History

The Washington Borough Council met on July 2, 1883. A resolution was passed which marked the official beginning of the Washington Fire Department that serves the community today. A disastrous fire had occurred on september18, 1883, and set the stage for the events that led to this action. Washington's largest industry, the organ factory on railroad avenue which was owned by Daniel F. Beatty , and a small industry , Hirem W. Alleger's Star Parlor Organ Company had burned to the ground. Washington had little fire apparatus and no water system. in response to a telegraph message the Centennial Fire Company of Phillipsburg Responded after loading its stream pumper on a Lackawanna railroad flatcar. It arrived too late to do anything but wet down the smoldering ruins. Bucket brigades had saved some near by buildings.

After the fire the community was in shock; a great many of its workers were unemployed, and its commerce was at a standstill. Alleger was seeking A new location in the Easton area in which to rebuild, but Beatty, who was mayor of Washington, announced that he would like to rebuild his factory at its old location if certain conditions were met. The conditions included construction of a water system for adequate fire protection, and ample fire fighting equipment. Mayor beatty had proposed these thing in the past but had not received the needed support to implement the projects. This time things were different. the community rallied behind him, and its citizens went to work in a manner that caused the major industry to be producing organs again in a little more than a year. A few days after the fire a meeting was held in Beatty Hall at the square. ( This building is now the Stover Professional Building.) Attending were borough officials, Beatty employees and many other interested residents. Offers were made to do anything possible to reestablish the industry quickly. factory employees offered to work on the building reconstruction without pay. One item on the agenda of the meeting was the creation of a company to construct and operate a water system. The cost was estimated to be $50,000, half of which was subscribed before the meeting was over. The Washington Water Company was organized. In a little more than a year water was flowing from a reservoir at Roaring Rock on Montana Mountain, through a pipeline to the borough, and thencethrough pipes along local streets. In June of 1882, with the water project under way, a committee was organized to form A new fire company. According to a history written in 1933 and printed in the program of a minstrel show put on by the Washington Fire Department, committee members were William Andrews, John W. Clawson, Johnston Cornish and Elmer Thompson.

 

The borough council purchased a used Keystone steam pumper from the City of Easton, Pennsylvania, for $1500, and gave the new firecompany $500 with which to make a down payment. The company was named Keystone Fire Company No.5, and that name was used in the minutes of many council meetings when referring to it. The "No.5" is a mystery, but it has been suggested that the used steamer may have had that name lettered on it, denoting the Easton company from which it came. It appears that the new fire company was named for its first steamer.The records of the fire company covering its first 30 years were lost in 1913 when the borough hall was gutted by fire, but borough council records were not saved. The loss makes the recording of early history difficult, but the following events are important milestones of the Washington Fire Department that occurred during the first 100 years:

 

 

1883:

The borough council turned over the Keystone steamer and all other fire fighting equipment to Keystone Fire Company No. 5, decreed that all future drafts for fire protection items be made out to the company, and granted the company exclusive use of the fireman's area on the 3rd floor of the borough building.

1884:

Babcock fire engine, formerly used by Excelsior Fire Company, sold by council to Mayor Daniel F. Beatty, owner ofBeatty organ factory, for $150

1894:

New LaFrance steam pumper placed in service, replaced the Keystone steamer.

1909:

Council purchased large fire bell and had it installed on roof of Borough Hall.

1913:

Borough Hall gutted by fire ; fire company records destroyed but borough records saved.

1915:

New auto truck placed in service, the first motorized fire vehicle in Washington, equipped with two chemical extinguishers.

1919:

Chief Delbert Major appionted assintant foreman Vernon C. Oaks to be first aid man to treat persons injured at fires.

1920:

New Seagrave truck, the departments first motorized pumper placed in service. Old auto truck sold to Steamer Company No.1 for $25. Fireman purchase new Model T Ford chassis and equipped it its auxiliary vehical.

1925:

Solid tires on Seagrave truck replaced with semi-pneumatic tires.

1926:

LaFrance steamer used for last time at St. Cloud Theater fire. Fireman donated Model T Ford fire truck to borough. Council adopted ordinance creating second fiore company , the companies to be named Engine Company No.1 and Hose Company No.2. A few weeks later council adopted amending ordinance changing names to steamer Company No.1 and Truck Company No.2.

1927:

New American LaFrance pumper placed in service, replacing LaFrance horse drawn steamer.

