GREENOCK VOLUNTEER FIRE COMPANY

 

                          

THE HISTORY

 

PRIOR TO 1949, THE PEACE LUTHERAN CHURCH AND THE PUBLIC SCHOOL BELL

WERE USED TO SUMMON HELP WHEN A FIRE BROKE OUT. RESIDENTS, BOTH WOMEN

AND MEN WOULD GRAB LADDERS AND BUCKETS AND RUN TO THE FIRE, WHERE

WATER WAS DRAWN FROM CISTERNS OR PUMPED FROM WELLS AND BUCKETS

WERE FILLED AND PASSED HAND TO HAND TO THE MEN WHO WERE UP ON THE

LADDERS, AND DUMPED THE WATER ON THE FIRE. IN THOSE DAYS, MOST OF THE

FIRES WERE CARRIED BY SPARKS ON THE ROOF FROM OPEN GRATE FIRES.

SOMETIMES THEY WERE SUCCESSFUL AND SOMETIMES NOT.

 

IN THE 1930’S THERE WAS AN ORGANIZATION FORMED IN TOWN CALLED THE

GREENOCK IMPROVEMENT LEAGUE, AND THEY RAISED FUNDS TO PURCHASE A FIRE

SIREN. THIS WAS BEFORE THE PRESENT SCHOOL DISTRICT WAS FORMED AND THE

SCHOOLS WERE IN THE ELIZABETH TOWNSHIP SCHOOL DISTRICT WHERE EACH

TOWN HAD ITS OWN SCHOOL DIRECTOR. AT THAT TIME PHILIP H. SANDMEYER WAS

THE DIRECTOR FROM GREENOCK. HE WAS ALSO A MEMBER OF THE IMPROVEMENT

LEAGUE AND HE GAVE PERMISSION FOR THE SIREN TO BE ERECTED ON TOP OF THE

OLD GREENOCK SCHOOL BUILDING. A SWITCH WAS INSTALLED ON THE FRONT OF

THE BUILDING. HENRY F. ROJOHN LIVED ACROSS FROM THE SCHOOL WHERE

WHITE’S LIVE TODAY. HE TOO WAS A MEMBER OF THE LEAGUE AND ALSO HAD ONE

OF THE FEW TELEPHONES IN TOWN. WHEN A CALL CAME IN, EITHER BY TELEPHONE

OR IN PERSON, HE WOULD HURRY, AS FAST AS HE COULD GO, OVER TO THE

SCHOOL AND RANG THE SIREN. AREAS OF THE TOWN WERE DIVIDED BY NUMBERS

FROM 1 TO 7, AND HE WAS SUPPOSED TO BLOW THE SIREN AS MANY TIMES AS THE

NUMBER OF THE AREA OF THE TOWN WHERE THE FIRE WAS. WITH PEOPLE

RUNNING AND ASKING WHERE THE FIRE WAS, SOMETIMES HE LOST COUNT AND

THE SIREN WOULD BLOW MANY MORE TIMES THAN IT WAS SUPPOSED TO. FIRE

EQUIPMENT FROM BOSTON, BUENA VISTA, OR INDUSTRY WOULD BE CALLED.

 

THERE WAS ALWAYS TALK ABOUT FORMING A FIRE COMPANY, BUT NOTHING WAS

DONE UNTIL OCTOBER OF 1949. WITH SOME URGING BY A COUPLE OF LOCAL

RESIDENTS, HANDBILLS WERE PRINTED UP AND DELIVERED AROUND THE TOWN BY

WALTER BENTON, HIS SONS WALLACE & DARWIN AND MYSELF. THE MEETING WAS

HELD IN THE OLD LUTHERAN CHURCH ON LUTHERAN LANE LATER USED AS THE G/B

HIVE. A LARGE NUMBER OF MEN SHOWED UP FOR THE MEETING AND GREENOCK’S

FIRST FIRECOMPANY WAS FORMED. OFFICERS WERE ELECTED AND INCLUDED

WILLARD A.  SCHAEFER, PRESIDENT; WALTER H. BENTON AS VICE-PRESIDENT;

LOUIS SERIANA AS SECRETARY; LLOYD EMANUEL AS TREASURER; JACK LITTLE AS

FIRE CHIEF; CHARLES CAMPBELL AS ASSISTANT CHIEF, AND DARIO PIGOZZI JR. AS

LIEUTENANT.

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IN A FEW MONTHS A FORD F-7 PUMPER WAS PURCHASED FROM HOWE BROTHERS

FOR $12,000.00. IT ARRIVED IN GREENOCK IN APRIL OF 1950 AND THE FIRE COMPANY

HAD ABOUT $200.00 IN THEIR BANK ACCOUNT.

