History of the Folcroft Fire Company Number 1
The Darby Township Fire Company Number 1 originated by a group of residents located in the part of the township that was known as Folcroft. The firemen met in Krumm's truck shed located near the northeast corner of Tribbett Avenue (now Folcroft Avenue) and Hook Road. This shed was later destroyed by fire and a barn was erected on the same property and was used by the firemen.
In 1903 the firemen held a fair on this property for the purpose of raising money to purchase a plot of ground and erect their own firehouse.
Shortly after their organization, the firemen moved from the Krumm property to another building located on Tribbett Avenue south of Hook Road (now Delmar Drive).& This building was used by the firemen to meet and also used as a clubhouse. This move took place during the election of Teddy Roosevelt to the Presidency of the United States..
At this new location, the firemen had their largest and most successful fair and the money that they raised was used to erect their own building, which was adjacent to the Pennsylvania Railroad between what is known as Baltimore Avenue and Folcroft Avenue. This building was erected by the members who donated their time and labor skills during 1905.
The firemen secured a wagon which they converted in order that they might be able to carry ladders and buckets. When the wagon was first obtained, it was pulled by the firemen, but later they were able to make a loan of horses to pull the wagon. Mr. Kile and Mr. Myers usually brought their horses when the alarm sounded.
The ladders which they used were a donation from the Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington Railroad Company, who also gave the fire company five large iron rings or hoops, which were hung in different locations throughout the Township.
A signal system was devised so that when a fire occurred the firemen could have some idea of the location. For example, one tap was for the Folcroft Area, two taps were for Horn Town or Oakeola (are just west of Oak Lane above MacDade Blvd., three taps were for the Sharon section, four taps were for the Hook and Marsh Road areas, five taps were for the powder keg.
When a fire occurred, the firemen who lived in the vicinity of the firehouse usually were the ones who pulled the trucks and those who resided near the fire endeavored to save as much of the furniture as possible. When apparatus arrived at the fire, a bucket brigade was formed to the nearest well and all that the firemen could do was throw water on the fire providing they could get close enough to it
The first set of by-laws were adopted January 15, 1906. At this time there were 22 members; Edward T. Rice, President, W.L. Harr, Secretary, Lawrence Raigner, Fire Chief, Horace Morrison, Albert Fraser, Sr., Peter Murray, John Kile, George Gaulbert, Harry Keither, Carol Weaver, John Sickle, Samuel McKenney, Edwin L. Bradley, Lynn Russell, Robert Myers, Samuel Myers, Sr., Fred Krumm, Jr., Leon Goslin, Andy Voss, Charles Rice and Penel Rice.
Prior to 1890 only a few of the older communities had fire companies and the greater portion of Delaware County was entirely unprotected. As the various boroughs were formed and as the population increased, Fire Companies became more numerous. Many of these companies were entirely unknown to each other and as a result, when assistance was needed, the service and cooperation was extremely erratic and lacking in effectiveness.
During 1906, this fire company initiated the thought that the companies from the surrounding communities should have a "get acquainted" meeting and possibly organizing an association for their mutual protection. After numerous visitations and talks, a meeting was held in Folcroft; at this meeting the Delaware County Fireman's Association was formed and all the fire companies in the county were invited to join. The first president of the Association was our own Horace Morrison. Mr. Morrison also served as the Association's secretary from 1908-1911 and W.L. Herr likewise a member of the company was secretary in 1907 and 1908.
Throughout the years the firehouse served as a meeting place for the entire company. At various times the township commissioners met here and church services were held on Sunday evenings. The firehouse also hosted other civic meetings and dances. When Folcroft was incorporated as a borough on 1922, the first election and subsequent Council Meetings were held in the hall.
Throughout the years, the members of the company were continually endeavoring to improve their equipment. Following the original truck or wagon, they secured a Ford truck which they converted into a combination Chemical and Ladder Truck. Whenever a meeting of any size was held at the firehouse, it became necessary to move the trucks outside, however, during the winter months after the meetings were over the members generally had to push the trucks back in the firehouse. It was the custom of Mrs. Shaw, who lived adjacent to the firehouse, to keep a kettle of hot water on her stove so that the first firemen arriving could get this water and pour it into the truck radiator to ensure starting the motor.
On November 15, 1924, the name of the fire company was changed from Darby Township Fire Company Number 1 to Folcroft Fire Company Number 1. Which is the name That remains today.
