On Thursday October 18th, 1906, twelve concerned citizens of the Borough of Collingdale gathered in Floral Hall to organize a Volunteer Fire Company. Those in attendance were Joseph F Beswick, J.F.V. Pole, James Artman, Walter T. Pharo, George F. Reach, William R. Harris, Edward R. Gropper, William Benson, H. K. Lewis, L. Stevenson, and a Mr. Mecaskie. Mr. J.F.V. Pole called the meeting to order. Mr. Joseph Beswick was appointed temporary Chairman and Walter Pharo temporary Secretary. Upon motion it was agreed to formally organize a Volunteer Fire Company. It was further moved that an election be held to select officers. The following were nominated and unanimously elected; Mr. Joseph F. Beswick-President, Mr. J.F.V. Pole-Vice President, Mr. James Artman-Treasurer, and Mr. Walter T. Pharo-Secretary. Mr. Pole then addressed the meeting and provided information that he had received as a result of interviews with members of the Philadelphia Fire Department, Lansdowne Fire Department and Fire Department Supply Houses with regard to apparatus and plans for organizing a fire company. Other business included; the formation of a By-Laws committee, a discussion of available types of apparatus and setting up a demonstration of a chemical apparatus to be held on October 27th.
The demonstration was held at the lot at the corner of Clifton and Andrews Avenues. A fire involving lumber, which had been liberally soaked with oil, was lit and was then, extinguished using a “chemical apparatus”. The demonstration was impressive and made it possible for the members to render a good decision regarding the type of apparatus they should purchase. The Company quickly became operational. At the meeting of November 3rd, Mr. J.F.V. Pole was elected Chief of the Company with H.K. Lewis and Walter T. Pharo to serve as Assistant Chiefs. The first Treasurer’s Report, submitted on January 5, 1907, showed receipts of $212.63 from house to house collections and disbursements of $205.09 which included the purchase of twelve leather fire buckets and a $5.00 payment to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad for a locomotive tire to be used as the fire alarm. After much discussion and consultation with active fire companies and after witnessing the demonstration of the chemical apparatus it was agreed that it would be necessary to purchase a chemical engine.
By February 1907, just four months after the first meeting, an order was placed with S.F. Hayward & Co. of Philadelphia for a two wheeled, two cylinder, Holloway Type Chemical Engine with sixty feet of hose for the price of $850.00. The apparatus was designed to be horse drawn or hand drawn. Horses were to be supplied by the local citizens at the time of a fire whenever possible. If horses were not available the apparatus could be drawn by hand. The new apparatus was received by April 1st and by April 4th had responded to its first fire call. The first house fire reported was for the home of William Marshall which was located at Parker Ave (MacDade Blvd.) and Oak Lane. The early meetings of the Company were held in Floral Hall which was located at 808 Beechwood Avenue. The first Fire House was located in a stable at Pusey and Sharon Avenues although the apparatus was housed in several locations including the barn of Mr. Rocolette, located at 811 Andrews Ave., which was made available to the Company for both meetings and as a house for the apparatus. The Company joined the Delaware County Fireman’s Assoc. in April 1907 becoming the sixth member of the Association and thus becoming, what is now known as, STATION ‘06’. The membership started to grow with fifteen new members joining in January 1907. Fund raising was the order of the day, including an Oyster Dinner which was held in the basement of the Grace Reformed Episcopal Church. The treasurer’s report of June, 1907, shows a balance on hand of $138.63. In January 1908, the Delaware County Fireman’s Assn. adopted the first rules governing the response of Companies in mutual aid situations. These rules are the basis for today’s cover-up system in which fire companies wait until called before responding to fires in other communities.
In February 1908, a special committee was appointed to arrange a meeting with a group of ladies from the community for the purpose of organizing a Ladies Auxiliary. By March 7, the Ladies Auxiliary had been organized. The sixteen members immediately made arrangements for an “entertainment and bake” for the 21st of March to raise money for the Company. The Auxiliary continued to provide invaluable assistance and support to the Company until well into the nineties. They could be counted on for assistance in many forms including but not limited to; providing hot coffee and refreshments for the firemen after large fires, preparing the dinners which accompanied the annual Memorial Service, working on the stands at the annual carnival, helping with the ambulance and maintenance drives, and contributing financially to the Company. The cadre of active Auxiliary members had as much pride in Collingdale No. 1 as the regular firemen.
Resourcefulness was necessary in those early days, and help was found in many unusual places. On the morning of June 1st 1908 the Company responded to a fire at John Swartley’s farm. The apparatus was pulled down Parker Ave. to the fire using the trolley sprinkler. The sprinkler was a horse drawn piece of equipment which was used to spray water on the roadway on Parker Ave to keep the dust down. It was pulled along the trolley tracks which ran along the roadway. In September 1908, a special meeting was held for the purpose of signing the Charter of the Fire Company. Thirty six members were present for the signing.
In 1909 the chemical engine which had two wheels was modified to include two additional wheels for the sum of approximately $200.00. This change improved the handling and transport of the apparatus by easing the requirement of keeping the machine balanced while it was being pulled. In addition to getting organized, the company began to serve the community in other ways. The members undertook the task of running the Collingdale July Fourth Celebration with unquestionable success. The records show, that in 1909, the cost for the 4th of July festivities amounted to $248.34 which included $115.00 for a band which was hired for the day, $55.00 for fireworks and $65.00 for refreshments. (Things were sure simpler in those days). The Company continued to provide the 4th of July celebration for many years.
In July 1909, realizing the need to find a home for itself, the Company appointed a committee to investigate the purchase of a building lot of not less than fifty feet front. The committee took their charge very seriously and at the August 1910 meeting the Board of Trustees announced the purchase of a property at the corner of Clifton and Bedford Aves, from Ray Pitman, Isaac Bedford and George H. Custer for the sum of $500. Up to this time, the Company meetings were held in several sites including Floral Hall which was located at 808 Beechwood Ave. Mr. Campbell, the owner of Floral Hall, was granted Honorary Membership in the Company due to his generosity in allowing the Hall to be used as a meeting place for the Company since its inception.
In 1910, the membership dues were increased from ten cents per month to twenty five cents per month. The dues have not been increased since this change became effective. It was also noted that during 1910 the apparatus was, at times, pulled to the scene of a fire using automobiles. At the meeting of July 1, 1911 a committee of five men was appointed to develop plans for a firehouse. On June 1, 1913, when James S. Carpenter was president, a contract was signed with William S. North to build firehouse at a cost of $6,495.00. $4000.00 was borrowed from Laura V. Dale at that time to finance it. On March 5th, 1913, the floor in the meeting room was lowered one foot. The excavation and floor lowering at that time cost $45.00. On December 1st, 1913, a contract was signed to build a jail for the Borough Hall at the rear of the firehouse. The cost of the addition was $322.00. On August 21, 1924, lots at Andrews and Clifton Ave. were purchased for $3000.00. About 6 months later these were sold for $4500.00, profit $1500.00. The Company continued to prosper and to play an important role in the formation of the community.
The activities of the members in these early years were not without hazard however. In December of 1916, Samuel Langley contracted pneumonia and died as a result of being drenched by water while fighting a fire. Sam was the first member to die in the service of the Company. He passed away on December 2nd of 1916. By 1917, the Fire Company building was used for rentals meetings of other organizations and the various functions of the Borough. 1917 saw the purchase of a “Peerless” automobile from the Girard Auto Co. Apparatus at that time apparently consisted of the chemical engine and the automobile which was used to pull the chemical apparatus. Joint drills were held with Collingdale #2 during 1917. To provide the members with some recreation while at the firehouse waiting for something to happen a new pool table was purchased for the member’s area. The beginning of the involvement of the United States in World War I in April of 1917 saw several of the members answer the “Call to Arms”. A Service flag was presented by J. Elmer Sellers to honor those members serving in the Armed Forces. In 1918 a motion was approved to turn the apparatus over to the Chief and that the “chauffeurs” who were designated to operate the motorized apparatus were placed under the direction of the Chief. Up to this time the apparatus and the chauffeurs were under the direction of the Board of Trustees.
A major catastrophe struck the United States in 1918. An influenza pandemic resulted in the death of millions of people worldwide and over 850,000 people in the United States. Over 12,000 people or 158 out of every 1000 people perished in the Philadelphia area that year due to the flu. This was the largest percentage of deaths in any city in the United States resulting from the epidemic. A letter was sent to Collingdale #2 in sympathy for the men they lost in the influenza epidemic of that year. Isaac Diehl who was serving as Captain of the Company in 1918 received a vote of thanks from the Company for his service to the Borough during the epidemic. Following the armistice ending WWI in 1918 the company membership grew rapidly. Sixty-four (64) new members joined in May of 1919, and fifty (50) joined in June 1919.
