In 1923, the first fire truck purchased for Oldwick was a Ford Model T. It carried boots, hose, rubber suits and a chemical water delivery system. In this system, chemicals were mixed which reacted giving off a gas which pressurized water tanks. These pressurized water tanks were fed into hoses and nozzles to fight the fire. Water delivery volumes were limited.
The 1939 Studebaker pumper used a motor driven pump which greatly enhanced the effectiveness of the fire company. These early fire trucks did not have windshields. Goggles were used by the truck drivers.
During WWII, in addition to firefighting duties, the Oldwick Fire Company also ran Defense Council drills (e.g. black-out drills). The Defense Council reserves were trained and regulated by the Oldwick Fire Company. At the end of the war, the Oldwick Fire Company purchased some army surplus firefighting equipment. The use of air packs was reviewed at that time.
In 1947 there was a concern regarding water supplies for firefighting purposes around Oldwick. As a result, three small ponds of 60,000 gallons were constructed. These ponds were built on the Boil property near the cemetery, VanDoren farm near the barns and the Nicholas property, east of town.
In 1954 the first truck radio was installed. This greatly increased the effectiveness of the volunteer force.
In 1968 the impact of Interstate 78 was assessed. Up to this point, the fire company focus was on structure and brush fires. The advent of interstate travel increased vehicle and hazardous material exposure. Tactics were reassessed.
In the early 1970s female firefighters was discussed, but pending NJ legislation delayed a decision. In the mid-1980s there were three female firefighters who proudly served the township.
In the late 1970s, there was a start of a residential construction ‘boom’ and many of these new homes were built with long narrow driveways that posed a challenge to the Oldwick Fire Company equipment. Ultimately a four wheel drive attack pumper was purchased to address the driveway problem.
Throughout the years, individual firefighter Personal Protective Equipment [PPE] changed and increased the protection of the firefighter. Initial 1923 equipment included rubber boots, coats and helmets. Today’s equipment includes multilayer boots, bunker pants, turnout coats, nomex hoods, helmets etc.
Also in the 1970s Self Contained Breathing Apparatus [SCBA] were first used by the Oldwick Fire Company. The initial units were a ‘negative pressure’ design and later units are ‘positive pressure’ which is much safer for the firefighter. These units are extremely important when fighting almost any type of fire due to the use of manmade materials including plastics, rubbers and synthetics. In the mid-1990s, a refill station was installed in the firehouse which was required due to the high use of these units.
In the mid-1980s, Interstate 78 opened between Pennsylvania and Newark. Road traffic, including truck traffic increased significantly, after extensive training, the Oldwick Fire Company began to fight hazardous material fires with foam. This foam was designed to ‘float’ on the surface and smother a hazmat fire. In the mid-2000s, Hunterdon County staged an 1100 gallon foam trailer system at the Oldwick Fire Company. Routine drills included HAZMAT response. HAZMAT response was a large factor in the justification of the tender.
In the mid-1980s, as part of Hunterdon County standardization efforts, high capacity 5 inch hose was begun to be carried on all trucks.
In 1991, a Tender/Tanker with 2500 gallons of water was purchased as the number of residential properties not close to a water supply increased. Ultimately the Oldwick Fire Company became part of the Hunterdon County ‘Tanker Task Force’. It should be noted that Tewksbury Township development rules also changed e.g. use of buried firefighter water tankage, to address water supply at housing developments. The fire company also purchased portable tankage to be used for water shuttle operations.
Also in the early 1990s, the fire company began to service carbon monoxide calls and as a result, gas meters were purchased. Natural gas mains were also being extended throughout the township. At that time, the number of medevac operations increased and a ‘high band’ radio, capable of communications with NJ State Police helicopters was purchased.
In 1995, a junior firefighter program was established. In 2013, a Live-In Program was established.
In 2007 the Oldwick Fire Company moved from James Street to Oldwick Road. The new firehouse was equipped with a large generator which was invaluable during the 2012 Sandy Hurricane. At that time, it was one of the few facilities in the township with electrical power and as a result was able to continue to respond to calls and provide a warming shelter to township residents.
In 2010, due to the number of vehicle incidents on Interstate 78 and the close proximity of the Oldwick Fire Company, in cooperation with neighboring departments and rescue squads, the company became trained on vehicle rescue including the ‘jaws of life’. At that time, additional vehicle rescue equipment was fabricated.