On the evening of December 1, 1908, L. H. Foster, Charles Kraushaar and Charles Gray met in Clayton’s Hall in the village of Edge Hill, Pa., to discuss the proposition of organizing a Fire Company. The fast growing communities of Remlu, North Glenside and other places in the vicinity of the village, together with Edge Hill itself, no doubt, had much to do with prompting the above gentlemen to assemble and take steps that a little later resulted in instituting a Fire Company that had on more than one occasion proved its efficiency. The outcome of the first meeting was the choosing of L.H. Foster acting chairman and arranging for holding a second meeting of the citizens, which, according to the records, was done on the evening of December 8, 1908. At this meeting the citizens realized the necessity of forming a Fire Company for the protection of homes in the village and vicinity, for they voted unanimously for a Fire Company and elected the following officers; Louis H. Foster, President, H.A. Fox, Vice-President, George Wakely, Treasurer, A. Zellfelder, Secretary, Charles Kraushaar, Chief, Trustees, Luther Clayton, W.H. Barnes and Charles Gray.
On March 2, 1909, a charter was procured, and the first apparatus, which consisted of a used hose reel was purchased at a cost of $60.00 from the Pioneer Fire Company of Jenkintown. Five hundred feet of hose was also purchased. This all being accomplished before the charter, on December 12, 1908. The reel was housed in Wakely’s barn located near Clayton’s Hall, until January 4, 1910, when the first fire house on the hill was built. The new location being on the corner of Limekiln Pike and Mt. Carmel avenue in what today is occupied by a coin operated car wash. The first floor was used as the apparatus room while the second floor served as an assembly and meeting room.
From the beginning, the company met with the best of success, but not until May 2, 1911 was the height of the members ambition realized. On this date their first motorized apparatus was purchased consisting of a Columbia Type Automobile Chasis with a fifty-horsepower motor. A body was built on this chasis by the McCormick Brothers of Dreshertown, Pa.
During the year of 1914, the Edge Hill Fire Company had the proud distinction of being in service at the greatest number of fires of any volunteer company in the area. The greatest fire calamity during the year was the Justice Lumber Yard and the Wolf’s stables at Glenside, starting on Christmas morning at 9:45 a.m., at which hour the Edge Hill Fire Company responded and was in service all day Friday, Christmas day and night and the next day, Saturday, until 6:00pm.
It was then that the Company realized the need for a motorized apparatus with a pump attached. The boys went to work at once and on May 6, 1916, they housed the first Hale Pump of 500 gallon per minute capacity on a Simplex chasis. Making the first pumper in the Township of Abington. This was an incentive for the other companies as they likewise installed pumping apparatus.
In 1919 a Ford Chemical Tank apparatus was added to the equipment being in service until May 24, 1928 when a Hale type 4 booster pump which carried one hundred and thirty gallons of water was placed in service. With this addition the company was in a position to combat against most any type of fire, small or large, with a greater efficiency which had lowered the fire losses to an amazing degree. This was proven in the large fire at the Glenside Lumber & Coal Company which required two hours and thirty minutes to extinguish.
In 1923 the Simplex having given such wonderful service, the company thought it advisable to replace it with another Type 5 Hale Pumping apparatus having a 600 gallon per minute capacity which was in service until 1946.At the time, protective equipment consisted of a duster style raincoat, wading boots and a tin-cup helmet with the traditional large front piece. At the time, the designation on the helmets was Edge Hill Fire Company with a large “1 “centered on the piece.
The company members, in the year 1933, decided to build a modern brick firehouse at the bottom of the hill, located just one quarter mile from the old firehouse on top of the hill. The new location being on the corner of Limekiln Pike and Cricket Avenue in North hills, Pa. Most of the building work was done voluntarily by the members of the company, being well constructed with the best of materials available. The company occupies this building today having been converted to a meeting hall during renovations in past years.
The 1940’s brought new challenges to the Company as well as the world. Nazi Germany was expanding and spreading a threat to peace throughout the world. Many of Americas’ men and boys were once again called upon to enter military service and fight a Second World War. Aware of the strain this placed on the home front, under the direction of Chief John Manzinger, the officers enlisted and trained female fire fighters into the ranks of the company. These women proudly served the community for a number of years until once again the membership in the company stabilized.
