Fire Department History

Department History

The Carteret Fire Department began in the late 1800's with the hiring of a single fire fighter to operate the fire apparatus. At that time, the fire apparatus was horse drawn, and the duties of a firefighter were quite different than they are today. In case of a fire, the team of horses would be unhooked from another borough wagon, and raced to the firehouse. Once there, the horses would then be attached to the steam pump, and raced to the scene of the call. The firefighter would then have to start a fire under the boiler to produce the pressure by steam to help extinguish the blaze.

In the 1920's, Carteret received their first motorized fire apparatus and the department was expanded to five firefighters. Two firehouses were in operation in town to better serve the different areas of Carteret. The town grew in population during this period due to the wave of immigration from Europe, resulting in a need for expansion.

By the 1940’s the department grew to ten in number manning the two houses around the clock. Two Fire Captains were promoted, with Patrick Donovan and Roy Dunn being the first in the department's history. Two engines and one Ariel serviced the needs of the borough at this time.

In the 1950's, development in Carteret grew rapidly with the new turnpike exit 12 running through the center of town. A 65-foot Aerial was purchased in 1958 (original truck 5) to serve the needs of the expanding industrial base in the borough. The population continued to grow, as did the number of responses. The Bureau of Combustibles the forerunner of today’s Bureau of Fire Safety was begun at this time.

By the 1960's, there was the need for another station to provide protection to West Carteret now separated by the New Jersey Turnpike from the rest of town. Station #3A was built in l964, and the department was expanded to 15 firefighters, with three Captains. Two 1,000 GPM FWD Engines were purchased, and they remained in service for over twenty years. The F M B A came to Carteret in 1965. The first president was Gerard Lausmohr, and the first delegate was Patrick Donovan.

In 1967, Fred Gombos became the first Chief of the Carteret Fire Department. In 1971, a 74-foot Snorkel Truck (Truck #1) was purchased, and in December of 1998 was taken out of service. Several significant fires occurred in the 1970's, including a major fire in the Carteret Shopping Center and a large explosion and blaze aboard a petroleum barge along the waterfront. A tank explosion at a large terminal also rocked Carteret and a large lumber firm also was destroyed by fire during these years. Lausmohr became the chief in 1982 and the department expanded to four captains in 1985.

In 1987 the department received a new Pierce 1500 GPM Pumper (Engine #2) with a fully enclosed cab capable of carrying up to 7 firefighters at a time. This Pumper also has a mid-mount pump panel making it ideal for turnpike fires, which reduces the risk of the operator to highway traffic while operating the pump. Engine #2 was the busiest piece of equipment in the fire department answering almost all alarms and remains in service till this day as a reserve engine and for fires on the NJ Turnpike.

In 1991 the department received another Pierce 1500 GPM Pumper (Engine #3). This new Pumper was designed smaller in length making it ideal for responses to the Boroughs two trailer parks in West Carteret. Engine #3 remains in service till this day and responds out of station 3A.

In 1998 the department received a state of the art 93 ft LTI mid-mount aerial platform (the new truck 5) with an enclosed crew cab, dual nozzles (one is remote controlled) capable of delivering up to 2000 GPM. This aerial was the first of it’s kind for LTI in cooperation with American LaFrance. With it’s advanced features and equipment this truck is used not only for fire fighting but also for advanced rescue operations and vehicle extrication. Truck #5 is located at Fire Headquarters.

In 2001 the department received a new American LaFrance Rescue Pumper (Engine #4) with a 6 Man Fully Enclosed Crew Cab, 2000 GPM Pump. It carries 750 gals Water, has a David Clark Crew Intercom System, it’s First Responder Equipped W/ AED Defibrillator, Holmatro Extrication / Rescue Tools and a Bullard Thermal Imaging Camera. Engine #4 is now the front line Extrication pumper. Engine #4 is located at Fire Headquarters.

In 2002 the department started daytime EMS from 0600 to 1800hrs. Two new 2002 Ford F350 "Type I" Ambulances were purchased with the help of the solders and sailors memorial fund. Fully trained professional EMT's are ready to provide the best possible care to the citizens of Carteret when called upon.

At present the career fire department continues to operate with a 19-member force including 5 captains. The department also operates a first responder program which provides immediate care to residents whenever possible. Each career fire fighter has been fully trained to provide Advanced First Aid, CPR, as well as trained in using Portable Defibrillator units. Most Career Firefighters are EMT’s. As the new millennium approaches the Carteret Career Fire Department continues to provide the best possible protection both in Fire and now EMS.

Additional Links

  • CFD History - Brief history of the Carteret Fire Department
  • CFD Events - Fire Prevention Month - Check your Smoke and CO Detectors, change batteries when you change your clocks.
  • CFD Programs - The Carteret Fire Department sponsors various programs for the community (i.e. First Responder, File of Life). 
  • CFD Equipment - A list of equipment used by the Carteret Fire Department, listing equipment specs along with pictures.

Contact Information

Fire Department Headquarters 
240 Roosevelt Avenue, Carteret, NJ 07008

Phone: (732) 541-8000 
Fax: (732) 541-5532