History of the Westwood Fire Company
One of the first sparks in organizing the Westwood Fire Company was Chester Taylor, Sr. A fire broke out in
the barn on the Janet Greenfield property. Chester Taylor, with a Model T Ford and a cider barrel for a water tank, had the fire under control when the West End Fire Company of Coatesville arrived.
Chester Taylor, Sr.
Our First Fire Chief
On April 30th, 1947, twenty-four men gathered at the building known to some people as “Widdoes Hall” to elect officers for the Westwood Fire Company. Elected were Howard Byerly, President; Raymond Smale, Vice President; James Hughs, Treasurer; Lloyd Wallace, Financial Secretary; John Zappacosta, J.C. Hayes, Ronald Brown, Charles Davidson, and William Roland as Trustees. The minutes of this meeting were written on an old calendar and are actually preserved in the firehouse today. At this meeting, a dollar was collected from each man and $500.00 was donated from the ball team of Horace Root. Not surprisingly, Chester Taylor, Sr. was appointed as the first Fire Chief. The fire company was making progress.
At the next meeting on May 20th, 1947, the charter was signed and the following names are listed on it: Howard Byerly, James Hughs, Cleral Julian, J.C. Hayes, William Roland, Leroy Herman, Clarence Johnson, Ralph Eby, George Dunlap, William Holstein, John Prekup, E.P. Hamilton, Ross Darlington, Sr., F. Grant Wiggins, Chester Taylor, Sr., Raymond Smale, Lloyd Wallace, John Zappacosta, Ronald Brown, Charles Davidson, John Wallace, John McLucas, Raymond Fox, Vernon McComsey, Earl Holstein, Frank Prekup, L.H. Julian, Winfield Taylor, and Ross Darlington, Jr.
In June, 1947, with Mrs. Anna McComsey calling a meeting of interested ladies at her home, the Ladies Auxiliary was organized. Mrs. McComsey served as temporary President and was later elected President at the first election. The first Auxiliary meeting was held at Widdoes Hall. Later meetings were held at the Westwood School until the new firehouse was built.
The first fire truck was purchased from the Brandywine Fire Company of Coatesville in the year 1947. This truck was a 1916 American LaFrance, Type 75. This truck was the first piece of motorized fire equipment in Coatesville. The price paid for this truck, which carried 300 gallons of water, was $500.00.
The first Turkey Fair was held in the new Edward Daylor Building at 11th Avenue and Charles Street in 1947. The garage of Mr. Dunlap was selected as the first Engine Room. The meetings were then moved from Widdoes Hall to the Dunlap Garage.
The First Firehouse
In the summer of 1948, a fair was held at the Westwood School grounds. As the Fire Company grew, 14 acres of ground was purchased from Mr. Dunlap at the price of $10,000. Construction on a meeting and Engine Room was then started.
On August 26th and August 27th 1949, a fair was held on the grounds now known as the Allegheny Ludlum Steel Company. The Ferko String Band did the entertaining. Westwood Fire Company was the first to have a string band in this area. A fully equipped Lincoln Cosmopolitan Convertible was given away on the second night of the fair.
In 1950, a fair was held on the fire company’s own ground. During the construction of the firehouse, Brown Brothers played an important part by using their ukes for hauling slag and their bull dozers for grading. Jim Mohr did much of the grading.
In 1951 and 1952 the members decided to hold “corn games,” otherwise known as Bingo, which are still being held today. Mr. Earl Benner was given credit for building most of the tables and the Ladies Auxiliary purchased the chairs. During the year, a 1937 Diamond T General truck was purchased from the Conshohocken #2 Fire Company, in Montgomery County. The price of the truck was $3,000.00 which was borrowed from the Brown Brothers. The Ladies Auxiliary helped by paying $1,500.00.
In 1953, the Company purchased an old Ford Capital Bakery Truck. This truck was to be used for grass fires.
The mortgage was burned on February 9th, 1953. Now with two trucks and only enough room for one, a new Engine Room was discussed. Ed Jamison put in a bid of $9,000.00 for an Engine Room large enough to house three trucks.
On May 20th, 1956, the ribbon of the new Engine Room was cut by Buddy Eshleman. The Ladies Auxiliary had always been active helping with activities of the Fire Company. When the building was completed, the kitchen was turned over to the Auxiliary and they completely furnished it. The firemen suggested that the Auxiliary have complete charge of the kitchen from the beginning of the Company.