Meeting nights for the Company were changed several times during the early years and it was an obligation for the members to attend the meetings and drills which were held from time to time. In February 1919 discussions were had regarding the state of the apparatus and whether to motorize the Chemical Apparatus or to purchase a new truck. A motion was approved to purchase a new truck. The first motorized equipment was a Model T Ford truck, purchased from the Wilson Martin Meat Packing Company, on which the two chemical tanks from the original apparatus were mounted. A Peerless chain-driven touring car was also obtained and converted to a hose truck. The idea of a Firemen’s Relief Association was brought up by Mr. R. Degen. Messrs. Degen, Hauser, and Carpenter were appointed as a Committee to investigate the idea. This concept finally became a reality in 1931. In March 1919, $490.00 was drawn from the treasury to pay the Armour Co. for the Model “T” truck/Chemical Wagon. In April, a motion was approved to dispose of the “large car” which had been used to pull the old chemical wagon, if a suitable offer could be obtained.
June 30th 1921 was marked by the tragic death of William Gorgas, and injury to several other members when the Peerless hose truck on which they were riding failed to negotiate the turn at 9th and Main Street in Darby and overturned. The apparatus was responding to a fire at the Wolford Tank Works in Colwyn. In August, 1923, plans were made for a banquet to celebrate the burning of the mortgage. It was also decided to investigate enlarging the building by putting an addition on the front of the firehouse. During the school year the Firehouse hall was rented to the school district for use as a gymnasium. As sort of a harbinger of things to come the Company received an offer of a second hand automobile if it would be used as an ambulance. The Company decided that it could not start an ambulance service at the “present time”. In December 1923, the Company voted to purchase a Brockway Torpedo Double Tank Chemical Engine at a cost of $4000.00 from the American La France Fire Apparatus Co. The company then purchased two new modern fire engines, one American La France 650 gallon pumper and one Brockway chemical truck, at a cost of $9500, making the company the best equipped in Delaware County. A motion was approved to sell the old Chemical engine for $500.00 Broomall and Okeola (Darby Township) fire companies expressed interest in purchasing the engine. The truck was eventually sold—most probably to Okeola. (Not to Broomall) Folcroft Fire Co. requested a copy of the Company Bylaws as they were revising theirs and wanted to “be guided by a successful Company”. A letter was sent to Burgess Joseph B Glover suggesting that the organizations of the Borough be contacted about having a celebration for the 30th Anniversary of Collingdale. The Company petitioned the State Legislature to have Parker Ave. (MacDade Blvd.) made into a State Highway.
In 1924 the company started to issue the “Monthly Bulletin” which was distributed to every house in Collingdale and Aldan. The “Bulletin” was discontinued in 1936. The first issue showed a picture of the Old Peerless Engine which was bought prior to 1920. In this issue is an article where the Ladies Auxiliary celebrated their 16th Anniversary and the .firemen were invited. Charlie Loeble was toastmaster. Andy Patton presented a gift of six aluminum trays to the ladies. A new hose rack was built for drying hose in the apparatus room. Also the first siren was purchased and one member cut off part of his finger while it was being installed. On April 23rd, 1926, a contract was signed for an addition to the front of the firehouse to provide for larger apparatus room and better quarters for the caretaker. The construction contract was signed by George H. Baumert, James S. Carpenter, John Balkenhol, George E. Renwick and Clarence C. Bache. The addition included a hose tower that was high enough to permit hanging a straight fifty foot long length of hose for drying. Hose drying was critical in those years because the hose was constructed with a cotton outer jacket which was susceptible to mildew which caused the jacket to rot and the hose to fail prematurely. To finance the addition, $16,000.00 was borrowed from the 1st National Bank of Darby. On March 12th, 1936, Mr. A. M. Fetter, 827 Andrews Ave. generously agreed to pay off the remaining $6000.00 of the loan (These were depression days). The fire company paid Mr. Fetter off in small payments during the next three years.
1927 was another busy year for the Company. Charley Mollenkopf was Captain and Leon Wright was the Financial Secretary. The fire bell was hoisted to the new hose tower with an assist from a crew from the Delaware County Electric Company that did the job during their lunch break. The changes continued when it was approved to change the color of the apparatus from white to battleship gray. The Philadelphia Fire Dept. loaned the Company a piece of apparatus to use while the trucks were being painted. In June of 1927, the Company formed a band/orchestra which performed at fire company functions. The Ladies Auxiliary “instructed” the Captain to purchase 12 rubber coats and one “first Class Stretcher” and to bill them for the items. The old hand drawn hose cart was used to advertise the carnival. The cart was modified to accommodate being pulled by a horse. Also, during 1927, an open house was held for the new addition. Jimmy Taylor joined the Company in November 1927. An insurance policy was obtained that would cover the driver of the apparatus in the event of injury to another party. As a fund raiser, the Company, along with Darby #1 and #2, sold tickets for a film entitled “The Fire Brigade” which was shown at the Darby Theater. Each Company realized a profit of $46.66.
In January 1928, the Company voted to purchase a City Service Truck from the Hahn Motor Truck Corp. for a bid price of $4,775.00. Samuel Jackson was chairman of this committee and named the apparatus Truck “A”. At this time the Company had three pieces of apparatus. The housing for the apparatus was held on April 28th with Darby #1, #2 and the 5th District Officers invited to attend. Darby Fire Patrol #2 officiated at the housing as they were a Truck Co. The Truck was not actually accepted until November due to a problem obtaining the proper ladders from the manufacturer. The “Band Committee” was changed to an “Orchestra Committee”. The Orchestra performed at the Company Banquet. A Glee Club was formed in December. A motion was approved that in the event of the death of a member the U.S. flag is to be flown at half-staff from the time of notice of the death until the time of the funeral. Mr. Joseph F. Beswick, the Company’s first President, passed away in June of 1928. The Company Banquet was held on October 6, 1928. Tickets for the affair were $2.00 and music was provided by the Company’s own orchestra. On October 15, 1928 the fire company played a large part in removing the World War I monument from the church grounds at the cornel’ of Clifton and MacDade Blvd. to the school grounds where it remained until it was relocated to the Collingdale Park area many years later. 1929 In November 1929 the lot on Bedford Ave. behind the firehouse was purchased for the sum of $1500.
The Company received an invitation from Collingdale #2 to attend the Flag Raising and dedication of their new building to be held on November 23, 1929. In April 1930 the Company, upon the recommendation of the siren committee, chaired by Sam Jackson, placed an order for a new double ended Code Siren from Sterling Siren Fire Alarm Co. at a cost of $748.00. The siren was placed in operation in October. The siren used code wheels to notify members of the location of fires in the borough. A collection was made on Saturday afternoon after the siren was put in operation and the contributions of the people of Collingdale exceeded the cost of the siren. At the recommendation of the engineers from Sterling Siren the siren was mounted on the peak of the roof of the firehouse, however, it later became necessary to relocate the siren to the top of the hose tower due to the effect that the vibration caused by its the operation was having on the roof structure.
A major benefit for the volunteer fire companies occurred in 1930 as a result of a new Pennsylvania State Law requiring Fire Companies to establish a relief association as a prerequisite for receiving funds for the benefit of firemen injured in the performance of their duties. Fire Companies #1 and #2 formed the “Volunteer Firemen’s Relief Association of the Borough of Collingdale, Delaware County, Pennsylvania” The Association’s first meeting was held on June 19, 1930. Messrs. Mollenkopf, Balkenhol, Heckman, and Walter Pharo were appointed to meet with Collingdale No. 2 to form a Relief Association. The Law required that 2% of all premiums paid to all foreign insurance companies be paid to the State of Pennsylvania which, in turn, paid said funds to the municipality where the insurance was written. These funds were to be returned to the State unless the Fire Companies in the municipality had a regularly organized Relief Association in which case the funds were to be turned over to the Relief Association. In October 1930, Elmer Ritchie applied for membership. Elmer was elected to membership in November.
1931 Marked the 25th Anniversary of the Company. Elmer Algard was elected President, and George Timlin, Captain. The Treasurer’s Report for January 1931 shows a balance of $324.90 with $120.27 in bills. In addition there was the sum of $1052.00 in the sinking fund. The membership had grown to about 350 but the complaint that “only 20 men do all the work” was recorded in the minutes. The Collingdale Volunteer Firemen’s Relief Association named Samuel A. Jackson of Collingdale #1 and the Borough Chief for the year 1931 as the first President of the Association. Samuel Heckman and George J. Timlin were appointed to be the first directors of the Association from Collingdale #1 along with Emil Genaehr and Robert Donaldson from #2. The first recorded Beneficiary of the Relief Assoc. was Ralph Nuttle of Co. #1, who received an injury to his eye while fighting a fire on January 18, The Ways and Means Committee spent $162.00 for angle iron to make carnival stands which “should last a lifetime”. The Ladies Auxiliary and the House Committee each contributed $60.00 toward the cost of the stands. The carnival cleared $1250.00 that year. The angle iron stands did, in fact, last until the carnival activity was ended in 1990 at which time the stands were given to another fire company in the area. The official uniform of the Company was defined as blue chambray shirt, black tie and shoes with regulation blue suit. The minutes noted that Mr. J. R. Evans of 1009 Clifton Ave loaned his coat to Ed Robb who was operating the pump truck at a fire on North Street when the suction line came off of the truck and Ed was soaked. Mr. Evans witnessed the incident, and since it was a cold morning, he insisted that Ed take his coat since “he could go home but Ed could not”. Notice was received from the Salvation Army that they would provide coffee at any hour at a fire if they were to be called.
