Flourtown Fire Company, established in 1910, is a volunteer fire company provides emergency fire and rescue services to the citizens of Springfield Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. It currently responses with Engine 6, Ladder 6, Squad 6 (light rescue), and Utility 6 (fire police).
In the Beginning … On September 1, 1910, a group of community-minded individuals met in the Odd Fellows’ Hall (now called the Lodge located on Bethlehem Pike) for the express purpose of organizing a Volunteer Fire Company. This group recognized an existing need in Flourtown, for in, 1909, a fire on West Mill Road destroyed Harry L. Nash’s barn, together with a barn on an adjacent Property. A general alarm was sounded, with Ambler, Chestnut Hill, Jenkintown and other companies responding; Jenkintown making the run here in eleven minutes!
Walter Stowman was a leader in the movement and was elected temporary President, with William C. Thompson, Secretary, and Albert Jones, Treasurer. A committee was appointed to obtain prices on various fire fighting equipment. Edward Cressman also offered the use of a building on his property in Flourtown to the newly-formed company. Stevenson Crothers, President of The Board of Commissioners of Springfield Township, offered the use of the township building for meetings. Meetings were arranged to be held alternately in the township building and Odd Fellows’ Hall.
The next meeting was held on September 15, 1910, at the township building, when a permanent organization was effected. The officers of the temporary organization were elected. Mr. Robert J. McCloskey was elected the first Fire Chief. John Faber Miller, Esquire, obtained the Charter and Certificates of Incorporation of the Flourtown Fire Company which were filed on October, 12, 1910. Included among the Charter Members were Walter J. Stowman, Fred L. Harner, Albert L. Jones, William C. Thompson, Robert J. McCloskey, Russell Y. Pullinger, William T. Griffith, John T. Sheehan, S. Roulen Stowman, and Levi H. Lesseig.
At the November 3, 1910 meeting, Chief McCloskey reported that he had purchased two hand-drawn carts, one for $235.00, and the other for $90.00, together with of hose at $0.80 a foot. The ladies of the community held a fair at the Old White City Park, Chestnut Hill, (now Erdenheim) and realized $900.00, which was given to the men for purchase of hose carts and hose. One cart was to be kept at the Cressman property, Flourtown, and the other at the Wheel Pump (now Erdenheim) because the company was unable to secure a permanent location. Because of the difference on construction of the two reel carts, they were alternated every three months between the two stations.
January 1919, saw the company purchase the Edwin Cressman property on Bethlehem Pike for $7,500.00, $2700.00 of which the company had or received by subscriptions. The children of Flourtown Grade School pledged $22.50. Among those who pledged were Emma T. Comly, a teacher who was (present member) Albert and Clement’s aunt; Ada Kimble (present member - Bob Wentz’s mother); and Agnes Kimble, who later became Mrs. Ephriam P. Kelley, wife of one of Flourtown’s early Fire Chiefs.
The property consisted of about nine acres with buildings, one of which was first used as the firehouse. The company assumed a $4,800 mortgage for its purchase. It was satisfied in 1923. August 1923, saw the company order a 500-gallon pumper at the cost of $8,500. It was delivered the following February.
Joseph Rex was elected President in 1924 and held that office until 1947. In 1925, a 6-cycle locomobile was acquired through a gift from Mrs. Richard Cadwalader. This touring car was converted into a chemical truck at a cost of $2,600.00.
In 1920, the fire company’s first carnival was held on a lot near Wissahickon Avenue, and later years at the Carson College Playground. Walter C. Smith, Sr., was appointed Chairman of the Carnival Committee in 1926 and laid the foundation for the famous “Flourtown Fair”, the largest fire fighter’s fair in Pennsylvania.
Mr. Smith died in 1932, but his enterprising efforts remained and were ably implemented by William J. Goss, who headed the Fair Committee until the final carnival was held in 1951.
In October 1965, ground breaking ceremonies for a new firehouse were held. The building was dedicated on September 9, 1967, in conjunction with the housing of a American LaFrance mid-mount ladder truck costing $65,000.00. Construction costs of the 1526 Bethlehem Pike firehouse amounted to $165,000.00.
On February 20, 1968, the fire company acquired a new 1000 GPM American LaFrance pumper with a 750-gallon tank. This was called 603. A 1250 GPM American LaFrance called 602 with a 1000-gallon tank was housed on September 22, 1973. Then in September 1978 housing ceremonies took place for a new American LaFrance , rear-mounted ladder called 601.
In 1993, 603 was replaced with another Pierce pumper.
In 1998, a housing was held for a new Pierce Rear Mount ladder truck with an 8-person cab and a full complement of rope, confined space and water rescue equipment, various ladders, generators, fans, forcible entry tools, and a flexible hose line which runs up the ladder to create an aerial water pipeline. Also the completely restored 1936 “Little Hahn” was officially “re-housed” within the Flourtown Fire Company.
Area flooding and more frequent water rescues precipitated the Company taking a State-sponsored Water rescue course in 2002. With most of its active firefighters trained, the company acquired all the needed equipment to assist the community and commuters caught in rapidly rising and moving waters.
Also in 2002, the fire company moved ahead with plans to acquire a new tenant in its old fire house 1528 Bethlehem Pike. The renovations take several years, but a new exterior and a redesigned second floor training room and computer system are just some of the benefits of the work and new tenant.
Also in 2001 Flourtown Fire Company, Station 600 officially switched over to using plain-speak, the company becomes Station 6 and the apparatus become Engine 6, Ladder 6, Squad 6, and Utility 6.
In 2003, Flourtown Fire Company also began using Squad 6 to respond as a Firefighter Assist and Search Team (FAST), also known as a Rapid Intervention Team (RIT). A FAST is a special team that comprises two or more firefighters dedicated solely to search and rescue of other firefighters in distress. FAST have no other purpose during an incident.