Friday, September 5, 1997

Endeavor Fire Company #1

19 East Union Street
Burlington, New Jersey 08016
(609) 386-0430

Like most cities of its time, early Burlington constantly faced the threat of fire. The first settlers remembered well the London conflagration of the 1660's, and constructed their buildings of brick wherever possible, but bucket brigades were in use by 1700. In 1742, the City received permission to form fire companies, and the bucket brigades were gradually replaced by companies using hand-drawn pumps, such as the Old City, Washington, and Fulton Engine Companies.

In 1795, surviving members of these early companies played key roles in organizing the City's first permanent fire company, the Endeavor Fire Company #1. The oldest company in the city, Endeavor is also one of the oldest in the United States still bearing its original name. The company maintains a continuous record of its minutes, dating from its first meeting in 1795.

The Endeavor was originally composed entirely of men from the Society of Friends, including John Hoskins, Jr., Daniel Smith, Jr., and Robert Smith, Jr. Each member was required to pay one dollar upon joining, and to purchase a bucket bearing his name, at a cost of eight dollars. According to local lore, the "Quaker Boys" were also required to pass a morals test. Many prominent residents of the City have been members of the Endeavor over the years, including Samuel J. Gummere and members of the Woolman family.

In 1798, the Endeavor purchased their first engine at a cost of 150 pounds, and John Griscom built a home for it in front of the Friends Meeting House on High Street. Meetings of the Company were held in the Friends School House until 1801, then in the homes of members until 1874, when the old Union Street market house was purchased by the City and given to the Endeavor as a permanent home. The clock and spire which had stood on the City's original town hall were placed atop the new fire house, located at 19 East Union Street. The Endeavor's fire bell, donated in 1871, had formerly announced the arrival of trains at the Camden and Amboy Railroad depot.

Endeavor Fire Company #1 has been augmented in this century by the formation of the Ladies Auxiliary in 1929 and the Endeavor Emergency Squad in 1940. Presently, the Endeavor operates a 1986 Pierce 1500 GPM pumper, a 1979 Pierce 400 GPM attack pumper, and a 1978 Horton support truck.

1 comment:

  1. Lived 1 block from the Endeavor, my Mother went to Friday Bingo there for years. Great memories.