The first efforts to organize a fire company in Milford Township occurred during the late 1920’s or early 1930’s, but for whatever the reason never materialized. The money raised was used to install street lights in the village of Milford Square.
The next attempt to organize a fire company took place on July 23, 1945, when a meeting was held in the hall of the Milford Square Hotel. Robert S. Stauffer, acting as temporary chairman, called the meeting to order and asked for a vote to show who was in favor of organizing a fire company. After a unanimous decision in favor of the question, the following person’s were nominated for office:
President - Arthur Marsh
Vice-President - Ray Wenhold
Secretary - Charles Ruth
Treasury - Walter Cressman
Walter Cressman volunteered to see attorney Achey about securing a charter and the following persons signed as charter members:
Daniel F. Meas
Milton D. Mohr*
Floyd Hacker Aaron Musselman*
Robert S. Stauffer*
Allen O. Langner*
The next meeting was held the following week on July 30th. Work was progressing on the papers necessary for obtaining a charter and the following people were elected as trustees: Oliver Erdman, Ted Miller, Eugene Rosenberger, Lester Weiss, and Holmer Wentz.
A charter was granted to the Milford Township Volunteer Fire company No.1 in September, 1945.
Now it was time to start raising the funds necessary to operate such an organization. The first fund raising affair was a carnival and cake walk held on the hotel parking lot in Milford Square. Refreshments, music, and the cake walk realized a profit of $179.00, the first cash balance in the treasury.
Another needed item was the fire fighting equipment. On October 1, 1945, War World II surplus pump, hose, nozzles, and ladder were purchased through Bucks County Civil Defense at a cost of $349.26. Protective gear for the firemen was also required. Boots and costs were purchased, but the helmets were donated by the Pennsburg Fire Company.
At the end of the first year, the treasury had a balance of $1, 588.13.
In May of 1946 the fire company's first truck was purchased, a 1946 International K-6 John Bean High Pressure Fog Pumper for $6,583.00. Upon completion of the truck Walter Cressman, Clair Henry, James Horne, and Charles Ruth wend to the Bean plant in Lansing, Michigan, attended a four-day school to learn how to operate the truck and drive it home. The following men were assigned as drivers: Paul Bearn, Walter Cressman, Ray Laudenslager, Arthur Marsh, Daniel F. Meas, Arthur Mohr, and Clarence Rosenberger.
With the truck temporarily housed in a garage belonging to James Horne, the search was on for more suitable quarters. A garage owned by Walter Cressman, located to the rear of Aaron Musselman’s Barber Shop at Allentown Road and Milford Square Pike was remodeled and the truck housed on November 18, 1946. A siren to summon volunteers had been installed the previous September atop the Russel Weiss Store at the same intersection. Gasoline to run the truck was paid for through a collection taken at fire company meetings.
Many events occurred in 1947. Another carnival was held in the field across the street from the Milford Square Garage. The company attended its first parade in Quakertown and provided fire protection for the air balloon show at the Quakertown Airport.
The first official meeting of the Ladies Auxiliary was also held on August 5, 1947. Their first fund raising event was an oyster supper held a the Spinnerstown Grange on September 25, 1947. They currently manage the Dining Hall and book all the banquets and receptions. To date, they contributed over $220, 000.00 toward the purchase of apparatus, equipment, and buildings and also pay the monthly electric andgas bills for the main station.
Another fund raising project begun by the fire company at this time was the collection of newspapers and cardboard. It became such a large endeavor that the company was nicknamed "The scrap paper fire company."
The need for additional equipment, brought about the purchase of a 1950 Chevrolet one-ton panel truck for use as an emergency truck. It was housed in a garage belonging to Edward Angstadt.
A new fire station was needed so that the company’s trucks could be housed together. On June 16, 1951, the 3/4 acres on which the present station stands was purchased for $400.00 from Elmer Ohl. Mr. Albert Loecher, a local architect, designed a 42’ x 100’ building containing a combination dining hall, engine room, kitchen, and meeting room. Plans were approved and construction began in March of 1952. With volunteer help and Jacob Tirjan, Jr. acting as contractor, the building was completed in June of 1953 at the cost of $23,000.00. The first of our annual family style ham dinners were held in the new fire hall in April of the same year.
