Battalions of The Deptford Fire Department

Tacoma Volunteer Fire Company History: 1923 to 1979

Officers of the Tacoma Fire Company in 1979 were Mike Gallagher (lieutenant), Jim Reed (second assistant chief), Harold Angeroth (chief), Jules Huatshyn (first assistant chief) and Tip Willard (captain).

The Tacoma Volunteer Fire Company of Deptford Township is most likely the only company in New Jersey, and possibly the East Coast, that got its name from a city 3,000 miles across the United States in the state of Washington.

The Tacoma Park area of the township received its name from a former resident of Washington state who had moved to Deptford, and the fire company took the Tacoma Park name when it was formed by area residents in June 1923.  Before its inception, the area received fire protection from other companies in the area.

When the company was formed, its fire district covered the sections of Tacoma Park and Westville Grove in Deptford.  The fire district today includes areas along Cooper Street and Delsea Drive.

Residential areas in the district include the apartment developments of Inverness, Delsea Woods, Knightsbridge.  The fire district also includes some commercial establishments including a pair of industrial parks and many of the businesses along Delsea Drive such as Atlantic Thrift and Thriftway stores.

This was a far cry from the condition of the area when the company was formed.  In the early 1920s, the Westville Grove area was still largely rural with some residential development.

In addition to its own district, the company serves as a back-up unti for providing fire coverage of the Deptford Mall.

The company's first firehouse was located only about 40 feet from the site of its current firehouse at the intersection of Florence and Cedar Avenues, near Delsea Drive.

The first firehouse was considerably smaller than the contemporary version of today.  One year after the company was formed, the firefighting outfit joined the Gloucester County Firemen's Association in 1924.

The present firehouse was built during the 1960s.  The facility consists of three engine bays, a social hall and recreation room.  The firehouse was one of three in the township that also houses one of the township's ambulances.

Both services are independent of each other, other than sharing the same headquarters.

In 1979, the company today maintained a pair of fire engines.  They were a 1966 Ford 750 gallon per minute (gpm) pumper and a 1972 Imperial 1,250 gpm pumper.

The company had an active membership of 40 persons.  The company also had a junior program for the teenagers in the fire district.  The program helped to recruit persons to become adult firemen when they became 18 years old.

Like the seven other fire companies in  Deptford Township, Tacoma is funded by the board of fire commissioners.  All the township's fire companies receive an annual grant for the rental of their firehouse from the commission and have new equipment purchased by the commission when it is deemed necessary.

The Tacoma company also had an active ladies auxiliary program which ran social activities and helped supplement the company's annual income.

During the 1970s, the company answered between 150 and 190 fire calls a year.