Today is the one hundredth anniversary of the Union Fire Company in Titusville, NJ, and the day started early and hard with both a dwelling fire in Harbourton and a report of smoke in Brandon Farms not long after dawn.
“By 8am, the firehouse was completely empty of equipment and personnel except for one ambulance” [while everyone was out at the two scenes], stated Buddy Tunnicliffe, Deputy Chief of the Fire Company.
The Harbourton fire, just over the Hopewell border in West Amwell Township, resulted in multiple alarms and responses from fire companies throughout Hunterdon County, as far as Kingwood, in addition to Hopewell Township’s staff.
What made the fire difficult to battle, Tunnicliffe explained, was a very long driveway, a tight roadway, and lack of easy access to water. The responding firefighters partnered by laying out 1600 feet of hose and by filling tankers several miles down Route 579 at the pond in front of Janssen Pharmaceutical and then driving it back up the roadway. Ultimately, a call went out from the fire crew to Township police to close Route 579.
“There’s too much traffic on the road,” said a company member over the dispatch service, “Someone is going to get hurt.”
After two and a half hours of work, the fire was put out and no injuries were reported. As of 11am, Route 579 was reopened and while a few Hunterdon units remained at the scene, the Union Company was back at the firehouse enjoying a much-deserved breakfast of donuts and coffee and washing down the equipment.
Tunnicliffe said it was quite a way to start their anniversary day but was far from out of the norm. “It’s not what we look for, but it’s what we do,” he said.
When the Union Fire Company was formed on January 15, 1920, two communities existed along the Delaware: Titusville, then a thriving industrial community, and Washington Crossing, a village near the bridge. According to the Union Fire Company and Rescue Squad Facebook page, the new fire company helped join the river communities:
“On January 15, 1920, a meeting was held in the waiting room of the Washington Crossing, New Jersey train station among ‘the citizens of Titusville, Washington Crossing, PA and New Jersey’ according to the minutes of that first meeting. The purpose of that meeting was ‘to organize and incorporate a fire company.’ Those present decided to name the organization the Union Fire Company. It would appear that one of the reasons for choosing the name ‘Union’ was the uniting of the three communities mentioned all of which had their own community identities.”
The company will be celebrating its anniversary with several public events throughout the coming year. Below are some photographs of the Company over the last century, contributed by former Hopewell Township Police Chief and Fire Commissioner Mike Chipowsky.