Also in 1952, land located on Spinnerstown Road in Spinnerstown was donated to the fire company with the stipulation that a pond be built to supply water for a fire emergency in the community.
Through the combined efforts of the fire company and the ladies auxiliary, a mortgage burning ceremony was held in 1955. Additional property next to the fire station was purchased at this tome for use as a parking lot.
In order to have all the fire company activities located in one place, the land to the rear of the fire house was acquired from Jacob Tirjan, Jr. who agreed to sell 2 acres and donate the remaining 2 acres.
A major transportation link for Upper Bucks county was also completed this year. The Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike was opened as far north as Slatington. The fire company was to provide fire and emergency services for milepost 16.1 to 27.2 on the new roadway. To supplement the water carrier on the 1946 International fire truck, a tank truck was purchased from Harwick Mfg. Of West Point. A R-190 International truck equipped with a 1,000 gallon tank and 250 gpm pump were delivered in 1957.
In the spring of 1960, a joint meeting between the firemen and ladies auxiliary was held to discuss the additional facilities. The project was approved and on May 23, 1960 a contract was signed to add a three bay engine room and enlarge the kitchen for a cost of $13, 402.00.
A new fund raising event was started in the fall of 1961. A family style turkey supper was held the second Saturday of November. The event is still held today, but the turkey has given way to beef.
The need for better communications prompted the purchase of two-way radios in 1963. A base station and three mobile units were purchased for $3,300.00. The interior of the engine room was remodeled to provide a radio room and lockers for the individual storage of firefighters bunker gear.
The year of 1966 brought many improvements to the fire when calling in an alarm. If your call went unanswered, you were to use the next number. Now there was one number with phones in the fire station radio room and three homes in Milford Square.
Since the company's first truck was now 20 years old, a replacement was needed. A 1966 Ford/Hahn 750 gpm pumper with a 1,000 gallon tank at a cost of 23,500.00 was delivered in the spring. The 1946 International was not retired and was still used to respond to fire calls.
With fire calls increasing and the need for all members to respond, an order was placed for 25 home-alert receivers and one encoder for $3, 597.00 in 1968. This system alerts firemen not within hearing distance of the siren.
The need for a four-wheel-drive off road fire truck to fight and increasing number of field and brush fires, saw the purchase of a 1969 International one-ton truck equipped with a 250 gpm pump and 250 gallon tank at a cost of $8,597.00 in 1968. The 1950 Chevrolet panel truck was sold to a private individual to make room for the new unit.
The 25th anniversary of the fire company was commemorated in 1970. A parade and afternoon of celebrating were held in July.
To better improve communication, the company joined the North Penn Fire Alarm Center in September of 1971. Organized by the North Penn Fire Chiefs Association of Bucks and Montgomery Counties, the alarm center was established at Miley Alarms, Inc. in Lansdale and manned 24 hours a day elimination the need for the 4 phones maintained by the company.
With the township growing, a second engine seemed a necessity. A 1972 Ford/Hahn 1,000 gpm pumper with a 1,000 gallon tank arrived in the spring, just before Hurricane Agnes struck. The truck when fully equipped cost $36, 000.00. The Milford Township area was spared the brunt of Hurricane Agnes’ fury with only flooded basements, roads, and overflowing creeks. Our neighbors to the north were not so lucky. The fire company spent seven days helping clean up in the Kingston area.
With two major pumpers in service, the 1946 International engine saw less and less action. After being approached by a member of a newly formed fire company, it was decided to sell the truck. In the summer of 1974, the truck, affectionately known as the "the K-6," was sold to the Endless Winds Fire Company of Shunk, Sullivan County, Pennsylvania for $1000.00.
By the summer of 1978, the 1957 International tanker was 21 years old. The membership felt a truck with a larger tank and pump was necessary to adequately answer the needs of the township. In December of 1978, a 1979 Autocar chassis was ordered from Morris Berman of Pottstown, with the body work to be done by Hamerly Custom Products of Shartlesville. In August, the new tanker arrived in Milford Square with a 1,000 gpm pump and 2,500 gallon tank at a cost of $88, 000.00. The old tanker was sold to the Tazewell County Fire Department in Virginia where it is still in service.