In December the final payment was made on the Hahn City Service Truck. As noted previously, the Company published a “Bulletin “to keep the residents aware of the activities of the company and to report news of the Borough. Below are excerpts from the “Bulletin” that were included in the banquet book from the fiftieth anniversary of the Company. It is believed that the article was prepared by Leon Wright.
In October 1929 the stock market had crashed, and many lost their life savings. By 1933 the value of stock on the New York Stock Exchange was less than a fifth of what it had been at its peak in 1929. Business houses closed their doors, factories shut down and banks failed. By 1932 approximately one out of every four Americans was unemployed. Fire Companies were not immune from the effects of the depression. The President encouraged the membership to stress economy in their actions as the debt level of the Company “is very heavy”. In 1932 ten boroughs joined together in an effort to get reduced insurance rates for Fire Apparatus. Borough Council agreed to pay ½ of the insurance premium for insurance protection of apparatus drivers. In recognition of his past services to the Company, Philip A. Royle was named a Past Captain of the Company although he never actually held that rank. It was due to his past services to the Company that he became physically unable to assume the duties of Captain. Captain Timlin procured a new bell for the Pumper.
In January 1933, a life net was purchased. The life net was made part of the equipment carried on the City Service Truck and was kept in service until sometime around 1960 when George Seifert jumped onto it from the roof of the old Harris School during a crew night. The life net broke and almost took off one of Bob Seifert’s fingers. It was then that the net was retired from service. A motion was made to hold the first Memorial Service to honor our members and the members of the Auxiliary who had passed away during the previous year. Reverend Marion G. Richard of the Lutheran Church conducted the service. This Memorial has remained as a tradition with the Company through the years. Jimmy Taylor and Ed Robb were named to the Membership Committee. The Company sent a gift to the Ladies Auxiliary on the occasion of their 25th Anniversary. MacDade Blvd. was dedicated on September 9, 1933. A traffic light was installed in front of the firehouse. This was the year of the bank failures and much effort was applied to saving the money of the Company and the Relief Assoc. which was deposited in the First National Bank in Darby.
A communication dated February 20, 1933 was received from the First National Bank of Darby, Pa. in reference to the bank being unable to meet the demand for withdrawal of funds by its depositors. It was moved and approved that members who were in arrears with their dues as a result of unemployment and the banking problem would be excused from payment of dues. It was noted in the minutes that fire companies were not permitted to obtain a license to sell liquor and that it would be necessary to form a Social Club to provide such a service. The House Committee was given the authority to form a Social Club to be made up of members of the Company only. The Club was formed and a yearly lease was drawn up at $1.00 per month between the Fire Company and the Firemen’s Social Club. MacDade Boulevard (formerly Parker Ave.) was dedicated on September 9, 1933 The Office of City Service Truck Lieutenant was changed to City Service Truck Foreman and the new office of “Day Engineer was created. The annual baseball game between Collingdale #1 and the Philadelphia Fire Department was scheduled for September 9. The funding of the Relief Assoc. was increased by the passage of a bill which awarded the 2% premiums from towns lacking a fire company to be given to the Relief Assoc. of the Company providing fire protection to that town. In 1934 the Relief Assoc. Treasurer was instructed to open an account with the Gimbel Brother’s Bank and Trust Co.
For the year 1934, Joseph Clifton was elected President, Ed Robb First Lieutenant, Jim Taylor First Asst. Engineer and Elmer Ritchie Second Engineer. 150 Christmas baskets were distributed to needy families in the Borough. A Committee was formed to assist Bud Eberhart in the purchase of an artificial foot. Provisions were made to have the Auxiliary members covered under the Relief Assoc. insurance policy. In April of 1935 a special meeting was called to entertain the possibility of starting an Ambulance Service. A motion was approved to investigate the matter. Mr. Rowland was appointed chairman of the committee. At a special meeting, held on April 18th, it was moved to approve the purchase of an ambulance from the U. G. I. Co. (Phila. Gas Co.) for the sum of $25.00. Joseph Marshall and Jim Carpenter were instrumental in obtaining the vehicle. The Auxiliary donated sheets, pillow cases and blankets for the ambulance. A Sterling Siren was purchased for the ambulance for the price of $28.50. In May, the first ambulance call was to transport the husband of Mrs. Marion H. Magnin of 116 Chester Pike to Hahnemann Hospital. In the fall of 1935 the Ambulance was traded for a newer type for a consideration of $500.00. In July, rules were adopted for the organization and operation of the ambulance. The service was placed under the direction of the Trustees. Ed Robb was appointed to be the first Ambulance Supervisor. A committee was formed to try to procure a charter for the Firemen’s Social Club and to find out from the Attorney General if the Club would in fact have any legal standing. The Trustees were directed to have a plate made in memory of James S. Carpenter and to have the plate mounted on the front of the firehouse. Jim was President of the Company in 1913 when first firehouse was built. He remained an active member for many years. The Auditing Committee reported that the worth of the Company was $50,663.38 which included the building, apparatus and all other property. A donation of $1000.00 was received from the Ladies Auxiliary to help pay down the mortgage. The Company moved to thank the Ladies and to present them with a new gavel which was to be made by Arthur Gandy. A letter of thanks was received from Bud Eberhardt for the Company’s assistance in acquitting an artificial foot.
In 1936 the meeting room was refurbished. This room was part of the old building and was sorely in need of an overhaul. There was a difference of opinion between Company #1 and Company #2 regarding the previously agreed boundary of Jackson Ave. for the collection of funds. #2 felt that the boundary should be moved for a more equitable distribution of the population served. It was stated that the population divide was in fact Sharon Ave. and if #2 wanted to come that far there would be no objection. The new boundary was set at Sharon Ave. A motion was approved to discontinue publication of the “Bulletin” which had been used for many years to keep residents of Collingdale and Aldan aware of the activities of the Fire Company and the surrounding communities. A letter was received from the Borough Council in 1937 informing the Company that the jail which had been located at the rear of the firehouse was now vacant. The jail room was converted into a canteen for the members as part of the game room. A request was received from Broomall Fire Co. asking that we give them our old ambulance if we were to get a new one. The request was placed on file. The By-Laws were amended to permit intoxicating liquors in the firehouse and playing cards on Sunday. The vote was 30 Aye and & 7 Nay. The minutes indicate that the Churches across the street reportedly petitioned the State and Federal Government to prevent issuance of a license to permit liquor in the firehouse.
On January 3, 1938 a new Pontiac Ambulance was received. Purchase price was $2, 505.00. Boxing matches were included as part of the annual carnival activities. A request was received from the borough for some old hose to be used to wet down the trash dump on ash days. The dump was located at the end of Jackson Ave. at the present site of Collingdale Park. As part of the fund raising schemes of the fire company, magazine subscriptions were sold. The Company received funds for each subscription sold by the Company members. The subscriptions were sold by the Crowell Publishing Co. The Chester Times Newspaper reported that Collingdale Fire Co. No.2 was considering becoming a Borough owned Fire Company. A resolution was drafted stating No. 1’s displeasure with this idea and also the idea of a fire tax being placed on the citizens of the Borough.
