Engine Company Number 1

On July 11, 1888, Fort Lee was then a part of the Ridgefield Township and there was no fire protection services in this section of the township. A meeting was held in the Schlosser Hotel to organize the residents to start a fire department. Those participating were from Fort Lee’s pioneer families: Beyer, Hanover, Hoyle, Hunt, Kimball, Lang, McNally, Schlosser, Schlupp and Semmindger.

These and so many others were the first to band together in Fort Lee to fight the perils and ravages of fire so that the homes of their families and neighbors might be safe. A meeting was called to order by Phillip Beyer. A motion was made and carried that Morris Hanover be elected as Temporary Chairman and Edward Fitzgerald be elected as Temporary Secretary. The following members were enrolled: Andrew Roos, Arthur Kimball, Charles A. Hundt, Jr., Edward Fitzgerald, Guido Semmindinger, Gustave Schulmann, Jacob Beyer, John A. Lang, Joseph Schlosser, Jr., L.H. Van Sycle, Lames McNally, Louis Schlupp, Morris Hanover, Phillip Beyer, Thomas A. McNally, William Hoyle and William Kalisher.

On July 18,  another meeting was held at the Schlosser Hall and was called to order by Chairman Pro Tem Morris Hanover. A motion was made and carried that there will be a 50 cent membership fee charged to the following new members: Charles E. Richter, Charles Hummel, Charles A Hunt, Sr., George Linder, George Roof, Henry Benecke, J.H. Guntzer, John H. Brandt, John Hartmann, Joseph Schlosser, Sr., Michael McNally, Phillip Hook and William Walder.

A motion was made and carried that the fire company be formally and permanently organized with the following officers: Morris Hanover, president; George Linder, vice president; Phillip Beyer, secretary; John A Brandt, treasurer; Charles A. Hundt, Sr. , temporary fire chief; and Arthur Kimble, sergeant-at-arms.

A motion was made and carried that the new fire company be known as "Fort Lee Fire Protection Association Number 1." Charles A. Hundt, Sr. was elected as Chief of Department; George Linder as Assistant Chief; Louis Schlupp as Foreman and Jacob Beyer as Assistant Foreman. (Foreman and Assistant Foreman were later changed to Captain and Lieutenant).

Even in the days of the late 1800’s, possibly even more so than today, financial backing would be necessary. This problem was tackled by the townspeople. The newly-formed fire department solicited subscriptions in order to raise the necessary finances. At its initial fund drive $400 was raised and an additional $500 was received at the first Annual Fireman’s Ball. It was with this $900 that the people of Fort Lee acquired their first piece of fire apparatus on August 28, 1888 - a horse drawn combination pumper for $875. 

Now with a piece of apparatus to work with, the volunteers had to have some way of transmitting alarms. It was now that an unexpected occurrence took place. In the center of the village of Fort Lee stood another pioneer mark, the Holy Angels Convent, and it was this dedicated group of nuns that became Fort Lee’s first fire alarm dispatchers. At a report of a fire, one of the good sisters would ring the bell in the tower of the convent to summon the volunteers.

During this time, the fire wagon was temporarily housed in the barn of Oscar Buckheister. The fire district ran from the Hudson River westward to the crest of the Leonia Hill and from Main Street north to the Demoras house north of the present Fort Lee-Englewood Cliffs border. 

The first chief officers were elected: Chief of Department was Charles A. Hundt, Sr. and Assistant Chief George Linder. The first company officers were elected: Foreman Louis Schlupp, Assistant Foreman Jacob Beyer with the company being directed administratively by Morris Hanover and J. Fletcher Burdette. 

As the years went on Fire Protective Association No. 1 conferred with the water company to construct system of cisterns, which was done to further afford the citizens more efficient protection.

On January 8, 1889, Charles A. Hundt, Sr. was re-elected as Chief of Department. On February 25th, a committee of three firefighters - J.F. Burdett, A. Kimble and James McNally was formed to find a site for building a firehouse.

On August 13, Mrs. Brossnahan offered to sell a piece of property to the association for $450. The property was purchased and the first fire house was built for a little over $1,050. On December 25, the association moved into its new firehouse, which is at its present day location on Main Street. The building was a 22 feet by 40 feet, two story wood frame structure with a peaked roof and a 15 feet bell tower, the cornerstone for the firehouse was laid with the names of all of the members. The current firehouse was built in 1929.

In 1896, the Firemen’s Relief Association was formed with Morris Hanover, Phillip Beyer and Ed Fitzgerald at the reins.

In 1897, the president of the Fire Protection Association Number 1 had the honor of informing the membership that the $800 mortgage on its building was canceled. Fire Protective Association Number 1 went under the jurisdiction of the Ridgefield Township.