WILLIAM ABELS was born in Pennsylvania around 1839 to Andrew and Sarah Abels. His family was living in Wilmington in 1850. After leaving Wilmington they moved around the country, residing at times in Camden, Philadelphia, Delaware, and Mobile, Alabama. William Abels began working with volunteer fire companies in around 1853 and helped form the first paid fire company in the United States.
On June 7, 1866 Camden’s City Council enacted an ordinance reorganizing the volunteer fire service to improve efficiency in operations. This ordinance provided for increased compensation to the fire companies (Weccacoe and Independence got $800 per annum to be paid quarterly, the Weccacoe and Shiffler Hose companies and the United States Fire Company received $200 annually). The volunteer fire companies were also directed to select a Chief Fire Marshal and three Assistant Marshals, one from each district. The selections were subject to approval by Council. The new department was called “The Fire Department of the City of Camden.” In protest of this ordinance the New Jersey Fire Company No.4 withdrew from the new, organized volunteer department.