The Southard Fire Department was organized in 1933 after Louis Bry Jr. circulated a petition to find out what the residents of the neighborhood thought about having their own volunteer fire company. One hundred and three names were obtained. On Feb. 3, 1933, approximately 50 men who signed the petition met at the Mannerchor Club on Lanes Mill Road for the first meeting. Richard Nissen Jr. presided. At the next meeting on Feb. 10, 1933, Mr. Chester, Mr. Clayton, and Mr. Barholow from Adelphia Fire Company attended and explained the procedures they used when organizing their company in 1927.
Feb. 17, the company held its first election of officers. Chosen were Henry Hamberger, president; Louis Bry Jr., vice president; Austin Gunther, secretary; Charles E. Pool, financial secretary; William Schlaterer, treasurer; Dick O'Donnell, Adolf Austin and Robert Mitchell, trustees. John Reynolds was elected chief, Kingsley Addison, assistant chief; and Carl Reynolds, foreman.
On Feb. 24, land for a firehouse was donated by Mr. and Mrs. George Paterson. Believing that more land would be needed for parking, the company met with the donors and a second tract was purchased at a cost of $300. It was agreed that the company would pay $10 a month until the land was paid off.
During this time, a building committee was named with Austin Gunther as chairman. Committee members included Alfred Layton and Willis Applegate, mason work; Carl Reynolds, Al Mitchell and Austin Gunther, carpentry; Bob Mitchell and Chris Rohrback, concrete work; George Thompson, excavation; Houston Burdge, civil engineering; Adolf Austin and John Harting, painting; and Albert Gunther, electrical. Construction started in late March and the cornerstone was laid on Oct. 21, 1933. Enclosed in the cornerstone were the names of the members of the fire company and ladies auxiliary who were in good standing, plus various mementoes of the times.
Front of firehouse - August 1948
To help pay for the building construction, the company ran dances, minstrel shows, firemen's carnivals, envelope drives and fifty-fifties. The ladies auxiliary ran suppers and various other events to raise money for the firehouse fund. Work on the building was done mostly on nights and weekends, or whenever the members could donate their time. At first, the men made their own cement blocks with a block-making machine that was donated. As funds became available, they bought blocks at a discount to finish the walls. It took about 6,500 blocks to complete the masonry work.
Also in 1933 the Ladies Auxiliary of the Southard Fire Department No. 1 was chartered. They ran dinners, gift auctions and other fundraisers to help the department pay its bills, before the advent of fire district taxes. At one time, the auxiliary had more than 45 members and its own van that was outfitted as a mobile kitchen to supply refreshments to volunteers during lengthy firefighting efforts.
Work continued through 1934 and though not yet complete, the first meeting was held at the firehouse on Jan. 4, 1935. Previous to that, meetings were held at the Mannerchor Club, the Blue Bird Inn, the church hall at Kent and Church roads and various other locations.
In July 1935, the company got its first fire truck, a 1921 GMC chemical truck bought from Goodwill Hook and Ladder of Freehold for $150. The truck got its first workout on July 25 at the Joseph Reynolds farm on Friendship Road. There was no siren at this time, but John Reynolds and Art Wangenstein, who were across the street from the firehouse, answered the call and put out the fire with 40 gallons of water and chemicals.
In December 1936, a siren was purchased and installed on the roof of the firehouse. Three switches were installed to operate the siren: one in John Reynolds’ house, one in his garage and a third in the firehouse. Fire calls would come in by telephone at the Reynolds home and they would relay the information to the first fireman to arrive at the building, who in turn would write the information on a blackboard.
In 1937, Adelphia Fire Company donated a Studebaker service truck to the company. This truck, a cut-down hearse affectionately nicknamed "Aunt Martha,’’ carried donated milk cans full of water to re-supply the chemical truck. In December 1939, "Aunt Martha" was taken out of service and eventually sold to Anton Zauner, who had a farm on Lanes Mill Road.
On May 6, 1937, Southard firefighters, using the 1921 GMC chemical truck, responded to one of the most famous fires in the history of the world, when the hydrogen-filled German dirigible Hindenburg exploded at Lakehurst Naval Air Station, killing 36 people. Southard firefighters were directed to extinguish spot fires throughout the fields of the Navy base. A letter later was received from Commander C.E. Rosendahl, thanking the company members for their assistance.
