Early on a Sunday morning in May 1887 the little village of Palmyra was aroused and excited by the call of “fire”.

The fire, which aroused the cry, started in a twin dwelling on the southwest corner of Fifth Street and Cinnaminson Avenue. the flames swept rapidly through the next three properties, stopping at the fourth dwelling. The only fire fighting equipment at the time being water soaked carpet.

index002004During the blaze cinders flew about the town starting fires in several other places. The only water available at the time was from pumps in houses in the vicinity of the fires.

The William Penn Hook & Ladder Company of Pavonia pulled its truck all the way up the Burlington Pike to Palmyra. Burlington sent two pieces of apparatus down about noon, on flat cars from McNeal’s Foundry, but the fire was then under control and we had no water for them to use with their apparatus anyway.

The fire brought the attention of the people of both towns the need for fire protection and water facilities. The Riverton & Palmyra Water Company was shortly afterwards incorporated. Talk of a fire company for the villages finally culminated in a meeting held in George W. Hall’s pool room on Broad Street, west of Race Street, on the evening of August 8th, 1887, and the Independence Hook and Ladder Company there became a fact.

One of those interested in the formation of the company was Jacon Schnabel who had belonged to the Independence Hose Company in the old Philadelphia Volunteer Fire Department and suggested the name “Independence” which was adopted by the meeting.

The articles of incorporation in the County Clerk’s Office in Mount Holly are dated September 12, 1887. On May 4th, 1937 the reincorporation took place as a permanent matter.

fir1950a05The first apparatus was a Hook and Ladder truck purchased from the Rumsey Manufacturing Companyand this was housed on Thanksgiving Day 1887 by the Young America Hook and Ladder Company of Burlington after a large street parade.

The next piece of apparatus was a Hose carriage and hose, purchased in March 1890. This had belonged to one of the old Philadelphia companies.

Part of the ground on which the original house stood was purchased from Abraham Springer on October 4th, 1890 for $900.00 and was roughly 47 feet on Broad Street and 100 feet deep. A small frame building large enough to house the truck had been erected there in the leased ground when the truck was purchased.

The Pennsylvania Railroad, while building the new station at Cinnaminson avenue, put up a temporary station on the northwest corner. This station was purchased from the Railroad Company on June 19th, 1889 for $75.00 and is now the second story of our old building.

The first alarm was a railroad locomotive tire donated by the Pennsylvania Railroad but on May 27th, 1889 we bought our first bell from McShane Company for $107.00

fir1950b04On January 27th, 1941 four senior members and all junior members were assigned to the newly formed “Salvage Squad” headed up by M.B. Lesonwell Captain, D. Powell and N. Pike Lieutenants. On January 25th, 1943 two asbestos suits were purchased and placed in service on the ladder truck. On May 24th, 1943 used floodlights were purchased and on June 25th, 1943 the formation of a “Rescue Squad” was proposed. A small truck used truck was purchased and placed into service on 3/17/44 equipped with a 5KW generator, floodlights, portable acetylene cutting outfit, absestos suits, blankets, and associated rescue tools.


On 1/29/51 an amendment to the Constitution of the Company was presented, to formally organize and incorporate into the company, a group known as the Fire Rescue Squad. The amendment was finally approved on 2/26/51 and the Fire Rescue Squad became an entity. In 1956 a civil defense heavy duty rescue truck complete with equipment was received from the U.S. Government on a matching funds basis. The first crew was sent to the Heavy Rescue school at the N.J. State Police HQ. This group was the first all volunteer group to receive this training. From that point the Rescue became a “Heavy Rescue”

index002003Going back just a couple of years to 1954 again.. it was found that the building was too small, the Company decided we would have to look for a new location and a larger building. We acquired the present building which used to be an A&P store and after extensive alterations we managed to move into our present day fire station in May 30th, 1956.

The trucks and equipment are much more sophisticated than they were 100 years ago, but many of the fires are more dangerous as well as the use of hazardous chemicals and materials increases.

Present day.. We are still an all volunteer department. Our members come from all walks of life. What we all have in common is a desire to help others in times of need. To protect life and property. While all of the members of the Palmyra Fire Department (Station 801) come from all walks of life… when the pager is activated alerting us of a call we all become one unit with one objective at hand.. To protect life and property.