Retro Dive into FHFD History

Fair Haven Fire Department’s first Scuba Squad, or Water Rescue Unit

With the recent passing of Fair Haven’s Donny Frank — policeman, fireman and first aider — we are reminded of some history-making firsts for the borough that tend to get lost in the, well, passing of time.

So, here in the Retro Pic of the Day is an enlightening picture of a factoid that resurfaced like, say, a deep sea diver from the vast waters — sort of like Donny Frank and friends emerging with an expanded rescue idea for the Fair Haven First Aid Squad (or Corps) back in 1962.

The classic photo, which, along with so many others, hangs on a wall inside the fire company. And there’s a lot of history packed into the pose of three guys in front of that classic ambulance outside the firehouse in the early 1960s.

Dive into the background of the Water Rescue Unit as told on the FHFD’s website. It tells the story of a picture being worth more than 1,000 words and some insight into a town’s volunteers …

With the peninsula that is Fair Haven surrounded by river waters and funneling to the ocean, Frank got to thinking and working on the idea of putting together the borough’s first underwater rescue team — under, of course, the umbrella of the Fair Haven Fire Department.

Frank did his research and figured out what he needed do to make it all official and accepted according to state qualification parameters.

He got some funds, the education and certification and put a team together. That team, the founding members of what was the Fair Haven Fire Department’s Scuba Team, consisted of Frank, Art Bennett, Jack McQueen and Bill Lang. Three of the four are pictured in the above copy of the FHFD’s photo. Lang is not.

The team, all certified, started taking calls in 1963.

What was the Scuba Team ended up having spurts of high activity in water rescues and assists to other departments, but ended up phasing out for several reasons in the 1970s.

Frank’s son Bobby resuscitated it for a time in the 1990s; and, now, what is known as the FHFD’s Water Rescue Unit, which involves no diving anymore, has been running, as such, since 2012.

Check out what it’s all about … 

John Caroli
BCS Wealth Management