In 1957, the Ladies Auxiliary purchased a mobile two way radio for the Diamond T so that the Fire Company could join the Pomeroy Base Station. A new truck was discussed. A committee consisting of Norman Franciscus (Chairman), George Taylor (Co-Chairman), Joseph Flinn, Chester Taylor, Sr., Joe Rubincam, and Donald Shank was selected to purchase a new truck.
In 1960, a 1937 American LaFrance, Type 450 RB, was purchased from the Brandywine Fire Company of Coatesville. This was the favorite truck of Gib Stauffer, one of the drivers of the Brandywine Fire Company. This truck is still owned by the Westwood Fire Company and is being restored.
On May 20th, 1961, a new C-850 Ford Boyer Pumper with a 500 gallon tank and a 750 gallon per minute pump was housed by the three Coatesville Fire Companies. This was the first brand new piece of apparatus purchased by the Fire Company, at a cost of $17,000.00.
On April 30th, 1963, a grass fire started near the Capital Bakery and burned across the field towards the Ed Daylor Property. The fire caused much damage to pilings and equipment on the Daylor property, but thanks to the firemen the building was saved. Several days later, a 500 gallon per minute pump mounted on a trailer was donated to the Westwood Fire Company by Mr. Edward Daylor.
In 1966, a new addition was started to double the size of the fire hall at the cost of $60,000.
In order to replace the 1937 Diamond T, which was given to the Valley Forge General Hospital Fire Department, we purchased a 1947 American LaFrance 700 Series from the Five Points Fire Company, in New Castle County, Delaware, for $1,500.00.
A 1947 Dodge Four-Wheel-Drive Military style sidestep pickup truck was purchased and made into a field piece, which was a dream of Chester Taylor, Sr. This truck was very useful in fighting grass fires and was known all around as “The Green Dragon.”
In 1973, the Green Dragon was replaced with a 1973 Ford 4x4 Brush Truck.
In 1975, our 1947 American LaFrance was replaced with a 1965 Ford C-900 Bruco Pumper bought from the Third District Fire Company of Bristol Township, in Bucks County. The 1947 American LaFrance was sold to Ronald P. Scott.
A picnic facility was built in 1979 for company functions and has become a favorite annual picnic spot for most local organizations in and around the Coatesville area.
In 1980, we replaced our 1965 Ford Pumper with a new 1979 Ford CT-8000 Bruco built Pumper/Tanker with 2,200 gallon water capacity. This piece came in with a new white over red paint scheme. The 1965 Pumper was sold to the West Hanover Township Fire Company, in Dauphin County.
Also in 1980, the old Engine Room was replaced with a modern 3 bay station. The old Engine Room was used to expand the Bingo Hall.
In 1984, a new truss roof was built to cover the entire building with a single roof.
In 1984, when discussions began regarding the purchase of a new fire truck, President Joseph Sweigart recommended that the Company order it’s new piece of apparatus to match a blue fire truck that the members saw in a calendar. A massive vote was taken during a Company Meeting which was dead tied after 3 votes. Chester Taylor, Jr., who originally voted to keep the trucks red, had wanted the new truck to have a top mounted pump. His request was denied, and so he changed his vote to repaint the trucks blue, and it passed. The color was supposed to be a midnight metallic blue. When the truck came in, it was the powder blue we know today, and the decision was made to keep the color as it was.
In 1985, a new Ford C-8000 Bruco built 1,000 gallon per minute Pumper with a 750 gallon water tank was purchased. The new Ford Pumper was the first piece of apparatus with a canopy cab and with the new white over blue paint scheme. It was said that this was the last complete unit built by the Bruco Body Company, which went into the rebuild business only.
In early 1986, the 1973 Ford Brush Truck and 1979 Ford Pumper/Tanker were repainted white over blue to match the new 1985 Pumper.
On September 27th, 1986, the new 1985 Ford Bruco Pumper was housed, replacing the 1961 Ford Pumper after 25 years of service. The 1961 Ford was sold to the Martin's Corner Fire Company.
On Saturday, June 27th, 1987, the Fire Company held a 40th Anniversary Parade.
In 1990, a new Spartan FMC 3,000 gallon Pumper/Tanker was purchased. This was the first 4-door enclosed cab operated by the Fire Company.
Also in 1990, the 1985 Ford Bruco attack pumper was converted into a Pumper/Rescue to meet the growing needs of the Community. At this time, Westwood Fire Company officially became involved in Rescue services.
In 1991, the Club Room was closed.
In 1992, the 1979 Ford Pumper/Tanker was refurbished by Bruco to include a 4-door cab.
