Warminster Fire Company #1, Station 90, 91 & 92

History is taken from the book, Bucks County Fire Service. To find out more about the Warminster Fire Department, the Lacey Park Fire Company, The Hartsville Fire Company or any of the other departments of Bucks County, dating all the way back to 1798, the book may be purchased Here. To preserve historical accuracy, all documents in the book were transcribed from the original documents found in the files, minutes of meetings, notes from interviews of past members, letters and legal papers.

Founded in the year of 1927

Temporary meeting or organization meeting of the Warminster Fire and Improvement Association was held at the Johnsonville station of the Reading Railroad on Thursday evening at 7 o’clock July 28, 1927 the guest speaker for the evening was a Mr. Herbert Fire Marshal of the Montgomery County subject on fire fighting.
The interesting happening of the evening was applying some of the talk Mr. Herbert gave us on firefighting. Which is as follows the election of officers and chairman Mr. Roy Lihman to fill the chair. The next was the election of a Secretary of John H. Malarkey these officers are to fill a temporary term until the next meeting August 4, 1927 at which time regular officers will be elected and after getting that much off our minds, was the registration of members which numbered 28 in all that night and a discussion of how to go about things in the right way which lasted well into the evening.
They say one of the first reasons for starting a fire company is Warminster Township was that the home of Mr. and Mrs. William Tressider burned to the ground around midnight on July 25 ,1927, there wasn’t any fire company at that time so the local citizen of Warminster tried to fight the fire with buckets and garden hoses. So later a group of men of Warminster Township who thought they should have and need a volunteer fire company, they wanted and needed fire protection for its citizens of the Township in their hour of need when there was a fire, this is the reason and how the Warminster Fire Company was founded in the year 1927.

Those members below are the founding fathers of the Warminster Fire Company number one.
Edgar B ShimpRoy LishmanWilliam Powell Albert Story
Lloyd MorganJoseph KunkelWilliam TresidderHarry Danz
James SullivanVick RoysteuartGeorge O’NeillJohn Wallace
Oscar A. WiegnerWilliam RegalJ. L. RichardsRobert Stephens
J.OdumT.E. RichardsArthur FinsterbushHarry Wambold
Richard WareHerman RoachJohn H. MalarkeyNorman Beebe
Mr. SnyderMr. SmedlyMr. SpencerMr. Trainer

The first elected officers of the Warminster Fire Company number one.

President         Roy Lishman              Vice President            William Powell
Secretary         John Malarkey           Financial Sec.             Oscar Wiegner

The first fire chief of the company and assistant chief

1St Fire Chief          John L. Richard          1St Asst. Chief          Harry Danz

The first Board of Directors of the fire company.

Harry Wambold          Mr. Chaple      Mr. O’Neill     Mr. Morgan

The first fire truck was a used Buick truck that was donated by the Buick dealer in Hatboro PA where Mr. Richards worked at the time as an auto mechanic. A milk tank was purchase and on the back of the truck and buckets were hook on the sides. An interesting note at the November 21 meeting, fire buckets were obtained and these buckets were painted green by Mr. Wallace. The first fire protection began that night to serve the residents of the townships 500 residents.

The first fire company business meeting was held at the home of Mr. Richards at Street Road and Mearns Road in Warminster Township.

The first fire truck that the members purchase was a 1918 GMC 500 gallon pumper with hard rubber tires and right-hand drive it carried 350 feet of hose and nine sets of boots helmets and coats.

The Warminster Fire Company did not have a firehouse yet, so they kept the fire truck in Mr. Harry Danz two-car garage at the corner of Madison Avenue and Olive Street. This was the first fire station of the Warminster Fire Company #1.

Then Mr. Harry Danz went to Midvale Steel Company with a Willow Grove lumber truck and got a wheel rim from an old railroad engine and that was put on a tripod and when it was hit with a large hammer it would sound the fire alarm that there was a fire. This was the first alarm that the fire company had to call the men to the station in 1927.

The first fire station was a one-story frame building that was built by the firemen at the present site which is now known as central engine house at Madison Avenue and Ivy Street in Warminster Township.

The original ground at Madison Avenue and Ivy Street was donated by a member Joseph Hollowell in 1927 to the Warminster fire company for a fire station later there was a second parcel of land along Ivy Street that was sold to the fire company by Mr. Harry Womble for the sum of $25 who donated the $25 back to the fire company.

Shortly after this the members started building the first fire company frame building in 1927 and completed in 1928  frame building was grazed in 1966 and replaced by an $80,000 new firehouse now in its present location of Madison Avenue and Ivy Street in Warminster, Pennsylvania.

The charter of the Warminster Fire Company No#1 was signed by all the fire company officers on the date of April 18, 1929. From this beginning the Warminster Fire Company number one has without any interruption provided for the protection in this community.                                                                                                                                                                                                                         (The above information was compiled and written by an unknown author)

Note; from 1946 through 1957 the fire station on Madison Avenue served as an elementary school.