THERE WAS NO FIRE HALL OR GARAGE AND AS JULIUS "MACK" MCKEE, A MEMBER

OF THE FIRE COMPANY HAD A DUMP TRUCK AND A GARAGE TO KEEP IT IN,

OFFERED THE USE OF HIS GARAGE TO KEEP THE TRUCK IN. HIS OFFER WAS

ACCEPTED AND THE TRUCK WAS HOUSED THERE. THE DOORS WERE THE SWINGING

TYPE ON HINGES AND THE NOSE OF THE TRUCK STUCK OUT OF THE GARAGE, WITH

THE DOORS ONLY PARTLY CLOSING. LATER THE TRUCK WAS MOVED TO FRANK

BOYD’S GARAGE UP ON THE HILL WHERE IT WAS DAMAGED WHEN ONE OF FRANK’S

TRUCKS BACKED INTO IT.

 

ON 24 APRIL 1950, A DEPOSIT WAS MADE FOR THE GROUND ON TOP OF THE

HILL, WHERE THE PRESENT HALL IS LOCATED, THE LOGIC BEING THAT AS MOST

OF THE OLDER BUILDINGS WERE DOWN THE HILL, THE TRUCK COULD GET THERE

MORE QUICKLY. THIS PIECE OF GROUND WAS MADE AVAILABLE DUE TO THE

DISASTROUS TORNADO THAT HIT GREENOCK IN JUNE OF 1944 WHEN MOST OF THE

HOUSES ALONG THE TOP OF THE HILL WERE DESTROYED.

THE ORIGINAL OWNER OF THIS PROPERTY WAS CASPER KREUTZMAN AND WAS

DEEDED TO HIS SON AND DAUGHTER, HENRY F. KRFUTZMAN AND LOUISA A.M.

WESSEL IN 1925 AND 1926. IN 1931 HENRY KREUTZMAN DEEDED HIS SHARE TO HIS

SISTER, MRS. WESSEL WHO WITH HER HUSBAND SOLD THE PROPERTY TO THE FIRE

COMPANY.

AT THAT TIME THE COUNTY ROAD WAS LOCATED WHERE THE PRESENT

AMBULANCE GARAGE IS LOCATED. INCLUDED IN THIS DEED TO THE FIRE COMPANY

IS A SMALL ODD SHAPED PIECE OF GROUND ACROSS THE ROAD FROM THE PRESENT

FIRE HALL WHICH WAS NEVER UTILIZED BY THE FIRE COMPANY.

 

LATER A GARAGE WAS BUILT HERE FOR THE PUMPER WITH A LOCAL RESIDENT

BEN BOWMAN LAYING THE BLOCK. WHERE YOU ARE SITTING TONIGHT THERE WAS

A DEEP HOLLOW, AND WHERE THE DOOR COMES FROM THE SIDE OF THE

AMBULANCE GARAGE, A CEMENT WALKWAY WAS BUILT TO THE FRONT OF THE

BUILDING. IF YOU STEPPED OFF THE WALK YOU WERE ON YOUR WAY TO THE

BOTTOM OF THE HOLLOW.

 

WHEN THIS GARAGE WAS BUILT, A SIREN WAS INSTALLED ON THE ROOF AND A

WIRE WAS RUN  ACROSS THE HOLLOW TO FRED PRYOR’S HOME. WHEN A CALL

CAME IN FRED WOULD PUSH THE  BUTTON TO SOUND THE ALARM.

 

THE FIRST FAIR WAS HELD ON 10 JULY THRU 14 JULY 1950, AT LOCUST GROVE PARK.

JAKE TRICKETT  WAS CHAIRMAN AND LOUTS SERIANA WAS TREASURER. THE

PROFIT FOR THE WHOLE YEAR OF 1950  INCLUDING THE FAIR WAS $7,800.00.

 

IN AUGUST OF 1952 THE FIRE COMPANY PURCHASED THE OLD GREENOCK SCHOOL

AND MADE EXTENSIVE ALTERATIONS TO IT. IN JANUARY OF 1954, THE FIRE

COMPANY PURCHASED A RESUSITATOR FOR USE OF AREA RESIDENTS. IN APRIL OF

1954 THE FIRE COMPANY PURCHASED A USED UTILITY TRUCK WHICH WAS

EQUIPPED TO BE USED AS AN EMERGENCY VEHICLE.

 

AT THIS TIME WHEN AN AMBULANCE WAS NEEDED. A CALL WAS PLACED TO

MCKEESPORT HOSPITAL AND THEY WOULD SEND THE "MEAT WAGON" WHICH WAS

WHAT IT WAS NICKNAMED. IT LOOKED LIKE A BUTCHERS DELIVERY TRUCK.

SOMETIMES IT WOULD BE SOMEWHERE ELSE AND PEOPLE HAD TO WAIT THEIR

TURN. MANY TIMES, A RESIDENT OWNING A CAR WOULD BE ASKED TO TAKE HIS

NEIGHBOR TO THE HOSPITAL.

 

AS AN EXAMPLE, I WOULD LIKE TO READ THE FOLLOWING NEWSPAPER ARTICLE DATED 23 DECEMBER 1906:

 

ABOUT 1 P.M. ON DECEMBER 22, 1906, A FIRE BROKE OUT IN THE ENGINE ROOM OF THE PLANING MILL AND LUMBER YARD OF W.H. HEATH. IT WAS COMPLETELY DESTROYED BUT THE CAUSE WAS NEVER DETERMINED.

