East Greenville Fire Company #1
"When Duty Calls, Tis Ours To Obey"
The History of the East Greenville Fire Company began in 1895, when the citizens of East Greenville recognized the "usefulness of associations for the extinguishing of fires". Quarters for the newly organized fire company were on the 400 block of Main Street, a building that stands to this day. At the company's quarters was a new hand-drawn hose reel and other implements of fire fighting. Behind the quarters stood a 100 foot tall standpipe water tower to ensure there would be adequate water supply when needed.
In an open belfry atop the firehouse hung a large hoop of iron with a sledge hammer striker, affectionately known as the "Locomotive Tire", which acted as the community's fire alarm. The alarm was activated by pulling on a large wire cable, which hung from the belfry down the outside of the building.
On May 25, 1900 the East Greenville Fire Company was officially chartered. The first President of the Company was Frank Gerhard and John J. Gehman was the first Fire Chief.
The original members of the Fire Company were: F.M. Keller, A.F. Fluck, Cornelius Miller, Oscar Bieler, John A. Weil, Emerson J. Gotshall, Edwin E. Schoenly, John S. Herbein, John J. Gehman, John A. Eberman, Calvin Swenk, John L. Dimmig, Frank Gerhart, Elmer J. Hersh. F.C. Shyder, W.H. Dimmig and Jacob M. Knetz.
A significant event in the history of the Fire Company occured on the night of Febraury 15, 1920. It was on this night that the East Greenville Train Station on Fourth street was destroyed by fire. The Company, equipped only with a hand-drawn hose cart using available hydrant pressure, valiantly fought the blaze, but was unable to save the structure due to high wind conditions. However, the ledgers and other important documents were saved for the fact that the were protected by the station's safe. The fire loss attributed to this event was $2,500.00.
In 1924, the first motorized apparatus was purchased. A Stutz pumper was bought for a cost of $10,750.00. With the advent of motorized apparatus, it became apparent that a new firehouse would be needed. In 1926, the company purchaed and remodeled a building located at what is now the intersection of Fourth and Main Streets to be the new firehouse. The remodeling of this building cost $20,000.00, which the Company funded through a bond issue. This building had a capacity for two fire trucks and also contained a meeting room and a social quarters.
In 1937, a new International Emergency Truck was purchased from Berman Sales of Pennsburg.
In 1943, the Company celebrated the liquidation of the building debt with a mortgage burning ceremony. As this occurred during the Second World War, the Company announced that it was supporting the war effort through the purchase of &1,500.00 in U.S. War Bonds.
In the late 40's, it was becoming apparent that the aging Stutz Pumper would need to be replaced. The Fire Company contracted with Mack Trucks to purchase a 1949 Mack Pumper for a cost of $17,000.00. The "49" was delivered on April 16, 1949 and although retired from active service, it remains in the Fire Company's inventory. The "49" is proudly displayed at parades and musters and still runs "like a charm".
In 1951, the Fire Company again contracted with Mack and purchased a 1952 Mack Pumper. The "51" remained in service until 1979.
In the mid '50s, the Company recognized the need to move into larger quarters and on July 11, 1955 a committee was appointed for that purpose. The committee consisted of Clifford Kells (Chairman), Russell Brewer (Supervisor of Construction), Carl Hoffman, Charles Krause, Harold Hagenbuch, Wilmer Dimmig, Karl Ziegenfuss, Bill Conway, Henry Erb, Edmund Kuhns, Frank Parestis, Clarence Gery, Clarence Krauss and Clyde Ackerman.
The committee deliberated on various sites and consulted often with the architect commissioned by the Company. On Februaruy 15, 1956 final plans were taken to Harrisburg, which were returned as approved. Then on April 25, 1956 a special meeting was held to determine whether the Company would move forward with this ambitious building project. After a vote of 54 yes and 3 no, it was overwhelmingly decided to move forward with the brand new and current firehouse.
In October, 1956 the excavation of the site at Fourth and Washington Streets began. By May, 1957 the building was under roof. A debt ceiling of $60,000.00 was established and along with assets held by the Company, paid the total of the new building, which totaled about $250,000.00. During the last week of December, 1957 the Company officially moved into the new quarters and occupied the same to date.
