History
 

On June 1, 1885, Clifton Heights was incorporated as a Borough.

Approximately eleven years later in June 1896, the Clifton Heights Fire Protective Association was chartered by the Courts, and almost two weeks later the Clifton Heights Hose, Hook and Ladder Company received its charter also from the Courts.

The Fire Protective Association (F.P.A.) set its quarters in an old building on Walnut Street just above Baltimore Avenue and remained at this location until their new quarters on Baltimore Avenue just west of Springfield Road was completed. They dedicated their new quarters in September 1908.

The Hose, Hook and Ladder Company (H.H. & L.) set its quarters also in an old building on East Washington Avenue between Diamond Street and South Penn Street. In the year of 1913, the Hose Hook purchased another building on the corner of Diamond Street and Baltimore Avenue. This building was formerly used as a drug store. With the efforts of its members, the Hose Hook renovated this building into their new home and quarters. For a period of time, the second floor of the station also doubled as a school building.

As for the fire fighting equipment of the Clifton Heights Companies, many older folks of the town remember the “Spider”, a hand drawn hose reel, and the “Tuscarora”, a hand drawn and hand operated pumper. And by the way, the “Tuscarora” still makes its home in the shadows of the new modern machines which made way for its retirement many, many years ago. We might add that “Old Tuskie” is still capable of pumping a good stream of water. In September 1984, “Old Tuskie” pumped itself into winning a second prize in the longest stream contest at the annual Antique Muster in Philadelphia. Of course it was also accomplished through the efforts of the hand pumpers of our Company. These various pieces of equipment could be seen by the people of the town being pulled to the location of fires by the members of the two fire Companies.

As the years moved on, the two Companies kept abreast with the times and secured motor driven apparatus. Some of the people of the town can remember the discussions, often very heated, as to the relative merits of the “Stutz”, the “Hale”, the “Ahrens Fox”, better knows as the “Tumor”, the “American LaFrance Chemical Wagon” and the “Mack”.

For many years rivalry prevailed between the F.P.A. and the H.H. & L. Companies. At times it waxed hot, but for the most part it was a healthy situation in so far as both Companies were on their toes to give the people of Clifton Heights the best possible fire protection.

As years passed and newer equipment became larger, a need to replace both aged fire stations became evident. Since finances were of the utmost importance, meetings began taking place with representatives of both fire Companies seeking solutions to the problems at hand.

On the second Thursday of December 1955, December 8th to be exact, persons standing, walking and driving on Baltimore Avenue about a few minutes before midnight, heard the sounds of the old fashioned fire bells along with the sounds of the newer fire sirens, and also saw two large groups of men, one from the F.P.A. and the other from the H. H. & L., walking towards Walnut Street. There were many hand shakes and cheers from both groups for many minutes before the Clifton Heights Fire Company came into existence. Both companies had agreed just before this street meting to disband and become the Clifton Heights Fire Company.

Since that December evening and early in the year of 1956, the Courts once again granted a charter in the name of Clifton Heights Fire Company. The old Fire Protective Association quarters was demolished to make way for our present modern building. The old quarters of the Hose, Hook and Ladder Company was sold to the former Clifton Heights School District. Later, this building was demolished to make way to the sight of the Clifton Heights High School which had been partly hidden from sight for many years.

The Clifton Heights Fire Company moved into its new home in the early part of September 1959. Later in the same month, the first fire company banquet was held in our new auditorium. This banquet will long live in the memories of our members as it was a dedication banquet for our new building.

At the time the fire company moved into our new home, we were proud to boast an equipment roster which included a 1937 Hale Pumper, a 1938 Ahrens Fox Pumper, a 1949 Mack Pumper, a 1955 Ahrens Fox Pumper and a fully equipped Cadillac Ambulance and of course, “Old Tuskie”.

At this time, our financial status was in very poor condition. Regardless, a small, slow but sure modernization program was begun to update our present equipment. Through many, many hours of efforts by our members, new paint jobs were secured for the apparatus that were showing signs of many years of use. Replacement of old hose, coats, boots and every day tools of our trade were slowly taking place to meet the needs of the change in time.

