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Sewell Fire Company

Mantua Township, Gloucester County, New Jersey

Maltese Cross

Fire Company History


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Mutual Fire Company of Sewell

(Chartered April 16,1913)

The Mutual Fire Company of Sewell was founded in 1910 with about 25 members. The Ladies Auxiliary was organized shortly thereafter. At the time there were about 45 homes in Sewell.

The Sewell Fire Company had a very interesting beginning. It began with a group of men who met to play cards. The group met every week during the winter. When they disbanded for the summer, they found they had a balance of $30. After a lengthy discussion, they accepted the suggestion of Emil Gurk that a ladder and a half dozen buckets be purchased. Hence the Sewell Fire Company.

Original Card Club Members were: Mr. & Mrs. Charles Gurk, Mr. & Mrs. Will Gurk, Mr. & Mrs. Bush, Mr. & Mrs. Emil Gurk, Mr. & Mrs. Robert Motisher, Sr.

The first piece of equipment was a hand drawn, two-wheeled engine with a 60-gallon Soda-acid chemical tank. A 50-ft. rope, wound on a reel, was used to pull the engine. This engine was first housed in the barn (now Ledden's) directly across the street from the parking lot of the present Sewell Fire House.

When winter approached it was moved to the pump house in the base of the old windmill on Mantua Blvd. and Warren Ave. To keep the chemical tanks from freezing a gas line was installed with a meter on it. A burner was installed under the large tank and a tarpaulin was thrown over the whole engine.

The Sewell Fire Company’s first firehouse was built in 1914 and dedicated March 6, 1915. It was heated by two potbellied stoves. Numerous fund raising events were held on the firehouse stage.

In 1920 the Fire Company purchased a 1914 Autocar five-passenger touring car for $150. This had a four-cylinder hand-cranked engine. After removing the rear seat, all the equipment from the two-wheeled engine was transferred to the Autocar.

A Ford Model T was purchased from J. L. Eastlack of Pitman in 1923. The Fire Company commissioned F. S. Pearson and Sons of Hurffville to build the body. They mounted two 35-gallon chemical tanks and other equipment purchased new. The new engine received its baptism of fire the day it was delivered. That night the Scott Lumber Co. of Mantua burned.

In 1926, the Fire Company purchased a 1915 Mack truck from the Hale Fire Pump Co. This truck has been restored by a group of Sewell Firemen. It is now in retirement, but is still serviceable. It participates in parades, shows and ushers in Santa Clause to the Sewell Firehouse every Christmas.

The Sewell Fire Company also provides emergency ambulance service. Sewell’s first ambulance was purchased and put into service in 1955. It was a 1941 Packard. They then acquired a 1956 Pontiac in 1959, followed by a 1962 International ambulance purchased new. In 1972 a Pontiac ambulance was purchased. A Ford Ambulance followed in 1980. In 1990 a Road Rescue ambulance on a Ford E-350 chassis was purchased. In 2001 a Horton Ambulance on a Ford E-450 chassis replaced the Road Rescue.

When the ambulance service began, it was a separate organization even though the Sewell Fire Company purchased the equipment. In 1958 it became part of the Fire Department.

The first gentleman to become president of the Ambulance was Mr. Robert W. Scull followed by Mr. Henry Gurk.

In 1965 the organization changed to a Captain and Lieutenant which were under the direction of the Fire Chief. The first Ambulance Capt. was Mr. Gene Simon. 

All Fire Company property purchased has been financed by numerous means. In the early years sketches, minstrel shows, carnivals, card parties, strawberry festivals, suppers, trap shoots and prize drawings were held as fund-raisers. In more recent times dances, socials, fund drives and banquet hall rentals raise funds. There are also direct allotments from the township.

Over the years the Fire Company activities have been varied. In addition to fire fighting locally and out of town, the Fire Company has pumped out cellars, removed fallen frees, burned off fields, washed gasoline and oil from the roads after an accident, provided blood donors, participated with other companies in drills, parades, dedications and celebrations. The company has received trophies and cash awards for the oldest truck and the best equipped truck.

Other Sewell Fire Company Events:

1939 – A Chevrolet fire truck with a 500-gpm pump and a 200 gallon water tank was purchased and remained in service until 1969 and then donated to the Mantua Township Road Department.

1941 - A 4-Wheeled Drive Federal truck was purchased. It was formerly a crash truck used in England during World War 11. The Fire Company donated it to Ferrell Fire Co. in 1975.

1958 – A Great Eastern Pumper on a Ford chassis was purchased. It had a two-staged 500 gpm pump and a 500 gallon water tank. This truck remained in service until 1978. It was then sold to the Gloucester County 4-H Club.

1965 - The current firehouse was built, being completed in December 1965. 

1966 - Dedication of the new firehouse on April 16, 1966. The ceremony included a parade through Sewell, guest speakers and music by the Clearview Regional High School Band

1968 – A Thiabault fire truck, on a Ford chassis, was purchased. It had a 750-gpm pump and a 1200-gallon water tank, along with a separate high-pressure pump. This was Sewell Fire Company’s first Class A Pumper. It was sold in December 1984 to the City of Matamoras, Mexico.

1974 - A Ford 3/4 ton pickup was purchased. The Sewell Fire Company members converted the pickup into a Brush Truck. It is presently in service.

1978 – A Hamerly Class A Pumper, built on a Ford chassis, was purchased. It has a 1000 gpm pump and a 750-gallon water tank. It was sold in 2001 to a dealership in Indiana.

1984 – A Pierce Class A Pumper, built on a Ford chassis, was purchased. It has a 1250 gpm pump and a 1000-gallon water tank. It is presently in service.

1985 - 75/25 Anniversary. The four fire companies in Mantua Township held a combined anniversary celebration. Sewell Fire Company, Mantua Fire Company and Barnsboro Fire Company celebrated 75 years of service. Centre City Fire Company celebrated 25 years of service.

1993 – A 24’ x 60’ engine bay was added to the firehouse in preparation for the Ladder Platform.

1994 – A Simon-LTI Ladder Platform was purchased. This truck has an 85-foot aerial ladder, two 1250 gpm deluge guns, 1500gpm pump and carries 500 gallons of water. It is presently in service.

1996 – The old firehouse was torn down by the fire company members to make room for the expansion of the parking lot.

1999 – The Sewell Fire Company enters the age of the internet by publishing its own web site, www.sewellfireco.com.

2001 - A Central States HME Class A pumper was purchased. This truck has a top mounted pump panel, 1250 GPM pump, 8 KW Generator and carries 750 gallons of water. This truck replaced the 1978 Hamerly Pumper.

2001 - A 2001 Horton Ambulance was purchased to replace the 1990 Road Rescue Ambulance. The Horton has a state of the art electronic contol system for all lighting, climate control and patient monitoring. It also features dual strobe/snowflake lighting and LED silhouette lighting.

Some Past Chiefs of the Sewell Fire Company are: Robert Motisher, Sr., Emil Gurk, Fred E. Gurk, Henry J. Gurk, Robert L. Finlay, Donald I. Chew, Robert W. Scull, Richard Henry, Robert Rishel Sr., Dave Block, Ward Hutton and Kevin Howarth. The present (and last) Fire Chief is John Norris.


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(This page was last modified 11/07/15 05:53:58 PM)