Hatfield Volunteer Fire Company

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Serving Hatfield and the Surrounding Communities Since 1910

History of the Fire Company

historicThe pre-twentieth century history of fire fighting in Hatfield is vague. Buckets, wells, and willing hands were probably Hatfield residents only defense against fire damage. The bucket brigade was that spontaneous mobilization of family, neighbors, and other bystanders in response to an emergency situation. The call to “throw out your buckets” and the effectiveness of the bucket brigade depended on how early the fire had been discovered and how readily water could be hand-hauled from a nearby well or pond and hand-thrown on the fire.

After a fire destroyed Jonas S. Moyer’s fence factory in late 1909 discussion was brought up about organizing a fire company. The Hatfield Volunteer Fire Company was founded March 10, 1910, by a group of concerned citizens. The meeting took place in Knipe’s Hall with Jonas Moyer, owner of the destroyed fence factory, sitting as temporary chairman. I.R.Swartley was elected as the temporary secretary and recorded the first minutes of the Hatfield Volunteer Fire Company. A subsequent meeting was held on April 7, 1910, when a constitution and bylaws were formed, and two days later adopted.

By August of that year the first piece of fire-fighting equipment was purchased, sold by S.F.Hayward co. of New York, a Hand-Drawn chemical truck, at a cost of $1,000, fitted so that it could be horse-drawn.

The first reported fire that the Hayward Chemical unit responded to occurred in or about August in 1911 at the George Snyder Estate residence on Market St. at Lincoln Ave. Next, was a heater explosion at the Schoolhouse Oct. 9, 1911.

The first decade of the Fire Co. existence experienced a total of 9 additional calls:

3—Residences
1—Cannery
1—Barn
1—False alarm
3—Snyder Estate Co.

The First Engine House was the Electric Substation on Cherry St. A steel locomotive Gong & Hammer donated by Souderton Fire co used as an alarm. In November 1916 a Steam Whistle was installed at Snyder's mill to replace it.

Hatfield Borough, having installed a community water system in 1915 & 1916 made it advantageous for the fire co. to purchase supply hose. They bought 1000 ft of "Red Cross" hose at $1.00/ ft from the Eureka Fire Hose Manufacturing co. in 1916 and tested it on April 15, 1916. The North Wales Fire Co. loaned a Hose Reel to Hatfield on which they put 400 ft of it. The Reel was returned in 1919.

The Hayward Chemical Engine alone served the community until July 8, 1919 when, the first motorized engine, a PACKARD CHASSIS with a Hale Pump was added. Two years later a second motorized apparatus was added, a used 1920 Cole 8-cylinder that needed a lot of overhauling from the young volunteers. They dismantled and mounted The Chemical Unit on it and fabricated a body to carry some of the supply hose.

The company's First Raincoats were ordered in the summer of 1921, 6 were bought by the company and 5 members bought their own. On May 14, 1923 the first four Fire Police were appointed.

Because the Cherry St. station could only house one of the engines, for the first 15 years the new fire company used whatever sheds and barns that they could from the community to house their collection of equipment.

In 1925 Hatfield dedicated the very First Firehouse built for the company at 56 E. Broad St. over the creek.

The young company had devised many ways to raise funds to pay for the much needed equipment that they were anxious to buy, and a small group of the towns women supporting those efforts were soon invited to form a Ladies Auxiliary on October 26, 1925, and by December of that year, 107 ladies were recorded as members.

The young company had devised many ways to raise funds to pay for the much needed equipment that they were anxious to buy, and a small group of the towns women supporting those efforts were soon invited to form a Ladies Auxiliary on October 26, 1925, and by December of that year, 107 ladies were recorded as members.

The company bought a new Ford Truck Chassis which the volunteers fitted to carry additional hose in 1926.

The 1920 Cole, having worked at 32 fires, was deemed to be worn out and it was agreed to replace it, a 1927 PACKARD 12 cylinder with the Chemical Unit transferred on to it was next to go into service. Two years later, in 1929 the First Motorized Engine needed replacement. Hale Fire Pump co. of Conshohocken offered a HALE type #4-500 GPM Pump mounted on their standard Hale Chassis equipped with a Continental engine for $5000.

It is well to note at this time that the Hatfield Volunteer Fire Company received 123 calls between Jan. 1930 and Dec. 1939:

Hatfield Township—83 calls
Hatfield Borough----15 calls
Line Lexington ----- 8 calls
Hilltown Township- 13 calls
Franconia Township-2 calls
Souderton Borough—2 calls

The Ford Hose Truck was retired from service in April of 1939 and purchased by Robert Kaler for $25.00.

Ward La France in Elmira, NY. was the next company to build a truck for the Hatfield Co, it was a 1939 Diamond T model 750 GPM PUMP with an enclosed body, this was very unique at that time. This truck was eventually sold to the OAK’S Fire Co. in 1963. Later efforts to buy this truck and restore it were defeated.