During the year of 1961, the need of an aerial ladder in our community was becoming more evident. A committee of Officers and Members was appointed by the President of the Company to investigate the possibilities of securing a new or used aerial ladder. After meeting with the special representatives of aerial ladder firms, the committee found that the cost of a new unit was prohibitive. A good used aerial ladder was located at this time and purchased by the Company for approximately $6000.00. When this truck was delivered to us in the spring of 1962, it received a new coat of paint and was completely updated by the members of the Company. On Memorial Day of 1962 our Chief proudly notified the fire alarm dispatcher that Clifton’s Fire aerial ladder was ready for service. This unit was a 1939 Seagrave 65 foot, semi-automatic aerial. It was originally purchased by the Upper Darby Township Fire Department for use by the Highland Park Fire Company of the Township. Later it was sold to the Haverford Township Fire Department for use in the Llanerch Fire Company of that Township and finally purchased by Clifton Heights. It is said that this aerial was the first of its kind in Delaware County outside the City of Chester. In the many years to come, this aerial ladder served our community well.

In the next few years to follow, we saw a great need to replace the 1937 Hale Pumper which was beginning to tire quickly. In the early part of 1966, a committee was once again appointed to draft specifications for a new pumper. Since that committee acted in the best interest of the Community and the Company, many hours were spent with representatives of various fire apparatus firms and drawing the specifications for the new pumper. In the early part of 1968 a contract was signed for purchase of the new 1250 gallon per minute pumper. This unit was purchased from the Hahn Fire Apparatus Company of Hamburg, Pennsylvania. The new pumper was delivered to us in April of 1969, fully equipped with the latest in modern fire fighting equipment and was placed into service in May of the same year.

At the same time, the Officers and Members of the Company set their sights on a complete modernization program until all the older and quickly tiring apparatus was replaced. A replacement program was established at that time to replace the apparatus before they reached the age of twenty years to twenty-five years.

In the mean time, the Fire Company proceeded to keep with the increasing changes of the times. Probably one of the biggest changes we made came in 1968 when we purchased our first two Air Pacs (Self Contained Breathing Apparatus). Today, we have twenty-two Air Pacs in service as part of our every day tools.

Early in the year of 1970, it became evident that the 1939 Seagrave aerial ladder was quickly tiring from the many years of service it had already seen. Again, a committee was appointed to draft specifications and to meet with representatives of firms for the purchase of a new aerial ladder. In the early part of 1971, nearly one year after that committee was appointed, a new 100 foot aerial ladder was purchased from the Imperial Fire Apparatus Company of New Jersey. Nine years to the day that our first aerial ladder was placed into service, the Chief once again notified the fire alarm dispatcher to place into service Clifton’s new “Ladder 95”.

During the early 1950’s, the Fire Protective Association saw the need for the Community to have an Ambulance. Through several fund raising methods, a used mid 1940’s LaSalle Ambulance was purchased from the Yeadon Fire Company. During the next several years, this ambulance was replaced with a 1955 Buick Ambulance, a real eye catcher, yellow with black fenders. Sometime around the merger of the two fire companies, a new Cadillac Ambulance was purchased, green and yellow. In the late 1960’s this unit was replaced with another Cadillac Ambulance. In the spring of 1975 we saw the arrival of our first modular type ambulance very similar to the present unit. The unit served well for many years. Another Emergency Care Unit was placed into service in 1982 and replaced in 1992 with our present unit. In late 1996 we took delivery of yet another replacement. Our Emergency Medical Service unit has been seeing all time highs in calls received for the last couple years. During the year of 1994 we responded to over 1000 Emergency Calls and in 1995 we answered 1100 calls.

During the year of 1975, we began experiencing major problems with the aging 1938 and 1955 Ahrens Fox pumpers. The need to purchase another replacement unit was once again evident. Again, through the efforts of our Officers and Members of the Company, specifications were drawn for a rather much less expensive piece of equipment known to the fire service as a “Tactical Unit” or “Mini Pumper”. Early in 1976, a contract was signed with the Emergency One Fire Apparatus Company of Ocala, Florida to supply this company with a “Tactical Unit”. In July of 1976 we placed our new G.M.C. Tactical Unit into service. This unit served us well through 1993. We are very proud and pleased of the jobs that our crews handled with this unit while it was in service. Upon its delivery in 1976, the 1938 Ahrens Fox Pumper was retired from active service.