The Ladies Auxiliary began paying the coal bills for the Fire Company in 1939. The Delaware County Fireman’s Assoc. started the fire school to train firemen. Flowers were sent to Mrs. Rachel Gorgas who was very ill. Mr. Gorgas was killed in 1921 in the service of the Company. A review of the ambulance donations from communities other than Collingdale indicated that it was becoming fiscally impossible to continue the ambulance to the surrounding communities. Sharon Hill, Folcroft, and Glenolden were notified that we would no longer provide ambulance service outside of the Collingdale & Aldan Boroughs due to a lack of financial support from these communities. Aldan Borough was notified that both fire and ambulance coverage would be withdrawn unless the financial situation improved. In response to the withdrawal of ambulance service Sharon Hill Fire Co. donated $25.00 so their members would have coverage of the Ambulance. A three month trial period was arranged for. Aldan Borough sent a donation of $200.00 which was rejected. Service for fires was to be denied unless the appropriation was increased. Aldan refused to increase the appropriation. A letter was sent to Aldan stating that fire and ambulance service would be discontinued on April 3, 1940 and a letter so stating would be sent to the Suburban Underwriters Assoc. In June a committee of Messrs. McNeil, Jackson, Johnson, Strouse, Quirk, Ritchie and Timlin was appointed to purchase a new chassis, tank and pump for a booster truck. The chemical tanks from the Brockway truck are to be mounted on the new chassis by our own members. Estimated cost is to be between $1800 and $2000.00. By July the pump and the new chassis were on hand and work was started. The new Booster Truck was housed in November. A letter of thanks was received from Ridley Park Fire Co. for our assistance at the Ridley Park High School fire. In July the Trustees were directed to send a letter to the residents of Aldan advising them of the cut in service to their community due to a lack of financial support from the borough. A copy of the letter was to be sent to the Delaware County Firemen’s Assoc. In September a motion was approved to have the City Service Truck and the pump painted. The members were to sand and varnish the ladders. The Ladies Aux. was requested to purchase a siren for the new “Booster” truck. Mr. Eldridge Stockwell of Stockwell Rubber Co., a resident of Sharon Hill, contributed a new nozzle to the Company. The Company suffered another financial set-back when it was learned that the operation of the Carnival, one of the Company’s major fund raising activities, was determined to be against the law. Letters were sent to the residents of Collingdale explaining the loss of revenue and its impact on the Company. A Bill was presented in Harrisburg in 1941 to make Bingo and carnivals legal for fire companies. Chas. Lafferty, Bert Russell, Elmer Ritchie, Bob Marsh, and M. J. Hanly assisted in activities for the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Borough which included a Drum and Bugle Corp. competition, a pageant and a parade. In May the Company received a letter from the President of the United States thanking members for their cooperation in the Selective Services Registration. A motion was approved to rescind the earlier motion to limit ambulance service to calls in Collingdale only. Motion was to resume coverage to surrounding Boroughs with a minimum donation of $5.00. At the June meeting the Auxiliary gave a donation of $200.00 to be used for the reduction of the mortgage. The fire Company voted to resume coverage in Aldan. All of the Companies in the 5th District sent letters to Darby Township requesting that Darby Township provide an appropriation to at least one Company in the district in order to continue fire service coverage. A plan was developed between #1 and #2 for daytime fire coverage including the operation of the equipment. Mr. David Claffey took photographs of the firehouse and apparatus for the 50th Anniversary of the Borough program. There was no charge for the photos. In October it was necessary to cancel the Bingo Parties due to Infantile Paralysis quarantine. A $10.00 donation was received from the School Board for extinguishing the bon fire on the school field. The bon fire was an annual event to mark the Thanksgiving Day football Game between Collingdale and Darby High Schools.
December 7th the Second World War began with the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. In January 1942, one month after the start of WWII thirty two new members were accepted into the Company. In February, ID’s for black-outs and air raid drills were distributed to members. The Company members were active in the local Civil Defense Group nicknamed the “Bomb Dodgers’ which was responsible for the conduct of the Air Raid Drills and other activities related to the security of the citizens during the war years. As part of the air raid preparedness plan the ambulance was required to relocate to Collingdale Fire Co. No. 2 firehouse during air raid drills. Efforts were made to have this requirement cancelled. The war became the major concern for all of the citizens of the country. Sun Shipbuilding, Ford Motor Co. and Willys Overland Co. in Chester along with Westinghouse in Lester were major employers involved in manufacturing military equipment during the war. In Collingdale, the Shallcross Manufacturing Co. manufactured precision resistors and other electrical items which were used in the manufacture of military electronics items. The DCFA discussed the possibility of sabotage becoming a problem in the Chester Pike area. This concern was probably based on the presence of the B&O RR which was a major transportation link for many military vehicles and other equipment items built at the Ford and Willy’s plants in Chester. In fact, a train wreck did occur on the RR in the area of Hansen Terrace.
Two requests were received for donations for the British Fire Fighters Relief Fund. A motion was accepted to carry all members in the armed forces as paid-up active members. In August, money from the Fire School graduation ceremony was used to purchase cigarettes which were distributed to servicemen. At Christmas time cartons of cigarettes were also sent to all members in the Armed Services. The Grace Reformed Episcopal Church donated a shuffleboard table to the Company. A spirit of cooperation existed between the Ambulance Corps in the area. Letters were received from Darby No.1 thanking our Company for responding to calls in Darby when they were unable to respond; likewise we sent a letter of thanks to Yeadon Fire Co. for covering for our ambulance when it was unable to respond to a call. An Honor Roll of those citizens of the Borough serving in the Armed Forces was dedicated on November 7th 1943. The Honor Roll was placed in front of the High School at the same location as the WWI Memorial. This is also the site of the present “All Wars Memorial”. The list of Collingdale men in the military was quite extensive. It was rumored that some of the men graduated from high school in the evening and by morning they were on their way to the military camp. Rationing of critical items that were required for the war effort was started. Gasoline became less available and this created concern for emergency vehicles.
A letter was written to the DCFA requesting assistance in obtaining gasoline for the equipment. The Ration Board arranged for additional gasoline for the apparatus. The Booster Truck was modified in 1944 to incorporate a windshield and a spotlight. In addition the chemical tanks were removed and the pump was changed from a positive displacement type pump to a centrifugal pump. The work was all done by the members. It was decided to place a Gold Star on the Company “Honor Roll” in place of the black drape when a member in the service was killed. In May of 1944 the mortgage was paid off. June 6, 1944 was D-Day marking the allied invasion of the beaches at Normandy, France. James Borderieux was killed in December while serving in the armed forces. It was in December 1944 that the “Battle of the Bulge” occurred. The 32nd service star was added to the Company “Honor Roll”. There were 30 Blue Stars and 2 Gold Stars. Frank Crummer was also killed in action. A committee was formed to begin a drive for funds to be used for the purchase of a new pumper. The Apparatus Fund amounted to $2208.18 by January 1945. In November, bids were sought for a new fire truck.
In March the Collingdale Borough Council considered stopping the appropriations to the fire companies unless the companies could prove financial hardship. Both fire companies appealed this idea as being not at all appropriate. August was marked by the end of the war and in October a “Welcome Home” banner was purchased and hung Clifton Ave. in front of the firehouse. In January 1946 a committee was formed to look into the purchase of a new ambulance to replace the old Pontiac, which had been in service since 1938 due to the inability to obtain new vehicles during the war years. In May, an order was placed for a new Cadillac ambulance Specifications were received for a new fire truck in February and in March the Apparatus Committee was given approval to purchase a new pumper for $10,800. A committee was formed to purchase the WWII Memorial Plaque which was mounted on the front of the firehouse. In October 1946, Mr. John Malanaphy, a member who had lost both legs in the war, returned to Collingdale No. 1. John was brought to the firehouse in the ambulance and was in a wheel chair. He was presented with a check for $250.00 raised mainly through the efforts of the American Legion and a local baseball team. The new Cadillac ambulance was received from Wolfington Body Co. in September 1947. The old ambulance was sold to Westville Fire Co. of NJ for $1,750.00. This same month the new pumper was received and arrangements were made for a housing to be held on October 4, 1947. The old pumper was sold to Good Will Co. of Darby Twp. for $100.00. It was around this time that the borough population increased markedly with the construction of new houses in the area of Westmont Drive and Rively Avenue.
Things sort of returned to normal in 1948. Major purchases that had been delayed due to the war and rationing were now complete and it was time to get back to basics. A new cooking range was purchased for the hall for the price of $225.00. Two new, two section aluminum ladders (1- 50 ft. and 1- 35 ft.) were purchased. Bill Cass made a generous donation of a new combination resuscitator, inhalator, and aspirator to the ambulance. The device was worth over $500.00 and was used for many years. Bill was made a life member of the Company due to this generous gift to the Company and his many years as an active member. Coveralls were purchased for use by the ambulance crews. Swarthmore Fire Co. provided their aerial truck to repair the rope on the flag pole at the high school. The Company won the annual won in the “Tug of War” contest with No. 2 at the 4th of July celebration. The $25.00 prize was turned in to the Company. A new Cadillac Ambulance from Wolfington Body Co. was received in May of 1949 for a net cost of $1000.00 after trade in of the old ambulance. A donation of $25.00 was made to the Senior Class of the Collingdale High School for their assistance with the typing for the Fund Drives. This was a big task involving sending requests for donations to residents of the communities we serve. The typing class provided a very valuable service to the Company.
The 1950’s seem to have been a period of renewed effort and growth for the Company. New names: March, Dukes, Gspann, Savage, Detweiler, Andy and Joe Munley, Neary, Glatz, Long, Johnson, Bob and Harry Seifert, Howell, Byrnes, Frank & John McNeile and Buchanan are mentioned along with the old regulars; Elmer Ritchie, Leon Wright, Jimmy Taylor, Walter Bardsley and Frank Leonhardt. Although the names changed there was no change in the goal of the members, “to make No 1 the best.” Two new flags, a Company Flag and an American Flag were ordered. A committee was formed to look into the purchase of a new City Service Truck. A Building Committee was appointed to look into a new building. Approval was given for the purchase of a new S&S Cadillac Ambulance for the price of $12,185. In 1951, Gene Gspann resigned as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee and Bob Glenn, who was the 1st Lieutenant both resigned their offices due to being called to active duty in the armed forces because of the Korean conflict. Arthur Flower, another member who was serving in the Armed Forces in Korea, was killed in action. Howard Walker was elected to fill Bob’s Office of 1st Lt.
