Its Function

Primarily to extinguish and prevent fires.  To accomplish these purposes the Department maintains a drill school, "Fire College" courses, assign men to places of public assembly, inspects homes and buildings inspects oil burners and commercial refrigeration installations, enforces fire prevention ordinance, issues and collects for permits required by this ordinance, conducts courses in first aid, lectures to school children, and organizes activities of Faire Prevention Week.

Its Personnel
    Salary per man
1 Deputy Fire Commissioner $3,420
1 Assistant Chief 2,250
Captain 2,250
1 Regular Lieutenant 2,250
2 Acting Lieutenants 2,250
Firemen 2,250
3 Temporary Firemen 25 per week
8 Call men 1 per week
50 approximate -- volunteer Firemen  
Its Equipment
1 1,000 gallon American LaFrance Pumper, 1929
1 750 gallon American LaFrance Pumper, 1920 (remodeled 1930 and 1933)
1 1 1/2 ton Reo hose cart and booster pump, 1933
1 1 ton Reo hose wagon and chemical tank, 1920
1 American LaFrance City Service Truck, 1927
1 Search Light Wagon, 1933
1 Auburn Roadster for Chief's Car, 1928
6,400 feet of 2 1/2 inch fire hose.
Complete line of miscellaneous equipment and tools.
Its Cost
Year Current Expenditure From Reserve Total
1930 $32,394.36 $352.98 $32,747.34
1931 32,854.99 646.40 33,501.39
1932 39,539.89 1,129.18 40,669.07
1933 39,253.85 538.28 39,792.11

The Teaneck Fire Department is primarily a volunteer department with a nucleus of paid men, at present under the command of a Deputy Fire Commissioner.  Paid men are being maintained at present in two stations in the Township, with the possibility of a third being opened in the near future. The men work in two platoons, twenty-four hours on and twenty-four off. Not more than two men of the off platoon are allowed out of town at any one time. All respond to a house fire and are subject to extra duty in times of emergency, such as snow storms, bitter cold and high winds.

Because of the changes which have been made in this department, rather more detailed comparisons than will be found in other parts of the report are here advisable. The cost table shows a constantly increased cost for this department, in return for which increasing service has been given. Again, the appropriations to this department were perhaps the most sub-standard of all.Until the spring of 1932 the Department was in command of a part time Chief. Upon his resignation, a man of long experience and wide reputation was placed in command of the Department as Deputy Fire Commissioner, exercising the functions of Chief during the vacancy in that office. Since one fireman was placed on the pension list, the regular "paid" man power remains the same. The total first response man power has been increased at small additional cost, by providing for three temporary men who stand duty the same as regular firemen. These appointments are rotated weekly, primarily among unemployed volunteer firemen with families. In addition to this, a system of "call men" has been instituted, whereby eight volunteer firemen sleep in the fire houses each night. These men are paid one dollar a night and are not required to stand watch or do fatigue duty unless they so desire. In making these appointments, faithful attendance at drill school and fire college is considered. By these methods, the total number of men sleeping in fire houses of the Township during the night has been increased to fourteen.Grades have been established in the paid service, both for the obvious reason that each platoon in each house should have some responsible officer in charge, and also to overcome the difficulties experienced at fires because of volunteer officers commanding paid men, and men of other companies. A vacancy in the position of assistant chief was recently filled by a competitive examination, written, oral, medical and physical, under the complete control of the National Board of Underwriters, the man they recommended receiving the appointment.

The department is now and will for some years, because of economic necessity, remain a volunteer department. It is the universal experience that in departments which are in the transitional stage between volunteer and paid, certain frictions arise, with consequent inability to enforce the most rigid discipline. Teaneck's department is no exception to this rule. Standards of discipline, however, have been considerably raised and the imminent introduction of a revised and complete book of rules will tend to solve this problem.