The growth of the borough and the increased popularity as a meeting place indicated the urgent need for a new piece of apparatus and likewise larger quarters. The ground which was purchased in 1924 for the new firehouse was located at the corner of Primos Avenue and Shallcross Avenue. On Sunday November 23, 1924 the corner stone was laid in the new building. Senator Albert Dutton MacDade, Reverend Beck of the Sharon Methodist Church and Mr. Charles Brown, Sr. all took part in the ceremonies.
At a meeting in March 1925 purple and gold were selected as the official company colors.
In February 1927, the first automatic siren was bought and installed at the firehouse. During 1927, a Mack combination pumper, Chemical and Ladder truck was purchased by the borough. At the time, this truck was one of the most outstanding pieces of fire apparatus in the County. On April 30, 1927, the Folcroft Fire Company was incorporated and the charter was presented to the company.
In 1941, a new Mack Triple Combination Pumper was purchased by the borough and housed in a ceremony on September 27, 1941. Again this was one of the first trucks of its kind in the County.
In 1950, Councilman Edward Marsh presented to the borough and the fire company a used armored bank truck, which the active crew converted into an Emergency Unit. This piece of equipment was a welcomed addition in the borough, so in 1953 the Borough purchased a new Ford truck to be used a rescue unit
;1953, upon the recommendation of the Fire Chief and the Active Crew, a Junior Fireman’s group was formed. This group consisted of boys between the ages of 15 and 18 years old and their purpose was to be trained to be qualified firemen when they reached the age of 18. To this day, many of our members and some of the company officers have risen from the ranks of junior firemen and remain active in the fire company.
In March of 1958, a 1951 ambulance was purchased by the fire company. This unit was purchased and solely maintained by the fire company.
William Cook, Jr., past fire chief represented the Fire Company as Fifth District Fire Marshall in 1948 and again in 1956 to 1959.
In 1960, the Borough purchased a new Mack 750 GPM pumper with a 500 gallon booster tank and air brakes, They also purchased a 1960 Gerstenslager custom built rescue squad. The two new pieces of apparatus were bought by the borough with a $40,000.00 dollar bond that was approved by the voters, in 2013 dollars that is roughly $316,000.00. The housing for these trucks took place on September 24, 1960. The new 1960 Mack won first prize as the best appearing heavy pumper at the Pennsylvania State Firemen's Convention at Greensburg, Pennsylvania in October 1960.
On March 20, 1961, the Fire Company unanimously approved the purchase of a 1957 Cadillac Ambulance for $4,500.00. The ambulance was put into service at 8:30 PM on March 30, 1961 and received its first ambulance call at 9:30 PM the same night. The crew for the first call was; M. Gibson, Jr. as driver, crew members were; William Cook, Jr., and Robert Sacks. Foreseeing the coming of new trucks, the fire company built a one story, two bay truck room directly across the street from the main firehouse. To help the public identify the buildings, Mr. Orr, an Active Member made two large signs, one for each truck room door. In April 1961 the active members joined together to buy full dress regulation uniforms. Each man had to pay $47.00 for their uniform. In June 1961, the borough council approved the payment of monthly bills on the alarm bells in each of the active members homes. These bells would ring as soon as the firehouse siren went off. Thirty bells were installed on August 8, 1961. The first fire alarm answered with the use of the bells was on August 12, 1961. It was a tree fire in the wooded area in the rear of the Delmar Pharmacy
During the summer of 1961, the Fire Company sold chances on a 14' boat with a 40 horsepower motor and a boat trailer. The boat was chanced off after the fire company carnival on September 16, 1961. A parade kicked off the start of this carnival which was one of the fund raising affairs which ran for one week. During 1961, the fire company had other fund raising efforts, some of which were Christmas Tree sales, party nights and coin cards. All of these fundraising affairs were the work of the Ways and Means Committee under the chairmanship of William Palermo. The ambulance crew sponsored a card and bingo party to benefit the new ambulance. This affair raised $300.00.
On September 18, 1962, Mr. Edwin L. Bradley, a fire company member since 1906, passed away. At that time he was the oldest living member of the fire company. Past Chief's William Cook, Jr., Pete McVey, Carl Hammill, Ray Rasmussen, Chief William Boerner and Assistant Chief George Nowery served as pall bearers, using the 1960 Mack as the flower car. The firehouse and trucks were draped in black and the flag was flown at half mast.
In March 1963, Borough Council gave the fire company ¾ of an acre of ground from the borough lot at Ashland Avenue and Delmar Drive to build a new firehouse. On September 20, 1963, a special meeting of the fire company was held to vote on the preliminary plans of a new firehouse. The vote was unanimous in favor of the plans. Mr. Howard C. Hill of Glenolden was selected as architect.
