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Fireman has burning memories of old-time blazes

6/17/76 by Jeanmarie Elkins

There was a time when fighting fires simply meant, in the words of Howard Hulick, “hose laying and water throwing,”

Now, he says, his avocation has turned into “a scientific business.”

Hulick has been with Volunteer Fire Co. No. 2 since 1938. The only older member is his father-in-law, Paul “Pappy” Bannier, who at 83 is a charter member of the 50-year-old fire company. Bannier still shows up ’for meetings. He lives across from the original firehouse and Bannier Boulevard, the road connecting the old and new firehouses, is named in his honor.

In a way, Bannier is responsible for showing Maple Meade residents they needed their o fire company. It was Bannier, in his 1925 Ford touring car, who rushed to Berdines Corner to sound the fire alarm when Applegate Bros, garage burned.

That trip, in 1925, led to formation of the fire company the following January, There were 43 members.

Route 130 didn’t exist 50 years ago. Members built the firehouse Road, on Old Georges They solicited funds from passing motorists.

This year the fund drive will be kicked off by an open house June 27.

Saturday there will be a dinner party at the Ramada Inn, East Brunswick, to mark fire fighters’ 50 years of dedication to the community.

In its first year, the fire company's volunteers answered 28 fire calls and held 11 drills. By comparison, the firemen of 1975 answered 379 calls, put in 2,633 man hours on those calls, another 725 hours in training and 600 in drills. They also answered 285 community assistance calls.

Things are more sophisticated now — and more expensive. A walkie-talkie can cost $1,000.

A single truck tire, which must be changed at a truck company garage, can cost $200 including the labor of installation.

‘ Equipment has grown from a peanut wagon up to a real
truck," says Hulick.

There was a time when firemen simply went into a burning building with their hoses and put. the fire out. Not so today. ‘You have to know how to do it," Hulick says. Some fires require foam; some a stream of water; and others, a fog spray.

“You didn’t have to contend with all those gases “ 50 years ago, he adds.

But Hulick remembers vividly some of the more grueling battles he's fought.

There was a time when Ma-
ple Meade covered the territory now protected by the Brookview Volunteer Fire Co. in East Brunswick.

“Manny Patrick's ‘cider farm’,” as Hulick slyly called it, burned in 1941. There was no available water supply so firemen drove their truck right into Farrington Lake and began pumping.

There also were a number of major fires along Route 130 when it was still a three-lane road and was called “suicide highway,” Hulick recalled. That was in the early 195)s
when, on numerous occasions, trucks collided and then exploded.

Hulick says the department had to contend with oil trucks, gasoline trucks and ammunition trucks. At one accident nearly 21 years ago, he pulled a fire truck alongside a burning truck at Route 130 and Adams Lane. Only later, when firemen broke the seal on the truck to hose down the interior did they discover it carried ammunition. “Everybody scattered,” Hulick remembered.

There was the 1949 fire at Route 130 and Workhouse Road when a 2 Fa-story barn burned. The nearest fire hydrant was in Colonial Gardens and firemen had to set up a relay system with trucks traveling back and forth from the fire to the hydrant. It took three days to put that fire out.

Hulick also remembers being at a Route 18 fire when so much water cascaded from the building that Steve Skaritka and Robert Rasmussen simply dug a pit to catch the water and ‘recycle’ it back onto the fire.

Read the original article here.

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