The Mount Holly Fire District No. 1 is an all-volunteer fire department which has its roots dating back to the mid eighteenth century with the formation of the Britannia Fire Company of Bridgetown. With over 250 years of committed service, the Mount Holly Fire District No. 1 continues to proudly serve the residents of Mount Holly and its surrounding communities. As the fire service and its mission have evolved over the past decades, this District and its member companies have prided themselves on its rich history and would like to share its many milestones with you.
On July 11, 1752, the Britannia Fire Company was organized to provide an efficient and disciplined method of protecting then Bridgetown from the hazard of fire. The charter members of the Company had gathered and agreed upon the original articles of institution and promptly elected the first officers of the Company. They then adopted the name of Britannia Fire Company of Bridgetown. The name Britannia was selected to show loyalty to the Britannic Majesty. The charter members adopted the Company’s mission which provides the basis for modern day firefighting units:
“To wit: We, whose names are hereunto inscribed, reposing special confidence in each other’s friendship and for the better protection of our own and our fellow townsmen’s houses, goods and effects from fire, having each of us at our proper cost provided a quantity of leather buckets according to the members thereof, with each of our names respectively subscribed, each bucket being marked with our own names.”
Since modern motorized fire apparatus were not even a luxury or a thought of the time, the predominant method of fighting fire was to utilize leather buckets to apply water by hand. This established the phrase, “bucket brigade.” Each member of the Company was required to hang his bucket on the outside wall of his house and keep it filled with water at all times.
Several years later, in 1765, the Company authorized the purchase of its first mechanical suppression apparatus:
“Aaron Smith, being a man of proper qualifications and sound judgment be hereby empowered to journey to Philadelphia in order that he may purchase for this Company a suitable pumping injun.”
The cost of this state-of-the-art apparatus was 34 pounds sterling (approximately 170 dollars.
In the years following the independence of the United States from Britain, a conflict arose regarding the name of the Company. At this time, the name Britannia was considered anachronistic and unpatriotic. The north of the town is the symbolic “Mount” which was abound with holly. These factors considered, the members of the Britannia Fire Company changed the name of the Company to Mount Holly Fire Company in 1787. A few years later, the town requested permission of the Company to rename the town to Mount Holly.
With the mission of the Mount Holly Fire Company expanding, a need for a facility to store equipment was brought forth. In 1798, a structure was constructed to house the pumping injun. This structure will move several times around the town and was eventually sold to St. Andrew’s church in 1837. St. Andrew’s would move this structure to its graveyard which is located on Pine Street. It would be utilized as a tool house at the graveyard. The tool house was later purchased from St. Andrew’s and moved to its present location on Pine Street on the premises of the Relief Fire Company.
As the fire service needs of the town grow, so does the local fire service. In 1805, the Union Fire Company #2 was organized. It was about this time that the Mount Holly Fire Company changed its name to the Relief Fire Company. Many years later, in 1850, the Good Intent Fire Company was organized. Then, in 1858, the America Hose Company No. 4 was formed. During the course of 106 years, the fire service within Mount holly grew to include four fire companies and several hundred firefighters.