The new building contained a four-bay Engine Room that measured 50 by 60 feet. The building also contained a 70 foot by 80 foot auditorium with a regulation size stage, complete with kitchen. Also contained in the building were a six-lane bowling alley, a social room, a meeting room and a room used as the Borough Council Chambers.
In July, 1959, the old "Locomotive Tire" fire bell that was used at the Company's first firehouse was found on the top floor of the Company's second quarters at Fourth and Main Streets. It was moved to the front of the new firehouse as a monument, on that stands today. It rings no more, but remains a powerful symbol of the Fire Company's history.
On the night of February 10, 1968, the old Foundry, which was located a Fourth and State Streets, caught fire. It was reported that the flames lit up the sky and could be seen for miles around. The building was a total loss, but despite bitter cold temperatures and high winds, the spread of fire was kept from extending to adjacent buildings.
On June 25, 1972, another historic milestone in the Fire Company's history was reached. It was on this date that the mortgage for the present day firehouse was burned. Representative William H. Yohn praised the building committee for the courage and vision in proceeding with the building program, in addition to satisfying the building debt in just fifteen years.
The next year, the Fire Company purchased a 1973 Emergency Truck.
On June 21, 1975, the Fire Company celebrated its 75th Anniversary. The year 1975 was also the Cenntenial of East Greenville Borough. To commemorate this occasion, a parade made its way through the Borough and the housing of the Company's newest piece of apparatus, a 1975 Mack Pumper with a 1,000 GPM pump, was housed.
On April 19, 1979, St. John's Chapel on Jefferson Street was severly damaged by fire, sustaining approximately $100,000.00 in damage. This historic building dated back to 1893.
In August, 1980 the Fire Company took delivery of a 1980 Saulsbury Pumper-Tanker, which was equipped with a 1,000 GPM pump.
On August 1, 1987, the Fire Company celebrated the purchase of its Rescue Truck, a 1986 Ford Saulsbury Rescue. The celebration included a parade and a Housing Ceremony. "Rescue 38" remains in the Fire Company's inventory today, carrying a compliment of rescue tools, including Amkus hydraulic tools, assorted hand and power tools and equipment designed for confined space rescue. In addition to the rescue tools, Rescue 38 carried a cascade system for filling SCBA bottles until 1997.
In 1988, the Fire Company took delivery of a 1988 Hahn Pumper, today known as "Engine 38". Engine 38 is equipped with a 1,500 GPM Hale pump and a 1,500 gallon water tank. Engine 38 is the Company's primary fire attack apparatus and carries 1,200 feet of 5 inch supply hose.
In 1993, the Fire Company sold its 1975 Mack pumper to Red Hill Fire Company and took delivery of a 1993 Spartan Pumper from Quality Manufacturing of Talladega, Alabama. "Pipeline 38" is equipped with a 1,500 GPM Hale pump and a 750 gallon water tank. Pipeline 38 is designed for water supply, with 3,000 feet of 5 inch hose, as well as for fire attack.
In 1997, the Company purchased a Saulsbury rescue body from the Macungie Fire Company and a 1997 Ford F-Super Duty chassis, on which the rescue body was mounted. This piece of apparatus became "Air 38" after the cascade system from REscue 38 was transferred to it.
Also in 1997, the Fire Company authorized its most ambitious building project since the current firehouse was built. At the the rear of the current quarters, a three bay addition was built. This addition, which provided some much needed space for the Company, currently houses the 1949 Mack and Air 38.
In June of 1998, the Fire Company authorized the purchase of a 1983 Mack/LTI Ladder Truck from Hatfield Fire Company, to expand its abilities in providing fire protection to the community. Ladder 38 is equipped with a 106-foot aerial ladder, a ladder pipe, a full compliment of ground ladders, ventilation saws and a host of other tools.
Much has happened over the last 100 years. During the 20th Century, the Wright Brothers took to the sky, automobiles became our primary transportation, two world wars were fought, television became our primary entertainment and information medium, the age of computers began and men were successfully sent to the Moon and returned to Earth. At the same time, the East Greenville Fire Company evolved in the fine organization it is today. It was through dedication, foresight and hard work of many past and present, that we find ourselves here today.