During the year of 1977, we once again set out to draw specifications for a new pumper to replace the 1955 Ahrens Fox Pumper. A contract was once again signed with the Hahn Fire Apparatus Company of Hamburg for this unit. During the month of March 1979, we once again notified the fire alarm dispatcher to place Clifton’s new 1500 gallon per minute pumper into service identified as Engine 91.

Through the year of 1983, problems with the body and paint work on the 1971 Imperial aerial ladder had to be addressed. Knowing the approximate cost of a new aerial, prices were sought to completely remodel the present 1971 aerial. A contract was signed in September of 1983 with the Pierce Fire Apparatus Company of Appleton, Wisconsin to completely remodel the unit. In early February of 1984 the aerial ladder was returned to us completely remodeled at a cost of approximately one quarter of a new unit. We expected this remodel to extend the life of the apparatus another ten years.

Late in the year of 1983, the Clifton Heights Fire Company became the first company in Delaware County to place into service 5 inch hose, better known to the fire service as “large diameter hose”. Until that time, the largest hose in service with several other Delaware County companies was 4 inch. The large diameter hose has the capability of delivering 1500 gallons of water per minute. Today, there are several companies in Delaware County using 5 inch hose. This is a far cry from the hose of yesterday that had the capacity of delivering 250 gallons per minute.

Over the next few years we continued to upgrade our normal equipment to meet with the ever changing National Standards to keep our personnel properly protected.

To keep with our replacement program that we set out to do, specifications were drawn in the early part of 1987 to replace the 1969 Hahn Pumper. A contract was signed with Pierce Fire Apparatus of Wisconsin for a 1500 gallon per minute pumper. This new truck was delivered to us in the early part of 1988 and placed into service in the early spring. This is the first piece of apparatus with the full safety cab to insure our entire crew of that unit are inside and seated. Again, to meet with the National Safety Standards.

For the next five years our Officers and Members continued to receive training to meet the needs of the day to serve our Community. Ideas were now being taken to replace the 1971 Imperial aerial ladder. After several meetings and investigating past records, it was found that a unit should be purchased to replace not one piece of apparatus but two. Further it was found that a “Quint” would be most practical four our Community. Our personnel that were available during daytime hours became a big factor and also the rising cost of apparatus also became a factor.

In the early part of 1993, another contract was signed with the Pierce Fire Apparatus Company of Wisconsin, to supply us with one Quint apparatus. This apparatus is equipped with a 1500 gallon per minute pumper, a 75 foot aerial ladder, hose and a full complement of ladders and tools to meet our needs. This piece of apparatus was the second to be purchased with the full safety cab for our crews. This apparatus can accommodate eight fire fighters each being equipped with an Air Pac. The new “Quint 3” was delivered to us in late January 1994 and was place into service in late March 1994. The unit replaced the 1969 pumper and the 1976 mini pumper.

Since the merger of the two original fire Companies in 1956, the Officers and Members are quite proud of the accomplishments that we have been able to make over these short years.

In 1997, the Company placed into service a new Horton Ambulance to replace the older unit from 1991. This Horton is still in use today.

In 1999 the fire Company contacted Pierce again for a new engine to replace the 1979 Hahn, a.k.a. Engine 91, and in 2000 a new Pierce Saber was delivered to the Clifton Heights Fire Company and later placed into service.

The Fire Company then purchased a command vehicle. The old vehicle was a 1992 Jeep Cherokee, which we sold recently to Fitz hospital. The Cherokee was replaced by the present command vehicle, a 2002 Ford Explorer.

In 2006 the Fire Company Purchased a new ambulance to replace the old 97 Horoton, it is a 2005 Horton.

In 2006 there was also a purchase of a Ford F350 Pick-up which is in service now as Utility 3.

The 2006 year is very important to the Fire Company being that it is the 50th anniversary of the merger of the 2 fire companies the H.H.& L., and the F.P.A. that created the Clifton Heights Fire Company that we are so proud of today.

The Clifton Heights Fire Company has grown in many ways throughout its years. The ways the Company has grown is through membership, up to date equipment, and the most important being “PRIDE”. Without our Pride from members past and present we would not exist today. The Members of the Clifton Heights Fire Company are very proud of our history. Our goal is to carry on the strong dedication and pride in which we were taught by our past members for many years to come.