Manville Fire Co # 1


About  Manville Fire Co. 1


           One day in June, 1915, at Greasheimer's Hotel, ten men decided to form the nucleus of the Manville Fire Department. On June 25, 1915 the Manville Fire Department was incorporated with the following charter members: William Greasheimer, Peter .J. Whalen, Frank Ryan, Gustav Boesel, Samuel L. Gottlieb, Thomas Olsen, Albert Brong, Joseph A. Shaw, George F. Cassidy, and Fred Alling. At this time Frank Ryan was elected President and Edward Shanahan was elected as the first fire Chief.

          The land used to build the first firehouse was leased from the Federal Creosoting Company for $1.00 a year on October 23, 1915. Actual construction began shortly after and the building was completely built in 1916. The newly organized fire department was well equipped. It had men, a headquarters, several hundred feet of garden hose and a few water buckets to begin a long history of firefighting service to the community. The membership at this time granted permission to the Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church to use it headquarters for service.

        On November 20, 1920 a contract was signed with the Buffalo Chemical Fire Extinguishing Company for a chemical car equipment was cost $2,650.00. In this year the fire department elected its second fire chief, Peter J. Whalen; who held this office until 1935. On May 20, 1921, a committee was appointed to approach the Johns Manville Corporation to arrange some type of fire alarm system.  

       Andrew Hambar became the first Foreman of the Department On December 29, 1922. January 7, 1923, a 1907 Model American La Havre pumper with hose carts and approximately 500 feet of 1 1/2" hose was purchased for $750.00. By July 16, 1924, the first repairs were necessary on the department's equipment. During one of the committee meetings, they appointed personnel to take care of necessary arrangements for the purchase of the lot for the present home of the No. 1 firehouse. The Fire Department, in its effort to try to raise funds for equipment, held its first dance on February 7, 1925, and made a net profit of $4.46.  

      Father Francis Kasprowicz was made an honorary member at the March 7, 1926 meeting and was elected the first priest to be Chaplain of the department.  In 1928 the department applied for membership into the Somerset County Fireman's Association.  

Manville Became a borough in 1929, and on October 8th of that year the municipality accepted control of the Fire Department. In 1931, the antiquated equipment was replaced with a modern 500 gallon American La France pumper.  On May 19,1933, the Manville Fire Department was reorganized as the Manville Volunteer fire Company No. 1. 

     The year 1950 proved to be an important year for Company No. 1, for in October of this year, they moved to their new Headquarters located on South Third Avenue and took delivery of an American La France pumper. The 1951 American La France pumper was still in service in 1963 when Fire Chief Harry Hurilla requested, at the Board of Engineers meeting, that the Mayor and Council consider purchasing an aerial truck. Not much happened regarding the request until December of 1965, when the elected Officials of the Borough of Manville had the opportunity to see Somerville's ladder truck in action in Manville at a store fire on Main Street directly opposite Borough Hall. Five days later, on December 15, 1965, Councilman Rudy Nowak made a proposal to purchase a new pamper for Company No. 2 and a new aerial truck for Company No.1. An ordinance was passed 14 months later, with aid of Fire Commissioner Andy Blazovsky, for $100,000.00 for purchase of these two new trucks. Construction of additional bay on the firehouse started immediately in order to have a home for the new aerial truck. After five long years, the 70 ft., 1968 American La France Aero Chief was delivered in June of 1968.  

      As with everything else in life, there is always a price one must pay. The price paid for the honor of having the first elevated truck in Somerset county was the Fire Company No. 1 would not receive a replacement pumper in the next cycle of trucks replacement. Instead they received hand-me-downs from other companies until 1979, at which time they received their newest truck, a Continental pumper.  After 20 years of dedicated service to the town of Manville, the American La France truck had a complete overhaul and paint job for 25% of what it would cost to replace this workhorse.  

     As with any volunteer organization, Fire Company No. 1 used many different means to raise money to maintain the firehouse in which the borough fire equipment resides. The biggest fundraiser was Friday night bingo, which was in operation from 1998-2002. The Somerset County Senior Citizen Nutrition Center of Manville is based at the Firehouse, and defrays some of the cost of heating and maintenance. The monies raised from these and other fundraisers have allowed us to put a face lift on the firehouse as well as a new roof.  In September of 1987, the Ladies Auxiliary had a memorial plaque installed on the firehouse to honor the deceased members.  

   In June 1997 the members of Fire Company No. 1 received their newest piece of fire fighting apparatus; an 85' Ladder Tower built by LTI. The newest piece of equipment was purchased due to the amount of maintenance and money needed to keep the 1968 American La France Aero Chief in operation condition. Along with an 85' ladder, the truck also has a cab big enough to transport 10 firefighters to emergency calls. The newest truck is equipped with a 2000 GPM pump and carries 1000' of 5" and 700' of 3" hose and all the necessary truck company tools.  

   The members of Company No. 1 have assisted the other fire companies in town during four major flood incidents. Two floods hit the town in 1996, one in January and the other in October. Hurricane Floyd hit in 1999 and destroyed many businesses and homes in town including our own firehouse, which had 4' of water in the hall, kitchen, and apparatus bays. It took the members about two months to clean up, fix the hall, kitchen and apparatus bay. In April 2007 Manville has hit with heavy rain, and flood most of the town and our own firehouse again.  

    In 2001 the members of the company renovated the upstairs meeting room and in 2002 renovated the hall, which had not been renovated since the building was first built. In 2007 the front of our firehouse got a face-lift, with new brick face installed.  


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