Battalions of The Deptford Fire Department

Union Volunteer Fire Company History: 1914 to 1979

Officers of the Blackwood Terrace Fire Company in 1979 were:
Jan Smith, first assistant chief; Ray MacKay, lieutenant;
Mike Mostovlyan, Jr., lieutenant; and Harry Pennewell, fire chief.

The Union Volunteer Fire Company of Deptford Township, also known as the Blackwood Terrace Fire company, was started by a group of interested citizens in 1914.

A year later, the company was formally incorporated.  The company's name was selected because the unit's formation was the result of a union of three areas of the township.  Union Fire Co. was listed on the company's trucks while the initials of the Blackwood Terrace Fire Department, BTFD, were listed on the member's jackets.

Four years later in 1919, the company officially joined the Gloucester County Firemen's Association.

The company's first firehouse was located on Good Intent Road, near the site of the present-day firehouse, but it burned to the ground during a fire in 1937.

Another firehouse was constructed across the street from the site of the burned-out headquarters on Good Intent Road.

The company's first fire truck was an old Model A Ford.

Through the years, the company grew and protected the 17.5 square miles of Deptford along with the other seven companies in the township.

Gradually, the company outgrew its old firehouse and began looking for a new location.

"We didn't have enough room (in the old firehouse)," said Chief Harry Pennewell in discussing the need for a new firehouse.

"All the trucks were stored (in a row) in the engine bay and if the first one didn't start, we had to push the rest of them out to get to a fire," he recalled.

The new firehouse was contracted to an outside builder and was constructed in 1967.  An addition to the new firehouse was built in 1978.

An engine bay and hose tower were constructed in that year.  With the hose tower, a separate room in back of the firehouse, the firefighters were able to vertically hang their hoses up to dry, rather than laying them out on the floor to dry.

With the creation of the Deptford Township Fire Commission in 1965, all the fire companies in the township received an annual stipend of $6,000 for rental and a $1,500 allotment for equipment.

The company still raised money to supplement the township funds but didn't have to buy such items as trucks.

In 1979, the company had four pieces of firefighting equipment including three pumpers.  The pumpers were a 1965 1,000 gallon per minute (gpm) pumper, 1959 GMC 750 gpm pumper and a 1971 1,250 gpm Imperial pumper.  The company also owned a combination field truck and power wagon.

The 1959 GMC was a special piece of equipment for the company since it was built by the members themselves.

The company had about 45 active members.  The district that the company covered was largely residential and rural areas, but the company also served as a backup unit for such facilities as the Deptford Mall and Gloucester County College.

Besides Pennewell, the top line officers of the company were Jan Smith (first assistant chief) and Ken Barnshaw (second assistant chief).

Top elected officers of the company at that time were Mark Cocchi (president), Albert Cheeseman (vice president), and William Eichel (secretary-treasurer).