In 1994, a 1983 Chevrolet C-10 Van was purchased from the Pomeroy Fire Company to be utilized as a Traffic control unit for the Fire Police at a cost of $1,000.00.
On August 24th, 1996, a new 1995 4-Wheel-Drive Ford F-Super Duty American Rural Mini-Pumper was placed into service as a light rescue and for use on small fires.
On Saturday, September 6th, 1997, the Fire Company celebrated its 50th Anniversary. A parade and housing was held. The Pennsylvania State Fire Commissioner was present, as well as many local and County government officials to help celebrate this milestone. The 1995 Ford American Rural Mini-Pumper, 1990 Spartan FMC Pumper/Tanker, and the 1983 Chevrolet Van were all housed at this event.
50th Anniversary & Housing
In 1998, the Fire Company members noticed an extreme delay in medical care provided to the community. The members at the time felt it would be beneficial to form a Quick Response Service to supplement long response times by neighboring ambulance services. The members would respond in the 1995 Ford Mini-Pumper to provide medical care until the ambulances arrived. The Company received licensure by the Pennsylvania Department of Health, and officially began operating on March 9th, 1999.
On September 23rd, 2000, the Fire Company received 1st Place recognition for the most functional, best appearing, and best equipped Quick Response Unit in the State at the 121st Annual Pennsylvania State Fireman’s Convention in King of Prussia, PA.
After a year of providing Quick Response Services, the idea once again came back to the Company membership to provide all the medical care ourselves by purchasing an Ambulance. At the June 2000 Fire Company meeting, the membership voted to purchase a used 1997 Ford Osage Ambulance from Southern Chester County EMS, also known as Medic 94, at a cost of $35,000.00. Also included in this sale, was a 1994 Ford Econoline Ambulance which was purchased for an additional $2,500.00 to replace the 1983 Chevrolet Van as a newer Traffic Unit. The membership appointed John Sly to form the Ambulance service.
In October, 2000, the 1983 Chevrolet Van was sold to Chief Engineer Dave Wharton.
On November 16th, 2000, the Ambulance Service was officially licensed by the Pennsylvania Department of Health and began operating. The first call for a patient involved a long time member of the Fire Company.
With the changes in membership and increase in call demand with the Ambulance Service, the Fire Company renovated the old Club Room area into a crew quarters, complete with home furnishings, a bunk room, computer access area, offices for Ambulance administration, and a shower.
In 2002, the Fire Company began to research replacement of our first Ambulance with a brand new unit. In April, 2003, we took delivery of a 2003 Ford Braun Ambulance at a total cost of $133,403.00, which included a brand new stretcher. The very first Ambulance was sold to a private dealer.
On August 6th, 2004 the Fire Company received a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the amount of $247,500.00 to use towards the purchase of a new Rescue truck.
In December, 2004, the Company voted to purchase a 2005 Pierce Dash Pumper/Rescue at a cost of $611,000.00.
In June, 2005, the Fire Company voted to sell the 1973 Ford Brush Truck to former Chief Engineer Chad Davis for a cost of $5,000.00.
On August 19th, 2005, the Ambulance Division of the Westwood Fire Company was honored as the Pennsylvania State Ambulance Service of the Year at the Pennsylvania Department of Health's annual Emergency Medical Services awards banquet held in State College, PA. All active EMS members of the fire company were invited to attend to receive this distinguished award. After less than 5 years of service to the Community, the Ambulance Service became only the 28th Ambulance Company in the entire Commonwealth to be awarded. This is a major milestone for the dedicated volunteers of the Westwood Fire Company Ambulance Division.
On November 2nd, 2005, the Company held a Special Meeting to vote on the sale of the 1979 Pumper-Tanker and the 1985 Pumper-Rescue to prepare for the new 2005 Pumper-Rescue's arrival. A unanimous vote approved the sale of both pieces of apparatus to the Stewart County Volunteer Fire Service of Stewart County, Tennessee at a price of $45,000.
On August 10th, 2006, the Fire Company approved the purchase of our very first brand new Traffic Control Unit to be utilized by our Fire Police personnel while operating on incident scenes. This new vehicle replaced the used 1994 Ambulance conversion being used by the Fire Police. The vehicle, a 2007 Ford F-350 4x4 crew cab chassis with a Reading Utility Body was partially funded with a grant obtained by the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency.
On October 12th, 2006, the Company voted to sell the 1994 Ford Traffic Control Unit to Fire Police Officer Robert Law at a cost of $1,000.