Pocket pagers, those beepers that doctors carry, were first purchased by the company in 1978. Now, as long as you were within signal range, you could be alerted of a fire call and respond.
Plans to upgrade and modernize the dining hall of the fire station were beginning to materialize when tragedy struck a few minutes before noon on Sunday, June 22, 1980. A single-engine experimental plane crashed into the fire station killing the planes two occupants destroying the 1969 International field truck, and damaging all but the engine room of the fire station. Four other people, our janitors wife, June Meas, and fire company engineers Larry Bearn, Mike Wachter, and Ron Warris, were also in the building but escaped injury. The three firefighters removed the company's other trucks and began fighting the fire till help arrived.
Improvements were definitely needed now and construction began in December of 1980, adding a storage and bar area to the dining room, modernizing the kitchen and adding a dishwasher and enlarging the company's meeting room. The $200,000.00 in construction costs were paid with insurance money, donations from the townships residents, and industry and fire company savings with the balance necessitating a $40, 000.00 loan from the Union National Bank of Souderton.
On the second Saturday of May, 1981, the dining room was officially reopened with the company's annual ham dinner. The mortgage on the building was paid in January of 1982 completely by contributions from the ladies auxiliary.
A major change in communications occurred in September of 1982 when a single phone number for fire and ambulance calls were placed into service for the Quakertown areas seven fire companies and two ambulance corps. Dispatching was now handled by the Bucks County Communications Center using a phantom box alarm system based on information supplied by the fire companies and ambulance corps.
On January 16,1983, a 1980 Chevrolet four-wheel-drive field truck was purchased. The new unit was equipped with a 350 gpm pump and 180 gallon tank at a cost of $23, 000.00 and replaced the truck destroyed in 1980.
During the fall of 1984, specifications were drawn up for a special service truck. The new unit would carry six firefighters, a 12 kw generator, light tower, salvage covers, hazmat containment supplies, spare air bottles and miscellaneous equipment. The chassis was to be a Ford E350 with a diesel engine and automatic transmission. Through the help of the Milford Township Supervisors and Community Development Fund Grants the $45,000.00 truck was purchased and delivered in December of 1985. The 1966 Ford/Hahn pumper was sold to Bennetts Fire Equipment and placed in service in Lumbertown, North Carolina.
Also, in 1985, our By-laws were amended to include a provision for Life Members. Any member, past or present, that had attained 15 active years was eligible.
In the spring of 1986, a truck committee was formed to replace the 1972 Ford/Han pumper, not because of age, but for safety reasons. A new truck would carry all personnel inside an enclosed cab.
Commercial development around the Route 663 and Commerce Boulevard area, including the LifeQuest Nursing Center and Milford Industrial Commons, brought about the need for a public water system. Hydrants began to appear in march of 1987 and spread west towards Milford Square soon after. Water supply was improved with the purchase of 3,000 feet of 5" hose and the necessary adapters during 1987.
The truck committee had finished their task and made a recommendation. The proposed engine was to be an enclosed cab model capable of carrying 6 firefighters with a diesel engine and automatic transmission. The pump capacity would be 1500 gallons per minute with top-mounted controls, supplied by a 40 gallon foam tank. A contract was awarded to Emergency-One Fire apparatus for $186, 000.00 with the delivery in November of 1988.
The new engine arrived a month early, October of 1988 and the 1972 Ford/Hahn was sold to Bennetts Fire Equipment and placed in service in Satolah Volunteer Fire Department near Clayton, Georgia.
Water supply was improved in 1989 with the addition of a dry hydrant at Mill and Allentown Roads in Milford Park. Two more dry hydrants would eventually be established in ponds at Kline’s Mill and Sleepy Hollow Roads and Steinsburg and Bauman Roads.
Needing some type of vehicle to haul personnel and equipment for non-emergencies and emergencies, a 1984 eleven passenger van was purchased and placed in service during June of 1990.