In 1939, the company decided to purchase a new fire truck. A chassis was bought from George Matthews Chevrolet of Farmingdale who delivered at cost. The chassis was taken to Rockville Center, Long Island where the Approved Fire Apparatus Corporation constructed the truck. The truck was delivered to the company December 1939. The truck carried 400 gallons of water with a 500-gallons-per-minute, single-stage pump. It could also carry up to 1,000 feet of one-and-one-half inch hose.
During World War II, approximately 20 Southard firemen were in military service. During this shortage of manpower, the company continued to function with the help of the Adelphia, Lakewood and Farmingdale fire companies. In December 1943, the company received notice that Pvt. Charles T. Williams was missing in action and it was later confirmed that he had lost his life.
In February 1946, the company held a special ceremony at the firehouse to burn a $2,200 mortgage. Leon A. Barkalow had lent the money to the company on October 16, 1936 to put the finishing touches on the firehouse and to pay off debts incurred during construction. Company President Ray Le Compte held the mortgage as John "Pop" Wolf, owner of the Deer Head Inn, lit a match to it. Mr. Wolf had donated liberally to the organization from its inception in 1933.
In October 1946, a meeting was held to decide whether to buy a new fire truck to replace the GMC chemical truck. In the following months, a committee was formed to investigate the cost and type of truck needed. With the approval of the members, a 1947 Ford chassis was purchased and sent to the Approved Fire Apparatus Corporation in Rockville Center, Long Island. The new truck was delivered on June 15, 1947. It had a 500-gallon-per-minute pump and carried 350 gallons of water. It featured a large-split hose bed and three floodlights that were mounted atop the truck directly behind the driver’s seat with a D/C generator supplying power for the lights. The truck also carried a 35-foot aluminum ladder.
In May 1950, the members embarked a project to construct a fire truck themselves. Citing the need to carry more water to a fire scene, it was decided to build a tank truck. A purchasing committee headed by Bob Mershon consisted of Victor Vorhees, John Reynolds, Art Wangerstein, Carl Reynolds, Frank Nissen and John Gunther, who spent many weekends searching for suitable parts and equipment. A truck chassis with a new motor was bought from a local Chevrolet dealer, an 850-gallon fuel tank was found in Elizabeth, New Jersey, and a pump and various fittings and accessories were purchased from manufacturers. Working nights and weekends,
welders Victor Vorhees, John Reynolds, Art Wangenstein and Bill Lane mounted the tank on the chassis. Storage bins were constructed and attached to each side of the tank. Carlton Peterson fitted the pump assembly to the front of the truck and connected it to the tank. Jay Estelle, Charles Simons, Belmont Force, Carl Reynolds, Lloyd Estelle and Frank Nissen helped by installing the siren, lights, wiring and other fittings. They also helped with sanding and preparing the truck to be painted.
While the truck was being built, a 16' x 30' addition was added to the north side of the existing building to house the new rig. Robert Mershan and Austin Gunther constructed the addition and had it complete when the truck was put in service late in 1951. By doing all the work themselves, it was estimated that the tank truck cost about one-third the cost of one built by the manufacturer. The truck was acquired by Squankum Fire Company in 1960 when the membership bought a new Ward La France 750 G.P.M. pumper. The new truck carried 1,000 gallons of water and was mounted on a Ford chassis. It had to be sent back to the manufacturer when it was found to be too high to fit in the existing truck bays. Modifications were made and the truck was delivered and approved within a few weeks.
In 1959, the five companies in Howell Township met to establish fire districts in the township. Borders for the district were agreed upon, and the districts were numbered according to the age of the companies. Squankum, formally Camp Houseman Fire Company, was the oldest and therefore was District 1; Adelphia was District 2; Southard was District 3; Ramtown was District 4; and Freewood Acres was District 5. The first fire district election was held Feb. 20, 1960 . District 3 commissioners elected were Lloyd Estelle, Robert V. Lloyd, John Somay, Carl Reynolds and Jay Estelle.