The Company took delivery of a new S & S Ambulance which was equipped with a two-way radio. The ambulance was identified as “Car 5” on the Sharon Hill Radio Network which has a call sign of KBG 367. Tragedy struck the Company at a fire in the Penn Pines section in 1952 when John McNeile died as a result of being overcome by smoke at a fire in the Penn Pines housing development near Aldan. John was trying to rescue a child who, as it turned out, wasn’t in the house. John had been a valuable member of the Company for many years and had been largely responsible for the construction of the Booster Truck in 1940. As usual, in cases of this sort, the Insurance Co. refused to pay the claim for the death of John McNeile. Attorney John Diggins was consulted regarding the matter. In 1953, Attorney Diggins informed the Company that there is no basis for the claim for John McNeile but that he would research the matter further. Mr. Diggins was instructed to make this a test case for our Company if it should become necessary. A second Att’y, Mr. Hodge, was consulted in the matter. He felt he could get up to $1400 from the Insurance Co. Mrs. McNeile decided that she would accept the $1000 offered by the Insurance Co. It was moved and seconded that the Company should try to get whatever it can from the insurance company and that the Relief Assoc. should make up the difference to $2000. The matter was finally resolved when the Relief Association reported that the Compensation Board referee awarded $5,670 to Mrs. McNeile. A new 1952 Cities Service Truck with a full complement of aluminum ladders was ordered from Mack Fire Apparatus Co. The price of the truck was $16,022.90. The truck was received in October. Some modifications to the building were made by the members to facilitate housing the truck. It is reported that the modifications were initiated with a sledge hammer which punched a hole through the apparatus room and the members room which startled the card players seated in the members room. The new truck replaced the 1928 Hahn City Service Truck which was put up for sale.
In anticipation of future needs of the community, the expansion of the Ambulance Service and the increase in size of modern firefighting equipment a Building Fund was started to raise $25,000. The usual $25.00 donation was given to the Bloomsburg Club of the High School for their help in preparing the Fund Drives. In March the Ambulance Board of Governors was established with Nevin “Buck” Buchanan, Al Ochs, and Russ Lytle forming the first Board. That same month was marked by a major fire at the Shallcross Mfg. Co. plant at Jackson and Pusey Ave’s. The plant produced critical electrical items during WWII and was a major employer in the Collingdale area. A request was made to the Springfield Water Co. to move the hydrant from Clifton Ave. to the firehouse side of Bedford Ave. Plans for a new building drawn up by Mr. Del Butts of Darby No. 2 were submitted for review. A new radio was purchased for the ladder truck. In December, the Ambulance participated in the transfer of patients from the old Lankenau Hospital to the new facility which is located off Lancaster Avenue in Wynnewood. 40 Ambulances participated, traveling in convoys of six ambulances each with police escort. In 1954, the ambulance was replaced with another S&S Cadillac at a cost of $11,588.00 less $4588 for the trade in of the old ambulance. Collingdale Federal Savings Bank donated Coin Saver Cards, envelopes and printing for the annual fund drives. Two new typewriters were purchased to be used for the annual fund drives. There were 129 fire calls and 658 ambulance calls for the year. A donation of $25.00 was given to the Commercial Class of the High School for their assistance to the Ambulance Drive. As a fund raising activity, the Company sponsored a Circus (yes a circus with elephants and all) in 1956. Tickets for the show were $1.00 for general admission and $2.00 for the reserved section. The circus was held on May 11th at what is now the baseball field on Spruce Street. Unfortunately, the weather was extremely bad on the day of the performance and the sale of tickets was very difficult and resulted in a loss of money for the Company. In spite of the loss, everyone had a good time although there were no more circuses. Phil Neary entered a proposal calling for a split of the fifth District Chiefs Assoc. The ambulance participated in the transfer of patients from the Metropolitan Hospital in Philadelphia. In July the purchase of two Scott Air Packs was authorized. Up to that time the breathing apparatus was the Chem-0x Mask which used a chemical canister to purify and filter smoky air at a fire. The Chem-Ox masks were developed during WWII. A letter of thanks was sent to the Vogue Diner which was located at the corner of Springfield Rd and MacDade Blvd for providing coffee and refreshments to the firemen during the flood at Darby Creek.
At the approach of the 50th Anniversary of the Company there was a concerted effort made to modernize the firehouse. Several different concepts were considered and a great deal of, sometimes heated, debate ensued. The first plan, calling for a new two story building was approved and a committee consisting of Leon Wright, Charles Pottiger, Bill Martin, Wes Singer and Elmer Ritchie was formed to go ahead with the plans for the new building. The building committee then submitted a recommendation and a motion was made to build an addition to the rear of the firehouse. This motion was defeated and the committee was discharged. In September, another motion was made and carried that the original plan for a new building in the rear of the existing building be implemented. In December it was moved that the committee should hold off on its activities until after the election of officers for the next year.
Finally, in January 1956, President Fred Glatz appointed James Waters as Chairman of the Building Committee. In February, Jimmy presented plans for a new building and spoke about the suggestions of the architect and engineers. The plan called for the demolition of the existing firehouse and the construction of a totally new one-story facility incorporating an enlarged apparatus room, a member’s room and a large hall. It was moved, seconded and approved by a unanimous vote that the building committee be empowered to proceed with the new building. On March 1, a special meeting of the Company was called for approval to purchase the property at 504 Clifton Ave. to serve as the caretaker’s quarters during demolition and construction of the new building. The apparatus was housed in the M. Paul Payne Fuel Co. garage on Clifton Avenue which was generously donated by the owner. A direct phone line was installed between the M. Paul Payne’s garage and the caretaker’s residence to handle fire and ambulance related communications. In April, a store at 313 Clifton Ave. was rented to serve as a meeting room and storage area during the construction. On May 8th the regular meeting of the Company was held at 313 Clifton Ave. There were 9 officers and members in attendance. Many other members were engaged in salvaging equipment from the firehouse prior to the demolition. The meeting was adjourned until the following Tuesday. A letter was received from Collingdale #2 offering the use of their meeting room and hall during the construction of the new firehouse but it was felt that the rented building would provide a better solution, The old firehouse was razed and construction of the new firehouse was started. Several delays were experienced during the construction. Delivery of the steel beams was delayed due to a union strike at the Ryerson Steel Co. Later the roofers union refused to let its members work while non-union workers were present on the work site. The delays were overcome however and construction continued. A motion was approved to authorize the Building Committee to include an addition to the new firehouse plans for a Canteen and a kitchen at a cost of $3,478.00. Several other minor modifications were made to the design of the building throughout the year.
In December, it was reported that the painting of the new building, which was being done by the membership, was partially completed. The Canteen Committee announced plans to hold the New Year’s Party in the new hall. On January 8, 1957, the regular meeting of Collingdale Fire Co. No. 1 was held in the new firehouse. Past President Fred Glatz installed the new President Frank Diamond. Cost of the firehouse was $85,000.00. A rising vote of thanks was given to Mr. Waters, the Chairman of the Building Committee, for his tireless efforts in seeing that the building was completed. Paul Payne was made an honorary member of the Company as a sign of gratitude for his generous act of loaning his garages to the Company for housing the apparatus during the construction of the new firehouse.
In July 1956, Collingdale #2 put its rescue Squad into operation. Further site improvements were made during 1957. The parking lot was paved and new tables and chairs were purchased for the hall to facilitate renting the facility. Russ Lytle built the wall separating the kitchen from what is now hall bar and the cloak room. An acoustic tile ceiling was installed in the hall to overcome an echoing problem resulting from the original plaster ceiling. The Fourth district requested our participation in setting up a compressed air filling station for Scott Air Packs. It was agreed that we should participate for a cost to the Company of $60.00. Later that same year yet another new ambulance was purchased from the Sayers & Scoville Sales Corp for the sum of $15,300 less a trade in allowance of $7,000.00. In October 1957, the purchase of a 100’x122’ property with nine garages located behind the firehouse for $6,500.00 was approved. This property is now the parking lot. In 1958 President Charlie Meiser ordered 500 copies of the new By-Laws and Constitution to be printed for distribution to the members. Largely through the efforts of Frank Byrne the Company bought a 1941 Buick Ambulance from the Fitzgerald Mercy Hospital to be used as a backup ambulance. After some upgrading, the ambulance was put in service in October. At the time the ambulance was responding to approximately 60 calls per month and there was an increasing number of occurrences when there were two overlapping calls which made it necessary to transfer one of the calls to a neighboring ambulance service. The second ambulance proved to be a valuable asset to the service even though it was a far cry from responding in the Cadillac.
