Ambulance History

1961 Cadillac with squad founder William Mathews, Capt. Bill Crosby and President Wilbur Childers

For decades, the standard in ambulances was the Cadillac adapted by Sayers and Scovill, whose signature product, ironically, was a hearse.  These vehicles were utilized by the Fanwood Rescue Squad for three decades. In the early 1970s, the modular, box-type ambulance arrived, affording more room in the back for patients, caregivers and gear. Up until 1977, FRS had just one response vehicle, a standard, 1971 S&S Cadillac ambulance called “Car W”. When a second vehicle arrived, along with the new headquarters building capable of housing two ambulances, squad officials approached Police Chief Anthony Parenti for new identifiers for the vehicles. Chief Parenti decided on Car 78 and 79, numbering the ambulances at the end of the sequence of police vehicles that began at 70. Thus, the Cadillac became 78 and the new Dodge van became 79. Decades later, they became 578 and 579, the numeral 5 identifying Fanwood.

It was also during the 1970’s when tan and brown became the signature color for Fanwood’s ambulances. Members report the lighter color, actually called Casablanca Yellow by GM, was the color of member John Kraus’ Pontiac. Kraus was on the ambulance committee. Other committee members came up with the brown accent color and the rest is history.