The Teaneck department is rapidly becoming a well trained department, conversant with and applying the most modern methods of fire fighting. Primarily, the men are trained to go into premises, find the seat of the fire, and apply the water at that point in as small quantities as possible. The practical result of this is that Teaneck's residents have been saved large sums in unnecessary damage. Schedule rating officials and adjusters have commented upon this.This training of the department is done by three methods; training school, fire "college" and continued daily instructions by the officers. Each year during the summer months a training school is held wherein is demonstrated and taught, by actual practice, the purpose and use of all of the tools and "tricks of the trade." The hose drying tower at headquarters was recently remodeled for this purpose, and scaling ladders and life net were purchased. The same drills are given to volunteer and paid men.The fire "college" course takes place each winter and consists essentially of a series of lectures, illustrated by charts, pictures and actual equipment. The course is conducted by the Deputy Fire Commissioner, though outside lecturers, men of reputation in the fire field, have often been present. The fighting of theoretical fires is an important phase of this work. This year for the first time, two of the men in the department lectured.

Aside from these two methods of training, the officers daily give some time to the men, drilling them in such things as pump operation, fire alarm receiving and sending, use of minor tools, hydrant locations, etc. Some of the men have shown ambition by studying on their own account.


The equipment of the fire department naturally falls into two divisions-fire fighting and alarm.The principal changes in fire fighting equipment have been as follows:1. Change of pumper No. 2 from 350 gallon to 750 gallon capacity. This was done by installing a larger pump, obtained from the New York Fire Department, at a nominal cost of $35 (price for new pump would be approximately $2,000). The change was made by a department member under the supervision of the Deputy Fire Commissioner, at a total cost, including the purchase of some new accessories, of approximately $350. The pump has worked well under several severe tests and the Township has been given credit for it by the Schedule Rating Office.2. Construction of a new hose wagon equipped with booster tank and pump for Company No. 4. A Reo chasis was bought on which was mounted a hose body from an old Reo, a 110 gallon tank, and a pump. This piece of apparatus would cost in the market about $3,000. The cost to the Township was approximately $1,500.3. Construction of a search light wagon. The department built out of two old 1920 Reo hose carts, plus some additional equipment almost all bought second hand, a search light wagon mounting 3-500 Watt lights and 3-200 Watt hand lights. All lights are detachable from the truck and can be placed around a building or carried inside. Of course the truck generates its own current. This novel piece of apparatus, not often found in departments of this size, cost approximately $500.4. Abolition of chemical extinguishers on all trucks except one old Reo, and the substitution of booster pumps and tanks. The advantages of this change are that expensive acid damage to hose is prevented, costs of chemicals eliminated, damage to house furnishings reduced, and ability to quickly get into service again.5. Purchase of a Chief's car. This is an Auburn roadster, formerly the Deputy Commissioner's own car, which was purchased from him after appraisal.6. A series of miscellaneous but important changes, concerning manner of carrying hose, minor tools and equipment; the purchase of soft suction hose, additional hose complying with New York City specifications, but at a great reduction in cost, additional new tools and equipment, some made by the department itself.In general the equipment and apparatus is kept in first class condition. A complete overhauling of motors, brakes and pumps is just being completed. The second floor of the main fire house was remodeled so as to provide sleeping quarters for a greater number of men. Additional beds and bedding were provided.Additional changes in contemplation are the building of a new hose cart for Company No. 3, to replace the 1920 Reo, the last in the Department, and the substitution of pneumatic tires for the solid tires on Pumper No. 2.In the alarm equipment the principle changes have been as follows:

1. The installation of fire 'phones which are used only for incoming fire calls. This peculiar service was made possible by the cooperation of the Bell Telephone Company.

2. The establishment of "phantom" boxes throughout the Township. Boxes have been located and numbered on a map and each resident given a card showing the number of the "box" serving his district, which number is to be used in case of calling a fire. Complementing this a card index was established at headquarters, which shows the correct box number of every house in town.

3. The installation of a code blowing air whistle, the component parts of which were bought separately and assembled by the department. Essential parts of this equipment are a transmitter, recording tape and time clock. Much of this latter equipment was second hand.

4. A complete "running card" schedule, showing companies due at any location on first, second and third alarm, relocation of companies and sequence of dispatching.


A complete system of record and report keeping has been established, covering every activity of the department.

