The Tacoma Volunteer Fire Company of Deptford Township is most likely the only company in New Jersey, and possibly the East Coast, that got its name from a city 3,000 miles across the United States in the State of Washington.
The Tacoma Park area of Deptford Township received its name from a former resident of Washington state who had moved to Deptford, and the fire company took the Tacoma Park name when it was formed by area residents in June 1923. Before its inception, the area received fire protection from other fire companies in the area.
When the company was formed, its fire district covered the sections of Tacoma Park and Westville Grove in Deptford. The fire company’s district today includes areas along the borders of Westville to the north with Interstate 295, West Deptford Township with the Conrail/CSX Railroad to the west, Bellmawr and Runnemede along Big Timber Creek to the east, Battalion 3 along Delsea Drive to Cooper Street, Battalion 4 along Cooper Street to the border of Woodbury to the south.
Residential areas in the district include the apartment developments of Inverness (Shetland Way), Chestnut Lane, Knightsbridge, Conefer Village, Woodcrest. The coverage area includes two five story senior housing developments. The fire district also includes some commercial establishments including a pair of industrial parks and many of the businesses along Delsea Drive such as Walmart, large Bowling Alley. The company also covers the New Jersey Turnpike from Exit 3 to Exit 2 and part of Interstate Route 295
This was a far cry from the condition of the area when the company was formed. In the early 1920s, the Westville Grove area was still largely rural with some residential development.
In addition to its own district, the company serves as a back-up units for providing fire coverage of the Deptford Mall and the surround large business district.
The company's first firehouse was located only about 40 feet from the site of its current firehouse at the intersection of Florence and Cedar Avenues, near Delsea Drive. Now known as Florence Avenue and Tacoma Boulevard.
The first firehouse was considerably smaller than the contemporary version of today. One year after the company was formed, the fire company joined the Gloucester County Firemen's Association in 1924.
The present firehouse was built during the 1960s. The facility consists of three engine bays, a kitchen, communications room and a recreation room. The firehouse was one of three in the township that also houses one of the township's ambulances. The Township ambulances are now run by the Deptford Emergency Services that is a paid 24/7 service.
Both services were independent of each other, other than sharing the same headquarters.
In 1979, the company today maintained a pair of fire engines. They were a 1966 Ford 750 gallon per minute (gpm) pumper and a 1972 Imperial 1,250 gpm pumper. Today the company uses a 2011 KME Rescue/Engine with 1750 GPM Pump, 750 gallons of water and a full complement of Hurst rescue tools. A 2005 Spartan/Elite Engine with a 1250 pump and 750 gallons of water, and a 1999 American LaFrance 93’ mid-mount ladder tower that has a 1500 GPM pump and 300 gallons of water. The Battalion Chief still utilizes the 1995 GMC Suburban 2500 as a command vehicle.
The company had an active membership of 40 persons. The company also had a junior program for the teenagers in the fire district. The program helped to recruit persons to become adult firemen when they became 18 years old.
Like the seven other fire companies in Deptford Township, Tacoma’s firefighting equipment (from trucks, to hose to firefighting gear and tools) and insurance is funded by the Deptford Board of Fire Commissioners. The individual fire stations are owned and maintained by the individual fire company’s. Each fire company receives an annual payment for the rental of their engine bay facilities at the firehouse from the commission.
The Tacoma Fire Company also had an active ladies auxiliary program which ran social activities and helped supplement the company's annual income. Today they are still active and sponsor Hoagie Sales each month to help the fire company.
During the 1970s, the company answered between 150 and 190 fire calls a year. In 2010 the Tacoma Fire Company ran 341 calls, in 2011 they ran 348 calls and in 2012 they ran 256 calls.
The Tacoma Fire Company today has a membership of thirty five members which include male and female firefighters and junior members. The Tacoma Fire Company is part of Battalion Two of the Deptford Fire Department.