MR. HEATH WAS IN HIS OFFICE IN THE SAME BUILDING, TALKING ON THE TELEPHONE, WHEN THE FIRE STARTED. IN LESS THAN 5 MINUTES THE HEAT WAS SO INTENSE A PERSON COULD NOT ENTER THE SECOND STORY. IN A HALF HOUR THE ENTIRE BUILDING WAS DOOMED. THE FIRE ALSO TRAVELED TO THE STABLE AND DESTROYED IT BUT THE HORSE AND WAGONS WERE SAVED. A 50 POUND BOX OF DYNAMITE AND CAPS WERE REMOVED IN THE NICK OF TIME FROM ONE OF THE BUILDINGS OR THERE WOULD HAVE BEEN A MORE SERIOUS DISASTER.

THE DESKS AND IMPORTANT PAPERS WERE SAVED.

SAMUEL BICKERSTAFF ALMOST LOST HIS LIFE IN THE FIRE. HE HAD GONE INTO THE BURNING BUILDING TO ASSIST IN THE SAVING OF GOODS AND CANE NEAR BEING SUFFOCATED BY SMOKE.

THE STABLE OF JACOB EMANUEL, WHICH WAS ONLY A SHORT DISTANCE FROM THE MILL, WAS ALSO DESTROYED. EVERYTHING ON THE SECOND FLOOR OF THE MILL WAS ALSO DESTROYED. THIS CONSISTED PRINCIPALLY OF MACHINERY, TOOLS, MOULDINGS ETC.

IT WAS ONLY BY HARD WORK ON THE PART OF THE RESIDENTS OF THE TOWN THAT THE RESIDENCE OF MR. HEATH, WHICH WAS SLIGHTLY DAMAGED AND THE HOUSE OF MR. EMANUEL WERE SAVED. ALL THE HOUSEHOLD GOODS WERE TAKEN FROM THE EMANUEL HOUSE AND WERE CONSIDERABLY DAMAGED. HAD THE FLAMES COMMUNICATED TO THE HEATH RESIDENCE, THE ENTIRE CORNER MIGHT HAVE BEEN CONSUMED, INCLUDING EIGHT HOUSES AND THE P. & L.E. STATION. THE LOSS HAS NOT SEEN ESTIMATED BUT THE INSURANCE WILL NOT COVER ONE THIRD, IT IS STATED.

MR. HEATH BEGAN HIS BUSINESS IN 1895 AND MET WITH GOOD SUCCESS FROM THE START. THE FIRE WAS THE BIGGEST IN THE HISTORY OF GREENOCK.

MR. HEATH WAS RECENTLY ELECTED TO THE LEGISLATURE FROM THE EIGHTH DISTRICT OF ALLEGHENY COUNTY AND EXPECTS TO LEAVE FOR HARRISBURG IN A FEW DAYS. MR. HEATH DESIRES TO THANK THE RESIDENTS OF THE TOWN FOR THE VALUABLE ASSISTANCE RENDERED, AS IT WAS ONLY BY THE FAITHFUL WORK OF THE PEOPLE THAT HIS HOME WAS SAVED.

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IN 1950 THERE WERE 122 MEMBERS

IN 1951 THERE WERE 112 MEMBERS                 

IN 1952 THERE WERE 103 MEMBERS

IN 1962 THERE WERE 96 MEMBERS

IN 2001 THERE WERE 37 MEMBERS

IN 2002 THERE WERE 45 MEMBERS

IN 2008 THERE WERE 33 MEMBERS

IN 2011 THERE WERE 62 MEMBERS

IN 2015 THERE ARE 53 MEMBERS

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THIS FIRE COMPANY HAS ALWAYS BEEN INVOLVED WITH THE COMMUNITY AND

COMMUNITY PROJECTS. ONE EXAMPLE WAS IN 1965-1966, WHEN GREENOCK WAS

125 YEARS OLD. THE FIRE COMPANY CLEANED UP THE OLD GREENOCK CEMETERY

AND PLANNED AND HELD A CELEBRATION IN THE CEMETERY. SINCE THEN THE

TOWNSHIP HAS KEPT IT IN GOOD SHAPE.

 

IN CLOSING, I WOULD LIKE TO COMMEND THE PRESENT OFFICERS AND MEMBERS

OF BOTH THE FIRE COMPANY AND THE AUXILIARY FOR CONTINUING THE SERVICE

AND TRADITION BEGAN BACK IN 1949 FOR THE RESIDENTS OF GREENCOK. WILLARD

SCHAEFER, THE FIRST PRESIDENT, WAS A  COUSIN OF MINE. HE DIED OF LUNG

CANCER IN PHOENIX, ARIZONA  IN 1962.

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This was the speech made by Ronald Morgenstern at the 40th Anniversary Banquet of the Greenock Volunteer Fire Company on November 4th 1989. It was scanned from his original notes.

Courtesy of the Elizabeth Township Historical Society and Ronald Morgenstern.

 

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To be Continued...........

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Updated  02/25/2011 03:34 PM