Problems with the pump supplying the fire station with water, necessitated our hooking into the public water system. Besides supplying the existing plumbing, new water lines were run so the booster tanks on the trucks could be filled inside the engine room out of theweather.
To enhance our fund raising revenues, bingo was started the first Thursday in September of 1991. Although starting out slow, it has become one of our most important fund raisers.
Also, in 1991, Bucks County was the first county in the Philadelphia Metropolitan Area to install an Enhanced 911 system.
At the January 1992 meeting, the company was informed that the 1946 International that had been sold in 1974 was for sale. With little discussion, it was unanimously agreed to purchase the truck. With help of Ray Heffentrager, and his son Eric, the "K-6" was brought home on a flatbed in February.
To improve communications, headsets were installed on Engine 57. The driver, officer and one firefighter could now hear radio transmissions with out outside interference.
Tanker 57 was refurbished during the spring of 1992. The existing body and tank were removed and a new 3,000 gallon elliptical stainless steel tank, 12" rear dump and additional side dumps installed, greatly increasing its capabilities.
The possibility of a substation west of the turnpike was again discussed. A committee was formed to investigate and acquire information.
The first Firefighter Olympics were held on the carnival grounds to the rear of the station. Eighteen fire companies participated in a variety of events with Haycock Fire Company winning first place overall.
The annual carnival was in its 46th year and in need of revamping. It was decided to procure rides and provide fire works, changing the date from the two weekends after July 4th, to the last week of August. The location was also changed to the Milford Township MunicipalBuilding on Krammes Road.
Call it intuitive thinking, automatic tire chains were installed on the engine, tanker and special service in May prior to the awful winter of 1993 and 1994.
A video camera was also purchased this year to provide record of our responses and activities.
At the September meeting, the substation committee gave its report. A building could be built on land at the intersection of Kumry Road and Route 663 and be equipped with the present field truck and a second engine. The building would cost approximately $75,000.00, the land would be leased for the annual cost of the real estate taxes and a used engine could be acquired for approximately $50,000.00. After some discussion, it was decided to proceed with the project.
To enhance the hall rentals and provide the bingo players with relief, it was decided to air condition the banquet hall and kitchen. The project began in January of 1994 and was completed by March.
After searching almost a year for a used engine for the substation, it was decided at the August meeting to purchase a new Emergency-One Sentry engine. Engine75 would be 1500 gpm pumper powered by a diesel engine and automatic transmission, with a 750 gallon booster tank, 4 pre-connected hose lines and a deluge gun. The air-conditioned cab would be enclosed with seating for 6 firefighters. Delivery was set for February of 1995. Half of the unit’s $189,000.00 price tag was to be a low interest loan from the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency.
Having obtained all the necessary permits, the substation plans were approved by the county and township in September of 1994. Ground was broken and construction began in October by Crossman Brothers.
To our good fortune, the winter of 1994 was not as severe as that of 1993 and construction was not hampered. The building would have been ready to house the new engine but it arrived early in January. With help from the members, the interior was finished to house the engine and field truck in February with only the bathrooms and lounge left to finish.
With the official start up of the substation just a week away, misfortune befell on the fire company. While enroute to a mutual aid response with Trumbauersville Fire Company, Engine 57 was involved in an accident. While descending down a steep hill, the unit lost all its braking power. The driver downshifted the transmission and tried to steer through a "T" intersection at the bottom of the hill but could not avoid striking a curb and hit an old stone school house that had been turned into a residence. No citizens or firefighters were injured but the house wall and truck were damaged. Engine 57 was returned to Emergency-One in Florida where it was determined that the cab would need to be replaced. It was repaired and returned to service in November of 1995. Engine 75 was put into service at the main station and a 1970 Mack CF600 1000 gpm pumper was loaned from Chalfont Fire Company and placed in service at the substation.
1995 was our 50th year of service in Milford Township and the surrounding area of Bucks, Montgomery, and Lehigh Counties. A lot of changes have taken place over that time. With the continued support and encouragement from our community, we plan to be here for future years to come.