Deer Park Fire Company Cherry Hill Fire Station 13-8 Special Services Unit

During the 1940′s as Delaware Township continued to grow, the local citizens of the Deer Park section of the township saw a need to form a volunteer fire company. The Deer Park Fire Company received its charter from the State of New Jersey on August 11, 1948. There were 27 charter members and the first fire chief was Thomas Sharp. The fire company equipment was housed in Dom’s Garage which was a truck repair business owned by charter member Dominic Sacca, Sr. Dom Sacca Sr. later served as Chief of Deer Park Fire Company.


The 1939 “Little Mack” as it appears in 1982.

The fire company’s first apparatus was a 1939 Mack pumper purchased from the Cheltenham Hook and Ladder Company of Cheltenham Township, Pennsylvania. The “Little Mack” pumper was purchased December 4, 1948.


The 1937 Dodge Tanker

The fire company added a 1937 Dodge Tanker. This truck also carried the first mobile breathing air cascade system in South Jersey and additional air bottles as well as brush fire fighting equipment.

Deer Park Fire Company Original Station on Route 70 @ Marlkress Road.

In 1957 the fire company took delivery of its first new engine; an open cab American LaFrance Pumper. This unit (1332) remained in service until 1975 when it was sold to the Presidential Lakes Fire Company of Burlington County. Deer Park Fire Co. original Station 133 on Route 70 & Marlkress Road that was built in 1953. This photo was taken in 1958. The 1957 ALF was an open cab when delivered. A fiberglass roof was added in the late 1960′s.


1957 ALF leaving our quarters for the last time April 1975.

1957 ALF leaving our quarters for the last time April 1975

1963 Mack C95 Diesel Pumper 1333 Engine

In 1966 the fire company added its first Rescue/Cascade to the fleet in the form of a 1966 International Metro Van. This unit also carried additional Self Contained Breathing Apparatus and salvage equipment. This unit was later sold to the Kresson Fire Company Station 663 of Voorhees Twp, NJ.


1966 International Metro Van Cascade/Light Rescue/Salvage unit 1335

In 1966 the fire company added its first Rescue/Cascade to the fleet in the form of a 1966 International Metro Van. This unit also carried additional Self Contained Breathing Apparatus and salvage equipment. This unit was later sold to the Kresson Fire Company Station 663 of Voorhees Twp, NJ.

Ground Breaking Ceremony for new sub-station 13-8 January 1968.

As the rapid growth of Cherry Hill continued in the eastern section of the fire district during the late 1960′s, the Deer Park Fire Company realized that a new fire station was needed in the eastern area of the fire district. A plot of land was purchased on Cropwell Road at Rabbit Run Road in the Old Orchard section. A new station was built and was dedicated on September 28, 1968 as Station 13-8; the Deer Park Fire Company Cropwell Substation. It was originally equipped with the 1939 Mack and the 1957 American LaFrance. A Mack CF600 pumper was purchased in 1969 for the new substation and replaced the 1939 Mack.


Cropwell Substation as completed in September 1968.

Engine 1381 purchased in 1969 for new substation 13-8.


Engine 1382 a 1975 Ford/Pierce

The sub-station was initially manned by 25 volunteer fire fighters that were recruited from the Old Orchard and Fox Hollow areas. Many of the new volunteers came from the Brooklyn section of New York City when the Brooklyn Navy Yard was closed. In 1975 a new Ford/Pierce pumper was purchased for the substation. The 1957 American LaFrance pumper was retired and sold.

Deer Park Fire Company new headquarters as it was in 1974

The fire company’s area continued to grow rapidly and in 1972 it was decided that there was a need to build a larger more modern facility and to get the station off of Route 70 due to increased traffic and congestion. A large piece of ground was purchased near the present fire station but had frontage on the side road making for easier access for members and apparatus response. The new Deer Park Fire Station was built at 1100 arlkress Road and was dedicated in June of 1973. Among the many features were four drive through bays, a six story training tower and hose tower, and a bunk room facility. An elaborate training center and smoke house were added several years later. The fire company hired its first and only career Fire Chief, Wil C. Ward on January 1, 1974. He served as the Chief until December 31, 1994.


1973 Pierce Mini Pumper 1st out on brush and dwellings as Engine 1331

Along with the new building the fire company also purchased a Pierce Mini- Pumper (1331) and its first truck company in the form of a 50′ Tele-Squrt from Young Fire Apparatus. This unit would run as 1334, the first of two truck companies the Deer Park Fire Department would own.

1973 Young 50’ Tele-Squrt, the first truck company, 1334

As the years progressed the fire department underwent a lot of changes, additional career personnel and the housing of an ambulance at the sub-station from the Ashland Ambulance Squad that provided emergency medical service to the east side of Cherry Hill. In 1976 an ambulance was housed at the Cropwell Station until a piece of property was leased to the township to build an ambulance station to service the south east portion of Cherry Hill.


Cadillac Ambulance of the Ashland Ambulance Squad housed at 13-8

Several more apparatus were added to the fleet over the years and the dwindling number of volunteers in the area beginning in the mid 1980′s required the fire company to add more career fire fighters to provide adequate manpower to handle the increasing number of calls. In 1977 an International/Reading Rescue and Cascade unit was purchased. Later additions to the compartments would bring this unit 1335 into Heavy Rescue Status with a full compliment of hydraulic tools and assorted rescue equipment.

1977 International/Reading Rescue Truck that ran as 1335.”

A 1977 Pierce/Hendrickson engine was added to the fleet for the headquarters station as well. It is believed to be the first top mount pump to come out of the Pierce factory. It would replace the 1963 Mack Pumper.


