The Years On Blakley Road

Garden City Fire Company began in 1944 with a handful of dedicated men and a building with a leaky roof, acquired from the then defunct Civic Association. Symbolic of the times was a set of trolley tracks up the middle of Chestnut Parkway with a locomotive rim that double as a fire alarm. The building was warmed by an old pot-belly stove and a lot of heated discussions among the members at the meetings headed by first president Ed Congleton. The first big project was to replace the pots and pans on the floor with a new roof. For this purpose, a $500 grant was procured from the township. The membership bought the materials and did the roof job themselves; total cost – $150, and so the first treasury was established with the remaining $350. Soon afterwards, the charter was granted and the new fire company was given its first yearly appropriation, $500.

The first fire chief, Ed Lamey, and his men had a portable pump mounted on a trailer to work with as their first piece of equipment. It was pulled around by an old Buick.

The first real “fire truck” was two 1920 vintage machines. Part from the one purchased in New York kept the one bought from Trainer Fire Company running.

It these early days, the emergency phone was located in Bob Porter’s house. When a fire was called in, a member of his family would run over and beat on the rim with a hammer to summon the firemen.

In 1946, the company bought its first new truck, a 500 GPM Buffalo pumper. Soon after delivery, it spent the night fighting a fire at a local refinery.

Later, it was decided to purchase another truck, but before this could happen a second bay door was needed. So, the fire house was fitted with a second overhead door and a concrete floor. A Mack city service truck was then purchased from the City of Chester for $75, cleaned up, and put into service.

The rolling miracle was a surplus World War II jeep given to the fire company by a friend. The members fixed it up with a pump and a water tank, and made it into a field unit. Clothes hanger wire, paper clips, and chewing gum held it together until 1965.

In 1956 an aerial ladder truck was purchased for about $25,000. The ladder rose 65 feet and was electrically operated.

The 1956 ladder truck was replaced in 1961 for $41,600 with a 75 foot Seagrave aerial ladder on an International chassis, it feature 204 feet of ground ladders, a 150 gallon booster talk, about 2000 feet of assorted size hose, and a 7801 GPM pump. It is also fully furnished with rescue, firefighting, and salvage equipment. At that time, the old ladder truck was converted to a 750 GPM pumper.

The new jeep was acquired in 1965, and again, the work of the members converted it into a most practical and useful field unit.

The old firehouse had put in a lot of active service itself; partly as a firehouse, meeting room, and social hall for many organizations, and as a part-time church for a while. It saw wedding receptions, various banquets, socials and parties, and even a couple of minor fires.

Serious talks for a new fire house really began in about 1956. At that time, a 400-foot deep right-of-way for a continuation of Hastings Avenue was given to the fire company by the Key Enterprise Co. Since this strip was only 60 feet wide, more land was needed. A problem occurred in acquiring the needed land, and the idea was temporarily dropped.

Again around 1964-65 the idea was resurrected. It gained more and more support and this time, the triangular piece for ground along the school side was bought for $1,000. A donation of a 10-foot strip of ground by the Arno Corp. gave the company a lot with a sizeable front, suitable for the building of the firehouse.

Endless hours of meetings, discussions, and visits to other fire houses were carried on by Frank Chominski and his building committee, until finally president Joe Forrest entertained a motion to build a new firehouse. Needless to say, the motion was carried unanimously, and more than 50 building committee meetings later, work on the new building was finally under way.

When the architect came up with a building the fire company could afford. The contract was signed to do the construction. This was in May of 1968, and the building was dedicated November 30, 1968.

The Move To Moore Road

On November 30, 1968 the building on Moore Road was dedicated. A dream of the membership was realized, a room for the apparatus and a separate room for a banquet hall.

In 1971 the fire company took delivery of a new Mack Pumper to replace the 1956 International Pumper. The new Mack Pumper had a 1250 GPM pump and a 500-gallon water tank.

Many changes took place in the fire service during the 1970’s. As a result the firefighters’ gear, which had previously hung from the apparatus, now hung on the engine room walls. Emphasis was focused on the firefighters’ safety and increased use of two-way radios and air packs. The members of the fire company, through increased fund raising activities, were able to finance the needed equipment and stay as up-to-date as possible.

In 1975 the 1965 jeep was showing signs of wear and tear from being used as a fire vehicle. The company voted to purchase a mini-pumper with the moneys from various fund raising activities. The company purchased a 1976 Dodge/Saulsbury Mini-pumper with a 250 GPM pump and a 200-gallon water tank. The unit was four-wheel drive and could go off road if necessary. After three years of service this vehicle was involved in a traffic accident while responding to an alarm. None of the fire fighters on board were seriously injured, but the truck could not be repaired. Through the use of insurance money, township assistance and by working with the original manufacturer of the truck, the unit was replaced with the identical 1978 model.

In 1979 an event took place that was made possible by many years of negotiation between fire company members and the Nether Providence Township Commissioners. Garden City Fire Co. along with South Media Fire Co., entered into a contractual agreement with Nether Providence Township. The fire companies and the township would work jointly to secure funds for capital equipment expenditures. This agreement assured the fire company a yearly operating budget, which would free up time spent on fund raising to be used for increased firefighter training.