1931:

Solid front tires and semi-pneumatic rear tires on Seagrave replaced with pneumatic tires. Federal whistle alarm system installed with transmitter box and 30 code wheels for new dispatching service.

1933:

Used American LaFrance ladder truck placed into service. Washington Borough Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary organized. Washington Fire department celebrated its 50th anniversary.

1934:

Chief Frank Hasserman authorized Vernon C. Oaks to organize eight-man first aid unit.

1935:

Chief Walter Castner authorized increase in personnel of first aid unit from eight too twelve.

1936:

First aid unit becomes the Washington Fire Department first Aid and rescue Squad, to serve the public in all emergancies with Vernon C. Oaks as captain. Rescue equipment placed in cabinet, built by firemen, on the running board of ladder truck.

1937:

New Dodge emergency truck , with body built by the firemen, donated to the borough and placed in service. Name of rescue squad changed to Washington Emergency Squad. Borough Hall remodeled to provide bays for emergency truck and ambulance on West Church Street, with overhead doors on all bays.

1939:

Washington people saddened by tragic death of captain Vernon C. Oaks

1942:

New Seagrave pumper placed in service, replacing 1927 American LaFrance pumper. New truck delivered painted white to conform to change of Washington Fire Department trucks from red to white.

1944:

Borough voters approved purchase of Windsor Hotel property on northeast corner of Belvidere Avenue and East Church Street for future municipal building and firehouse.

1945:

Borough purchased Windsor Hotel property and converted it into temporary parking lot.

1948:

Firemen purchased lot on South Lincoln Avenue as site for proposed emergency squad building.

1951:

Used Ahrens Fox ladder truck places in service, replacing American LaFrance ladder truck. New Hahn pumper placed in to service, replacing 1920 Seagrave pumper. Warren County Fire Academy established.

1952:

New Ford Emergancy truck placed in service, replacing 1937 Dodge.

1954:

Council authorized fire department to furnish ambulance service. Firemen purchase 1951 Buick ambulance and started service immediately . Firemen order new Cadillac ambulance, and replace Buick upon delivery of Cadillac later in year.

1957:

New Ward La France quad pumper-ladder truck placed in service, replacing Ahrens-Fox ladder. New truck delivered painted red to conform with change of Washington Fire Department trucks from white to red.

1959:

New Mack pumper placed in service, replacing Hahn pumper. New Cadillac ambulance placed into service. replacing 1954 cadillac.

1963:

New Ford emergency truck placed in service, replacing 1952 Ford.

1966:

New Cadillac ambulance placed in servic, replacing 1959 Cadillac. Plectron dispatching system placed into service.

1967:

New Cadillac ambulance placed in service, replaced 1966 Cadillac damaged in accident.

1970:

Fire headquarters moved to new Municipal Building. Council created dispatching service with full time dispatchers to handle all police, fire and emergency calls. Firemen sold South Lincoln Avenue lot to Washington Parking authority for inclusion in permanent downtown parking system. Firemen invested $40,000 to finish interior and equip the new fireman's hall.

1971:

New International ambulance placed in service as second ambulance available for calls.

1972:

New Cadillac ambulance placed in service, replacing 1967 Cadillac. Warren County Fire Academy Moved to eight-acre tract at Broadway.

1973:

Emergency truck equipped with new Ford chassis, replacing1963 Ford Chassis. Council adopted ordinance increasing authorized members from 40 to 60

1975:

New Mack Aerialscope placed in service, the first diesel truck to be used by Washington Fire Department.

1976:

New Cadillac ambulance placed in service as a third ambulance available for calls

1977:

Firemen purchased the property of the Washington Clinic, next to the Municipal Building, as the site for an emergency squad building.

1978:

New Mack pumper, Washington's First diesel pumper, placed in service, replacing 1942 Seagrave pumper. Seagrave pumper pumper retained as antique vehicle. New Ford modular ambulance placed in service, replacing 1976 Cadillac ambulance. Council, at request of firemen, adopted ordinance creating the Washington Emergency Squad as an independent organzation.

1980:

Firemen Brian A. Heinrich died while fighting a fire, the first Washington firemen to be lost in performance of duty.

1981:

Brian A. Heinrich Memorial unveiled at memorable ceremony in front of firehouse. Firemen converted 1978 police car to fire chief's car and placed in service.

1982:

New Mack Diesel pumper ordered to replace 1957 Ward LaFrance pumper in 1983.

1983:

The second century of service to the people of Washington by the Washington Fire Department begins with gala celebration, including a mammouth parade and a variety of other events.