History of Spring Mill Fire Company

This history was prepared from the minutes of the Spring Mill Fire Company #1. Every effort has been made to be as accurate as possible and when allowable, the actual minutes have been utilized to tell the story as recorded by the Secretary of the Fire Company. It was determined to compile this information to ensure that that the memories and events which are the history for the Spring Mill Fire Company #1 will be accurately remembered for years to come.

In September 1923 a dozen residents from the Spring Mill area and surrounding vicinities had a meeting at The Prizer Hotel on Hector Street to discuss the organization of a volunteer fire company. Frank Davidson was elected chairman and was to notify all male residents of Whitemarsh West of a meeting at the Spring Mill School House. Sixty-five men attended and officers were elected as followed: David Dowdle, President; Arthur Youngjohn, Vice President; Reuben Kilpatrick, Recording Secretary; John Gravel, Financial Secretary; Samuel McFarland, Treasurer. Trustees were Roscoe Prizer and Thomas W Morris.

The Charter was filed on November 18th 1923. By the end of 1923, the total membership was at 105. The next very important step was to purchase a piece of apparatus and obtain a building to house this. On May 2, 1924, "Mr. Young, a salesman from the Hale Fire Pump Company, appeared at a meeting and stated that his company would furnish an apparatus as on display in the school yard at a special price of $2,500 if the contract was signed within 30 days. The regular price of this machine, a chemical apparatus mounted on a Reo Speed Wagon Chasis, with two 35 gallon chemical tanks, 12 foot ladder, 20 foot extension ladder and 700 foot hose body , etc. was $2,850. The terms were one-half price on delivery and the balance within 30 days. If cash was paid on delivery a discount of 2% would be allowed. After discussion a motion was made and seconded that the apparatus as described be purchased" ... "Motion was then made and seconded that a committee be appointed to canvas the vicinity and raise funds to purchase the apparatus. Motion carried and Phillip Kelly was appointed Chairman in charge of committee to cover Borough Line to Botto's corner,(North lane & Hector Street) and Allen Frankenfield was appointed Chairman to cover lower end from Botto's corner, including Cedar Grove and Miquon." On December 6, 1924, a housing ceremony was held in the new quarters with the Washington Fire Company of Conshohocken as sponsors.

On June 5, 1924, "arrangements were made to hold a street carnival on the grounds in front of the Lee plant on Saturday afternoon and evening, June 28th." This was the first of the many carnivals to be held by the fire company. In later years, this carnival became the Fire Company's biggest fund raiser; a 10 day fair, held for 28 consecutive summers, until 1956 when the District Attorney of Montgomery County cracked down on lotteries and other gambling devices.

On September 5, 1924, a fire chief was elected for 1924-1925. "Samuel Glass: 13 votes, George T. MacFarland: 6 votes, Mat Pester: 2 votes. Samuel Glass elected. "On October 3, 1924, "the Fire Chief announced the following appointments: Frederick Oppelt, First Ass't Chief; Harry W. Cressman, Second Ass't. Chief; George T. MacFarland, Engineer; John Shulkaski, First Ass't Engineer; John M. Graul, Second Ass't. Engineer; Samuel Kilpatrick, Jr., Third Ass't. Engineer; Norman Wright, Fourth Ass't. Engineer."

On December 5, 1924, "After testing the Siren, motion was made and carried to purchase the Siren - the price to be paid therefor being $125."

The Ladies Auxiliary was also organized in 1925 and the officers and members of the company had good reason to be thankful for such an organization. Its financial support throughout the years has been a great asset to the Spring Mill Fire Company.

On December 14, 1926, a committee was appointed to arrange for the first annual banquet. "It was voted to make the banquet a stag." The first annual banquet was then held in February, 1927.

On January 10th, 1928, the Chief submitted the following report for the year 1927:

  • Number of fires 17
  • Times in service: 10
  • Number of field fires: 6
  • Number of house fires: 6
  • Number of store fires: 1
  • Number of hay barn fires: 2
  • Number of automobile fires: 2
  • Total number of chemical used: 123
  • Number of feet chemical hose laid: 600
  • Number of feet of water hose laid: 550
  • Number of miles traveled to and from fires: 37
  • Average attendance at fires: 9
  • Signed by SAMUEL GLASS, Chief

September 1935, a Hale 500 GPM pumper was purchased for $6,555. The original apparatus was subsequently disposed of for $175.00.

In February 1947, the Fire Company entered into a contract to purchase a Maxim 700 GPM pumper with a 500 gallon tank. The cost of this unit was $8,085. (In 1969, the fire company converted this pumper into the Dive Rescue Unit equipped with a cascade unit, six complete wet scuba suits, the motorized boat, air-powered tools, a 1,000 foot five-eighths inch nylon rope on a powered reel and hand tools. The truck was sold in April 1981 to the Ulster-Sheshequin Fire Association for $400.00).

On May 13, 1958, the Fire Company voted to purchase a Maxim 700 GPM for a cost of $22,000. The apparatus was delivered in April, 1959. With repairs being too costly to this vehicle, the truck was sold in November, 1981 for $475.00.

In 1964, a Maxim 750 GPM pumper with a 500 gallon tank, 1,250 feet of 2 1/2" hose, 600 feet of 1 1/2" hose, a smoke ejector and 3 air packs was purchased. The cost of this unit fully equipped was $29,175. The Fourth District housed the unit. In 1992, pumper was donated to The Mill Rift Fire Company, located in Northeast Pennsylvania, This unit became their first out unit and is still in service today. The truck was donated due to the need of the company for a truck but insufficient funds to purchase a new vehicle

In July 1968, after much discussion, the Scuba Diving Unit was formed as a river rescue unit. Preparations began to give scuba diving classes to the members of the company. In October, the Whitemarsh Township Lions Club donated the first Rescue Boat to the Spring Mill Fire Co. for drowning and river searches.

On February 6th 1970, The Ladies Auxiliary acquired their Charter.

In March 1971, there was a discussion about forming a fire police unit to close roads at fire scenes, park cars at the fire house for functions and other special services as required. In April, the company approved to purchase equipment for eight members of the Fire Police Unit.

In June 1972, Hurricane Agnes swept through the area dumping several inches of rain. The Fire Company rescued people out of local factories as the Schuylkill River overflowed its banks and flooded the area. The members pumped out basements for 64 hours. Whitemarsh Township gave a plaque to the members for a job well done.

Extensive renovations were made to the firehouse in 1973 under a contract for additions and alterations. The changes to the first floor included one additional apparatus bay and an extension of the rear existing engine room. Also, a complete renovation of the first floor meeting rooms, clubroom, as well as the addition of new rest rooms and stair towers to the first floor. The changes to the second floor included a new wing on the west end of the auditorium, a relocated kitchen area, remodeling of the existing auditorium and new rest rooms. The exterior of the building included a new architectural metal Mansard roof, new windows and all new plastered sidewalls. New electrical wiring and lighting was added along with air conditioning added to the meeting rooms and auditorium. The heating system was also updated.

In March 1990, the Fire Company entered into a lease agreement with Lee Park for use of Fire Company property. The purpose of the lease was to renovate the grounds into parking lots for Lee Park Office Complex. The Board of Directors, solicitor, and Brian and Michael O' Neill approved the details of the lease. All maintenance of the grounds was to be handled by Lee Park. Included in this lease was the complete renovation of the Mansion House.

A Houseman/Paid Driver was hired in November 1995 for the duties of cleaning of the firehouse and maintenance of the apparatus. His duties also included driving the apparatus to the fire calls.