After the election, the board organized by naming officers and adopting by-laws as required by law. The board then negotiated and drafted agreements with the fire company regarding the use of fire equipment and associated matters. During 1960, the board made studies and formulated a budget to present to the taxpayers of the district. In February 1961, voters approved the first budget. At that time, the company was still responsible for maintenance of the building, utilities and various costs that came with it.
In May of 1950, the members embarked a project to construct a fire truck themselves. Sighting the need to carry more water to a fire scene it was decided to build a tank truck. A purchasing comitee headed by Bob Mershon consisted of Victor Vorhees, John Reynolds, Art Wangerstein, Carl Reynolds, Frank Nissen and John Gunther spent many weekends searching for suitable parts and equipment. A truck chassis with a new motor was bought from a local Chevrolet dealer, an eight hundred and fifty gallon fuel tank was found in Elizabeth, New Jersey and a pump and various fittings and accessories were purchased from manufacturers. Working nights and weekends, welders Victor Vorhees, John Reynolds, Art Wangenstein and Bill Lane mounted the tank on the chassis. Storage bins were constructed and attached to each side of the tank. Carlton Peterson fitted the pump assembly to the front of the truck and connected it to the tank. Jay Estelle, Charles Simons, Belmont Force, Carl Reynolds, Lloyd Estelle and Frank Nissen helped by installing the siren, lights, wiring and other fittings. They also helped with sanding and preparing the truck to be painted. While the truck was being built, a 16' x 30' addition was added to the north side of the existing building to house the new rig. Robert Mershan and Austin Gunther constructed the addition and had it complete when the truck was put in service late in 1951. By doing all the work themselves, it was estimated that the tank truck cost about one-third the cost of one built by the manufacturer. The truck was aquired by Squawkum fire company in 1960 when the membership bought a new Ward La France 750 G.P.M. pumper. The new truck carried 1,000 gallons of water and was mounted on a Ford chassis. It had to be sent back to the manufacturer when it was found to be too high to fit in the existing truck bays. The modifications were made and the truck was delivered and approved within a few weeks.
In 1959 the 5 companies in Howell Township met for the purpose of establishing fire districts in the township. Borders for the district were agreed on and they were numbered according to the age of the companies. Squawkum, formally Camp Houseman Fire Company was the oldest and therefore was district one. Adelphia number two, Southard number three followed by Ramtown and Freewood Acres. The first election for the fire districts was held on Saturday, February 20, 1960 . District #3 commissioners elected were Lloyd Estelle, Robert V. Lloyd, John Somay, Carl Reynolds and Jay Estelle. After the elections the board organized by naming officers and adopting by-laws as required by law. The board then negotiated and drafted agreements with the fire company with respect to the use of fire equipment and associated matters. During 1960 the board made studies and formulated a budget to present to the tax payers of the district. In February 1961, the first budget was submitted to the voters and approved. It should be noted that at this time the company was still responsible for maintenance of the building, utilities and various costs that came with it.
In May 1963, the Hess oil company of Perth Amboy donated a 5,500-gallon tank to Southard and numerous other companies throughout the state when a law was passed that a single axle could no longer be used on semi oil tankers. A committee headed by Walter Estelle and Chief William Daly converted the tank for company use.
The capacity of the tank was converted to 4,300 gallons by installing doors and welding a new bulkhead in the rear compartment. This provided room to install a 300-gallon-per-minute pump and the necessary hose and other equipment. The members cleaned and scraped the truck and got it ready for painting. A white tractor was donated to the company to pull the tank trailer. After the lights and siren were installed, Walter Estelle painted and lettered it.
In 1964, the membership voted to put an addition on the rear of the firehouse. A committee headed by Charley Koreny had plans drawn up for a 50' x 120' building. The building would consist of a 100' x 50' hall and a truck bay to house the tractor-trailer tank truck. A loan was obtained and a contract for construction was issued for Walter Ostrander to construct the block work, roof and complete the shell. Members installed the required electrical, heating and plumbing. They finished and painted the interior, and the building was occupied in April 1965. To pay for the addition, the company ran bingo, dances and shows, and rented the building to the public. The Howell Board of Education rented the hall for one year when it needed room for extra elementary classes due to an increase in enrollment.
