By Peter Zablocki
Before the first organized fire department in Parsippany at Mt. Tabor in 1910, a fire almost always meant assured doom. The township residents lived on spread-out farms, which often placed them at a higher risk of losing their livelihood in a case of a fire, as there were not enough neighbors close by to assist with putting it out. Most farms resorted to placing a large metal ring suspended by a chain on posts at the highest elevation on their land to provide an adequate system of alerting the neighborhood of a fire emergency. If heard, the clang of the ring would bring all available hands to the inferno to form bucket brigades from a well or a nearby creek.
As Parsippany and its surrounding region’s population began to expand and bring people closer in proximity to one another, one fire could quickly turn into a neighborhood disaster. As such, on June 11, 1910, Mt. Tabor residents established the area’s first fire department to protect themselves, the Mt. Tabor Fire Company. The firefighters were equipped with a hand-drawn and operated horse cart with a hose and a hand pump to be attached to the nearest water source. For the first seven years, the company had to raise its own funds, and each man had to purchase their own uniform and badge. Its 500-pound bell rang its first fire warning in April of 1912 when the men of the Mt. Tabor Fire Company raced to an old sawmill on the corner of Front Street and Route 53 to put out its first major fire.
Mt. Tabor was the only station in the area until 1928, when Parsippany-Troy Hills formed the Parsippany-Troy Hills Fire Association spanning the town from Pine Brook to Rainbow Lakes. Within two years, the Association raised funds to purchase its first fire truck with mechanical pumps, which carried 500 gallons of water. By 1937, the town had set up six distinct fire districts, and the Mt. Tabor unit became Parsippany’s District One, a fitting label.
Peter Zablocki is a local historian, author, and educator. He can be reached at peterzablocki.com.