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In early 1926, the men from the Pleasant Plains area came to Gordon Clayton’s grocery store, to shop and talk about deer hunting and the local happenings. Knowing how volatile the grass fields and woodlands were in the spring, the men also talked about forming their own fire department to service the community of Pleasant Plains.


Kenneth W. Clayton and William Thompsett, who lived in Pleasant Plains but were members of the Toms River Fire Company, decided to put up signs in the area for a meeting to be held at Gordon Clayton’s store. Twenty-eight men responded to the signs. The meeting was held in April of that same year and the idea of forming a fire company was presented. The decision to form the company was made and it was given the name Pleasant Plains Volunteer Fire Department #1. Twenty chiefs, numerous Volunteers, and 90 years later, it continues to serve the area Pleasant Plains with the same dedication.


In mid-May 1926, days before officially forming, 21 separate fires were seen from the outlook at the Lakehurst Naval Air Station hanger. One fire started in Whitesville and swept through Ridgeway and Pleasant Plains. While in Pleasant Plains, the fire jumped Route 9 and burned the Pleasant Plains Methodist Church Hall, Fielder’s Barn, some out buildings, and the Silverton Methodist Church before dying out at the Barnegat Bay.


At this time, Toms River Township only had one fire district. The Pleasant Plains area was officially recognized as Fire District #2 in 1930. It extended north to Lakewood, east to Barnegat Bay, west to Manchester Township, and south to Maple Tree Road. This remained until Silverton Volunteer Fire Company was formed in 1951.  Today, Pleasant Plains Volunteer Fire Department only extends east to North Bay Avenue and Pleasant Plains and Silverton make up Toms River Fire District #2. Once the departments were recognized by the Township as a District, they began to receive monetary aid to help pay part of the departments’ expenses.


Before this time, the Pleasant Pains Fire Department supported themselves by public donations and the money raised by the volunteers through socials, raffles, and oyster and roast beef dinners. Kenneth Clayton, a magician by trade, would donate half of his proceeds to the firehouse.


Norman Stillwell, from the Stillwell’s Bakery in Lakewood, gave the department the opportunity to acquire their first piece of apparatus. He had a 1918 Alco chain driven hose and chemical truck for sale, with solid rubber tires. He brought the truck down to Pleasant Plains and a sign was placed on it to see if the residents would help buy it for the fire department. Gordon Clayton started the donations with $25.When Mr. Stillwell returned for the truck, the area residents had donated the full price. The truck was then housed in Gordon’s garage until funds for a firehouse could be secured.


On November 10, 1927, the fire department voted to buy a 100-foot lot from Clinton Clayton for $100 so they could build a firehouse. The building was built by the early members and still stands in its original location today. The deed for the Property was recorded in the Ocean County Court House.


On January 17, 1927, bids were accepted for materials and labor for the original firehouse. Contracts were given to the lowest bidder. The carpentry work was given to Clinton Clayton and Harvey McKelvey for $200. The mason work was to be done by Elmer Clayton for $211.03. The lumber was contracted from A.B. Newbury and Company for $578.95. The firehouse was to be 34 feet by 36 feet. A mortgage was secured in the amount of $1,230.18 from Dover Loan Company.


Several years later, a kitchen with a basement under it was added. The firefighters and local citizens gave most of the labor and supplies.

On May 15, 1928, it was approved at a meeting to see if funds could be secured to buy a new fire truck. It was to be on a Reo chassis. Mr. George Clayton loaned the fire company the $1,000 needed for the Reo. It was the first new truck. All equipment was taken from the Alco truck and put onto the Reo Chassis. The members of the fire company did the labor and work.


Before the department had a siren, the members were notified of a fire by the sounding of a gong. A telephone was installed in Kenneth Clayton’s home. When a fire called in over the telephone, either Kenneth or his wife Ruth would take the call and run outside to strike the gong with a 5- pound sledgehammer. This was to let the men in the area know they had a fire call. They would then respond to the firehouse where they were told where the fire was. Either Kenneth or Ruth had to be home at all times to take the calls. The gong (a railroad tire rim) was donated by the Island Heights Fire Company. The gong is still part of the fire company today. It was incorporated into the memorial for deceased firemen, Commissioners, and Ladies Auxiliary members of the Pleasant Plains Fire Department.


In 1932, a used Chrysler passenger car was converted into a fire truck using equipment from the Reo. The Reo was then remodeled with a 350-gallon water tank with 2 booster lines and a 75-gallon per minute pump. The first modern truck was a Diamond T pumper and it was bought in 1940. In 1945, an army surplus truck was added. They were used until 1953.


In 1951, the Pleasant Plains Fire Company celebrated its 25th anniversary. A party was held at the firehouse on Clayton Avenue for the members.