Continuing the expansion of the Company facilities, the Company purchased a parcel of land and 15 garages located on Hibberd Ave. for the price of $7,500.00. This property is part of the present parking lot. The garages were temporarily used for storage of Company property such as the carnival stands. As the 50’s close, more new names again appear to mix with the old; Charlie Meiser, Ernie Jetter, Sam Jillard, George Seifert, Bill Dougherty, Jim McCaughan, Jim Coppola, Jim Elliott, Spitz Henderson, Roy Rogers Jr., Binnie DeGutis, John Casnet, Bill Garrity, Don Armentario, Bill Ellis, Mike and Doug Loftus, Don Felker, Roy Johnson, Sam Arrell, Bob Bull, Ed Glanfield, Bill Ebinger, Spitz Henderson, Ernie Strollo, Bill Ritchie, Tom Rohanna, Joe Shields, Walt Simpson, and Bob Fletcher began to pick up the slack caused by the loss of some of our older members. A committee of Ed Shive, Charles Wingle, and Ed March was appointed develop a list of service dates for members to enable an accurate determination of qualification of members for their 20 year life membership. The need for the list resulted from changes to the By-Laws which defined specific minimal requirements to be met for a member to qualify for Active and ultimately for Life Membership status which were in addition to simply being a member for the twenty years. Up to this time the determination was made based mainly on the recollection of a few of the older members. The Ways and Means Committee, always searching for a new way to raise money sponsored a Donkey Baseball game pitting Collingdale #1 & #2 against Briarcliff Fire Co. It is not certain at this time who won the game. What is certain however is that those who attended and those who participated in the event had a great time.
In 1960, Walt Simpson who, along with Ed March where was the resident electricians of the Company at the time, requested and was granted permission to hold Teen Age Dances in the hall on Friday evenings This activity continued to grow and became a great hit with the teenagers of the area. A new dance committee was formed in 1961 to expand the already successful teenage dances at the firehouse. This activity, led by Chairman Roy Rogers Jr., included Bill Ebinger, John Harris, Bob Modesto, Frank Savage Jr., Ernie Jetter, John Miller, Lou Mozer and Al Hudson. The Committee arranged for featured entertainers to perform at the dances and teenagers from a wide area made it a point to attend the dances at No. 1. The success of the teen dances was largely responsible for providing the funds used to purchase a new booster truck in 1963. The minutes of March, 1961, record the purchase of a new S&S Cadillac ambulance to replace the old Buick. The new ambulance, which was still considered as a back-up was smaller than the primary vehicle. James Reed passed away on July 4, 1961. Jim was a Charter Member of the Company In September 1962, the Dance Committee reported a profit of $4301.36 for the first eight months of the year. In October 1962, Charlie Mollenkopf passed away. Charlie was a Past Captain and had been a member for over 40 years. He typified the pride the older members had in the Company and like the others he was always ready to lend a hand. a committee was formed In February 1963 to purchase a new truck to replace the old International “Booster Truck” which was built by the members under the direction of John McNeile in 1941. The new ambulance was received in March of 1963. In April, it was reported that fourteen bids had been received for the new truck. The committee recommended that the new truck should be designed to retain the function of the “BOOSTER”. It was to be built by Hahn Mfg. Co. on a Ford C700 chassis for the sum of $11,800.00. The new truck was received in September. In November, after much discussion, it was decided to sell the old Booster Truck for the best price attainable.
The weekly Dances at the firehouse were stopped in 1964 due to decreasing profits largely resulting from increased costs due to the need for hiring security personnel to control the crowd. A milestone was reached by the Company in 1966. In April, the Company made the final payment on the building. To mark the occasion, the members were treated to a catered dinner and President Charlie Meiser conducted the Mortgage Burning Ceremony. In October a Fireman’s Appreciation Day parade was held as part of the Diamond Jubilee Celebration of the Borough. The Company put on a fine show with many of the members sporting beards and mustaches which went well with the high hats, red shirts and suspenders that we bought for this special occasion. The Borough’s celebration lasted through a good part of the year and featured many events including a historical pageant held on the high school field which featured quite a number of Collingdale residents acting out the parts of historical persons who were associated with the development of the area in colonial times. Margaret Hudson, Al’s wife, was named Queen of the Celebration in recognition of her untiring efforts to assure its success. Bill Ruthrauff was the Mayor at the time. The Fire Companies provided a good deal of fun with their roving jail that traveled throughout the Borough arresting male residents who failed to grow a beard for the celebration. A good and memorable time was had by all.
Another new ambulance was received in March 1967. In addition a committee of Ed Glanfield Ch. Sam Arrell, Elmer Ritchie, Orland Dukes and Bill Ellis was appointed by President Doug Loftus and charged with the purchase of a new pumper. The committee developed a specification for the pump truck however, during the process of evaluating different apparatus it was noted that the Fire District was in fact in need of an aerial truck. The aerial in Darby and Clifton Heights were both quite old and somewhat unreliable and while our City Service truck was in good condition it did not provide the capabilities of an aerial. After some discussion on the matter, the committee approached the Company to request permission to investigate the possibility of acquiring an aerial truck instead of the pump truck. The Company concurred with the committee and gave its permission to investigate both a pumper and an aerial ladder. The Company decided on the purchase of only one piece of apparatus and in April 1968, the committee presented the Company with information on both types of apparatus and a discussion was held on whether to purchase one truck or two. The decision was made that a Seagraves Rear Mount 100 foot Aerial be purchased for the sum of $64,529.00.
The following year bids were received for the new pump truck. In April 1969, the Hahn Fire Apparatus Co. was selected to build the truck. On December 9 the Company voted to pay the Seagraves Fire Apparatus Co. for the Aerial Truck which had been received in July 1969. The truck was placed in service in January 1970. The delay in payment was due to the truck paint not being in accordance with the Company specification. A long negation was undertaken with Seagrave Corp over the cost of the truck and whether we were entitled to a financial settlement for the manufacturers mistake. The final cost of the truck was $57,470. The Collingdale Millwork fire occurred in 1969, just a short time before the Aerial was placed in service. As a bit of fire company folk lore, the nickname for the aerial was the “Queen”. The name was initially bestowed by Doug Loftus who had been in the Air Force and was a Boeing Vertol employee. Doug said that aircraft that were out of service for long periods of time were dubbed, “hangar queens” thus the nickname for the aerial. Rest assured though that when truck was finally placed in service it totally fulfilled the expectations of the Company although the nickname remained throughout the many years it remained in service.
Phil Neary, a leader of the Company for many years passed away in 1970. Phil was a driving force for the Company for many years. He served as Captain for 1949 and 1950 and was a member of the Board of Trustees for many years. Bill Rowe, another longtime member, fabricated the racks for the member’s running gear. The racks were made from steel from several old carnival stands. Prior to this time all of the running gear was carried on the trucks and it was first come first served when you were trying to find gear that would fit. The new apparatus did not have facilities for mounting gear. In addition, the number of men responding to fires had increased to where there was not sufficient space to store the gear, even on the old trucks. The new Pump Truck was received from Hahn Fire Equipment Co. The housing celebration for the Aerial and the Pump was held on September 12, 1970. Fred Howell chaired the Housing Committee which provided a grand celebration. 57 Companies joined us in this celebration, which was well organized and extremely successful. It was a proud day for all of us. Doug Loftus was President and Bill Ebinger was the Captain that year. A motion was made to purchase a new ambulance for the sum of $21,104.50 less a trade in of $8,604.50 With the receipt of the new pumper the 1946 Mack Pump Truck was put up for sale. The “Pump” had served the Company well for 24 years. It was purchased by Fred Tattersall who was a former firehouse caretaker for Fire Company. After several years, the truck was purchased and is presently owned by George Kaiser. George is an active member of the Company and appreciates the attachment the Company has with the “Old Mack”. The truck has been refurbished and is still used in various Antique Fire Apparatus Shows and pumping contests and, through George’s generosity, by the Fire Company for special occasions.
In April, 1971 the Company suffered another loss while fighting a major fire at the Janness Plumbing Co. on MacDade Blvd. Walter ‘Bud” Bley suffered a heart attack and died while working on a hose line on Rhodes Avenue. His untimely death was a shock to us all. Bud was a willing worker and a fine gentleman. He was always willing to lend a hand when needed. The Janness Plumbing Co. occupied part of a one block long building on MacDade Boulevard between Rhodes and Staley Avenues. The building was heavily involved in fire by the time the alarm was received and a call was immediately placed for a district response. Firefighting was hampered by the presence of approximately thirty propane tanks which were stored in a remote section of the building and which exploded at random times. As the fire progressed, a gas pipe, which passed through a brick wall between the plumbing company and the adjacent Ply-Gems Wood Paneling Store, broke off and vented gas into the paneling store. As preparations were being made to prevent the passage of fire into the paneling store the gas exploded and literally blew the paneling store apart. Due to the explosion and the rapid increase in the scope of the fire with the attending heat, it became necessary to relocate several hose lines as well as the ladder truck. It was at this time that Bud Bley apparently passed away. The ambulance crew responded immediately but their efforts to revive Bud were to no avail. The heat was so intense in the area that the beacon ray lights on the ladder truck, which was positioned across MacDade from the fire, were partially melted. The ladder truck was forced to move briefly until the initial flash of the fire subsided. The truck was then returned to service on the Rhodes avenue side of the building and set up; to protect surrounding buildings. Despite the situation, the spread of the fire was controlled very well and there was essentially no damage to residences on Rhodes and Staley avenues. The fire, which had started at about 9:00 PM, was finally extinguished at about 6:00AM. Fire companies assisting No.1 and No.2 at the fire included, Darby No.1 and No.2, Colwyn, Sharon Hill, and Holmes, Andy Munley passed away in August 1971. Andy was a longtime member who was liked by all who knew him. He had served on the Board of Trustees and many other committees and was always a willing worker.
