July 29, 1901: Preliminary meeting held at the public school for the purpose of organizing a volunteer fire company to be known as the Liberty Fire Company #1 of West Reading. Admission fee of $1.00 entitled the gentlemen to become charter members.
August 5, 1901: Elections were held. Ed E. Hinnershitz was elected President.
August 12, 1901: First stated meeting held in Behringer building at Chestnut & Yarnell Streets with 45 members present. A vote was taken to change the name. Suggestions of names for the fire company were Goodwill of West Reading, Utility, Sylvania, West Reading, West Side, and Liberty. The name "West Reading Fire Company #1" received the most votes. Future meetings were held at the Himmelberger building at 2nd & Cherry Streets due to Behringer charging a fee of $6 per month.
September 16, 1901: The company purchased 600 feet of A1 fire hose at 68 cents a foot.
September 23, 1901: A former Reading Hose carriage was purchased by the company from George W. Miller at a "forfeit" of $25.
September 30, 1901: Two hand lanterns, a pickaxe and a plug were purchased. 70 feet of rope was donated by Nelson Leinbach.
October 7, 1901: The hose was received and was tested by Neversink Fire Company at a cost of 1/4 barrel of beer.
October 21, 1901: The hose carriage was placed in service.
December 2, 1901: The shop of Benjamin H. Seiders (pictured above), located (and still standing) at 343 Franklin Street, became the company's first headquarters at a fee of $2.50 per month.
December 9, 1901: Elections were held with 22 men being elected to positions from President to Janitor.
January 26, 1902: The company's charter was received.
April 28, 1902: The company decided to sell ice cream and soft drinks at the engine house.
October 1902: The company's Constitution and By-Laws were received and adopted.
July 13, 1903: A 1,050 lb. bell was purchased from the McChane Bell Company at a cost of $280.
July 27, 1903: Work began on a bell tower. The bell was raised on September 26, 1903 and on October 3, 1903 the bell was dedicated.
November 3, 1903: The fire alarm committee divided West Reading into three districts: 1, River Road to 3rd Street, two strikes of the bell; 2, 3rd to 6th Streets, three strikes; 3, 6th to Van Reed, four strikes; 4, Van Reed to Bernville Road, five strikes; 5, in Wyomissing, six strikes; 6, in Hain's coal yard and coaling station, seven strikes.
April 17, 1905: A combination wagon was purchased from Mount Penn for $400. The horses used to pull the wagon were owned by Urias Kline.
September 24, 1906: The company purchased from Walter L. Labe a vacant lot at 430 Franklin Street. The deed for the property was received by the company on March 30, 1907.
May 20, 1909: A Studebaker Sprinkler Wagon with a 450-gallon steel tank was purchased for $335, and a pair of horses to pull it were purchased for $450.
May 23, 1909: The company purchased two horses (named Bill and Dan, Dan is pictured above) at a cost of $500 which was paid by the borough.
January 10, 1910: H.U. Kline was elected driver and keeper of the engine house keys.
April 1910: A building committee was formed to discuss and commence planning for a new fire station to be erected on the Franklin Street property.
July 11, 1910: The company passed a motion not to sprinkle streets where residents did not pay the company ten cents or more.
September 12, 1910: A mortgage of $5,500 was obtained for the new building. A lumber donation was received from the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad Company.
October 10, 1910: A festival to raise money for the new building netted a profit of $33.95. It was decided that the second floor hall would extend over the entire first floor, with part of the hall being used for hay storage.
January 9, 1911: New Year's Day collection brought in $84.23.
March 16, 1911: The fire company moved into the new building.
March 25, 1911: The company's first meeting in the new building was held, at which point a salary of $9 per week was established for drivers.
August 1911: The members were ordered to keep the engine room doors closed until the drivers were ready because the horses ran out without the wagon at a recent call.
July 29, 1912: The company requested that the borough purchase a combination horse-drawn chemical wagon.
January 13, 1913: The used chemical wagon was placed in service.
Mid 1919: A second pair of horses (named Major and Coaley, pictured above) were purchased. (The building you see in the background is the same building our fire company currently occupies, at 430 Franklin Street.)
September 23, 1922: A new Ahrens-Fox pumper (pictured above), purchased by the borough at a cost of $10,000, was housed. This was the company's first motor-driven apparatus. (This restored apparatus is currently on display in the INA Museum in Philadelphia.)
1923: The Gamewell Fire Alarm system with 8 boxes was installed in the borough.
1924: A chemical apparatus was purchased from American LaFrance for $3,800.
May, 1927: Two paid drivers were placed on duty.
1941: The borough purchased a Mack Quadruple Apparatus, with 192 feet of ladders, at a cost of $10,000. (This restored apparatus is currently on display in the Sacramento Fire Department fire museum.)
