History

The Kutztown Fire Company was organized on January 14, 1908, and was incorporated on April 1, 1918. Its service to the community and its achievements exemplify the countless hours the men and women have given voluntarily in self-less service to the community.

The history of fire fighting in Kutztown dates back almost one hundred years before 1908. Records reveal that in 1816, only one year after the borough was incorporated, fire ladders were provided. As early as 1820 steps were taken to secure the purchase of a fire engine, but it wasn't until 1830 that the first fire engine was purchased. Dr. Christian L. Schlem, George Bieber, and William Heindenreich served as a committee of the citizens that purchased the engine, which of course had to be housed since no engine house existed. Benjamin Bachman was contracted to build an engine house for the sum of $44.75. In 1836, the fire company then in existence complained that the engine was out of repair. In 1840 another engine was purchased, and in 1841 Dr. Bieber was appointed as a committee of one to produce a fire bell for the American Fire Company which was incorporated on April 22, 1844.

In 1854, there being no fire company in existence due to the engine being out of repair, the young men of the borough petitioned the Borough Council for permission to organize a company. The request was denied. The engine was repaired by Paul Hilbert and Henry Glasser, but not thoroughly it would seem, for in 1858 another $200 was spent for this purpose by D. B. Kutz and Company.

In 1860 the Borough Council decided to build a new engine house, but the civil war delayed the project until 1871. A two-story brick fire hall was erected at 439 West Main Street at a cost of $1,349. Fire Equipment was housed on the first floor and the borough offices were on the second floor. This served the purpose until 1915 when a new Town Hall was built on North Whiteoak Street.

Since the organization of the company in 1908, it had been the desire of the company to build its own fire hall for its needs. So on April 1, 1947, a 540-foot by 150-foot plot of land on Noble Street was purchased from Wilson B. and Mary Kutz for the sum of $7,170. After much discussion and consideration on the part of the trustees, plans were formulated and it was found necessary to raise approximately $210,000 in order to proceed. At the end of the fiscal year 1948, records show that $65,000 cash was available. With the assurance of a local bank to loan the necessary monies until a bond issue could be floated, final plans were completed by the building committee and the contract was awarded to Edward A. Reider & Sons.

Ground was broken for the new fire hall on May 13, 1949, and the firehouse opened for business on April 1, 1950. The cost of the new building was $225,000. During the 11 months of construction various organizations and members of the company and community made sizable contributions. The first floor of the hall contains an apparatus room and banquet hall with a stage, kitchen, and bar. On the second floor are a meeting room and a small apartment initially used by a dispatcher/janitor.  Today, the apartment is used by firefighters who stay overnight at the firehouse while staffing the apparatus for calls.  The basement contains a large social hall with 4 bowling alleys and a card room.

During the early years of the company, funds were raised by sprinkling the dirt streets of the borough, holding band fairs, renting the hall to outside organizations, and operating the social quarters. On October 22, 1931, the company purchased land adjacent to the First Dam just north of Kutztown to build a swimming pool. With some financial help from the borough, the pool was completed in August 1932. This was a source of income for the company until 1963 when the Borough built a new pool along the Saucony Creek.

In 1918 a manually controlled electric siren was placed on top of the Powerhouse on Railroad St by the train station.  This served as the first alarm system until June of 1924 when a contract was signed for the installation of a Gamewell Fire Alarm system with a horn located on top of Town Hall. This system was used until 1983 when it was replaced with a tone activated radio pager system similar to the one in use today.

On July 1, 1915, the company received a Brockway Chemical Hose combination motor apparatus for $3,000. This apparatus was in service for 10 years until the need for more modern equipment was realized. On November 30, 1924 a new American LaFrance 750 gallon triple combination motor apparatus was purchased. The company also had in its possession a hook and ladder which had once belonged to the Washington Fire Company of Reading.

In 1937 an American LaFrance 500 G.P.M. Pumper was purchased for a cost of $35,000.

In 1945 the company purchased an emergency truck with an auxiliary pump and a lighting plant. In 1947 a new 750 G.P.M. American LaFrance pumper was purchased. In 1968 a new American LaFrance 1000 G.P.M. pumper was purchased to replace the 1937 model and a 1600 gallon tanker was also purchased at the same time. Then in 1972 a 4000 gallon tractor-drawn tanker was added to the fleet.

At present the Kutztown Fire Department runs approximately 500 calls annually and covers about 40 square miles, which include residential and rural areas, a light industrial section, Kutztown University, and Interstate 78. The fire department Truck Crew has about 30 members which operate 6 pieces of equipment, including a 2017 Ford F-350 Brush Truck with 500 GPM pump and 250 gallon water tank; a 2017 E-One Cyclone II HM100' aerial truck with 2000 GPM pump and 500 gallon water tank; a 2004 Smeal/Spartan engine/tanker with 1500 GPM pump and 2500 gallon water tank; a 2010 Sutphen Monarch pumper with 1500 G.P.M. pump and 1000 gallon water tank; a 2015 Sutphen/SVI rescue truck with a full compliment of rescue tools/equipment, a 5000 watt light tower, and a 15KW PTO generator; and a 2016 Ford Police Interceptor Utility duty officer vehicle with command console, pressurized water extinguisher, and an AED.


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