In 1967 and 1969, the department bought two new pumpers.
During the 1960s, Southard responded to several fires that burned down old resort hotels in Lakewood, including the Grossman, Manhattan and Laurel in the Pines.
On Jan. 7, 1973, Southard battled a blaze at a 200-foot-long chicken coop on Lanes Mills Road for an hour before bringing it under control. At that point, a neighbor told firemen that a man lived in a room at one end of the coop. The body of Thomas Malloney, age 68, was discovered near a bed in the room.
On Oct. 13, 1974, Southard responded to a fire that destroyed two stores and damaged three others at the Roseland shopping center on Route 9. Two firemen were treated for minor injuries.
In 1976, Southard responded to a large fire that destroyed John Puglisi’s egg-processing plant on Miller Road.
Southard extinguished a fire at the Standard Craft Industries on Route 9 that destroyed the building and two trailers containing lacquers and paint thinners, on Jan. 10, 1977.
Southard was the first department to answer the call at one of the biggest conflagrations in Howell history on July 6, 1978. A fire was reported at Kings World of Furniture on Route 9 just as it was opening for business at 9:55 a.m. The fire began in the warehouse on the south side of the buildings, and flames quickly shot up 30 feet into the air. Three large loading doors at the rear of the building were wide open, helping the fire to quickly spread. No customers were in the store, and no employees were injured. The 32 plate-glass windows shattered and the front façade collapsed about two hours later. Firefighters battled the blaze at the 70,000-square-foot building for six hours before it was declared under control at 3:45 p.m., and they spent three days mopping up before the fire was finally declared out.
On Feb. 2, 1978, Southard responded to a fire fueled by large amounts of alcohol that destroyed the Road House Inn on Route 33.
In 1978, Southard built a 40 x 70 foot addition to the firehouse to house additional equipment that had been acquired.
Southard was among the five companies responding to a fire that destroyed the Lenar Fabrics and Environmental Modular Structures businesses on Route 547 on June 15, 1980.
On Dec. 3, 1981, Southard responded to a fire at an egg-processing plant on Lanes Mills Road. Flames shot 25 feet into the air and neighbors were frightened when the fuel tanks of several garbage trucks parked inside the building exploded.
In 1981, Southard Volunteer Fire Department invited the old-timers to a reunion meeting to discuss the history of the department. Among the attendees were nine charter members.
The state of New Jersey notified the department that Route 9 was to be widened in 1982, and plans were made to rebuild the firehouse. In 1983, on the department’s 50th anniversary, the old building was demolished. Renovations to the rebuilt fire hall and truck bays continued in 1984 and 1985.
In February 1984, a tragic fire claimed the lives of a mother and her four children in their home at 364 Clayton Road. Patricia Carol Vogel, 25, her children, Debra Jean, 5, Karen Elizabeth, 4, Tammy Lynn, 2, and Richard William Jr., 3 months, died in the fire sometime between 2 a.m., when husband Richard W. Vogel left for work, and 2:52 a.m., when the fire was spotted by a neighbor.
Southard Fire Department responded to a huge fire at the Lakewood Lumber facility in 1983.
About 300 people were evacuated after a fire broke out at the Fairfield Industrial Park on Route 33 on Dec. 20, 1984. The fire emitted heavy, acrid smoke, and initial reports suggested that toxic materials were burning. Several firefighters were treated for smoke inhalation and eye irritation.
On Sept. 10, 1985, the roof of the Southard Firehouse was damaged when hit by a twister-like storm. Workers installing a communication system at the firehouse reported that the building shook and debris spun in circles.
Some 22 people attending a holiday celebration were forced to flee into the cold with only the clothes on their backs on Dec. 29, 1985, when a fire swept through a two-story house at 489 Lakewood-Allenwood Road. Some 14 members of the Leadbeater family were left homeless.
On Feb. 24, 1987, Southard helped fight an arson fire at a house at 225 Lemon Road that nearly took the lives of two firemen. William Donahue of Freewood Acres fell head first through the floor when it gave way; Harry Carter of Adelphia held onto Donahue’s legs while firefighters tied a hose around his waist. Both lost use of their air masks, and firefighters were able to pull them to safety within eight minutes.
