HANOVER TWP. — With sirens blaring and horns blasting the string of firetrucks parading through the neighborhoods were in no hurry.
They made certain they were seen and heard as they headed for the Breslau Fire Station No. 5 to celebrate Hanover Township Fire Department’s centennial Saturday afternoon.
Approximately 30 vehicles from the area traveled the route. Noticeable among them was the white SUV from the Wallington, N.J., Fire Department.
The volunteer department from Bergen County developed a connection with Hanover Township after the flooding from Tropical Storm Agnes in 1972. The New Jersey unit brought food and supplies to the Lee Park station.
Department members have been returning since then to participate in parades and attend conventions.
“Next year is going to be my 40th year coming up,” said Mark Tomko, Wallington fire commissioner. “We love it.”
Tomko joined other firefighters and guests for food and drink at the Breslau station.
The smell of cooked sausage and peppers wafted through the station bay, where tables were set up and memorabilia from the township fire department was on display.
Dwayne Taggart, battalion chief of the township, started preparing for the centennial more than a year ago. He said the late Chief Al Uzdilla urged him to take the job.
Out of respect Taggart did. “I said, ‘I’ll do it for you,’ ” he said.
He had help from the Breslau Auxiliary and his wife, Eileen, who prepared enough Italian chicken, fried chicken, sausage and peppers, pierogies and more to feed approximately 250 people.
Much of the food was bought on sale, made in advance and frozen, Eileen Taggart said. Some of the food also was donated.
John Sipper, John Marut and George Bienias, retired members of the Hanover Green station, enjoyed the food and festivities. Combined they had more than 100 years of service. Hanover Green, Breslau and Lee Park were among the first chartered in 1913. With the approval of the township commissioners, construction began a year later on buildings to house the township’s six fire companies.
The department’s second century in operation could be in a new $2 million building next year. The firehouse will be centrally located and home to three stations, Breslau, Hanover Green and Preston. Those stations will close and relocate to the facility on the Sans Souci Parkway. The companies in Newtown and Askam will remain open.
Township Fire Chief Jeff Tudgay said a groundbreaking could happen next spring and the station could be finished by the fall of 2014.
He attributed the department’s longevity to the support of and commitment from the community.
“There are still some community-minded people out there who want to do the right thing and help out,” he said.
Grandfathers and grandsons and fathers and sons have been volunteered to serve, he said.
Edward Charnetski, 92, beamed as he watched the parade. “My son and I got over 100 years,” said Charnetski. Dave Charnetski serves as department treasurer and historian.
The elder Charnetski started in 1946 and served as fire chief. “I never dreamt I’d see this day,” he said.