History of Relief Engine Company
In 1889 a group of citizens in the Stanwick section of Chester Township (now Moorestown Twp.) requested that fire protection equipment be placed in their area. In 1890 The Board of Fire Commissioners moved an old storage shed from West Second Street to the Water Company property on East Main Street across from Zelley Avenue. Volunteers then organized as Moorestown Hose Company No. 2 and were provided with fire buckets, hose and a hose cart.
In 1892 the Board of Fire Commissioners approved the construction of a new “Engine House” at the corner of Third and Elm streets at a cost of $ 896. The Hose Co. No. 2 members moved into the new building and renamed the organization and formally incorporated as RELIEF ENGINE COMPANY. The company was provided with a new hose cart and a ladder wagon along with additional fire hose to combat fires to the east of Chester Avenue.
In 1909 the company began a fund raising campaign to erect a new fire house on Chester Avenue which was completed in 1910 at an approximate cost of $ 4,500. In 1914 the company was provided with its first motorized apparatus, a 1914 Federal Hose and Chemical wagon. In 1919, the Board of Fire Commissioners authorized the purchase of a new pumping engine for the company, a 1922 Ahrens=Fox 600 GPM, model RK-4 pumper that remained in service until 1965 and is still in the care and custody of the organization today after having under gone a restoration in 1973-1975 and is currently being partially re-restored including new wheels and tires (still solid rubber) a new radiator dome and other repairs and improvements.
In 1914 The Company presents it its first annual Minstrel show at the new High School auditorium on N. Church Street. Proceeds are used to help pay off the mortgage on the Chester Ave. fire house. The shows were held again in 1915 and 1916.
The company contracted to add on the front of the building in 1926 bring the front out to its current position at the sidewalk line. The space was needed to accommodate the two pieces of apparatus and other equipment and provide work space.
A new Ahrens-Fox pumper was provided by the Commissioners in 1936 to replace the Federal unit. The “Little” Fox, as it was known, was equipped with a rotary gear, 500GPM pump and large hose bed. This truck remained in service until 1957.
The company celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1940 ( based on the original formation year of 1890) with a large banquet at the Community House on Main St. A photograph of the gathering is currently displayed in the Commissioners meeting room in the Emergency Service Building at 261 West Main St.
Relief Engine Co. sponsors a parade and housing for a new 1952 Mack model B-85 750 GPM triple combination pumper. This open-cab engine remained in service until 1977 and was hugely popular with the membership. It remains in service in Maine after having been originally sold to Fayette, Maine.
In 1957 the Commissioners purchased an International/Central Body Works 750 GPM pumper. This unit replaced the 1936 Ahrens-Fox . The fleet then consisted of the 1957 International, 1952 Mack and the 1922 Ahrens-Fox.
While the history is vague and incomplete, sometime around 1955 and old step-van was acquired and converted into a canteen unit by the membership. The unit was small and not so reliable. It was decided to acquire a used transit bus from Philadelphia which was converted into e new canteen unit equipped with coffee earns large gas stove and grill and later a small freezer along with custom built cabinets for storage. This unit, “Tweedy II”, began service in the late 50’s and was used until about 1972 when it was sold to the Scouts. To make funds to operate, the canteen served soup, coffee, hot dogs and hot chocolate at community events and especially during ice skating season at Strawbridge Lake as long as the green flag was up. Food was provided free of charge to firefighters and other emergency personnel at large fires and other disasters including the flooding of Long Beach Island after the storm of 1963.
In 1962 the company seeks a method to raise funds for support of the company. Member Ed Maguire suggested an Easter Flower sale which is accepted. $500 is approved for the purchase of flowers and the sale is conducted at the fire house from on Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Saturday. Howard Schuster is the first chairman and reports a nice income for the company. The sale continues to this day and has been highly successful and is looked forward to by many of our residents each Easter.
1965 sees the end of active service of the 1922 Fox (Bertha) with the arrival of a new Mack 750 GPM pumper with crew jump-seats under a canopy. This is the first cab-forward design apparatus in the fire department as well as the first with a front pump suction connection. This truck remained in service until 1985. 1965 was also the 75th anniversary of the fire company which went by with little and no celebration.
In December 1972 a new Mack 750 CF was received into service and replaced the 1957 International. Planning began on an addition to the building that was made possible by the Commissioners purchasing two adjoining properties on the railroad side of the station including the old News Chronicle building. The addition was completed in November of 1974 and a firemen’s parade and building dedication was held on May 10, 1975. This was the first firemen’s parade held since the 1952 Mack housing.
In 1977 a new Mack 1250 GPM engine was received replacing the 1952 Mack which was sold to Fayette, Maine.
1982 brought the purchase of a Ford E-150 Van for Fire Police Service and a Ford F-250, FWD pick-up body with a WIN-SON skid mounted pump unit for brush fire service.
In 1987 a new 1000 GPM Pierce, Arrow model pumper is purchased. This was the second Pierce “Arrow” engine purchased in the fire department.
In 1990 the company celebrated its 100th Anniversary with a formal dinner in Cherry Hill. In 1990 the company celebrated its 100th Anniversary with a formal dinner in Cherry Hill.
1994 Brought the delivery of the fire department’s first aerial apparatus, an LTI/Spartan 85’ platform with a 1500 GPM pump which was housed at the station in September 1994.
In 1997 the company placed into service a new Pierce Saber engine with a 1500 GPM pump with an elevating light tower and a hydraulic generator. This truck has since been transferred to Hose Co. #1 to replace their 1992 Pierce Lance engine which was sold reducing the department fleet to three engines.
In 2004 the LTI Platform was replaced with a Pierce 100’ rear-mount aerial ladder.
In 2010, a new 1750 GPM Pierce Arrow XT engine with an elevating light tower was placed into service replacing the 1987 Pierce Arrow engine.
The company will be marking its 125th year of volunteer service to the community. The organization continues to support community events and activities along with conducting the annual Easter Flower Sale, the Scarecrow making at Autumn in Moorestown and the breakfast with Santa at the station following the annual Holiday parade on the first Saturday of December.