Battalions of The Deptford Fire Department

Helping Hand Fire Company History: 1921 to 1979

The 1979 officers of the Helping Hand Fire Company included (seated) Assistant Chief James Nock, Chief Louis H. Evans, Second Assistant Chief Sheldon Johnson, and (standing) Fire Marshal Robert E. Evans, Jr. and Lieutenant Bruce Fiddler.

The Helping Hand Fire Company of Deptford Township was first organized in 1921 by Louis Grossman, the owner of an Oil and Gas store at 1100 Broadway in North Woodbury.

Initial meetings of the company were held at the store and at various members' homes.  The first alarm was a piece of rail (from the railroad) and a hammer that was struck to summon each member of the company to come running with buckets and anything that could hold water.

The company was incorporated in 1924 with its original members being: John Long (president), Leon Corsey (chief), Harrison Tull (treasurer), Ed Bonds (secretary), Oscar Brown, Riley Davis, John Fletcher, George Corsey, Herb Corsey, and Dennis Huffinton.

The company's first firehouse was really just one room and gradually progressed to two and three rooms as the company membership grew.

The company's first official firehouse was built in 1923 and the first truck was a 1924 chassis with a tank mounted on back and pump mounted in front of the radiator.

A 1928 Chevrolet was the company's first new truck and was donated by the Ladies Auxiliary.

From these modest origins, the company moved to bigger and better things which included a new building at Fisher and Lippincott Streets and two pumpers.  That building was constructed by members of the company in the mid 1960s.  The company held fundraising drives and sought contributions from the neighborhood.

Included in the facility is a two-bay engine room, a small hall for social activities, a meeting room and kitchen.  The company officially moved into these new quarters in 1967.  The company's current firehouse is only 40 feet from the site of its first firehouse.

In an effort to bolster membership, the company instituted a junior fireman program in 1974 to get young people interested in the fire company.

"The adult membership had started to drop off and we hoped to increase it by getting the younger people interested in the company," said one officer.  He added much of the new membership in the mid-seventies had come through the junior ranks.

The company's fire district encompassed an area from Old Broadway to Park Avenue to Interstate 295.  The area is largely residual but has a few commercial establishments.

The company is a member in the Gloucester County Fire Association, the New Jersey State Firemen's Association and the Deptford Township Firemen's Association.

Line officers of the fire company in 1979 included Louis H. Evans (fire chief), James Nock (assistant chief), Sheldon Johnson (second assistant chief), Robert Bartley (captain), Octavius E. Paynter, Jr. and Robert Evans (engineers).