Home > Fire Department > Historical Summary, 1902

The following Historical Summary is taken from the Felton Fire Company's 100th Anniversary book, courtesy of Leigh Allvord, ldamm3usn@comcast.net

Related links:

Chester Fire Department Main Page

Felton Fire Co.

Franklin Fire Co.

Goodwill Fire Co.

Hanley Hose Co.

Moyamensing Hook & Ladder Co.

Historical Summary of the Chester Fire Department in 1902

Very little is known of the early vicissitudes of the fire laddies previous to the organization of Franklin Fire Company in November, 1867, except through talks with some of the older residents. Said an old inhabitant: "Previous to 1854 and up to 1867 two hand engines known as the Friendship and Delaware, respectively, furnished the means of extinguishing fires. The first named was housed in a little one-story affair, put up for the purpose alongside of the old City Hall, and was under the care of the High Constable. The Delaware was housed in a one-story frame at Third and Penn Streets. Considerable rivalry existed between the two companies even at that early date. Effective work was done even then, under all disadvantages. It was only possible to force the water by these engines, they having to be filled by forming a bucket brigade to some water supply." Continuing, he said, "I remember one fire that occurred near the wharf during 1856 when the firemen were compelled to run their engines into the river and nearly submerge them in order to get a sufficient supply, and for several hours they worked in water up to their waist. It was great fun in those days to get hold of the rope, which was nearly a square long, and run at breakneck speed to a fire, and didn't we make Rome howl though."

A comparison of the apparatus and appurtenances used in subduing a conflagration in the early days with the up-to-date methods, indicates the struggles of the founders in reaching the present degree of efficiency. The organization of companies were as follows:

Franklin Fire Co., No. 1, November 30th, 1867
Hanley Hose Co., No. 1, October, 1868.
Moyamensing, No. 1, April 4th, 1869.
Good Will Fire Co., No. 2, March 12, 1891.
Felton Steam Fire Co., No. 3, November 2d, 1882.

The year 1890 was a memorable one in the history of the department, for the Annual State Firemen's Convention was held in Chester on September 16th of that year. There were one hundred and two companies from this and other States in the line of parade.

On August 7th, 1896, steps were taken to organize a Relief Association among the firemen here, and the effort was subsequently successful. The Association embraces all of the members of the five companies. Meetings are held the second Tuesday of each month at the several engine houses. It is a fraternal and beneficial Order, and pays to its members Five Dollars per week in the event of injury while going to or returning from a fire, and Seventy-five Dollars to the family of a fireman in case of death. The Association is doing good work, and has a handsome balance in its treasury.

The present officers are: Alfred Mullen, President; James Crompton, Secretary; V. M. Ingram, Treasurer.

Chester's representative citizens and business men have always taken an active interest in the department from its organization up to the present time, as will be shown by the names appended to the charters of the several companies. There are names that have and will go down in history in various ways. Too much credit cannot be given a fireman who risks his life in the discharge of duty, and this should call forth the kindliest feelings from citizens whose lives and belongings are protected by these brave fighters of fire.

There is a perfect harmony existing between the various companies, and they unite in anything that is for the good of the department. Much credit is due the officers for their generalship and the members in general for their efficiency.

The area of the city is 3,000 acres, with 19.04 miles of improved and 59.39 miles of unimproved streets. There are 151 fire plugs with a pressure of 80 pounds each. The city is divided into six fire districts. Council makes an annual appropriation of $2,500 to each of the fire companies.

If you have any information and or pictures that you would like to contribute about Chester, please forward it to john@oldchesterpa.com

2002 John A. Bullock III.

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This page last updated 10/18/05