F.M.B.A. LOCAL #60 DOVER NEW JERSEY
Forty-three years after the appointment of the first paid driver, the Dover Local #60 was activated on July 16, 1951, under President Chester J. Strzelch and Secretary George W. Steele of the New Jersey FMBA (Fireman's Mutual Benevolent Association). This was a landmark in a long and colorful history within the Dover Fire Department, which was organized with four companies on February 12, 1874. The Dover Emergency Squad was organized as the first in the area, in June 1933. The very first driver, Jake Nichols by name, was hired to care for, and drive a team of horses, affectionately known throughout the area as “Mae and Blossom”. The firefighters of that day, as well as the public had as much pride in this team, as the present day firefighters have in their motorized equipment.
A new era dawned in 1913 with the arrival of the first motorized apparatus to gradually replace the horses. A White (mfg) hose and chemical truck, so named because of its soda and acid tanks and a hard rubber hook and ladder built by Mack Manufacturing were purchased by the town. The horses were phased out by 1922, and Jake the first driver reluctantly gave up the reins and began driving the motorized rigs along with Charles Ripley who had been appointed to master them after their purchase and remained until leaving to join the Police Dept. and became a national hero in the capture of one of America’s most wanted.
Jake and the man who succeeded him by the name of Ernie Tucker had rigid job requirements that certainly would not be tolerated by any local today. The lone paid driver was required to live in an apartment within one square block of the Fire Station and be on duty every day during daylight hours and be available every night, unless arranged otherwise. The driver also had a Game Well Bell in his home. Tucker also had a reserved seat in the back of a nearby theatre where the theatre personnel could alert him in case the alarm sounded.
Tucker took over at the same time the department was launching a modernization program from 1931 to 1938. He spent several weeks in the American La France plant in Elmira, New York, and also at the Peter Pirsch plant in Kenosha, Wisconsin watching the apparatus being assembled. Tucker drove the Pirsch from Wisconsin to Dover. This apparatus consisted of two American La France pumpers, the Pirsch Jr. Aerial Ladder and a Salvage and Rescue truck. Because of his deep knowledge of this apparatus, Tucker had the title of Chief Driver and schooled the Relief Drivers in the Volunteer Department in their operation.
Three of these men volunteered for Military service in World War II and came home as the paid crew was expanding to a force of five men, with Lorenz Bauknecht taking over in 1944 as Superintendent and was in that position when the local was formed in 1951. A sad note among the post war drivers was the collapse and instant death of William Schubert after arriving at a residential fire, after serving 18 years as driver.
At the present time, the local is responsible for the maintenance and operation of a 1989 and a 1993 Pierce 1500gpm pumpers, a 2003 Pierce 100’ Aerial Truck, a 1996 Pierce Heavy Rescue unit and a 2006 Horton Ambulance. The Uniformed Department is also responsible for maintaining all the equipment on all the apparatus and also on the ambulance.
The six men that now make up the Uniformed Fire Department for the Town of Dover are all New Jersey Certified Emergency Medical Technicians and respond to all Fire and Emergency calls in the Town. The Uniformed Department also makes up the Dover Fire Prevention Bureau, conducting all fire inspections in businesses, and multiple dwellings within the town, along with conducting fire investigations and maintaining a fire prevention program in all the town’s schools.
Although the town is only 2½ miles in area it is made up of single and multi-family dwellings, industrial areas, a retail center, public buildings, public and private schools, and the New Jersey Transit Rail Yard. With the fire station being centralized in town the Uniformed Department can be on the scene of fire and emergency calls in five minutes or less of receiving a alarm. The Uniformed Fire Department responds to over 2,000 fire and emergency calls a year.
The following is the roster of past and current members of the Uniformed Fire Department of the Town of Dover:
Jake Nichols Deceased Chief Driver
Ernest Tucker Deceased Chief Driver
Butch Bauknecht Deceased Superintendent
Eddy Attalah Deceased
Rudy Schwind Deceased Superintendent
Rocky Ward Deceased
Bill Schubert Deceased (Died in the line of duty in 1973)
William Kerwick Sr. Retired 1982 Captain
Robert Gilbert Deceased
Richard Ferry Deceased Captain
Nickolas Best Deceased
John Hosking Retired 1992
Thomas Thomas Retired 2006
Marty Reynolds Retired 2010
Scott Warner Retired 2011 Captain
Richard Cloughley Retired 2014
Donald Hammond Retired 2014
Jon Sperry, Jr. Present Lieutenant
Allen Bell Present
Bryan Waagner Present Lieutenant
Anthony Rosario Present
Jonathan Press Present
Christopher Kannaley Present
George Glander Present