In November 1946, the Company purchased two modern types Mack #85, 220 horsepower engines, each equipped with 750 gallons per minute Hale Pumps at a cost of $20,000.00.
In 1949, short wave radio equipment, portable transmitting and receiving units were installed on all trucks. The base transmitter and receiver were installed in the Fire House. This was the first fire radio equipment installed in the township.
On April 20, 1950, the Company purchased a Maxim 65 foot Aerial ladder equipped with 200 feet of ground ladders, 100 gallon tanks of water, 100 gallon capacity pump and numerous other pieces of fire fighting equipment. This was the first type of equipment of its kind put in service in the township.
In 1956, a large addition was made to the building. This included four truck bays, a hose tower, radio room and a recreation room, and was furnished with every protective signal and communicating device known to have a place in a Fire House. At this time, the first building was renovated and the ladies Auxiliary of the Edge Hill Fire Company donated a modern kitchen.
The latest addition, together with alterations to the first building, plus a large paved parking lot, was made at a cost of approximately $60,000.
Through the 1960s and 70s, a growing change throughout the country caught up with the Fire Company. With the Vietnam War and the military draft, eighteen-year-old citizens were now provided the rights to vote. A growing sentiment, that if you’re old enough to fight a war, you’re old enough to vote, the company looked towards enlisting the help of younger adults. For the first time since World War One, under the leadership of Chief Harvey Manzinger, the company lowered its membership age to eighteen. This period brought an onslaught of volunteers who still today serve the community proudly. Along with the increasing membership came an awareness of protective fire-fighter equipment. Self Contained Breathing Apparatus became a fixture in the fire service along with new improved polysynthetic fire helmets and full turnout gear to include bunker pants. This was an era that said goodbye to the tin-cup helmet and hip boots.
The Company accepted delivery of 3 custom Pierce Fire Apparatus, a 100-foot aerial device, and 2 twin pumpers capable of pumping 1250 gallons per minute.
The 1980’s brought a period dedicated towards fire-fighter safety. It was through this time, that the company re-habilitated the Engine and Ladder and added a Special Service unit. New regulations prohibiting fire fighters from riding on the tailboards or open jump seats forced the company into adding a manpower/equipment truck now recognized as Special Service 400.
As the years have gone past, so have the many resources required to fund a major piece of apparatus. Recognizing the growing strain on financial stability of the company, the Board of Directors realized that no longer could the days of Triple Housings be financed. In 1989, under the leadership of Chief Earl Chamberlain, the Company re-furbished Ladder 400, enclosing the cab and jump seat areas. This was accomplished in correlation with the Pierce Manufacturing Company and LTI Ladders Inc. at a cost savings of approximately $300,000 against a new apparatus.
Station 400 was called into service at the O&O Supermarket on Easton Road on the evening of At the time of dispatch, Abington Township Police Units were reporting heavy fire from the building. Upon arrival, 401 was placed at the southwest corner of the building and immediately placed the ladder pipe in service. Eighteen (18) hours later, all water supply lines and master streams were taken up. From beginning to end, 401 was calculated to have flown over 14,000,000 gallons of water from extinguishments to overhaul. Through many years as one of the few ladder companies in the area, 401 and its crews have been challenged to gain access and ladder various structures. Through training, exercise and pride, this challenge has been met each and every assignment.
Next in line for replacement was 402. With over 20 years of service; a fully enclosed cab and jump seat area were added with an extended frame to provide the company with a state of the art engine at reduced costs. This piece of apparatus served the company as a first due engine until it was sold in 2005 to a Western Kentucky Fire Station as a reserve apparatus.
With changing conditions in Abington Township and the world, the Company was faced with one of its most challenging missions in the summer of 1996. As hurricanes battered the SouthEasternCoast of the United States, Station 400’s District as well as most of Pennsylvania remained calm and seasonal. It wasn’t until Sunday September 9th, that Hurricane Floyd’s remnants rolled into Abington. At this time, the storm recycled 10” of rain on the district. Not only was this the worst catastrophic storm to hit this region, but also became the first fatal storm to strike this area.
