The Mantua Township Fire District No. 1 was formed in October of 2006 by petition and voter approval. Prior to the formation of the Mantua Township Fire District, the residents of Mantua Township were protected by four individually operated and governed fire companies, the Barnsboro Fire Company, Mantua Volunteer Fire Company, Centre City Volunteer Fire Company and Sewell Mutual Volunteer Fire Company. Each company operated under its own set of by-laws and was responsible for its own fundraising. Upon the formation of the Fire District, five commissioners where elected to govern and provide finances from tax base to support operations of the four fire companies combined. The original five fire commissioners, (Joseph Hauss, Nicholas Vacarino, Kevin Howarth, George Huston and Joseph Schmidt) hired Career Fire Marshal/Fire Official Anthony Lamana and appointed a District Fire Chief and two Battalion Chiefs to streamline the operations of the four combined departments. Each battalion was led by a Captain and Lieutenant of each station. District Chief Patrick Robinson developed a five year plan to consolidate the existing companies and apparatus into two battalions operating as one department. The Barnsboro Fire Company located on South Main Street was operated as the Fire Headquarters. The plan was instituted in a much more rapid fashion and by the end of 2007 the Mantua Volunteer Fire Company was disbanded and the members were merged with the Centre City Fire Company, operating the second battalion out of the now titled “Jackson Road” Station.
This time saw the sale of five pieces of apparatus, a 1987 Pierce Squrt (22-12), a 1989 Pierce Engine (22-22), and a 1991 Pierce Engine (22-32), as well as, decommissioning both privately owned Brush Trucks (22-35 and 22-45). At that time units were re-numbered and the command staff was finally consolidated into the two battalions. Engine 22-11 and Rescue 22-18 were assigned to the S. Main Street Station, Engine 22-12 (formally 22-44), Ladder 22-16 (Formally 22-46) and Utility 22-17 (Formally 22-27) were assigned to the Union Avenue Station, and Engines 22-21, 22-22 (formally 22-31) and 22-23 (formally 22-43), as well as, Brush 22-25 were assigned to the Jackson Road Station. The district also purchased two new Ford F-250 Pick-up trucks to be utilized as a Brush Truck and small utility truck. The Brush Truck was initially numbered as 22-25 and the utility was numbered as 22-19. The District operated in this manner for approximately one year until the beginning of 2008, when a decision was made to sell Engine 22-11 to acquire a new 3000 gallon water tender, which was numbered Tender 22-24 and stationed in the Jackson Road Station, and Engine 22-21 was moved to the Union Avenue Station. At this time the department also decided to hire a second career firefighter due to a decrease in manpower and increase in call volume during daytime hours.
In May 2008 the board of fire commissioners developed the Casual Help Program which employs part-time firefighters to work weekend duty crews from 0600 hours to 1800 hours on Saturday and Sundays. The Casual Help Program was instituted as an incentive based program to help boost staffing during low membership hours. This program has solely assisted the Fire District in the enhancement of its public relations, maintenance and repair of apparatus and buildings, as well as, response to major incidents in which tax payer property and lives have been saved. In October 2008 it was determined membership from the “South Main Street” station had diminished causing a merger between the “South Main Street” Station and “Union Avenue Station.” At that time Rescue 22-18 was moved to the Union Avenue Station along with the members of the South Main Street Station and the Jackson Road station was now Fire Headquarters.
In April 2009 District Chief Robinson stepped down from his position and the command staff and battalions received a face lift. The Second District Chief, Joseph Schmidt, was appointed and further streamlined the command staff and abolished the two battalion system which the fire district was currently operating. At this time, Engine 22-21 was sold and the remaining 22-2 units were re-numbered to the first battalion. The command staff consisted of a District Chief, Deputy Chief, Assistant Chief, two Captains and two Lieutenants. During 2009 the district made numerous capital purchases including a Zodiac Boat, new 2009 Dodge Durango Command Vehicle (2201) and Morning Pride Turnout Gear. The Fire District operated status quo until January 2011 when Chief Schmidt stepped down from his position.
In April 2011 a new District Chief, Brian Hauss, was appointed and it was determined that Chief Hauss was the youngest District Chief in the State of New Jersey at 24 years old. The command staff was again streamlined to a Chief, Deputy Chief, two Captains and two Lieutenants. In the summer of 2011 it was determined to sell the 1995 GMC Utility (22-17) and the 1992 LTI 85 foot ladder tower (22-16) and operate using strictly an automatic aid Ladder Company, and an agreement with the Pitman Fire Company No. 1 was formed.