At the annual banquet held on Saturday April 25, 1964, the fire company burned the 1924 mortgage on the firehouse. That night the President of the Ladies Auxiliary, C.L. Burns, presented the fire company with a check for $500.00 and the first brick for the new firehouse. On Saturday May 16, 1964, the fire company paraded with the Ladies Auxiliary at the Prospect Park Fire Company housing and new building dedication. The fire company won a trophy for having the most men and women in line. The company was led by Fire Chief George Nowery. On Saturday June 6, 1964, the Fire Company paraded with the Ladies Auxiliary at the Sharon Hill Fire Company housing parade. The Fire Company had approximately 40 men and the Ladies Auxiliary had 25 women. Also marching with the Fire Company was Color Guard from the Catholic War Veterans of Sharon Hill. Music was provided by the Linden Aires All Girl Drum and Bugle Corps of Linwood, New Jersey. The Fire Company won second prize and was awarded a $150.00 cash prize. On December 21, 1964 at the monthly meeting, the men unanimously approved the purchase of a 1964 Pontiac Ambulance, for the cost of $6,700.00 plus the cost of a trade in.
At the annual Fire Company banquet held on February 27, 1965, Harry Hornberger was the recipient of the first "Melvin" award. The award is given annually to the outstanding fireman of the year, as selected by the fire chief and his officers. This award was instituted by William "Melvin" Cook, Jr. On April 2, 1965, the 1964 Pontiac Ambulance was received. The ambulance went into service on April 3, 1965 and shortly after being placed in service answered its first call at the Folcroft Swim Club. The crew was Earl Luther, driver, attendants were; R. Sacks, F. Sullivan and R. Gero. On Saturday May 15, 1965 the fire company paraded with its Ladies Auxiliary at the Delaware County Firemen's Convention in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania. The fire company had 26 men and 30 women in the line of march. The company was lead by Chief George Nowery and the ladies were led by President, Mrs. Jean Squire. The fire company won a first place trophy the most men and women in line without music. In October 1965, the Ambulance Committee instituted the idea of forming the Delaware County Association of Ambulance and Rescue Services. Letter were sent to The Fire Companies in The County with ambulances and rescues. The first meeting Was held at Folcroft. Earl S. Luther, our Ambulance Supervisor was elected President.
On March 8, 1966, a new 1966 Mack 1000 GPM Pumper was received. It was placed in service on March 12, 1966 and responded to its first alarm on March 13, 1966. On March 12, 1966 the Ladies Auxiliary present a $1,000.00 check to the fire company at the annual banquet. David Eckert received the second, "Melvin" award for being the outstanding fireman for 1966.
At the banquet in 1967, George P. Nowery was presented the third "Melvin" Award.
On September 13, 1971, the fire company was called to the City of Chester to assist with rescue operations during the flood period. While attempting to rescue people, two of our members, Second Assistant Chief Robert Sacks and Fireman Joseph Mount were trapped in the water and almost lost. The fire company stayed in Chester to assist in pumping and boat operations.
On September 15, 1971, Past Chief Ray Rassmussen passed away in the back room of the firehouse. The fire company and ladies auxiliary turned out in full force. A funeral was held on September 18, 1971. Past Chiefs, Carl Hammill, William M. Cook, Jr., H. King, Peter McVey, William Boerner, George Nowery and Ronald Cook served as pall bearers with the 1966 Mack serving as flower cart
A 1971 Cadillac Ambulance was placed in to service on September 21, 1971. A few months later, November 22, 1971, the fire company became connected to the Delaware County Fire Board, which was then located in the basement of the County Courthouse in Media, PA. This moved the company away from the Sharon Hill Fire and Police Radio system which we had been a part of for many years.
Also in 1971, Ronald Cook was elected to serve as Fifth District Fire Marshall. Ron, followed in his father's (William, Jr.) footsteps who represented the fire company as Fifth District Marshall
In July 1972, the fire company received a new 17' boat and a 40 HP mower with a trailer. The purchase was made by borough council at the cost of $1,800.00
On June 5, 1976, the fire company held a triple housing for three new pieces of apparatus.. A 1974 Dodge Ambulance, A 1974 Ward LaFrance 1250 GPM pumper and a 1976 Salisbury Heavy Rescue.
In 1978, after nearly 35 years of planning, the fire company moved to its new and current home at 1647 Delmar Drive, between Ashland Avenue and Primos Avenue. This new building is nearly three times the size of the old building that was located at Primos and Shallcross Avenues. It included four bays to house all the apparatus in one building, two banquet halls, a full service kitchen, offices and recreation/lounge areas for our members.
