The history of the career firefighter in Long Branch can be traced back to the earliest beginnings of the Long Branch Fire Department. Several of the individual volunteer fire companies actually paid a few of their members to perform the duties of driving and operating the apparatus, and for the care of the horses. One of those appointed members actually lived with his family in an apartment on the second floor of the West End firehouse from 1928 to 1947. The responsibilities of the career man have evolved over the years from just driving and caring for the horses that pulled the early apparatus, to today’s service of providing the City with an immediate consistent response to emergency calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The Uniformed Fire Division is responsible for initiating fire suppression and rescue activities with the help of the Volunteer fire Department.
These career men first organized themselves as City Firefighters Union No. 309 of the International Association of Fire Fighters on December 1, 1930 with 9 members. In the earlier days of the department-prior to the installation of two-way radios in the apparatus-the firefighter on duty would often receive fire calls either by direct phone, a street box activation, or through a direct report to the firehouse by a citizen. If it were a house call, (one, or two fire companies responding rather than a general alarm where all companies respond) he would activate the horn outside the firehouse. As he was pulling out of the firehouse he would often be met by several of the local merchants and residents from the neighborhood who were volunteer members of the department. It wasn’t unusual to slow down several times en route to the scene to pickup members along the way. In many cases the on-duty fireman would be responding alone, with no radio communication. Imagine arriving at the location you were dispatched to for a reported house fire only to find nothing showing. In some cases they would have to go into someone’s house to place a telephone call to police headquarters to confirm the location, and obtain any additional information that may have been received. Often, they would arrive on the scene of a working house fire. Quick decisions had to be made. Should he start search and rescue? Stretch a line to start suppression? On top of all that he would have to find someone to run to the nearest fire alarm street box, place a telephone call from a neighbors house, or have a police officer use his car radio to contact headquarters to summon more help! The police department was among the first emergency vehicles to have two-way radio communications in the City. The Phil Daly Hose Co. was the first fire company in town to have a radio. There was no getting on the radio as we do today to call for additional resources. Even operating under those-what we would consider primitive conditions-the importance of instantaneous response has been proven many times over as numerous residents of the City have been rescued by the career firefighters. In 1967 the career firemen dissolved their affiliation with the IAFF and joined the New Jersey State Fireman’s Mutual Benevolent Association as Local #68.
Today the Uniformed Fire Division of the Long Branch Fire Department is made up of 22 members: one Captain who is the Uniformed Division Commander, working an administrative schedule of Monday-Friday 0800hrs to 1600hrs. Four Lieutenants that serve as shift supervisors for each of the four tours, working a 24 hours on and 72 hours off duty schedule. The division is deployed in one fire station operating one Engine and one Truck. Occasionally the career staff also assists with responses to the surrounding towns for rescue and fire suppression.
Members of the Uniformed Division also contribute to the community by performing in-service business inspections, conducting fire safety classes for the public and schools, assisting with first aid calls and lending their off-duty time to various community projects. The members assist with anything that is put their way.