(Pictured above is the fire station and our apparatus of about 1950.)
1949: The apparatus room and basement of the station were renovated. The wooden floor of the engine room was replaced with reinforced concrete. The borough purchased an air horn alarm system for the company (still in use) and six additional fire alarm boxes were installed in the borough.
1954: A Seagrave Triple Combination 750-gallon per minute pumper (pictured above) was purchased at an approximate cost of $28,000. This pumper was housed on June 4, 1955.
June 3, 1967: A 1966 Seagrave Quint with 75-foot aerial ladder (pictured above) was housed. This unit was equipped with a 750-gallon per minute pump and cost $50,000.
November 13, 1967: The mortgage on the building was paid in full.
November 20, 1967: West Reading's "new" ladder truck provided aerial support (pictured below) when the old Boscov's West store on Penn Avenue in Sinking Spring burned to the ground. (Thanks to members of Liberty Fire Co. of Sinkins Spring for preserving this photo!) Click on the photo for enlargement, then click "Back" to return to this page.
May 22, 1976: A 1975 Seagrave 1250-gallon per minute pumper (pictured above) was housed. This unit was purchased by the borough at a cost of $54,595. The fire company's 75th Anniversary was also celebrated on this date.
May 11, 1981: A 16-foot Chevrolet Step Van (pictured above) was placed into service as a Utility Truck. This piece was designed to carry extra tools and equipment to support the firefighting operations of the other apparatus.
May 1987: The company took delivery of a 1987 Seagrave Quint (pictured above) with a 100-foot aerial ladder and a 1500-gallon per minute pump. This apparatus was purchased by the borough at a cost of $337,700 and was housed on May 7, 1988. Photos from that housing parade can now be seen in our Photo Album.
February 28, 1998: The company placed into service a 1998 Freightliner/EVI Utility Truck/Command Post. This unit is equipped with a 25-kilowatt PTO generator, a system of four 6,000 lb. compressed air tanks for re-filling SCBA air cylinders, and a full complement of communication equipment and was purchased by the borough at a cost of $198,000.
March, 1998: The WRFD launches its first web site, hosted by Fire Chief Sherry Fabriziani's America Online free web space. The original URL was http://members.aol.com/wrfd. Eventually, fire company officers decided the web address was too complicated, so the fire company purchased its own domain (http://westreadingfire.com) which was later shortened to http://wrfire.com.
March 8, 1999: West Reading resident Colleen Pinkerton died from smoke inhalation due to an early-morning explosion and fire in the apartment building where she lived, at 211-213 South Third Avenue. She was the first fire-related fatality in the borough in over 25 years, and is believed to be only the second in the entire history of the fire company.
September, 1999: The company received permission from the Borough to request bids for a new engine to replace the 1975 Seagrave. Seagrave won the bid and work was begun on a 2000 Seagrave custom engine with 1500 GPM pump and 8-man enclosed cab.
January, 2001: The 2000 Seagrave pumper was placed into service. This unit features an 8-man fully enclosed cab, 1500 GPM pump, 500 gallon tank and onboard foam tank. This custom-designed unit measures only 31'1" in length. It was designed to fit into the tight space in our 1911 engine house which was vacated by our previous, smaller, 1975 Seagrave engine.
April 1, 2002: The groundbreaking ceremony for construction of our new station took place. The new building, located at the corner of Parkview Road and Playground Drive, is owned by the Borough and is designed to serve the fire protection and emergency needs of the Borough for, hopefully, the next 100 years. The building may also be used to serve other important functions for the Borough as needed. Facilities in the new building include offices for our company and fire line officers, a communications center, meeting/training class room, bunk rooms for male and female firefighters, a fitness training room, and a kitchen/lounge area. The building will also have a larger, off-street parking lot to accommodate the needs of our firefighters attending training or fire calls, as well as others who will be using the building, to minimize the impact on the neighborhood.
June, 2003: The new fire station is almost complete. While members of the fire company are packing things to be moved, one of our Borough Public Works crew asks if we will also be moving the hand-drawn hose cart out of the Borough Garage. No one in the fire company other than members of our Borough street crew even knew it was there! Research has begun to find out when the cart was built, by whom, and when it was purchased by the company since no record of it appears in any of the written history documents we've uncovered so far. When we move into the new station, the antique hand-drawn hose cart will move in with us and be restored by our volunteers.
November, 2003: The WRFD finally moved into its new location! One month later, we held the first of our annual Kiddie's Christmas Parties to be held at our new station. It was a huge success! We received many compliments from the community about our new digs, not to mention the extra space allowed more people to come in out of the weather all at once!
January, 2009: The company appoints a committee to start to develop the specifications for a new aerial apparatus to replace the current 1987 Seagrave qunit.