Fire Prevention Activities and Safety Measures

Inspections--During 1933, 347 fire prevention inspections were made either by the Deputy Fire Commissioner, paid men, or during fire prevention week, by the volunteer firemen. Two hundred forty inspections of oil heating installations were made and 85 permits issued. There were 41 permits issued for the sale and storage of gasoline, and 5 inspections of dry cleaning establishments.Contact with Public Schools--Fire drills are held in all schools at irregular intervals. The time of evacuation has improved, particularly in the High School. Groups of school children have visited the fire headquarters. An essay contest was conducted during Fire Prevention Week.Public Meetings--One or two firemen are always assigned to any public meetings of which the department has knowledge. Forty-four such details were made in 1933.Revision of Ordinance--During the year the Fire Prevention Ordinance was brought up-to-date by supplements covering the installation of oil burners (both cooking and heating), public garages, and dry cleaning establishments. Additional revenue from revised fees will be realized.

Fire Prevention Week--In cooperation with a local committee, the Deputy Fire Commissioner carried out locally the National Fire Prevention Schedule. Talks were given in the schools and before civic bodies, and the Fire Department gave an exhibition drill. All business buildings and schools were inspected and fire drills held.

Some Statistics

The following table shows the cause and number of fires during recent years:

  1929 1930 1931 1932 1933
Brush, Trees and Rubbish  145 182 203 254 83
Automobiles 21 17 30 25 25
Dwellings 19 23 27 55 56
Commercial 14 21 14 7 6
Miscellaneous 9 9 8 38 19


208 25 228 2379 189

Fire Loss Statistics are--

  1932 (Last 9 months) 1933
Value, Property on Fire $572,125 $535,000
Property Loss 19,000 26,185
Value, Contents 163,250 139,000
Loss on Contents 11,310 10,690
Total Loss 30,310 36,875
Per Capita Loss (approx.) 2.00 2.00
Average per Capita Loss for Nation (approx.) 3.26 2.53
Township Rating

The Township of Teaneck is at present rated by the National Board of Fire Underwriters as a Class "E" town. Inquiries at the Schedule Rating Office at the time the changes in the Fire Department were made, indicated that Teaneck was just about able to hold its rating in this class and that unless improvements were made its classification would be in danger of being lowered. Comparing Teaneck with 40 other New Jersey municipalities in the same population group, only 6 have a lower fire protection rating than Teaneck and 11 have a better rate, leaving 23 in the same class as Teaneck.The changes in the fire department discussed herein have brought us nearer to a Class "D" rating, but several rather expensive additions must still be made. Through the cooperation of a local agent, an Insurance Company recently made a survey of the town. This indicated that before the Class "D" rating could be obtained the following two important conditions must be met:

"That at least forty (40) of the members of the department be men who are available for fire duty during the day."

"That an approved automatic fire alarm system be installed in accordance with the regulations of the National Board of Fire Underwriters for Municipal Systems. This fire alarm system to be equivalent to Class "B", with sufficient number of fire alarm boxes in the mercantile areas only, so that no mercantile building would be more than 500 feet from an alarm box. In order to adequately do this, we estimate that about 30 fire alarm boxes would be required."

What the cost of these might be is uncertain, as are the benefits to policy holders. Crude estimate of this places the yearly saving in insurance premiums at about $5,000.

It does not seem that the Schedule Rating Office offers enough inducement for any municipality to increase its rating. For instance, in Teaneck the change in rate for dwellings, which comprise 90% of the improvements, would be only about one and one-half cents per hundred. However, there is much more to this than such figures alone would show, for improvements in the Fire Department either by the addition of equipment, personnel or training, white they might and do actually cost much more than the direct insurance benefits received, still are worthwhile when considered from the point of view of possible lives saved, families saved from being made homeless and from individual damage, such as loss of business.

Schedule Rating Office Report

Approximately a year ago, criticisms were rampant concerning the administration and work of the Department. It was felt that these criticisms were unwarranted, and superficial, dealing mainly with details, and that fundamentally the department was sound. It was felt that the property owners in the Township were entitled to an authoritative and unbiased opinion. Consequently the Schedule Rating Office of New Jersey was requested to make a thorough investigation by the Township Manager.

This report when rendered, acknowledged the many improvements in the department, and advised its continuance as at present constituted, besides making other suggestions for its further improvement. These recommendations and conclusions are being carried out.

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