Compartment Corner: Montgomery (NJ) Fire Company #1

By Michael N. Ciampo

The Montgomery Volunteer Fire Company 1 is located in Belle Mead, New Jersey, a hamlet of Montgomery Township, in Somerset County. The department was founded in 1939 and originally operated out of the Belle Mead Garage. The area long ago was inhabited by the Leni Lenape Indians and then became rural farmland when English and Dutch settlers began migrating to the area in the late 1700s after the Revolutionary War. Today the area is mostly residential with older homes and newer lightweight construction homes, condominiums, and townhomes along with industrial and commercial sections gracing its landscape.

The department is known as Station 45 and covers 32 square miles out of its modern drive-through four-bay firehouse. The firehouse is currently the company’s third location, with many modern amenities such as a training room, company officer offices, and fitness and locker room. It sits just off State Highway Route 206 on Griggstown Road. The town is covered by two stations that run as separate departments but run numerous calls and train together often. The department’s original rig was a 1930 Childs pumper purchased for $300 from the New Egypt (NJ) Fire Department, a far cry from today’s modern apparatus at Station 45. Today Station 45’s fleet includes a 2010 Pierce Velocity Rescue Pumper and a 2003 E-ONE Typhoon Pumper—a 1999 E-ONE 105-foot Hurricane Platform (soon to be replaced), a 2007 Pierce Mack 3,000-gallon tanker, a 2005 Ford Brush Fire Unit, 2016 and 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe chief vehicles, a 1984 Military five-ton high-water-rescue vehicle, and an inflatable 12-foot Avon rescue boat with 20-hp engine. The department also maintains a 1966 Maxim engine for parades and community events.

Rescue 45 is a 2015 Pierce Velocity nonwalk-in PUC rescue-pumper. Its paint scheme is a little unusual with its cab partially painted in white (sides only) and the rest of the rig painted red. The entire rig has a white reflective stripe running around the lower portion of the cab and body. The rear of the rig has the safety chevron design. It’s powered by a 500-hp Cummins engine with an Allison 5th Generation transmission and features TAK 4 Suspension. The rig also has a Harrison 15-kW generator and Husky 3 Foam System with 30-gallon tanks of Class A and B Foam. There is also an air cascade system on the rig to fill breathing air cylinders. The rescue body has all roll-up compartment doors which make tool and equipment retrieval much easier. It also has coffin compartments on its upper section with access via the ladder on the rear of the body. The engine has a 1,500-gpm pump, carries 400 gallons of water in its tank, and has 300 feet of 1¾-, 200 feet of 2½-, and 175 feet of 5-inch hose. The department prides itself in making this apparatus work for it at the numerous car accidents that it responds to. With today’s upgrades in the steel—such as boron used in car construction and reinforced areas on a car—the department set the rig up with low- and high-pressure extrication tools. The front bumper extrication compartment allows crews to nose up to an accident and get to work quickly while using the apparatus to block the scene and create a safety margin for their firefighters operating.

On the front bumper, the members created more storage by mounting small hand tools onto the inner section of the compartment’s lid. Here they have quick access to a seat belt cutter, windshield saw, and a cable cutter. Also in the front bumper is a Hurst combi tool with cord reel and a preconnected hoseline used for crew and victim protection and smaller rubbish or brush fires. TACTICAL TIP: this hoseline is also good for the chauffeur to use at a large fire to cool or protect any rigs that are subject to radiant heat.

The department uses Res-Q-Jacks to assist it in extrications and has set up one of the side compartments to carry the struts, accessories, and hand tools. The compartment has three vertical pull-out shelves with quick push-down releases located near the base of the shelves and painted yellow for easy identification. In this compartment, there are also four horizontal storage shelves which hold a variety of polycarbonate tool storage boxes. What is most unusual is that one box is empty and used for carrying equipment to the scene. A firefighter can fill the box with items needed and not have to bring the entire complement of tools with him if only a few things are required.

In the area toward the right side of the compartment, a Little Giant ladder is stored. This makes sense so that if the firefighter has an overturned truck, he can climb the ladder to place the top of the strut in position without having to climb onto any part of the under carriage of the vehicle. Pulling out the rear shelf, the side facing the rear has two base plates mounted to the bottom of the pull-out, while assorted equipment mounting hooks hold mini-J and mini-T grabs and regular grab hooks. The front of the rear pull-out has assorted tips and extension tubes for the jacks mounted on it.

The middle pull-out shelf’s rear side has two Res-Q-Jacks and two 20-inch-long stakes mounted on it. The front side of this shelf is similar but has two four-foot-long pickets with collars mounted on it. The front pull-out shelf’s back side has Grade 80 chains with grab hooks attached and a pry bar mounted on it. The front of the front pull-out has two axes, two Halligan tools, a bolt cutter, and a sledgehammer mounted on it. An assortment of equipment is carried on the horizontal shelves in the storage boxes that coincides with the struts or extrication. The equipment includes additional rescue straps, hooks and chains, road flares for safety, duct tape, rags, caution tape, and hose pieces (for putting over cut metal posts).

In addition to this compartment, the rig has both rear compartments set up for extrication. The officer’s side rear is the low-pressure Hurst tool complement, complete with two hydraulic hose reels already hooked up to the Jaws and combi tool. There is also a portable gas-powered power pack that can be used in remote areas or if more tools are required. The compartment’s upper shelf has extra hydraulic hose lines and a kit with various tips used on the rams or other equipment, while the lower pull-out tray has an assortment of Hurst rams, cutters and spreaders. On the chauffeur’s side of the rig, the rear compartment has the high-pressure extrication equipment stored in it. It also has two hydraulic hose reels already attached to a Jaws and cutter. The horizontal shelves hold a host of other equipment stored in this compartment.

The Montgomery Fire Company #1 is very proud of the design of its apparatus and its uses at extrications and fire scenes. It is a department with a lot of pride and tradition, which can be seen by the cleanliness and design of its apparatus and firehouse.

MICHAEL N. CIAMPO is a 31-year veteran of the fire service and a lieutenant in the Fire Department of New York. Previously, he served with the District of Columbia Fire Department. He has a bachelor’s degree in fire science from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City. He is the author of “Compartment Corner” on He is the lead instructor for the FDIC International Truck Essentials H.O.T. program. He wrote the Ladder chapter and co-authored the Ventilation chapter for Fire Engineering’s Handbook for Firefighter I and II (Fire Engineering, 2009) and is featured in “Training Minutes” truck company videos on

Previous articleCompartment Corner November 2018
Next articleOut of My Mind—Staying at the Top of Our Game

No posts to display