In the summer of 2012 a career firefighter had resigned and a hiring process was developed to find a Career Firefighter/Mechanic to maintain and service all of the Fire District Equipment. In December 2012 Firefighter Daniel Hauss was hired to replace the second career firefighter. In May 2013 a third career firefighter, Shawn Layton, was hired to supplement the ever decreasing volunteer ranks. In January 2014 Fire Marshal Anthony Lamana was promoted to the rank of Captain to assist with operations during daytime and nighttime responses. In December 2015 Firefighter Layton left the department and was replaced in April 2016 by Firefighters Michael Mercer and Kevin Gill. Also in April 2016 Firefighter Daniel Hauss was promoted to Career Lieutenant and the officer ranks were again streamlined to a Volunteer District Fire Chief, Volunteer Captain, Career Captain, Volunteer Lieutenant and Career Lieutenant. In May 2017 the Fire District decided to extend career staffing to 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A decision to hire a fifth career firefighter, Victor Torino, was made and the shifts of the three career firefighters was changed to a 24/48 schedule. Lieutenant Daniel Hauss was also promoted to Career Captain to assure proper management on a daily basis and both Captain Hauss and Captain Lamana worked 12 hour rotating shifts supplemented by one casual help firefighter each day.
In July 2017 District Chief, Brian Hauss, was appointed to Fire District Administrator. This job assignment encompassed all aspects of the fire department that were being handled by two civilian secretaries. The clerical duties were combined with Administrative and supervision duties to allow for a signified leader of the fire department, handling both volunteer and career personnel, as well as, guaranteed fire ground support.
In October 2018 both Engine 2213 and Squad 2218 were sold and a new KME Rescue Engine “Squad” was purchased to replace the 2007 E-One. The fleet was again reduced by one piece of apparatus to limit the amount of unnecessary equipment and provide a more efficient response to the residents of Mantua Township. The two “Squad” companies run on a rotation to limit the wear and tear on the apparatus and extend the life of both trucks. The two KMEs are set up identically and can be interchanged at any time. The duty “Squad” is the first out apparatus and is staffed by three personnel 24/7/365.
In January 2019 a career firefighter had resigned and it was determined that another Firefighter/Mechanic was necessary to maintain operations. At that time, Firefighter Dan Darnall was hired as a second Firefighter/Mechanic. Also in February 2019 the Fire District budget was increased to hire two more career firefighters to supplement staffing and tackle another shared services agreement with numerous surrounding townships for Mechanical Services. In March of 2019 the Mantua Township Fire District decided to move elections from February to November, becoming the first fire district in Gloucester County to make the switch. In July 2019 Firefighter Dennis Marchei and Firefighter/Mechanic Matthew Repas were hired to streamline operations and increase staffing to seven full time personnel.
In January 2020 six of the seven career firefighters were assigned to 24 hour shifts to ensure proper staffing and Captain Daniel Hauss was promoted to Deputy Chief on a Monday to Friday Schedule for weekly supervision and increased daily staffing. In January 2020 the Fire District also went into a shared services agreement with the Mantua Township MUA to have a MUA Mechanic, Firefighter Alex Dickerson, working in a dual capacity roll to increase week day staffing to five personnel. Currently each 24 hour shift is staffed with two career firefighters and one casual help firefighter on a rotating schedule, with supplemental staffing Monday-Friday from Deputy Chief Hauss and Firefighter Dickerson. To present day the fire district is operating status quo with approximately 35 volunteer/part-time firefighters and 7 career personnel.
Currently the Mantua Township Fire District No. 1 is comprised of two stations. Fire Headquarters is located in the Sewell section of town at 155 Union Avenue and the Sub-Station is located in Centre City area at 191 Jackson Road. The Fire District is staffed twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year at the Union Avenue Fire House. Station 22-1 is dispatched by the Gloucester County Communications Center and responds annually to approximately 650 dispatched incidents. The Mantua Township Fire District operates one Class A Engine Company (22-12), one 3000 Gallon Water Tender (2214), one Ford F-250 Brush Truck (2215), two Ford F-350 Utilities (2217&2219) and two Squad Companies (22-11 & 22-18).
The Mantua Township Fire District provides mutual aid support to numerous Gloucester County Fire Departments and responds on a Gloucester County Regional Structural task force, Out of County Regional Structural Task Force, Task Forces for Technical Rescue Foam, water tender, LDH and state wide Neptune water supply system. The members of the Mantua Township Fire District provide superior service to its community with dedication to training and community service.