On July 24, 1891, a committee appointed from the Common Council reported the following at a special meeting:
"After conversing with Fire Chiefs of nearby towns and other accepted authorities in regards to a chemical engine verses a steam fire engine, it was recommended that a chemical engine manufactured by the Hudson Company of Chicago be considered to answer our needs. This machine weighed fully loaded 1,250 pounds and cost $1,450.00."
If the foregoing equipment were purchased, a place to store it would be a necessity. The committee proposes accepting the offer of Mr. John Maxfield of a gift of sufficient property to allow the erecting of a building of two stories 24 feet by 72 feet in the alleyway between Sarah Green and Mr. Maxfield's house on Main Street. This building is to provide apparatus storage, a lockup or jail on the ground floor, a Council Room, meeting rooms and also a Justice Court Room on the second floor. A rough estimate of $3,000 to $4,500 was mentioned. At this meeting it was resolved that the offer be accepted of the property and that bids be obtained for an Engine House.
Events occurring at a meeting on July 30, 1891 marked the transformation from the temporary organization to the permanent organization of the Boonton Fire Department. A resolution was passed, placing John Maxfield on the Rolls as the first Honorary Member, since he gave the town the property on which to build the Engine House that was to carry his name.
Article I of the By-Laws stated, "This Association shall be known by title of The Boonton Fire Department. It shall be divided into two sections, section one to be called the Hook and Ladder section and section two to be called the Bucket Section until such time as the town or the department shall purchase an engine; at which time the Bucket section shall become the Engine Section.
On August 23, 1893, the Common Council passed a resolution which authorized the purchase of a hand-operated Pumping Engine from Gleason & Bailey, Seneca Falls, NY for $642, a hose reel to cost $90, and 500 feet of hose to be purchased from Eureka Manufacturing Company, all of which was assigned to the Maxfield Engine House.
The Maxfield Engine House was completed in early 1894, and the following appeared in the Bulletin of January 11, 1984:
"One would have to go a long distance to find a more substantial beautiful firemen's headquarters than the one owned by the town of Boonton and known as the Maxfield Engine House. It attracts the attention of strangers, and no longer is heard the remark "Boonton is way behind other places in arrangements for extinguishing fires". Through the front can be seen the beautiful hand engine, hose carriage, hook & ladder truck and other apparatus for use if an alarm should be heard."
The exact date on which the companies first held separate meetings is unclear. The first By-Laws of Maxfield Engine And Hose are dated September 21, 1894.
In 1915, the town purchased an American LaFrance "Medium" Metropolitan Steamer. This apparatus was assigned to the Maxfield Engine Company. It had a 600-gallon per minute pump and had a two-horse hitch. All the original bright work was nickel-plated, until the 1964 refurbishing when it was changed to chrome plating.
Although moved from storage place to storage place and almost forgotten, it was never taken out of service. In the early 1960's it was moved from the barn at the New Jersey Firemen's Home to the rear yard of the Harmony Fire House where it stood covered by a tarp until its move to the South Boonton Firehouse, where most of the restoration work took place. Near the end of the project, it was moved back to the Harmony Firehouse where the job was completed despite the doubts of many. A year and a half later, in 1965, the steamer went to its first parade after being restored. The steamer after restoration weighed in at 6,800 pounds. The painting and gold leaf were done exactly as the original by J. Vanderberg and Sons from Hawthorne, New Jersey. G and H Metal Refinishing of Paterson, New Jersey did all chrome plating. Roebling Cable Company did the rear drum brake cables. All pump resurfacing, pump valves, check G. C. Wendt Tool Shop of Boonton did valves and pump reassembly. Although never fired by coal after refurbishing due to the possibility of tarnishing the chrome, it was pumped by piped in steam and operated well. The steamer in now on loan to the New Jersey Firemen's Home and is stored in their museum. It is important to note that members from all five companies worked on the restoration of the steamer.
In the early 1920's, a "Stearns" apparatus was assigned to Maxfield Engine Company. It was built on a Stearns touring car chassis. The hose body with hand ladder racks and a chemical extinguisher were built in a body shop in Rockaway, New Jersey.
In 1938, the town bought two Ahrens Fox pumpers; one of which was assigned to Maxfield Engine. With the purchase of this apparatus came the change from the traditional red color to "Croydon crème" which we still use today. This pumper had a 500-gallon per minute pump, and an open cab design. This pumper was sold in 1955 to Mack Wayne Molding Company for its fire brigade. In 1981, it was purchased by Boonton Fire Department Member, Thomas Corigliano Jr. who, sparing no expense and with a fine eye for detail, did a commendable job restoring the truck to its debut appearance at the Boonton Fire Department 100th Anniversary parade on August 31, 1991.
In 1931, a group of Boonton Fire Department members, primarily Maxfield Hose & Engine members, traveled to Paterson to attend Red Cross First Aid classes. Upon being certified, they began responding to First Aid calls with equipment placed on the Maxfield engine. This group continued to respond to calls in Boonton, Boonton Township, and Mountain Lakes until the formation of the Kiwanis First Aid Squad in 1938.
In 1942, due to the war, the first auxiliary fire department was formed and held meetings and drills at the Maxfield Engine House. Many original members of this company, including those too young or old to join the regular fire department, went on to become members of the Boonton Fire Department; some held the position of Chief. This organization is still active today, but in 1990 changed its name to the Boonton Junior Fire Department.
In mid 1948, the proceedings to combine the Maxfield Hose and Maxfield Engine into one Company were begun. Several moths later, on October 6, 1948, the first meeting of Maxfield Hose and Engine was held.
In 1955, Maxfield was assigned a new Seagrave pumper. It had a 750 g.p.m. pump and an open cab design. In June of 1956, local artist John Howell was hired to paint a picture of the original hose cart on the passenger door, and a picture of the original Maxfield hand pumper on the driver door for a fee of $75.00. This pumper served until 1972 when it was sold to Greystone State Hospital. From there it is unclear how it eventually arrived in California. In early 1991, it was purchased by South Boonton fireman, Joseph DiBello, who put it back in excellent working order and is presently restoring it to its original condition.
A 1971 Hahn, the first 1000 g.p.m. pumper purchased by Boonton, replaced the Seagrave. With its front suction and piped-in deck pipe it was quite a change from the traditional open cab pumpers. This apparatus is still in service after almost twenty years, and has been very dependable, with little or no down time. Maxfield H1E presently has formed a truck committee to design/ specify a suitable replacement.
It has been said that you can judge a fireman by his apparatus, and going by this, Maxfield H1E is second to none.