Southard responded to a fire that gutted the Stewart’s Root Beer stand on Route 9 on March 6, 1987.
On May 14, 1987, nine people were left homeless after a fire destroyed a house on Oak Glen Road.
Southard firefighters helped save the life of a man, David K. Stoner, on Aug. 8, 1987, when the 10-foot-deep hole he was working in caved in, in a field at Route 9 and Locust Road. Stoner was conducting percolation tests prior to the construction of a car wash there. Rescuers backed a platform truck up the hole and dropped a line to pull him out.
On Dec. 21, 1987, Southard extinguished a fire across Route 9 at the Moon Motel. More than 50 people staying the motel were forced to flee, but no one was injured.
By 1989, Howell Township’s once-rural Southard section had transformed into a traffic-choked suburb. New development included a K-Mart shopping plaza and the Friendship Estates, Glen Arden, Windmill Club and sprawling Candlewood housing developments. Emergency services were feeling the strain, and in January, Nick Mikelson became Southard’s first paid firefighter. His brother, David, became the second in February. Their starting salaries were $20,800, and their principal job was to get equipment to the fire during day shifts.
In the early years of the department, Southard firefighters had mostly trained themselves, supplemented by an occasional class taught by a Jersey City or Newark professional fireman. But by the 1980s, members were required by the state to undergo many hours of technical training at the Monmouth County Fire Academy. Turnout gear evolved from just a hat, coat and boots to include gloves and breathing apparatus that precluded the wearing of beards or sideburns. The rigs became larger, more specialized and technically complicated, with computer-aided systems and new kinds of equipment such as the Jaws of Life extrication tool.
In the 1990s, an additional bay was added to the south side of the building, which then had a total of five double bays in addition to the fire hall.
On April 14, 1991, a Southard ladder truck was called to a suspicious fire at the 106-year-old historic Harrison building in Lakewood. The ladder truck was needed because the stairs to the second floor had been removed during renovations.
On June 10, 1991, Southard responded to a fire at the Excel Wood Products plant in Lakewood, which had closed the previous year. The fire blasted a 30-foot hole in the roof, causing it to tilt precariously.
Southard helped extinguish a fire at Wholesale Building Specialties on Route 9 on July 21, 1991. One Southard fire truck valued at $500,000 was destroyed, and a Southard tanker had damage estimated at $300,000. A vagrant later was arrested and charged with setting the lumberyard fire.
As the years passed, the role of Southard Fire Department as first responders expanded in many directions beyond firefighting, with the volunteers spending countless hours training for new kinds of emergencies that might strike the community.
Through the early and mid 1990s, the company established an Underwater Search and Recovery Team to respond to submersions; a Hazardous Materials Team to respond to exposures of chemicals and other dangerous substances; a Confined Space Team that uses air monitoring devices and ropes to enter into a confined space, to rescue or recover a person or object; and a Rapid Intervention Team. Some volunteers and paid members also trained as Emergency Medical Technicians.
The department members also devoted many hours to community service. In September 1992, Southard firefighters drove a truck filled with humanitarian supplies to Florida to aid victims of Hurricane Andrew. One week later, an accidental fire damaged five trucks at the Fast Forward Co., which had donated use of a 45-foot truck in the relief effort.
On Nov. 2, 1992, Southard participated in a search of the Zschiegner Refining Building on Maxim-Southard Road during a drug raid by the federal Drug Enforcement Agency. The owner was accused of making about 300 pounds of methamphetamine. The DEA described the toxic chemicals discovered as an “environmental nightmare.” This was the main reason behind the formation of the Hazardous Materials Team. In March 1993, the township’s six fire companies, its first aid squad, the Monmouth County Health Department and federal Environmental Protection Agency workers conducted a hazardous materials drill at the Zschiegner location, which was designated a Superfund site.
On July 13, 1993, 16 thoroughbred horses were killed when a barn at the Fort Plains Horse Farm on Fort Plains Road burst into flames. Some 75 firefighters from six departments used a dozen tanker trucks to douse the blaze at the horse farm owned by the DeMasi family. About 40 firefighters were treated for minor injuries.
