The need for an organized fire department had existed for many years in Summit. In 1890, a water main and hydrant system was completed in Summit giving the town an adequate water supply. In 1891, under the direction of Chief John H. Pheasant, Summit Hose Company Number 1 was formed.
In September of the same year, a second company, Hose Company Number 2 was organized. In November 1898, the department reorganized under the direction of a new chief, George V. Muchmore. Under Chief Muchmore, the department grew and was able to enter the 20th Century prepared for new challenges.
By 1916, all fire apparatus in Summit was motorized. With the coming of motor vehicles, full-time firefighters were approved to augment the volunteer force. In 1938, the first career chief, Thomas J. Murray, was appointed to head the fire department. He would remain chief until 1961.