July 1973 saw the first applications by women to become active members of the Company. Eight applications were received, eight were rejected. Leon Wright, a member for more than 50 years, died in ‘October 1973. Leon was active during all of his years as a member. He served President in 1933 and again in 1959 and as Financial Secretary for many years. In fact, Leon was the Financial Secretary in 1927 when the color of the trucks was changes from white to battleship gray. Leon, who was the Post Master at the Collingdale Post Office for many years, was also, at one time, the caretaker in the old firehouse. A major improvement was to the hall with the installation of air conditioners in 1974.
In 1976, Joe Shields was President and George Seifert Sr. was Chief. The Company members undertook the task of refurbishing the firehouse hall. The work included a complete renovation of the facility including; wall paneling, new ceilings, new sound system, new lighting and complete rewiring of the hall including a central switch panel for the hall lights. The kitchen was also rearranged to serve as a combination food preparation area and bar for company functions. Don Armentario displayed his prowess as a plasterer by placing cinder blocks in place of the hall windows facing the parking lot and stuccoing the exterior of the block to match the finish on the building. The less talented members were left with the task of mixing the cement. Don proved to be a tough task master and was able to keep us quite busy with our cement mixing task. The approximate cost of the refurbishing effort was just over $7,000 and the selfless effort of just about every active member of the Company. The cooperation and spirit of the membership in completing this task in less than one month was truly admirable. A page was set aside in the minutes in self appreciation of the efforts of those members who contributed their time and talent. As an aside, Joe Shields had been an artillery officer who had served in Viet Nam. He was a quality guy with a real ability to get things done. During August 1977, the City of Johnstown Pa. experienced severe flooding. Several of our members traveled to Johnstown to assist the residents of that city.
In March of 1978, Delaware County dedicated a memorial plaque in memory of firefighters of the County who had lost their lives in the fire service. Collingdale #1 had three members memorialized at that time: William Gorgas, who lost his life in 1920, when the apparatus he was riding on overturned while responding to a call in Darby; John McNeill, who, in 1952, was overcome by smoke while fighting a fire in the Penn Pines development and subsequently died in the hospital; and Walter “Bud” Bley who suffered a heart attack and died while manning a hose line at the Janness Plumbing Supply Co. fire in Collingdale in 1973. On April 16, 1978 we added the name of Donald Felker to the list of our members who gave their lives in the service of our Company. Don was a 1st Lt. at the time and suffered an aneurism while on an ambulance call. Don’s widow, Patricia, received Don’s Life Member card at our banquet that year since he died in his twentieth year as an active member. Don had been an extremely active member of the Company holding several offices and serving on many committees. His sons now continue in his footsteps and we are sure he would be mighty proud of their efforts on behalf of the Company. In July 1978, we mourned the loss of Harry Owens. Harry, an electrician, was active in many activities of the fire company and was largely responsible for the electrical work done on the hall modernization project. Doug Loftus was appointed to chair the Company’s 75th Anniversary Committee. The anniversary was not until 1981 but it was felt that, to really celebrate the event in Collingdale No. 1 fashion, we should get an early start. Elmer Ritchie received his award for 50 years of extremely valuable service to the fire company. He served as; Captain in 1941, 1964 and again in 1966, and was member of the Board of Trustees for a number of years. He was employed as a professional fireman at the Philadelphia Navy Yard and conducted many training programs for the fire company. Elmer was also very active with the fire prevention activity of the fire company.
In June of 1979, Helen Hahn was elected to active membership. Helen was our first female active member. She was active with the ambulance and was a real asset to the company. She made a valiant effort to participate in the firefighting activities and the workings of the Company. In November of 1979, the Company ordered another new ambulance and approved the initial steps for our ambulance to become a paramedic staffed MICU. The Company was deeply saddened in October 1980 with the passing of Doug Loftus. As the minutes of the Company show, Doug is, “one who will be missed for his true dedication to all his fellow men and to God”. The comment in the minutes was correct. Doug had served as President of the Company in 1970, trustee for several years, a line officer and was active in all of the activities of the Company. Doug was Chairman of the 75th Anniversary Committee at the time of his death and was principally responsible for the planning, scheduling and success of our Diamond Jubilee Celebration. Having been a member for twenty years, Doug’s Life Membership was awarded to his wife Patricia at our annual banquet.
1980 saw the change in the title for the top line officer in the company from Captain to Chief. (New name, same work and responsibilities) There was also a major change in the operation of the Ambulance Service. In October, the Ambulance was placed “ON_LINE” as an ALS unit. This marked a major milestone in the Collingdale Fire Co. No. 1 Ambulance Service. Strict procedures were put in place and a complex learning process for the members became necessary. Through it all however, the service has adapted to the changes and continues to be one of the finest Fire Company sponsored ambulance services in the County.
1981 was a busy year for the Company as it marked our 75th Anniversary. We marked this occasion with a yearlong celebration which included a Citizen’s Appreciation Day, a Businessman’s Appreciation Reception, several socials, our usual Fire Co. carnival, and the annual Banquet; In addition, there was a fantastic anniversary parade on September 12th, 1981 Elmer Ritchie and Jimmy Taylor now 50+ year members continued to be active and a new breed had once again shown itself in names like; Jim and Tony Reardon, Ken Smith, Jim and Bill Kerns, John Mooney, Jules Rygiel, Fred Howell Jr. John Zdun, John Cleary, Dave Peterson, Gene Bidoli, Barry Olanoff, Tony Tursi, Lou Mozer, Rick Caruth, Bill Pentecost, Gerry Egan, Dale and Kerry Hall, Bob Adams, Pat & Jim Dallatore, Paul and Pat Young, Jack Arner, John Hewlings, Jack O’Neill, Bill & Dan Lefferts, Fred Martin et al. These men and others like them continued in the old traditions and pride which have held our Company together for the past seventy five years. In September 1980, a motion was made to purchase a new pumper from Hahn Fire Apparatus Co.
A new truck, which came to be known as “BIG JAKE” and which was intended to replace the “Booster Truck”, was received. Although initially intended to be a replacement for the small Booster Truck the new truck was in fact a full Class “A” Pumper. The cost was approximately $110,000. Ground was broken for a major addition to the Fire Co. building which included an ambulance bay and a large room, jokingly referred to as the “Pizza Hut” which was added to the hall to provide additional storage. The room also served as the pizza preparation area for the carnival. Cost of the addition was approximately $68,000. A new P&L Custom Body and Coach Type III Ambulance was received in 1983. The cost was approximately $43,000 including trade-in. 1984 The hall kitchen was completely remodeled in 1984. The work included new equipment, tile walls, and new counters. The kitchen was also rewired to facilitate improved food preparation. A good deal of the work was done by the members. With the dawn of the digital age it became necessary to get computerized. The Company purchased its first computer in 1985. Through the efforts of Bill Haney and the expertise of Ed Zuccarini software was selected and installed to enable the conversion of many of the activities from the old typewriter to the computer. While at times frustrating, the computers have become a valuable asset to the company. The functions of the Secretary, Treasurer, Financial Secretary and the Trustees and even the line officers are now dependent upon the computer. The Ambulance activity has also been computerized to facilitate the keeping of numerous records that are now required by ALS activities.
In 1986 a motion passed to purchase a new ambulance at a cost of $58, 347 with no trade –in. Between the years 1986-1988, the Company, largely through the efforts and imagination of John Cleary and the tireless efforts of many of the members, became extremely active in the formulation of Fire Prevention Programs. Invitations were received from numerous organizations both local and throughout the State of Pennsylvania and the State of Delaware to provide Fire Prevention Shows. The Fire Prevention Committee was awarded several prizes for their Fire Prevention Program by the State of Pennsylvania Firemen’s Assoc. The awards were dedicated to the memory of both John Cleary, whose drive made the Fire Prevention Unit a winner and Elmer Ritchie who had served on the committee for many years and who passed away in 1986 after more than 58 years of service to the Company. Property across the street from the fire house was purchased from the Lutheran Church in 1989 for price was $53,500. It remains a puzzle to this day, as to why the property was bought, other than to prevent someone else from having it. Fortunately we have not made too many decisions like that one. Maybe it will work out well soon. Jim Taylor, a valuable member for over 50 years passed away. Jimmy was a good friend and a willing member. He was a good influence on the development of our younger members and an excellent teacher in the art of “just getting along with your fellow man”. He was a real gentleman.
