Toms River Family Reflects on Volunteer Firefighting Legacy

For the Weingroff family, volunteering in Toms River Fire District No.1 means there are big shoes to fill. Brothers Ron, 67 and Stephen, 73, uphold the legacy of their father, Charles, who died in the line of duty for Toms River Fire Company #1 in 1973. Along with Ron’s son, Carl, 42, the trio continues to serve their tight-knit community.

Beginning a Legacy

On what started as a simple walk around town with his father and the family dog, Steve never would have imagined the opportunities that would unfold over the next 5 decades.

“I started at Toms River Fire Company #1 on May 1st, 1970. The same day as my father,” Steve recalled. “We saw the firetruck drive past us, and we both signed up as volunteers, right then.”

Ron was not far behind the pair, joining the department in 1973.

“At one point, our biggest problem was fighting over who had to sit in the back seat of our 1969 Volkswagen on the way to the firehouse,” Steve joked.

Despite losing their father only a short time after beginning their journey as volunteer firefighters, the brothers continued to climb the ranks in the department. Steve worked his way up to Chief and Fire Commissioner, whereas Ron worked his way up to the rank of Lieutenant.

Building a Generation of Firefighters

While the Weingroff brothers were not generational firefighters starting out, Carl, had an entirely different experience growing up around the firehouse. From a young age, he had his sights set on becoming a firefighter and working his way up the ladder from his role as fire police officer, much like his father and grandfather.

The key to building a generation of firefighters, according to the Weingroffs, is exposure at a young age.

“There was no place I went without Carl. At a young age, he became an honorary member of the department, helping me with administrative work for the Halloween Parade, and being used as a prop in rescue drills,” Ron recalled. “His volunteering even carried over to his time with the Toms River First-Aid Squad and other fire companies within District 1.”

Both Ron and Carl served as Chairman for Toms Rivers’ Annual Halloween Parade, the second-largest in the world.

The dynamic between the family members changed many times throughout their years of volunteering. While it was difficult for Ron to put his fatherly duties aside, he recognized Carl’s leadership skills right from the start.

Carl becoming a lieutenant meant Steve and Ron now take orders from him on the scene of an emergency. “Even though the roles are reversed, I still go to my father for some advice, here and there,” Carl said.

“And I listen to neither one of them!” Steve joked.

Volunteer Milestones

2020 marked the beginning of incredible milestones for the Weingroff family. Steve achieved his 50th year of volunteering, and Carl’s 20th year volunteering in 2021. In 2023, Ron will reach his 50-year mark.

Toms River Fire District No.1 is home to many second and third generation firefighters, and offers generous benefits to all its members thanks to the support from the township. Members receive pension plans, clothing allowances and gym memberships, to name a few.

While the benefits are great, the Weingroff Family continues to volunteer because of the second family they have found within the department. “Toms River Fire is the biggest second family one can have,” Carl said. “We volunteer here because we want to, not because we have to.”

Toms River Fire District No.1 provides all volunteers with free gear, plus training at their world-class fire academy. The four fire companies: Toms River Fire Company #1, Toms River Fire Company #2, Ocean Beach Fire Company #3, and East Dover Fire Company #4, are currently seeking motivated individuals to join the ranks as firefighters. For anyone interested in volunteering, visit to fill out an inquiry form.