In 1979, the fire company began handing out an award at each year's banquet to an outstanding member of our Ambulance crew, Earl Luther and Robert Sacks. The award was named The "Luther-Sacks Award." The award reads; "After the passing of two exemplary men in the field of ambulatory work in the service of the Folcroft Fire Company No.1, it seemed fitting in the eyes of the ambulance committee that an award be given in their behalf to a person or persons most deserving Of such an award." The first recipient of this award was, George Nowery.
On July 27, 1985, the fire company had a housing of two new pieces of apparatus, a 1984 E-One Telesqurt, which included a 55 foot boom for elevated water operations. This replaced our venerable 1966 Mack which beloved by many of the members and was the last open cabbed truck we would own. Also housed was a 1984 Wheeled Coach Ambulance.
In 1989, the 1974 Ward was replaced by a 1989 E-One Ford Commercial 1250 GPM pumper, which is still serving the fire company today. A 1989 Horton Ambulance was also purchased and placed into service as well. This marked the first time in our history that our entire fleet was;equipped with automatic transmissions.
On July 10, 1997, the fire company held a housing for our brand new 1996 KME Custom Heavy Rescue. This replaced our 1976 Saulsbury unit which served the fire company well. In it's day, it received a lot of awards at various parades for most functional/best appearing heavy rescue unit.; A 1996 Horton Ambulance was also housed.
2003 marked our 100th anniversary. The fire company celebrated in grand style. Not only did we house a new piece of apparatus, a 2003 Pierce Skyboom, 61' foot Telesqurt, that replaced the 1984 E-One Telesqurt, (which we should add was in service at Goodwill Fire Company Station 77 in Darby Township until 2018 now privately owned by Past Chief Joe Billie), we hosted the annual Delaware County Fireman's Association Parade. Helping us celebrate and serving as our Grand Marshall, was Randolph Mantooth of the popular hit television show from the 1970's Emergency!; Mr. Mantooth played Firefighter/Paramedic John Gage. Mr. Mantooth was warmly welcomed by those in attendance and was a gracious guest. We were thrilled to have him as part of our celebration.
In 2013 Fire company officers met with Borough officials to start planning the replacement of the 1989 E-One Engine. The engine which was purchased new by the fire company had begun to show its age. Also, the truck featured a canopy cab which left three firefighters partially exposed to the elements as well as vulnerable to serious injury if the truck was involved in an accident. To comply with NFPA standards, all firetrucks that were manufactured after 1990 had to have enclosed cabs; by doing so the entire crew would now be inside the vehicle, which not only kept them out of the elements, but provided a safer environment, when riding in the vehicle
After several meetings, Borough Council approved the Fire Company members to start drawing up specifications for a new Engine. A Truck Committee was formed, and planning began. The committee met with several manufacturers over the next eight months and developed a plan. Preliminary specifications were presented to council in November of 2013. Council suggested switching from an Engine to a Squad design. The truck committee again met with several manufacturers and developed specifications to present to council. Two set of specifications. were presented to Council in early 2014, along with pricing. Council approved purchase of a new Squad truck to replace the aging Engine 01. The truck committee after many months awarded the contract to Rosenbauer America.
On February 19, 2016 Squad 01 arrived in grand fashion. Engine 01 left station 01 and met the New SQUAD 01 for its arrival. SQUAD 01 was driven to Station 01 by 62 year Life Member Ron Cook also on the SQUAD was Chief Tom Weber Sr., Past Chief Dave Cook and Rosenbauer salesman Bob Orner. Following the new Squad home was Engine 01 and Folcroft PD. The new truck was met by Officers and members of station 01, Members of Borough Council, Folcroft Residence, neighboring fire company members and news media
In January 2017 the fire company placed in service a 2016 Ford Frontline Ambulance.
The firefighters of the Folcroft Fire Company have always been aware of the need for the best equipment and over the years have continually added and replaced fire, ambulance and rescue vehicles to give the best possible service to the residents of Folcroft and surrounding communities.Training is essential in this ever changing world. The newest generation of firefighters are constantly training and practicing their skills. The men and women of the;Folcroft Fire Company are proud to serve and volunteer, we are proud of our past and are looking forward to many more years.
For a printable version of this history,which includes many more pictures, click Here
--History compiled by Nicholas DeLuca, 1997 revised, edited and updated by Greg Oaster, Tom Weber Sr. 2017