1977 Pierce/Hendrickson top mount pumper

The Deer Park Fire Company replaced the Ford/Pierce 1382 and Mini Pumper 1331 in 1980 with matching Pierce/International Midi-pumpers. These units were placed in service as Engines 1331 and 1381. The unit number 1382 was retired and was assigned for a short time to the 1939 Mack that was in reserve and parade status.

Engines 1331 and 1381 were identical units.

By 1988 the midi concept for 1st out engines was on the way out as was back step riding. The fire company drew up a set of specifications to include four door cabs to replace the two engines. At the same time the fire company decided to replace the Tele Squrt as it was now showing its age. Many types of apparatus were discussed to replace the Squrt. It was decided to go to a full service aerial with no pump and a 95′ Grumman Aerial Cat was chosen, along with two Matching Grumman Pumpers. The old 50′ squrt was removed and rebuilt and installed on the Grumman Chassis that would become Squrt 1381 to be assigned to the sub station. The other new Grumman engine 1331 would be assigned to headquarters. These two new 4 door cab pumpers would replace the Pierce Midi-pumpers.


1983 E-One 1500 GPM Engine that ran as 1383 until 1994.

This 1990 Grumman Aerial Cat replaced the 1973 Young Tele-Squrt and ran as 1334


The new engine 1331 delivered in 1989 from Grumman.

The new Squirt 1381 assigned to the Cropwell Station in 1989

The seven fire districts were merged into one Fire Department on January 1,1994. The Cherry Hill Fire istrict #13 was now a single fire department. The Cropwell Station continued on until 1996 but the loss of volunteer fire fighters available to respond to maintain required staffing levels finally became quite evident and the station went inactive during that year. An idea was introduced by one of our members and a committee was formed to do a feasibility study. Many hours were spent in research and site visits and it became apparent that the Deer Park Fire Company could remain a viable part of the Cherry Hill Fire Department and continue to serve the community. In November 2002 a plan was drawn up and a budget was prepared for presentation to the Fire Chief and Fire District Board of Fire Commissioners to operate a “Special Services Unit.” This unit would respond to all major fires and emergency incidents within Cherry Hill and surrounding communities as needed. It would provide basic re-hydration and foods to fire and emergency personnel working at these incidents. The plan was accepted and approved by the members of the Deer Park Fire Company and Cherry Hill Fire District.
Two new pieces of apparatus would be necessary to make this new unit feasible. A manpower and supply carrying van was the first vehicle purchased and was placed in service on March 1, 2004. The first incident that the new Rehab Unit was called to was the King of Pizza fire on March 15, 2004. The second piece of apparatus was designed and ordered in June of 2003. This unit to be known as Rehab 1385 was delivered on July 12, 2004. It was placed in service officially on August 1, 2004. The first incident that the new 1385 responded two was a 2 alarm house in Pennsauken Township, NJ Rehab 1385 is equipped with two refrigerators, coffee and hot water makers, a two burner stove, microwave oven, and a commercial hot dog grill, as well as drink dispensers to serve hot or cold food and drink at emergency scenes. This truck also carries Rehab equipment and can provide cooling and heating in a safe and quiet rest area for emergency workers at the scene of any type of emergency. This truck is also equipped with a full service restroom facility, the only one of its type in South Jersey.


Rehab 1385 is a 2004 Freightliner with Cummins diesel engine


Rehab 1385 Interior view of equipment and appliances

Support Vehicle 1388, a 2003 Ford E350 in front of Station 138

To date the Rehab units have responded to numerous emergencies including fires, floods, hostage standoffs, and hazardous materials operations. On behalf of our unit and its members we are proud to be a part of the Cherry Hill Fire Department and look forward to serving our community and our mutual aid companies for many years to come. We would like to thank all of our local citizens and community, our corporate sponsors, and the Cherry Hill Fire Department and staff for their continued help and support in keeping this important service in operation.


The new utility 1386 to the rear of Station 13-8 during generator test

During the first three years of operation the Rehab Unit carefully evaluated the method in which service was provided and after careful study of NFPA 1584 and other standards we realized that certain aspects of our service delivery needed to be fine tuned.

Based on the research done by the Rehab unit members we devised a plan to find a third vehicle to carry the additional equipment that would bring us into line with the requirements of NFPA 1584, Fireground Rehabilitation. Specifically, a fire ground rehab unit must be able to provide adequate shelter for emergency workers working in extreme environments than we were currently able to offer.

The planners focused in on two key points; one was to obtain a shelter that was portable, lightweight, and able to be deployed rapidly during an incident; and the other was the means to carry same to the scene. With this course of action decided, the rehab unit memberes started looking for an appropriate vehicle to carry the equipment to the scene.

Several manufacturers were contacted and the best vehicle for our needs was a small crew or standard cab walk around rescue. Many months and hundreds of hours were expended on our search for the right truck. Most of the units we found were either way too large to be practical, or were priced well beyond our means. Our attempts to apply for and receive a grant were also met with frustration as Rehab units are not considered a priority purchase in any of the tiers that the government had outlined for grants.

About the same time that we decided to abandon the project one of our members found this truck during a “Google” internet search. The vehicle happened to be close by and we were able to inspect same along with Captain Tom Parks of our fire department shop. Once the mechanical condition was determined to be more than acceptable we negogiated with the current owner and arrived at a fair price.

Although the process of getting the new 1386 in service has taken a very long time, we are getting very close to having all of the pieces in place. We have started to load same with the equipment and supplies needed for our role and once the shelter is ordered and delivered, we will have met our goal of of meeting NFPA 1584 and will be able to take better care of the emergency workers that we are called on to help.