Ten years later in August 1949 a MAXIM 750 GPM ENGINE was purchased.

The 1929 Hale Pumper was replaced in 1956 by a SEAGRAVES 750 GPM ENGINE. In a historical note, the tank’s from the original S.F. HAYWARD CHEMICAL UNIT, which was the first fire fighting engine bought by the company and operated on 3 different unit’s, were sold that same year. The 29’ Hale being sold to a man in Reading, Pa.

A Second SEAGRAVES 750 GPM ENGINE arrived late in 1963. Three years later the fire company had to replace this most recent Engine because it was involved in an accident on July 23, 1966. The replacement Engine ended up being a 1968 C-95 MACK 1000 GPM ENGINE, which was the First Diesel Engine in the area.

A little more than a year later the Fire Company acquired a used (1951) MAXIM 75’ AERIAL LADDER from the Brookline Fire co. for $10,000 whose Hercules engine was replaced by a Detroit Diesel engine in 1971, this was the first Aerial Ladder for the Hatfield Volunteers.

Field fires were always a labor intensive problem for the company, especially during the daytime, when manpower was short, so in 1970 they found a 1956 Jeep for $300, which the company immediately bought and converted to handle the problem.

During 1970 the department purchased 1500’ of 3”Supply Hose for the 56’ Seagraves, which eventually influenced the type of engine which was bought in 1975, a MACK “R” MODEL 1250 GPM for hydrant duty and hose supply.

A second station, constructed in 1975 on Fairgrounds Rd. in the Township, required moving engines to that facility to better protect that part of our coverage area.

The next project for a truck committee was a utility unit, which ended up being a UTILITY/CASCADE powered by a 1979 Chevrolet chassis whose body was manufactured by The Saulsbury Co. of Tully, N.Y. with an 8-bottle on board fill station and a 7.5 KW generator; light rescue equipment and numerous tools also were added.

The next change occurred during 1983, when the 49" Maxim, the 56" Seagraves and the 56 "Jeep field unit all were sold and replaced by a MACK M.C. 1250 GPM ENGINE.

The 1951 Maxim 75' Aerial Ladder after having given Hatfield 15 of its 34 years of service was sold to another company. Some searching soon yielded, a series of 1984 MACK (bulldog) 106' AERIAL LADDERS to be available and the company was fortunate enough to buy one.

Another upgrade occurred when the 1979 Utility/Cascade needed to be replaced and a new Chassis and Manufacturer was found, a 1988 SPARTAN CHASSIS with a RANGER 10 man enclosed cab and body, able to carry the newest rescue tools, an 8 bottle cascade fill station along with an onboard air compressor and a fully equipped command center.

One year later 5 inch supply hose was introduced to the company and the addition of another enclosed 10-man cab, to eliminate the unsafe need to ride on the rear step, with the purchase of a 1989 SPARTAN RANGER 1500 GPM, 750 gal water tank and 40 gal foam tank. This replaced the 1975 MACK "R" MODEL which, along with the 3" supply hose, was sold to Carsonville vol. fire co. in PA.

In 1991 a SPARTAN Demo Chassis came to the attention of the company for a reasonable price which was agreed to and KME was contracted to build a body with a 1500 GPM PUMP, also with 750 gal water and 40 gal foam tanks and delivered in 1992. This replaced the 1968 Mack C-95 which was sold to a company in the Pocono's.

Another Demo unit was offered to the company next, a 1993 KME 75' SQUIRT with 1250 GPM pump and 500 gal. Tank and purchased in 1994. This same year, with the fleet at 2 Aerials, 3 engines and a Rescue, it was decided to sell the MACK MC, which was purchased by a company in Monkey Island, Oklahoma.

At this point in time a nearby company, East Greenville, expressed an interest in buying the 1984 Mack Ladder .The proposal was brought to the attention of the membership, who after some discussion, agree to the sale and set about to plan it's replacement. That plan produced a 1998 PIERCE 105' AERIAL LADDER with a 2000 GPM PUMP.

Because of the limits of clearance in the Broad St. station, both in length and height, the new Aerial had to be temporarily housed at the second station, until the construction of the newly planned MAIN STATION on Market St. was finished and the company was finally able to move into on January 2000. In 2004, it was decided that there was no need to keep and maintain the KME 75' Squirt for the amount of use it performed, it was sold and shipped to a Fire Company in Texas.

The traditions of the fire service are no less in the Hatfield Vol. Fire Company, And the next change in the company was felt in 2006 with the arrival of a PIERCE 2000/40 SQUAD with CAFS [Compressed Air Foam] a combination of Water, .01 percentages of class A foam and the addition of compressed air. This technology, which had been tried and tested on the West Coast for more than 20 years and before that in the U.S. Military, is now being used in Hatfield.

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Mission Statement

Protecting people and property in a professional manner

 

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