Mountain Lakes has the largest and most active Junior Department in the state. The JFD was originally established during World War II when the residents were called to serve their country. It was disbanded and then re-established in 1969 and has been going strong ever since. The Junior Department is made up of high school students ranging from 16-18 years in age. Currently there are 23 members serving in the Junior Department, with an active waiting list. Sign ups for the JFD will be from Feb 1 – May 1. Anyone interested in serving, please call (973) 394-1094 and leave a message or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Juniors receive much of the same training as the Senior members. The Juniors drill two to three Sundays a month and they also attend the monthly Senior drills and meetings. The Department currently has six officers. Chief, Deputy Chief, Assistant Chief, Senior Captain, Junior Captain and Captain. The officers are appointed by the Senior advisors for a one year term. The Junior officers are responsible for the supervision of the other junior members at drills, fires and other emergencies.
At the annual moving-up-day ceremony at Mountain Lakes High School, the Department presents a service award to a graduating senior who has served in the Junior Fire Department. The award is named in memory of two long time Mountain Lakes firefighters, James Bott Sr. and his son Robert Bott. The criteria for the award is based on attendance at drills, fire calls and other department activities. The recipient of the award must also be involved in activities outside the department. The amount of the award is $2,000.00 and the money is sent to the college the recipient will be attending to supplement expenses. In March of 2003, the Junior Department advisors recommended that the award be expanded to include a second and third place recipient. The membership voted unanimously to include a second place award of $1,500 and a third place award of $1,000. The awards will be presented at the high school moving-up-day ceremony at the high school.
The department also voted to name a special award in memory of Firefighter Thomas Taylor. Tom was a long time resident of Mountain Lakes and served in the department for 53 years. The recipient of the award will be a member of the Junior Department and selected by the Junior board of officers. The Chief of the Junior Department will make the presentation at the high school moving-up-day ceremony at the high school.
On March 25th, 2003, a ceremony was held for the MLJFD for placing first in the 2002 Junior Emergency Service Excellence Award sponsored by Volunteer Fire Insurance Service. VFIS is the largest provider of insurance, education, training and consulting for volunteer fire departments across the country and Canada. Hundreds of applications were received from Junior Fire Departments and Junior Ambulance squads from across the country. The Juniors received a $1,000 check, a plaque and we were listed as the recipient of the award in national fire publications. The JFD has submitted an application along with supporting documentation about the organization and management for the 2003 award. Also, the Borough council and county freeholders honored the JFD with a special resolution. Citations were presented to all members on behalf of State Senator Bucco, Assemblyman Rick Merkt and U.S. Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen.
We are very proud of our junior members for their dedication and commitment to the department and the community. The Mountain Lakes Junior Fire Department serves as a model for other department. We have assisted numerous depts from Morris County as well as Sussex, Passaic and Essex counties in establishing junior fire departments. Please feel free to contact us for information on our department or if you are considering starting a program of your own.