The Fire Prevention Committee once again received the 1st place award at the Pa State Firemen’s Convention of 1989. The end of our annual carnival came in 1990. The carnival had been a real community affair and a major fund raising activity since the early days of the Company. Generally lasting for a week, and occurring in either the spring or the fall, the carnival required the services of approximately 50 men and a good group of the Auxiliary. People were needed to work the stands, prepare and sell refreshments, set- up and take-down the prizes every night and of course, to count the money, which in some cases took a good deal of time. The carnival was usually the responsibility of the Ways and Means Committee. However during the 1970’s through the 1980’s the effort was directed by Tony Tursi and later by David Peterson. The carnival required many hours of hard work by many people but, like many of our activities; it brought us together as a Company of men (and women) with the common purpose of service to our community.
An investigation was initiated in 1990 to evaluate the need for another addition to the firehouse. It was becoming obvious that due to the growth of the Company and the increased complexity of operation including the ambulance billing function that larger quarters and especially increased committee sized meeting areas were sorely needed. Plans for a major addition to the firehouse were approved. The planned addition included a new canteen, kitchen extension, renovations to the existing canteen area, and multiple offices. Cost of the addition was to be $231,000.00. The expansion called for the house at 502 and the caretaker’s residence at 504 Clifton Ave. to be demolished. The decision was made to purchase the property at 815 Bedford Ave. for the price of $87,000 to serve as the caretaker’s residence. Work on the addition proceeded well and on completion proved to be a real benefit to the operation of the Company. Space was available in the “Board” room for the trustees meeting and meetings of large committees. There was a computer room and an ambulance billing room and what eventually became a lounge for the ambulance crews as the use of paid personnel and paramedics expanded. Operation of the ambulance was becoming increasingly complex and time consuming.
In the years leading up to 1991 the ambulance was responding to over 2000 calls per year and getting manpower to man the ambulances for this level of activity was becoming quite difficult due to the need for EMS qualified personnel. After much consideration the ambulance service began using paid personnel to man the vehicles during selected periods of the day. At the invitation of the Borough plans were made for participation in the Boroughs Centennial Celebration. In 1992 the Company received the fire company alarm bell from the estate of Frank McNeile who had kept it since it was removed from the hose tower when the old firehouse was razed in 1957. The bell was refurbished and placed in a memorial to Frank and his son John at the front of the firehouse offices of the new addition. The Memorial Plaque honoring the WWII veterans was also relocated from the front of the firehouse to new memorial area. Frank McNeile was a member of the Company for 31 years. Living across the street from the firehouse, Frank could always be counted on to be available to help out at the firehouse. John McNeile, Frank’s son was a Past Captain and an extremely capable fire fighter.
The Company voted to purchase two new ambulances from the Horton Co. for the price of $123,090.00 with the trade-in of both of our present ambulances. One of the new ambulances was received on May 22nd. The second new ambulance was delivered on August 20, 1992. A motion was approved to finish the new canteen for a price of $11,870.00. This included paneling, shelving for the display of trophies, cabinets and an entertainment center to enclose the television set, VCR and Stereo equipment.
The Ambulance Service passed another milestone when it went “on-line” as an ALS unit on 5/15/93. This was an important day for the Ambulance Service which had been providing care for our residents for almost 60 years. A good deal of effort was expended during the year by the trustees, the ambulance board and the solicitor in overcoming the bureaucratic morass which surrounds the qualification process for establishing the ambulance service as ALS qualified. Through much hard work and valuable time our Ambulance Service was finally recognized as ALS qualified and was licensed as such. The ALS designation meant that the ambulance service could provide the residents of the communities with rapid access to advanced lifesaving capabilities. Paramedics responding as part of the ambulance crew could contact doctors and emergency rooms while enroute with a patient and perform lifesaving procedures as prescribes by them. Paramedic Eric Davis was hired as the first paid paramedic for the ambulance. It was sort of a “good news / bad news” time for the Company. At the time the ambulance became ALS qualified, results of the Underwriters Tests performed on the main ladder of the aerial truck (06-5) indicated the presence of a problem with the structure of the ladder that could not be repaired. The apparatus was then 24 years old and had served the Company well. Several tests were conducted to verify the problem, which was referred to as “ironing”, and the main ladder was placed out-of-service in July of 1993.
President Bill Garrity appointed a committee, co-chaired by Fred Howell Jr. and Ed Glanfield and consisting of approximately 18 members, in February 1994 to investigate the purchase of a new aerial ladder truck. The cost of the truck was estimated to be between 400 and 500 thousand dollars. Specifications for the new aerial truck were distributed to 5 manufacturers in September 1994. The Queen (06-5) was placed up for sale in September 1994 after 24 years of service. The “Queen” was sold in the spring of 1995. A special meeting of the Company was called on Dec. 8, 1994 To discuss and vote on the purchase a new 105 ft. aerial truck from Pierce Mfg. Co. for $530,347. The recommendation of the committee was approved and an order was placed with the Pierce Co. It should be noted that the time from formation of the committee to award of bid was approximately 11 months. Expected delivery date for the truck was to be August 20, 1995 but some damage was experienced during the delivery forcing the truck to be returned to Pierce for repair. The new aerial which was dubbed the “Quint” was placed in service on 7 November 1995. ALS/BLS License was finally received from the State of Pa. in 1996. The Company had to operate under temporary extensions to our previous license for many months. Thanks to Rep. Ron Raymond for his efforts on our behalf the licensing matter was finally resolved. It was decided to dedicate the “QUINT” to the Life Members and a Housing Ceremony/Celebration was held on Sept 15.
In March, of 1997 a committee was formed to investigate refurbishing the hall. Work was anticipated to be done between mid-January and the end of February 1998. Several bids were received for the renovation of the hall and the bid of Geo Rendell Assoc. was accepted at $64,440.00. It was decided to name the hall “Floral Hall” at the conclusion of the renovations. This was the name of the hall used for meetings when the Company was formed in 1906. The hall renovation was well thought out and, although many of the older members regretted seeing the work we had done over 22 years ago being disposed of, the final result of the work was indeed pleasing to just about everyone. In conjunction with the work on the hall a contract was awarded to Meyers Roofing of Sharon Hill in the amount of $80,000 to replace the firehouse roof. A new ambulance from the Horton Co. was received in April 1998. The cost of the vehicle was $89,298 after trade in of our used ambulance. In April of 1999, the Company approved the purchase of another new ambulance from Horton for the sum of $84,075. Citations were received from Collingdale and Darby Boroughs for the Company’s work during the flooding at Darby Creek resulting from Hurricane Floyd. A plaque was presented to the Ladies Auxiliary for their many years of service to the Company. Carl Hildebrand was awarded the President’s Award for his outstanding service to the Company.
In July, 2000 word was received that the Ladies Auxiliary was disbanding. The Auxiliary had provided invaluable service to the Company for more than ninety years. A motion was made and adopted that the remaining twelve members of the Auxiliary namely Jeanette Brennan, Bertha Brooks, Elsie Delarm, Maryann Kudel, Edwina Meehan, Dorothy Meikle, Mildred Peterson, Frances Pomerink, Mary Raker, Ann Ropski, Theresa Zdun, Ann Zimmerman be granted Special Honorary Life Membership status in the Company in recognition of the many years of effort on behalf of the Company. Renovation plans for the hall were approved and the contract for the work was awarded to the Sekel Contracting Co. in the amount of $40,679.00. Meyers Roofing was awarded a contract to provide a new roof over the office space for $10,800. A Centennial Committee was formed in 2001 to develop a program for the 100th anniversary of the Company in 2006. The Committee is chaired by John Hewlings Donald Felker was inducted into the EMS Memorial. The World Trade Center was attacked by terrorists on September 11. Jack Arner and Bill Haney received Presidents Recognition Awards for their service to the Company.
January 15, 2002 at a special meeting, the Company approved the purchase of the new Pump/Rescue truck from Saulsbury Fire Equipment Co. for the sum of $370,827.00. The new Pump/Rescue Truck was received in May 2003. It was voted to have the housing for the truck at the Company banquet. The Company purchased the Lochman property adjoining the Company parking lot for the sum of $109,000. The Company purchased a quantity of packages from the USO to be sent to the Armed Forces Personnel serving in Iraq and/or Afghanistan. A third ambulance was put into service in 2004. This vehicle is intended to fill the gap in service when either of the primary vehicles are in service on other calls or out of service for maintenance. The Company purchased the property adjacent to the Lochman property.
Any history of Collingdale No. 1 would be incomplete without mention of the cooperation the Company has received from its Auxiliary and the communities we serve. To these people, we, the members of Collingdale No. 1, offer our sincere Thank you” for your continued support and assistance.
To our members, please be assured that any omission of names from the forgoing chronology was made accidentally and with no malice intended.