Longtime Southard Fire Department member John Somay was killed in the line of duty on the day of his 74th birthday on Nov. 15, 1993, when he was struck by a pickup truck while directing traffic at the scene of a brush fire at Route 547 and Miller Road. On Nov. 19, his Southard colleagues stood at attention and saluted as pallbearers placed his casket among garlands of flowers on fire truck No. 19-3-77. A cortege of 75 emergency vehicles escorted him to Monmouth Memorial Park in Tinton Falls. Somay joined the company in 1949, and had served as Southard’s chief in 1958-59. In a memorial ceremony, the Monmouth County Fire Marshal posthumously awarded Somay the Medal of Supreme Sacrifice.
On Jan. 30, 1995, Southard assisted when a raging fire destroyed the Tilton Used Auto Parts business on Squankum Road in Lakewood.
On Sept. 15, 1995, a tractor-trailer collided with a garbage truck at the intersection of Route 33 and 34, resulting in a spill of about 100 gallons of hydraulic fluid. Southard’s hazmat team and county Board of Health crews contained the spill.
Another tractor-trailer overturned on Interstate 195 at the Route 547 exit ramp on Oct. 11, 1996. Crews unloaded 37,000 pounds of natural gas, none of which spilled, before righting the vehicle.
History was made in October 1997, when Kimberly Shostak, 23, was hired as the first female full-time paid member of the Southard Fire Volunteer Department. Kimberly, the daughter of former chief Ted Shostak, had joined Southard in high school as a junior volunteer. Her certifications include as a firefighter, fire truck driver, emergency medical technician, fire inspector, hazardous materials specialist, rescue diver and confined-space entry instructor.
On July 11, 1998, firefighters Kimberly Shostak and Eric Gross helped two firefighters suffering from heat exhaustion, Craig Menth and Shawn Carr, to escape from a house on fire at 30 Newbury Road.
Southard volunteer Craig Menth died when a gasoline–filled tanker truck he was driving veered off Route 9A in Westchester County, New York, and burst into flames on Sept. 26, 1999. Menth, 37, had begun working for the Mystic Transport the previous year.
On March 18, 2000, four Southard firefighters -- Chris Williams, Shawn Carr, Louis Memmolo Sr. and Chris Jackson -- pulled a 98-year-old woman, Mary Spencer, out of the second-floor window of her smoke-filled home at 7 Stockton Way after it caught fire. She died two days later.
Southard built a substation on Maxim-Southard Road to house its additional equipment in 2001.
The Southard Fire Department continued its volunteer charity efforts throughout the years -- for example, holding a pancake breakfast to raise money for the Persico family, and a dance party to aid the Thomas family, both facing severe medical problems. The Southard Firehouse is the staging point each year for a community effort to donate, via the Howell PBA, Thanksgiving and Easter/Passover meals to homebound senior citizens. Volunteers also have worked as waiters at Applebee’s restaurant to raise money for Toys for Tots.
The importance of local readiness in the face of national and global threats came into sharp focus in the first years of the new century.
In September 2001, Southard firefighters traveled to ground zero in Manhattan to assist rescue and recovery efforts following the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. The firehouse also became a community collection point for clothing, gloves, boots, blankets, batteries, flashlights, Gatorade and food items to supply volunteers at ground zero. The department sent three tractor-trailers filled with supplies to New York.
In 2003, Southard’s hazmat team drilled to prepare for possible chemical or biological attacks by terrorists in retaliation for the United States’ invasion of Iraq. Firefighter Francis Hines trained at Fort McClellan, Alabama to respond to deadly Sarin and VX gas exposures.
On Aug. 8, 2003, Southard responded to a dangerous fire at the John Blewett Auto & Scrap recycling yard on Herbertsville Road, in which multiple vehicles ignited and exploded.
In December 2003, Southard wheeled out some of its big rigs to escort and give a hero’s welcome to Air Force Tech. Sgt. Kyle Johnson, a probationary member of the company, as he returned from deployment in Kuwait. Johnson was in charge of a team responsible for cargo shipments, including some planes that carried the remains of fallen American soldiers.