As the department grew with members and new equipment, the need for a new firehouse was apparent. Searching for property from February 1950 to January 1953, it was voted to buy Cornelius property just west of the firehouse on Clayton Avenue. Plans for the new firehouse were drawn up by the firemen and were approved by the department. On June 6, 1953, the footing for the new firehouse was poured. Once again most of the work was to be done by the members. Friday and Monday were to be work nights, but you could find firemen working to raise the block sidewalls almost every evening. On August 18, 1953, material was ordered for trusses. All trusses were handmade by the firemen and several local contractors brought large equipment to help set them. If not for the continuous dedication of the firemen and voluntary labor from local citizens, we would not have been able to complete the firehouse. We were proud and grateful for this beautiful building, and thankful to all those who helped in its construction. The building was dedicated on September 18, 1956.


In 1953, a new Ward La France 500 gallon, three-stage high-pressure pumper was purchased. During 1954, trucks were equipped with 2-way radios and a new alarm system was in place. A second Ward La France was purchased in 1957. In addition, in 1957 the Hess Oil Company donated a 6500-gallon tanker and a Mack tractor to the fire department. The tanker was used to combat fire where there was no available water supply.


In September of 1959, it was decided that the Pleasant Plains needed a rescue squad. Members of the fire department, ladies auxiliary, and local citizens signed up for first aid courses. The new group was called the Pleasant Plains Volunteer Emergency Rescue Squad. A new GMC Panel truck was bought for the rescue squad. It was received in July 1960. Several years later the rescue squad separated from the fire department and became the Pleasant Plains First Aid Squad. It still serves the community of Pleasant Plains and surrounding area today.

On August 24, 1964, a motion was made to take the Reo antique fire truck to the Atlantic City Firemen’s Convention and Parade. Ivins Clayton won an award for the oldest firemen marching in that parade.


In 1965, a new four-wheel drive GMC fire truck was purchased. This truck was specially designed for brush fires and grass fires. It had two nozzles under the front bumper that shoot out a wide burst of water especially useful for grass fires. Also purchased, was a used 1960 Chevrolet Van to carry generators, lights, oxygen and masks, scott air pack, and smoke ejectors, as well as first aid supplies.


On October 16th, 1965, a memorial was dedicated to the deceased firemen, commissioners, and ladies auxiliary members. The new GMC truck was housed at the same time.


On November 11, 1966, the 40th anniversary of the fire department was held in the firehouse.


In 1972, a new addition was added to the truck room to house the new larger trucks. As always, the firemen and volunteers did the work on the new addition. The members designed a new Mack Pumper to be purchased in January of 1974.


A 50th anniversary dinner was held at the Beacon Manor Motel in Point Pleasant on June 26, 1976. Kenneth Clayton, Vernon Applegate, and Herbert Clayton were honored for 50 years of service in the Pleasant Plains Volunteer Fire Department. The Ladies Auxiliary was also honored and thanked for their support of the fire department.


A contract was signed by the fire department for an addition and renovation of the firehouse in May of 1977. Included in the remodeling was a larger meeting room, office, and bathrooms upstairs, a larger bingo hall, new kitchen and newly designed bathrooms downstairs.


The first pancake breakfast was held on Palm Sunday in 1982. The fire department has two pancake breakfasts every year, one on Palm Sunday and the other on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. We also hold a chicken BBQ on the third Saturday of July each year. Residents of Ocean County and surrounding areas enjoy an afternoon of fine food and entertainment.

The final payment on the mortgage of the firehouse was made on March 19, 1992. The mortgage was burned at the installation of officers’ dinner in January 1993. We would like to thank all residents who in the past and present have supported the volunteer firefighters in all the fund-raising events.

We are very proud of our memorial to the deceased firemen, ladies auxiliary and fire commissioners. It was remodeled in 1994. Kevin B. Britton, as an Eagle Scout project, did the landscaping work. Several other Eagle Scout projects have been done on the fire department grounds as well.

In 1995, our first fire truck, the 1928 Reo was restored. Today it is taken and presented at parades.

From the original 20 members, the department has grown to a membership of 60+ members, including fire police and explorers.

During the years that the Pleasant Plains Volunteer Fire Department has served the Township of Toms River, we have seen many changes, not only in the size of the apparatus but in their capability as well. In addition, modern technology now allows alarms to be transferred almost immediately. We receive many more alarms due to the addition of smoke and CO detectors in homes. The land use has changed drastically as well. We have gone from forests, fields, and farmland to a highly populated area, with new homes and businesses being built every day.

The Officers and Members of the Pleasant Plain Volunteer Fire Department would like to thank you for your continuous support of our fund-drives and fund-raisers and wwith this support we look forward to serving our community for many years to come.

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