Springfield Township, Delaware County, PA

1980 – Present

History (1980 – 2000)

The official ground breaking for the seven bay station (five for the Fire Company – two for the Ambulance Corps) took place on July 31, 1980, and the Fire Company and Ambulance Corps moved into their new quarters in July of 1981. This came after several days of demolition of the old stone firehouse, which was closely watched by many members of the fire company.

During the demolition, the original granite “Springfield Fire Company” that was part of the old firehouse, was salvaged and made part of a permanent monument in front of the new fire station. The monument was made from bricks that were used in the new building, surrounding the original granite name, signifying the old and new. The new fire and ambulance complex was dedicated following a parade on Saturday October 20, 1984.

Major changes were made to several pieces of apparatus during the early 80’s. In 1980, the 1964 Pirsch Pumper returned to the factory in Kenosha, Wisconsin, to be re-powered with a Detroit Diesel engine as well as other structural changes and a complete re-paint. In 1981, the 1971 Pirsch Pumper also returned to the factory to have similar work done. In addition, an Allison automatic transmission was added to that pumper. In 1983, the 1968 Ford-Bruco rescue truck returned to the Bruco factory in Altoona, Pennsylvania, to have a new Ford cab and chassis added, which included a Detroit diesel engine and an Allison automatic transmission. Other major body work was done as well.

In 1984, the fire company took delivery of two Sutphen 1500 GPM pumpers, constructed by the Sutphen Corp. of Columbus, Ohio. These new pumpers replaced the “Pride of 49” Pirsch pumper and the 1961 Ford-Pirsch “Puddle Jumper”. The “Twins” were well received by the crew, and a large parade and celebration was planned for October 20th of that year. The parade also celebrated the official dedication of the new fire and ambulance complex, which was completed in 1981.

1985 saw another near tragedy during a fire response. The tactical unit was struck by a car at Sproul Road & Woodland Avenue on December 10, 1985, while responding to a trash fire on Beatty Road. The lone firefighter riding on the rear was knocked off the truck, but was attached to the rear by a safety strap. The strap saved his life and prevented major injuries. The yellow color did not help the other motorist see the responding apparatus, and the accident was viewed by the second responding apparatus which was only 100 yards behind the Tac.

In 1986, the fire company hosted the tri-centennial parade for the township (founded in 1686) on October 11th. The parade also served as a double housing for two new ambulances recently purchased by the Ambulance Corps.

The fire company had to replace the tactical unit that was totaled in 1985, but did not see the delivery of the new tactical unit until January, 1989. However, the new piece was painted the traditional maroon color and all personnel would be riding inside the four-man crew cab of the Ford truck. The apparatus was built by the American Eagle Company of Gainesville, Florida, at a cost of $98,000. Following the arrival of the new tactical unit, the fire company began a new response to motor vehicle accidents. Due to the large number of accident calls involving entrapment, and other hazardous situations, the fire company began an automatic response to all accident calls that the Ambulance Corps was dispatched to. This new policy was accompanied by an overnight crew of four men, who were paid $5.00 a night. This crew was a guaranteed quick response for the accident calls, and other miscellaneous calls.

1989 will always be remembered as the year that the fire company accepted our first female firefighter. Theresa McGonigle joined the company on July 10, 1989, and served as an active firefighter for three years.

1989 also saw many changes in the firehouse. All new protective gear, 60 sets, were purchased to keep up with the changing trend in protecting clothing. Globe PBI protective gear was chosen as the replacement. In addition, 64 new gear lockers were purchased and installed along the rear wall of the firehouse, to properly maintain the new gear. Continuing the emphasis on safety, 40 new MSA 30-minute light weight air packs were bought in 1990, to replace the aging air pack inventory.

A major change occurred in the firehouse in 1991. After requesting paid personnel since 1964, the township finally agreed to hire one paid driver. This came about due to the declining availability of personnel during the day, especially drivers. The company conducted interviews and the person selected was Alan Stapleton, a 20 year veteran of the Springfield Fire Company. The new position started on September 30, 1991, to cover the hours from 7:30 am to 4:30 pm, Monday to Friday. Although this position started out as a fire company employee, it changed to a township employee within the first year.

1991 also saw the replacement of the Ford-Bruco rescue truck. Due to the escalating cost of fire apparatus, and the fire company’s need to replace several pieces over the next few years, the Firemen’s Relief Association agreed to purchase the rescue truck. The new truck was purchased from the Pierce Company in Appleton, Wisconsin at the cost of $328,000. A new feature on this truck was a eight-man cab with a raised roof. This allowed all personnel to be inside and also served as a command center. Another traditional parade and housing was held on October 24, 1992, to celebrate the arrival of the new rescue.

1992 saw several changes in the equipment of the fire company. A continued interest in personal safety, regarding the exposures to infectious diseases, saw the beginning of the purchase of personal air masks for the crew. Also, following the new trend, and NFPA Standard 1500 to no longer carry personnel on the back of fire apparatus or open cab spaces, cab enclosures were added to the two 1984 Sutphen pumpers. Each was returned to the factory for a period of four months to have the work completed. Although the new enclosures were safer, the door openings were small, especially for “large men”.

The Springfield fire station was the location of a historical event in October of 1992. On October, 12th, the President of the United States, George Herbert Walker Bush, signed a federal bill in the apparatus room, with hundreds of fire service representatives from across the nation in attendance. The bill that was signed was the Benjamin Franklin Firefighters Bill of Rights. Chief John F. Gallagher welcomed the President and his wife Barbara to the fire station, surrounded by an entourage of secret service agents. Springfield was put on the map with this event, shown on all the nation’s television stations as well as in all major fire publications and newspapers. Following this event, the President appeared at a political rally at the municipal building on Powell Road. Unfortunately, President Bush lost his re-election bid at the polls on November 3, 1992.

In 1994, the fire company installed a state of the art diesel exhaust removal system in the firehouse. For many years there had been a concern about the effects of diesel smoke, and the Firemen’s Relief Association agreed to eliminate the hazard by installing the new Plymovent system, at a cost of $80,000. The new system included eleven exhaust connections (nine for the Fire Company – two for the Ambulance Corps) that removed the diesel fumes to the outside via three roof fan systems.

1994’s activity was a record year for the volunteers. The company responded to 567 calls, compared with the 40 in 1930, 186 in 1955, and 309 in 1968.

1995 saw the fire company changing to the new county 500 MHz UHF radio system, which replaced the low-band fire frequency that the county had been using since the early 60’s. A new Sutphen 1500 GPM pumper was delivered on April 8th, at a cost of $327,000 to the township. The arrival following twenty-four months of specification writing and follow up inspections by members of the apparatus committee. This truck replaced the 1971 Pirsch pumper, and also included a seven-man cab for the purpose of safety and getting everyone inside. The new pumper was housed during the company’s 75th Anniversary parade on June 10th, 1995.

1998 saw the fire company continue to improve the firefighting equipment used by the members. A new Thermal Imaging Camera was purchased from MSA, to be used during search and rescue operations to aid firefighters in locating trapped individuals and hidden fires in walls quicker. Construction also began on two new pieces of apparatus for the fire company, a 95′ Aerial Tower and a Light Rescue, by the Sutphen Corporation of Columbus, OH. A new contract was also signed to update all the breathing apparatus to the newest technology available. 42 MSA 30-minute, light weight MMR Black Rhino breathing apparatus will be delivered in the late spring of 1999.