In the beginning the Stafford Township Volunteer Fire Company was not what it is today. It all started back on July 24, 1922 when a meeting was held in the National Hotel for the purpose of organizing a fire company in Manahawkin, New Jersey. During this meeting a group of towns people gathered together to meet and elect the first officers of this new fire company. They were listed as followed:
President: Stephen Johnson
Vice President: Paul B. Cramer
Recording Secretary: J. Lawrence Fenimore Jr.
Treasurer: Leon W. Hazelton
Alex H. Inman
Edward T. Elberson
Wm. B. Sprague
The First Chief of the Department was George Pharo and the Fire Departments first Assistant Chief was Leon Hazelton. Dues were $1.00 a year for membership. The Manahawkin Volunteer Fire Company was incorporated in October 9, 1922. In December of 1923 the bylaws were read and approved by the membership. Meeting nights were set for the first Monday of each month. These bylaws have been amended or changed at least three times since then.
In 1923 our first fire equipment was bought and consisted of 24 buckets, 4 ladders, and 100 feet of ¾” rope. We must have made quite a picture going to a fire. In 1924 after much discussion and demonstration whether to buy a rotary pump or a plunger pump, it was decided to buy a Reo Fire Engine with a Hale rotary pumps including booster and chemical tanks at a cost of $4355.00. Also in 1924 the Manahawkin Volunteer Fire Company held its first dinner in a garage between National Hotel and the Lake House. Each member was required to furnish a chicken and stew it. The cost of the dinner was 75 cents. The Reo Fire Engine was delivered on July 5, 1924 and housed in George Fredricksons barn.
In October 1924 a building on Division Street belonged to Jason Fennimore was leased and later bought. The Reo Fire Engine was then moved into the building. At this time the building fund was established which was to become the foundation for our present building. In 1924 steps were taken to change the name from Manahawkin Volunteer Fire Company to Stafford Township Volunteer Fire Company. It was learned that we would have to dissolve the present company and start a new one.
In 1925 electric lights were installed in the firehouse and a "Ham and Baked Bean dinner" was held and raised a profit of $98.53. The price of the dinner was 35 cents. In 1926 we joined the New Jersey State Firemans Relief Association. On Memorial Day in 1927 we attended our first parade in Beach Haven. It was required that all men riding on the engine to be dressed in overalls. We received the cup for the Best Equipped Apparatus. On the 4 of July in 1927 a dinner and other events raised a profit of $569.13. It will be noted at this time a large part of all the success of these dinners was due to the women folks of our town.
In 1927 we joined the Ocean County Firemans Association of New Jersey. In 1928 first Insurance policy was taken on 20 members of the company. In 1930 we bought a second hand siren from Seaside Park Fire Company. In 1931 Franklin Southgate was elected Treasurer, an office he held for a long time which he fulfilled with efficiency and trustworthy second to none. In 1935 we bought a used tank from Standard Oil Company and a second hand Ford from Howard King. We installed the tank on the Ford and bought a new front-end pump and from this combination the 750 gallon Ford Tank Wagon originated, which proved in the following years a most efficient piece of equipment.
On October 9, 1936 the name of the fire company changed to Stafford Township Volunteer Fire Company. In 1937 we held our first carnival and raised $374.76. With some of the money we got rid of the old potbelly coal stove and installed a new oil-burning stove. In 1938 George Bowen resigned as Secretary, a position he had held for 16 years and one in which he served very efficiently and serving 2 more years in 1944 and 1945. In 1941 was the first annual Turkey dinner held at Stafford Hall, raised a profit of $313.50 Also in 1941 our building committee accepted plans for a new firehouse. In 1944 a Dodge truck was purchased.
In 1947 our Ladies Auxiliary was organized. This organization proved a great help to the fire company in the following years. They have furnished the entire firehouse including the kitchen which enabled the fire company to pay all the money it made on the building, without there help we would not be burning the mortgage. In 1950 arrangements were made to purchase a lot on Stafford Ave. where the Stafford House once stood. New plans were drawn for a new firehouse and were approved by the fire company.
In 1951 we bought a new Mack Fire Truck, and bought the lot on Stafford Ave. We then advertised and received bids for a new firehouse. The bid was awarded to Herbert G. Cranmer & son. Work started on the building in July and we moved in, in the fall of 1951. The balance of the money needed to pay for the firehouse was borrowed from Chester Cranmer at a low interest rate. Many thanks to Chester. Still not having enough money to pay the contractor, Herbert G. Cranmer & son granted us an extension of time on the amount due. In 1955 we bought a second Mack Fire Truck and it is the only thing connected with the fire company that wasn’t yet paid for.
We are proud of our firehouse and equipment and we don’t think that you can find a better firehouse, a better-equipped company, or a better firefighting crew for a community of our size in the State of New Jersey! If you look at the facilities of the Fire Company at the present time, you will realize that we have come along way since 1922. This is due to the continued support of the people of Stafford Township and the willingness of the Sister and Brotherhood of this company to carry on and remember the past and thank them for what they have started here in Stafford Township, a great Volunteer organization!!