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December of 1890, prior to the existence of Lansdowne Borough, a fire
ravaged a row of stores on South Lansdowne Avenue. In January of 1894
the Borough contracted with the Lansdowne Water Company for 12 fire
hydrants. In early December 1894 the Lansdowne Fire Company was organized.
Elected as the first president was, Joseph S. Van Sandt, and first
fire chief was Joseph L. Lowden. The Commonwealth Court incorporated
the Fire Company on
9, 1897. The original charter was in effect until 1978, when a new
corporate charter gave the Company non-profit status. In 1903 the
Borough, with the passing of an ordinance, officially recognized the
Lansdowne Fire Company. A second ordinance was passed granting the
Fire Company an annual budget of $200. The
Fire Company began to use Plectron alerting devices in the early
and has continued to use a personal alerting device for members ever
since, along with the house siren that blows during the day to alert
members to calls.
first home of the Lansdowne Fire Company was in the tank house
of the Lansdowne Water Company at 15 Madison Avenue. In 1903 the
Fire Company received it’s “permanent” home at
12 East Baltimore Avenue. The firehouse was in the front part of
Borough Hall. As
the size of our apparatus fleet grew so did the need for a new building.
In 1975 a new engine was purchased, but there was nowhere to put
it. This engine spent its first year at the
Fire House. This fact forced the members of the Fire Company to visit
the Borough Council. This visit was somewhat successful, as the Borough
built an aluminum garage in the lot next to Borough Hall. This building
was also known as the “Tin Shed”. In May of 1977 a bond
issue for a combination fire, police and borough building was narrowly
defeated at the polls.
November of 1982 a new station bond passed at the polls. In August
of 1983 the Fire Company presented a check to the Borough to add
a fifth bay, energy saving skylights and a fire protection sprinkler
system to this new firehouse. In 1986 the Fire Company moved into
this new “permanent” home. Borough Hall was remodeled
into its present configuration and the “tin shed” was
torn down. The Fire Company still occupies this building on North
first piece of firefighting apparatus owned by the Lansdowne Fire
Company was a hand drawn two-wheel hose reel. With the move to a larger
station came larger apparatus. In 1904 a horse drawn ladder wagon
was added to the apparatus roster. A chemical wagon was added sometime
before 1908. A little known fact is that the fire company never owned
the horses that pulled the apparatus. A nearby stable at the sounding
of an alarm sent the horses, or a team going by the firehouse was
commandeered for the duration of the call.
apparatus came to the Fire Company prior to 1914, an American La
France chemical/booster wagon. In 1925 two American La France apparatus
were purchased, a 750-gallon per minute (gpm) engine and a city service
ladder truck. In
1928 an Autocar 250 gpm booster truck was purchased. In 1937 a 750-gpm
Autocar engine was housed. This truck was sent to the New York World’s
Fair in 1939. In 1942 a Mack city service ladder was purchased to
replace the 1925 American La France. In 1947 a 500-gpm Mack engine
was placed in service. The 1937 Autocar was refurbished and recertified
as a first out engine in 1953. A 1954 750-gpm engine replaced the
Autocar booster. In 1956 a GMC/Christopher rescue truck was placed
in service. In
1961 the first aerial ladder truck was placed in service. It was
a Seagrave cab forward with an 85-foot ladder, this truck served
until 1985. A 1966 1000 gpm engine built by Seagrave was placed in
service to replace the 1947 Mack. Also in 1966 an International rescue
truck went into service. In
1974 a Chevrolet/Providence rescue replaced the 1966 International.
This truck carried the Hurst “Jaws of Life” and was called
an Emergency Care and Rescue Unit. A Hahn 1500 gpm engine was purchased
in 1975 and was just recently taken out of service. A 1985 Hahn 106
foot ladder was housed in the new firehouse. In
1993 the Fire Company placed in service an International/American
Rural rescue truck, and in 1994 a Seagrave 1250 gpm enclosed cab
engine was housed. In 2001 the Fire Company received a 1500 gpm engine
to replace the Hahn.
the Line of Duty
Lansdowne Fire Company has a long and distinguished history. Unfortunately
this history includes four members who gave their lives in the service
of their community. Chief George A. Gowan was the first member to
give the ultimate sacrifice. Chief Gowan succumbed to exposure to
smoke and the cold on December 29, 1925 after directing firefighters
during fire ground operations. The second member to die in the line
of duty was Chief Walter Fraim. This unfortunate occurrence was
on June 10, 1940.
November 22, 1961 Assistant Chief G. William Joines died of a
heart attack at a working fire. Assistant Chief Joines was also
a sergeant in the Lansdowne Police Department, and was the third
member to pass while serving his community.
fourth and most recent line of duty death occurred when Fire Policeman
Norman D. Wilson suffered a heart attack while directing traffic
at an auto accident on January 20, 1976. These
four members have given the ultimate sacrifice to their community
and will never be forgotten.
original Ladies Auxiliary was formed in 1906 with 10 members. By 1914
this group had grown to 35 members. The present incarnation of the
Ladies Auxiliary was formed in 1952 and presently has 30 members.
dedicated ladies and the present membership of men and women serving
the Borough of Lansdowne as firefighters and EMTs hope to carry
this proud and distinguished history long into the future.