During 1980 the 1961 International/Seagraves Ladder truck was replaced with a 100 foot Seagraves rear mount ladder truck. The unit also incorporated a 1250 GPM pump and a large compliment of ground ladders. This was one of the first trucks purchased by the township and the fire company under the new operating agreement.

In 1981 due to limited amount of space on the ladder truck where fire-fighters could safely ride, the Firemen’s Relief Association authorized the purchase of an additionally vehicle. A 1981 Chevrolet Suburban was purchased which the members modified to serve as a light and air supply air unit in addition to carrying personnel.

By 1983 the 1978 Dodge/Saulsbury mini-pumper was showing the signs of being the company’s workhorse. Buying a new chassis was discussed, but this failed to solve the problem of needing more compartment space. The company elected to replace the unit with a larger truck. A 1983 GMC/Saulsbury midi-pumper was purchased and the mini-pumper was sold to a fire company in New York. The midi-pumper had 750 GPM pump and a large compliment of compartments.

In 1986 the fire company received two new trucks, the first was a 1986 Seagraves pumper to replace the 1971 Mack pumper. The Seagraves pumper had a 1500 GPM pump and a 500-gallon water tank. The second unit was a 1986 Ford pick-up chassis and standard utility truck body. The tank and pump unit for the truck were purchased from a fire equipment supply company. Fire company members installed all lights, sirens, tank, pump and other equipment. This unit again gave the fire company the ability to go off road since it was a four-wheel drive vehicle.

In the late 80’s the fire company used money made from fund raising activities to update the building. This included constructing an office in a small portion of the building that had been used for storage. Also a wall was erected to divide the banquet hall to use part of the room for storage. The heating systems have also been updated along with the addition of a new emergency generator.

In 1990 the fire company decided to replace the 1983 Saulsbury Midi-pumper with a full size truck. The company purchased a 1990 Pierce Pumper with a 1250 GPM pump and a 780 Gallon water Tank. This unit could hold 2000 feet of four-inch water supply hose.

On a sad note James Munce past away while serving in his seventeenth year as Fire Chief of the Garden City Fire Co. on April 19, 1991.

In February 1992 the Fire Company dedicated a Trophy Case to the memory and honor of Jim Munce.

In 1993 the Fire Company replaced the 1981 Chevrolet Suburban with a 1993 Ford Crew Cab 4 x 4 pick-up truck.

In 1994 the Fire Company celebrated its FIFTITH YEAR of fire service to Nether Providence Community. Then in October the Fire Company also took delivery of a 1995 Pierce 105’ Ladder Truck. The Ladder is capable of carrying 10 fire fighters, has a 2000 GPM pump, 200 gallons of water and 178’ of ground ladders. This truck replaces the 1980 Seagraves Ladder.

In 1995 the Fire Company did some minor renovations to the engine room. They purchased 44 sets of gear lockers to provide each fire fighter with his / her own space to store their fire gear and some personnel items.

In July of 1997 the Fire Company hired Robert Linn Architect, to help design and plan an addition to the firehouse.

In April of 1998 the final floor plans of the new building are completed and the design faze of the project was complete.

In 1999 the Fire Company replaced the 1986 Seagraves pumper with a Pierce Lance Pumper. The pumper is capable of carrying 10 fire fighters, has a 2000 GPM pump, 750 gallons of water, 100 gallons of foam and can carry 2000’ of 5” hose.

In August of 2000 the construction of the building was completed. The original building was 8000 sq ft; with the addition the building is now 16,000 sq ft. The original building had three apparatus bays; with the addition the Fire Company now has five apparatus bays. Adjacent to the bays a Radio Room, Air-Bank Room for the Captains, and an Equipment Maintenance Room for the Lieutenants were all added. The first floor addition provided space for dedicated entranceway to the hall, two new ADA compliant restrooms, a T.V. room and game room for our membership and some storage space. The second floor area added offices for the President and his staff; the Chief’s Department and Board of Trustee’s. The second floor also provided an area for a conference and a training room capable of holding 40 students. At the same time the Hall was refurbished, replacing the ceiling, lighting and covering the block walls with dry wall. The entire heating and air-conditioning system was replaced along with every door in the building was up-graded. The building also has a natural gas generator in the event power is lose, all key areas of the fire house will have power.

In October of 2000 the Fire Company held a double ceremony, which consisted of Housing the, Pierce Lance Pumper, 65-2 and the dedication of the Building.

In February of 2003 the Fire Company purchased their first Thermal Imager from Bullard, which was placed on 65-5. Also purchased were 10 hi-band radios and Survivair RIT pack, all this was done with Grant money that was received from FEMA.

In March 2003 a Preservation Committee was formed to develop a way to preserve the history of the Fire Company. The committee had identified all the Charter Members who had started the Garden City Fire Company back in 1944 and those members who served for a period of seven years or more. They designed and built wall plaques complete with the Fireman’s prayer.

The old trolley tracks, the locomotive rim, and home bell-alarm system have all made history at Garden City. Many people and changes have come and gone, but throughout the Garden City Fire Company history, there is one thing that has not changed. It has witnessed the constant, unflinching dedication of the men and women that make up its membership.