Due in nature to this catastrophic storm, the company invested in numerous resources in training, equipment and an inflatable boat to better serve the members of the community. Presently there are 14 members certified in swift water rescue with the additional membership trained to the operational level.
Recognizing a growing need for financial stability and aging apparatus, the Board of Governors developed a new 5-year plan for the company. Through this plan, a committee was formed and designs laid out for replacement of the booster, 403. In 1995, the company took delivery of a Pierce Saber with a 1500 gpm pump, Onan generator and various fire/rescue hand tools and accessories. This apparatus could serve the dual role of first out apparatus or water supply.
As changes in electronics, jobs and the economy taxed the region, the company started to experience a drop in membership applications. Under the direction of Chief Charles J. Rohrer, a committee was formed to evaluate the need for adding a Junior Fire Fighter group to the Company. These members would be of age sixteen and provide support functions on the fire ground without the liability of entering the structure fire itself. With proposals to the Board of Directors and many debates, the membership was approved and six junior positions approved for the active crew.
The 1990s and changes in electronics and military hardware saw implementation of technology in the front line assault in fire protection. Thermal Imaging Cameras that could detect changes n heat in any environment were introduced. The Company currently has two units in service and has placed them in service on numerous incidents. These units assist in the detection of fire in hidden locations as well as a possible victims location.
The fall of 2001, presented many challenges to the Company and fire service as a whole. On September 11, 2001, the unthinkable happened. A terroristic group, enemies of the United States attacked our homeland. The twin towers in New York City fell to the ground along with the lives of 343 fellow fire fighters, military personnel at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. died from another plane crash as well as occupants of United Flight 93 in western Pennsylvania. With these events, came the challenge of an evolving role in the fire service towards the security of a nation. Training in Hazardous materials, Structure Collapse, Confined Spaces, Technical Rescue and Weapons of Mass Destruction were now recognized reality and requirement of the Company. All members in the Company were now required to meet a higher standard. Through a concerted effort of the Deputy and Assistant Chief, Training Committee and Township Resources, all members of the Company were able to meet and/or exceed the new standards established under Homeland Security, Presidential Directive 5 to provide for the safety of every resident of the district.
Following the new 5-year plan, 401 was the next major apparatus to be replaced. In 2000, the Company accepted delivery of Ladder 400, a 105’ Pierce Aerial ladder. This piece of equipment was capable of many functions. Equipment carried allowed members to complete fire, ventilation and overhaul operations, but provided compartmentation for high/angle rescue, water rescue and hazardous materials operations.
In the fall of 2004 a truck committee was formed to replace the aging engine 402. In the spring of 2005, plans were established and bids accepted for a 1500 gpm pumper with a light tower and 1,000 gpm deck gun. The committee presented the membership with a final award to the Pierce Manufacturing Company for a Dash cab with the above features. Delivery was accepted in April of 2006.
Shortly after acceptance and delivery, Engine 400 was placed into service at a multi-alarm brush fire in HillsideCemetery. After assisting companies established a water supply system, Engine 400 proceeded to pump over 1,000,000 gallons of water through the pre-piped automatic deck gun to contain and extinguish the fire. This removed the stress and physical exhaustion of the fire fighters from manual operations.
As a growing municipality, the Township of Abington recognized the 5 Fire Companies as a Department and has instituted measures to collectively collaborate on the mission of the fire service. In January of 2006, all five companies went into the age of technology with a township wide computer fire reporting system. This system (NFIRS) provides up to date data and incident tracking, equipment inventory and maintenance, personnel staffing and training. It also provides for integration into the National Fire Service Reporting Systems.
Through directives issued under Presidential Directive 5 and Homeland Security, the members of the company have spent many hours in classes to attain numerous certifications. As of January 2007, 90% of all active fire fighters have attained Pro-Board Certification to the Fire- Fighter II Level, all Officers and crew have met or exceeded National Incident Management Standards.