In May 1942, Packanack Lake was a community consisting of 500 homes located in a remote section of Wayne Township when six Packanackers recognized the need for our own Fire Company for improved fire and emergency protection.
Application was made to the Township for use of some Civil Defense equipment. Not being a recognized Fire Company, some difficulty was encountered, but finally we were able to convince the Town Fathers that were organized as a Civil Defense unit and some material was made available to us.
One of the men loaned the money to purchase a truck from Community Fire Company No. 1 in Mountain View for $125.00. This was an antiquated 1926 Reo and while it resembled to Toonerville Trolly and had many disadvantages, the community was grateful for the added protection.
One of our local supporters gave us the use of his garage and even though it was necessary to climb over the hood of the fire truck to get in and out, it was progress. Later, part of the old Bath House, located on the site of the present Packanack Post Office, was converted into a Firehouse.
A 1927 Ahrens Fox Pumper was added and then a 1925 LaFrance Hose carrier replaced the Reo. The Ahrens Fox had great difficulty with our hills and the LaFrance was constantly jarring off some parts, but again, this was progress.
It was at this time, 1946, that legislation was passed that would enable the State to allow the Township additional funds and admit is as a full fledged Fire Company. Now we would no longer be called Company 4 ½, as we had been called by the rest of the Township, but Company No. 5.
Now that we were fully recognized, our step was a new Firehouse. A site suitable to serve both sides of the Lake was selected at the junction of Lake Drive West and South Road, which is currently Osborne Terrace. To finance the building, $10.00 non-interest bearing bonds, payable in ten years, were issued, raising eight thousand dollars. All of these bonds have since been redeemed.
Plans were drawn and a two story firehouse was built by the volunteer firefighters, on property donated by Packanack Homes, Inc., the realtors that developed Packanack Lake. The steel staircase, lintels sills and floor beams came from a demolished State Institution building. In 1948, Company No. 5 moved in their new Firehouse. The dedication was a high point in the young company’s history.
At this time the wives of the firemen formed the Packanack Lake Ladies Auxiliary. They supported the Company with fund raising functions, which was supported by the community. The ladies were on hand with hot food during lengthy emergencies. The Ladies Auxiliary also compiled a blood donors list which was used on many occasions.
In the year 1951 Company No. 5 purchased its new fire engine. It was a Mack 750 gallon per minute pumper, cost $15,000.00. In 1954, a new Maxim light pumper and hose truck were added. The Mack replaced the 1929 Ahrens Fox and the Maxim replaced the 1927 LaFrance. To read the story of how we found and restored our 1951 Mack, Click Here.
Wayne Township contains major rivers, lakes, plus a number of ponds. Flooding and other water related accidents were a major problem. The fire company acquired an outboard motor and boat from the Township, along with the necessary supporting equipment. To house the apparatus, boat and trailer, the Firehouse was enlarged.
A new American LaFrance 1000 gallon per minute pumper was purchased in 1960 costing the company about $20,000.00. In 1966 Company 5 purchased a new American LaFrance capable of pumping 1,250 gallons of water a minute. The new fire truck had a diesel powered engine which was the first diesel fire truck in Northern New Jersey.
By 1965, we were responding to more than 300 alarms a year using the three latest pieces of fire apparatus. By 1974 a Young 1000 gallon per minute pumper was purchased for about $57,000.00.
The cost of new fire equipment in 1975 had increased to the point that we had decided to rebuild and refurbish the 1960 American LaFrance. The truck was converted into a back-up apparatus designed to carry extra air packs, lighting equipment smoke ejectors, saws and numerous items needed to support the first due apparatus. This was known as Squad-5 and was used at many major fires and floods in Wayne Township. The apparatus proved its worth and was sold to Islen Fire Company in 1985. This was to make room for the new Rescue-5 with state of the art equipment. This was the first one purchased by the Township for Company No. 5, because of the escalating costs of fire apparatus. The Fire Company had to make room for this apparatus so a new addition was built. Many hours of long and hard work by the members made this possible.
In 1987, a new Pierce Arrow 1500 gallon per minute pumper was purchased by the Township. The 1966 American LaFrance pumper sold to Ciudad-Valles, Mexico. The Fire Company was sad to see it go because it served 23 years and did an outstanding job.
Over our 61 year history, there have been six Fire Commissioners elected from our company by the five fire companies in Wayne.