Minersville Fire Department

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Company History

 The Mountaineer Hose Company organized in 1861 with the first meeting place being Minersville Borough Hall. Sometime around 1864 a two wheel cab was purchased and the boys were in business. The Mountaineers made their first move in 1872 when members asked Borough Council for permission to move their carriage from Borough Hall to their new quarters on Front Street. Permission was granted and after they had the carriage under control, they followed the move with a request for rental of storage for the same. Thus beginning and obligation that Minersville Borough Council has fulfilled throughout the years: paying the Mountaineers rent for storage of equipment.

 The Mountaineers established a record run to Pottsville in exactly 20 minutes in 1873. The record was set with the hose carriage and a group of 20 sturdy men at the helm. One must consider, this was never accomplished before on the old road that went through Marlin into Yorkville. The road was rough, winding and narrow and the carriage had to be pulled all the way. This was quite a feat, considering that the trip still took 20 minutes in 1976.

 The Mountaineers moved again around 1877 when the company members helped build the Mountaineers Hall, the former Center Theater on the corner of Sunbury and Third Streets.

 October 14, 1887 was a monumental day in the company’s history. An Amoskeag steam engine #199 was purchased from the Good Intent Fire Company of Pottsville for $1,200. The steamer was immediately put into service and made its first appearance in town when Price’s Cigar Factory on Coal and Water Streets caught fire. The steamer did its job and the fire was extinguished. During the period of 1887 and 1913 when the old Steamer was in its prime, it was often a big event when all the Minersville fire companies gathered their equipment together and held trials at Furnace Grove (now the Sunny Rod and Gun Club). The Mountaineers, and their Steamer, usually carried all of the honors. The steamer is the company’s most historic and prized possession and marks its 120th year in the company in 2007.

 The company’s next and final move came on July 28, 1904 when the company bought its current home on the corner of Third and South Streets from Charles R. Kear for $5,500. The Steamer moved into its new quarters on the south side of the building and the Mountaineers moved in to stay.

 In 1913, the company purchased its first piece of mechanized equipment. It was a Newstad Type Truck and, although it doesn’t compare to present day equipment, it nevertheless did the job required of it. The old Steamer was retired, but kept by the company as a piece of history and used for parades and display purposes. The next change came in 1921 when a Triple Combination White truck was bought and put into service. It was later sold to the Mount Pleasant Fire Company in Buck Run. In 1949, the company purchased an American Lafrance 1000 GPM pumper for $14,000; 21 years later, it was sold in 1970 to the Locus Gap Fire Company for $5,000.

 After the sale of the ’49 American Lafrance, the Mountaineer’s purchased a brand new 1970 American La France 1000 GPM pumper. This unit cost the company $33,600. The pumper was delivered to the company on June 19, 1970 and paid for in full within 30 days of delivery.

 As the company continued to grow, so did the need for a new fire house. The plans for a new building were started by a trustees report on March 20, 1973. Demolition of the old building started on April 21, 1975. Construction of the new building began on May 5, 1975 and completed on November 15, 1975. The building cost a total of $100,000. During building construction, the Mountaineer Hose Company Ladies Auxiliary was formed. It was a first in the history of the company.

 The Mountaineers Iron Cannon, nicknamed “Old Uncle Tom” in the olden days, was cast at the foundry that was located at the former Renseool Factory. This iron factory was a major industry in town at the time employing many men. “Old Uncle Tom” stands now, standing proudly at the corner of this Mountaineer’s fine new home. The cannon was fired quite extensively during our Nation’s 200th Bicentennial Celebration in 1976. 

 In March 1991, the company decided to refurbish its 1970 American Lafrance 1000 GPM pumper. This undertaking involved a new automatic transmission, a new century series cab, a complete stainless steel body, a new braking system, a water tank and additional pump piping. The much needed update cost an estimated $98,000 with American LaFrance doing the work. The work was completed in July 1991.

 As the years rolled on, not much changed at the Mountaineers. In 1997, company members realized the roof on the fire house was failing and in desperate need of repair. In order to save money, the members decided to tackle the job themselves. It took a couple of long weekends, but in the end, saved over $12,000. Building updates continued in 2003 and 2004, including a complete kitchen remodeling job and the replacement of sidewalks around the building.

 The most recent change came in 2004 when the current membership decided it was time for a new engine. An engine committee was formed and bids were secured. The company awarded the contract to Kovatch Mobile Equipment to build the new engine.

 The new engine was delivered to the Mountaineer Hose Company in June 2005, almost 35 years to the date later than when the company purchased its first new apparatus. This state-of-the-art engine has a 2,000 GPM pump and a 1,000 gallon water tank. There is seating for 8 firefighters, a hydraulic generator, and an on-board foam system. The engine is also equipped with a pre-piped deck gun, multiple hand line discharges, and more than double the compartment space than on the old engine. The price tag on the new engine was over $300,000. It was quite a price, but all the members agreed, it was worth it.

 The Mountaineers soon realized there was no need for the 1970 engine and being limited by space in the engine room, the members decided to sell the 1970 engine affectionately nicknamed “the old girl”. It was sold to a private collector who displays it in a firefighting museum in Connecticut. More than a few tears were shed as “the old girl” made the trip to Connecticut in a little over 4 hours, showing it still had the capabilities of its earlier years.

 The Mountaineers officially housed its new engine, appropriately nicknamed “the new girl”, on May 27, 2006. With a parade through the borough and the smashing of a vintage bottle of champagne in its honor, the Mountaineer Hose Company welcomed her in style. The members, even with this new engine, realize that there is still a tremendous amount of work to be done to honor the legacy of the oldest fire company in Minersville, and strive to be the best. 

Just as the old fight song goes, “Good Ole Mounties, Our Hometown Pioneers, First at Every Curfew Call, You’ll See the Mountaineers….

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