In April 2005, Southard responded to a serious motor vehicle accident at Aldrich Road and Glen Road. A Ford Explorer ran the stop sign at Glen Road and was struck by a garbage truck owned by Enviro-Star Recycling. The Ford Explorer was wrapped around the front of the garbage truck, and the driver suffered serious injuries.
In September 2005, department member Steve Hadgkiss drove a tractor-trailer filled with relief supplies donated by the community to the victims of Hurricane Katrina in Mississippi.
In November 2005, Southard responded to a large structure fire at 110 Starlight Road. A large amount of smoke was present when the units arrived. A search showed the residence was not occupied. The fire was contained to the kitchen area but a large amount of smoke damage was visible.
On July 21, 2006, a call came in for wires arcing at 22 Friendship Road. Chief Memmolo requested JCP&L to the scene. Moments later, there were more large arcing explosions and conditions deteriorated quickly with heavy smoke and flames coming from the roof. Live wires blocked access to the property and search teams had to go down to Route 9 and back up through the woods to the rear of the residence. Firefighter Kyle Johnson removed a dog (unhurt) from the rear yard. Search teams located an older female resident and brought her to Howell First Aid. Team 1 forced open a locked bedroom door and found an elderly male resident who could not walk. Lt. Latchney and Firefighter Chris Puccio carried the man out. Ramtown Chief William Gotto ordered everyone out of the building because the roof was about to collapse. The fire was extinguished from the exterior of the structure. On Aug. 8, 2006 Southard Fire Department was awarded a rescue certificate from the Howell Township Council and in October of 2006 Southard was awarded a unit citation from the Monmouth County Fire Marshal’s Office.
On March 28, 2007, Southard was dispatched to a fire at 22 Honeysuckle Road. The first truck (19-3-75) quickly utilized its water supply and Tower 19-3-90 arrived shortly afterward and stretched a 5” supply line 1100 feet to the nearest hydrant. Substantial damage was done on the house, and it had to be demolished.
On April 28, 2007, the Southard hazmat team was dispatched to a motor vehicle accident in Lakewood involving a Scotts Lawn Service van that had fertilizer and gasoline spilled in the vehicle and all over the roadway. 1st Asst. Chief Hadgkiss coordinated the cleanup. A handline was setup to protect the members operating in the area and meters were set up to monitor the IDLH atmosphere. Units secured the scene shortly after.
Southard responded to a huge fire that occurred when an out-of-control sedan struck a gasoline-filled tanker truck that burst into flames on Interstate 195 during the evening rush on May 11, 2007. The truck driver died in the inferno and the sedan driver was charged with driving under the influence of drugs.
On January, 12, 2008, units were dispatched to a structure fire at Glen Road in District 5 and found a large amount of smoke pouring from the house. 19-3-75 arrived, stretched a line to the front door to backup 19-5 and stretched a line to the rear of the residence. Engine 19-3-78 secured a secondary water source and sent their crew to the front of the building.
On May 24, 2008, Southard celebrated its 75th Anniversary with a small bash at the Substation. Departments from Howell all came and enjoyed great food and rides for their children. Members from old times past all attended.
On August 17, 2008, at 00:56hrs, Southard Fire Dept. responded to a fire at the old Price residence. First arriving engine 19-3-75 took up a defensive position on the "C" side of the residence and put a 2 1/2" and deluge gun into operation. Pumper/Tanker 19-3-78 dropped a 5" supply line to supply 19-3-75 with water, and placed a 2 1/2" attack line in operation. Engine 19-3-76 dropped a 3" supply line and took up a defensive operation on the "B" side. Command requested mutual aid from Ramtown Fire Company and Adelphia Fire Company. Howell OEM brought heavy equipment to tear apart the building. Howell Fire Bureau and the Monmouth County Arson Task Force also responded. One firefighter was transported to Kimball Medical Center with chest pain.
On Sept. 19, 2008, hundreds of people turned out to give a hero’s welcome to Howell resident and Army 1st Lt. Brain Brennan, recovering from horrific wounds suffered in an improvised-explosive-device attack in the war in Afghanistan. A motorcade of more than 200 emergency vehicles from throughout Monmouth County, including all six Howell fire companies, escorted Brennan from Newark International Airport to a ceremony at the Southard Substation on Maxim-Southard Road.