On January 11th, 2007, the Company voted to purchase two 2007 Ford Expedition Command vehicles to be utilized by the Fire Chief and EMS Chief to conduct the business of the Company while holding these offices. One vehicle was funded by a donation from a local residential developer.
On February 9th, 2007, the Chester County EMS Council in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Department of Health inspected our 2006 Rescue truck to be certified under the Pennsylvania Voluntary Rescue Service Recognition Program. We applied as an "Advanced Level Rescue," the highest level of recognition and passed the inspection. The Recognition Program involves a review of personnel training and equipment qualifications in order to meet a certain level. The Westwood Fire Company became the first and only organization in Chester County to meet this recognition, and one of less than 30 Rescue services in all of Pennsylvania to receive the highest level of recognition.
On February 16th, 2007, notice was received from the Pennsylvania Fire Commissioner's Office that we were being honored by the Fire Commissioner's Office under the State Certification Recognition Program for achieving 75% of our personnel trained to National Professional Qualification Standards. We became only the 54th Fire Company in Pennsylvania to achieve this level and the only 4th in Chester County.
On March 8th, 2007, the new 2006 Pierce Dash Pumper/Rescue was placed into service after several months of planning, equipping, and training for the new state of the art piece of apparatus. Later in March, on the 27th, the new Command Vehicles arrived and were placed into service and assigned primarily to the Fire Chief and EMS Chief.
On May 10th, 2007 the new Traffic Control Unit was placed into service for the Fire Police Officers to utilize while controlling traffic and crowds at incident scenes.
On May 26th, 2007 the Fire Company celebrated its 60th Anniversary with a parade and housing ceremony for our newest pieces of apparatus. A total of 44 fire companies with 103 pieces of apparatus were in attendance. This week marked the exact week sixty years prior that the Fire Company forefathers signed the charter in 1947.
The parade began in Sadsbury Township and traveled down Lincoln Highway through Hayti, into Coatesville City, and down Valley Road into Westwood. Township Supervisors, State Representatives, and Local Dignitaries were all on hand to present the Fire Company with numerous plaques and proclamations in appreciation for 60 years of dedicated service to the community. The 2003 Braun Ambulance, 2006 Pierce Pumper/Rescue, and 2007 Ford Traffic Control Unit were all housed by the housing companies; considing of the Sadsburyville Fire Company, Modena Fire Company, Cochranville Fire Company, West End Fire Company #3, Thorndale Fire Company, Christiana Fire Company, Gordonville Fire Company, and Washington Hose Company ambulance. Three vehicles and $4,400 in cash were raffled off as a fundraiser for this event. A Ford Pickup Truck, Ford Mustang, and Harley Davidson Motorcycle were all won by Coatesville area residents. Past Chief Ronald P. Scott was honored for his 50 years of volunteer service to the Fire Company at the ceremonies.
60th Anniversary & Housing
On June 26th, 2007 the Fire Company was honored by the Chester County Department of Emergency Services Fire Training Division for our high levels of certification and training for our personnel. The Westwood Fire Company joined only four other Companies in the County to have achieved training of more than 75% of our personnel to National Firefighter standards. In addition, the Company was presented with a plaque signifying that we met the Pennsylvania Department of Health's Voluntary Rescue Service Recognition Program; the first and only Fire Company in Chester County to be recognized.
On September 30th, 2007 thirty five firefighters were equipped with brand new custom fit firefighting gear, thanks to a Federal Grant the Company received. The grant, in the amount of $68,880 provided each active firefighter with new turnout coats and pants, helmets, gloves, boots, eye protection, a protective bag, and a personal flashlight as well as an industrial gear washer to keep the equipment clean at the station. This marked the first time in the 60 year history of the Company that each active firefighter received brand new gear at the same time.
Just days later, on October 5th, 2007 good news came again. The Fire Company was awarded a third Federal Grant within four years; this time in the amount of $39,500. These funds were used to purchase a compressor and fill station to refill self contained breathing apparatus for firefighters at our station. Prior to this time, Westwood firefighters relied on the equipment from the City of Coatesville Fire Department for these services.
On March 14th, 2008 word was received once again from the Federal Government that a large grant was awarded to all Chester County Fire Companies through Westwood. During his term as Fire Chief, John Sly applied on behalf of all 47 fire companies in the County to receive funds to help promote the ongoing problem of volunteer recruitment. Each fire company shared in funds, which were used to purchase billboard advertisements, a website, school recruitment programs, and wage reimbursement for firefighters who take training to join. The grant, in the amount of $445,000 was the 5th largest recruitment and retention program ever awarded in the United States to volunteer fire companies.
The story will go on…
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