great commotion in the 1890's broke out on the estate of David Acker, no the site of the Fair Lawn Senior Center. The blaze was detected in time and the house was saved, but a footman died from burns.

Detailing these early fires is made difficult by the absence of newspaper accounts. Devastating fires appear to have been accepted as the natural lot of teh sparsely settled farming community in those days.

The first unit of the present Fair Lawn Volunteer Fire Department was formed after a mass meeting called by the Fair Lawn Improvement Association on a November 24, 1911. At this session Charles C. Vogel, who had been assistance chief at Hollis Long Island, declared that a fire company was the prime requirement of the community. The meeting, held in the Fair Lawn Motel (corner of Fair Lawn Avenue and River Road), adopted a resolution and shortly afterward Fair Lawn Vollunteer Fireman's Association No. 3 was formed, distinguished from other Saddle River Township units. Vogel was named chief. This unit later came to be incorporated as Fair Lawn Volunteer Fire Company #1. Residents of the Warrent Point Section, including parts which are today in Elmwood Park, Saddle Brook, and Fair Lawn, organized the Warren Point Fire Department in 1912. This company is now known as Fair Lawn Volunteer Fire Company #3. Organization of the Columbia Heights Hose Company occured in 1924, a company now known as Fair Lawn Volunteer Fire Company #2. In 1930, the Radburn association and it's residents formed Radburn Volunteer Fire Company, a company now known as Fair Lawn Volunteer Fire Company #4.