The Moorestown Fire Department can trace its history back to the early 1800s, and like many American fire-fighting organizations, it is proud of the traditions that have developed over centuries.
The local fire district, made up of Hose Company No. 1 on West Main Street and Relief Engine Company on Chester Avenue, are keeping a long-held tradition alive with the dedication and housing ceremony for the most recent addition to the fleet, Engine 3111.
On Monday, Aug. 5, the new pumper was officially dedicated to one of the department’s most senior members, Arthur Collins, a man who has had an undeniable influence on the organization during his 61 years with the department. Members from Lenola Fire Company, Relief Engine Company, and various representatives from local fire departments showed up for the event at the Main Street station.
According to Collins, who had seen similar dedication ceremonies for fellow members throughout the years, he was completely blindsided by the whole ordeal. He felt underdressed for the ceremony surrounded by his peers in full uniform.
“It was very humbling, and it was a complete surprise,” said Collins. “I really didn’t even give it a thought, let alone anticipate it or hope for it, so I was very humbled.”
According to Lt. Bart Santaspirt, in Moorestown, a housing ceremony for any new apparatus involves an old tradition called a push in, which dates back to when fire apparatus were pulled by horses and needed to be pushed back into the station where they were housed. Today, the much larger, heavier vehicles are “pushed” in a more symbolic fashion.
“Today we put it in reserve and kind of simulate it,” said Santaspirt.
Of Collins’ many years with the department, 33 of them were spent as the fire commissioner on the Board of Moorestown Fire District 1. During his time in this role, he oversaw the building of the current fire station on Main Street, and the procurement of many fire apparatus purchases.
He has also long been active with the Firefighter’s Relief Association, an organization that helps firefighters who have fallen on hard times. In addition to Hose Company No. 1, Collins is also a Life Member of Moorestown First Aid and Emergency Squad.
Over the years, he has witnessed significant growth and change in the way firefighting is done.
“The equipment has modernized, a lot of the technology has risen over the years. You can well imagine back in the late ’50s what it was and what it is now, just electronically it’s just so much more advanced,” said Collins.
Engine 3111, now proudly bearing Collin’s name, is a 2019 Pierce Impel pumper with an anticipated service life of 20 years. The department expects that it will be serving the public well into the future. To aid in its mission, the pumper is equipped with a 1,500-gallon-per-minute pump and a 1,000-gallon water tank along with an assortment of tools, hoses and rescue equipment.
After a long list of Collins’ accomplishments with the department, in his dedication speech fellow Moorestown District firefighter Nick Brandimarto noted Collins’ greatest accomplishment has been his impact on those around him.
“As a member of this company you have guided and shaped the current company we are privileged to serve in,” said Brandimarto. “The impact you have had on all who have had the privilege of working with you is immeasurable.”