An interview with Mrs. Ferry, Pres. Lady’s auxiliary

Some longtime members have memories of going to school in the old firehouse on Madison Avenue. There wasn’t enough classrooms’ in the local school at Street Road due to the post war baby-boom. For a numbers of years the school was held in the firehouse. Later Warminster, Ivyland and Southampton merge their schools to form the Centennial school district.

Mrs. Ferry the wife of Chief Ferry remembers the quilts made by the ladies and sold then to raise money to support the fire company. The ladies had bake sales, dinners as part of fundraisers.

Interview conducted by Art Poekert

The 1940’s

In the year 1942 the Warminster Fire Company ordered a new truck a Ward LaFrance 500 gallon pumper for the price of $6000 but the war was on and they were told that they would have to wait until the war was over. Then after the war, in the year 1946 the company except delivery of their first new fire truck that was ordered in 1942. The 1946 Ward LaFrance was the first new fire truck since the fire company first started way back in 1927.

The Ward LaFrance replaced the old 1937 fire truck.

In 1946 the Warminster fire company purchased a 1942 Army surplus Ford truck. This was converted to a tank truck and also a 500 gallon per minute front pumper with a 750 gallon water tank on it. This solves some of the problems of water for fires in Warminster Township since there “were any fire hydrants” in the Township.

The concrete block engine bay on the corner of Madison and Ivy was added in 1946 the engine bay was started in the year 1945 and was finished in 1946 by the fire company members themselves. The old wooden building that was used for an engine house was converted into a meeting room. The old meeting room along Madison Avenue was used by a public school for Warminster Township for many years.

The 1950’s                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         In April 1954 the Warminster Fire Company purchased a new tank truck. The new fire apparatus was a Ford –Maximum 1000 gallon tank and a 500 gallon pumper that replaced the old converted 1942 army surplus Ford tank truck that was sold to the Greenbank Fire Company in 1954.

In December 1955 the first installation of two way radios mobile units and a base station were installed for a cost of $2338 the call sign for the fire department was KGD 741.

March 1955 fire hydrants went into service along Henry Avenue; this area was known as Warminster Village.

In the year 1956 there was a need for a small auxiliary truck to carry extra firefighting equipment. The fire company purchased a 1949 Chevrolet pickup for this purpose. After using this this pickup for a while they converted the back into a panel auxiliary for rescue and emergencies and for carrying extra firefighting equipment such as Scott packs, tools and a smoke ejector.

In May 1957 the three township fire departments in Warminster Township began to talks to merge. They were Hartsville Fire Company the Lacey Park Fire Company the Warminster Fire Company talks went on for years.

In 1957 the firemen added a new meeting room onto the back of the firehouse and then converted the old meeting room into a clubroom

In May 1958 fire calls were taken at the home of John Pilawski and his place of business Riggs and Pilawski Garage and then later moved to the new Warminster police station.

The Civic Association of Rosewood Gardens requested a fire station in their area the fire department began a search to find a place to build a station. (The West and station was almost name Rosewood Garden station)

In the year 1958 the company decided that the Warminster Township was getting build up in the west end of Township. They decided that we they would like to build another fire station on the west end of the Township for better fire protection. They acquired a parcel of land on Norristown Road from Christ Home for the new fire station. This building was completed in September and went into service in October 1958. This meant that the fire company had to purchase another fire truck to replace the Ward LaFrance which was going in-service at the West End engine house on Norristown Road. The cost of the steel building and concrete pad was $7001.54. The fire company bought a 1947 Seagraves 750 gallon pumper from the Bryn Mar Fire Company the truck carried 500 feet of 2 ½ inch diameter hose and 600 feet of inch and a half diameter hose. The cost of the truck was $6980 the truck was green in color.

At its September 1958 general meeting the bylaws of the Warminster Fire Company were change, to accept female members. Also it was voted to set the summer night rentals of the club at $7 dollars per night and $10 per window winter night.

(Another tidbit of history) Some longtime members have memories of going to school in the old firehouse at Madison Avenue because there were enough classrooms in the local school at Street Road due to the post war baby-boom. For years the school was held in the firehouse. Later Warminster, Ivyland and Southampton merge their schools to form the Centennial school district.

Interview of Harry Danz        (Charter member and past fire chief)    20 November 1968

The first truck, a 1918 GMC bought from somewhere in Virginia. The truck was in Mr. Danz garage for some 6 to 8 months according to his recollection. They then went to Midvale Steel Company for an old railroad tire and ring. That was our first alarm system. Ed Shimp took phone calls for a short time, and then the Hatboro operator got the calls.

They had a problem at first, when the operator received a call she would dispatch the Hatboro Fire Company. They would have arguments after every fire why Hatboro was there and why we weren’t called.

Willow Grove lumber company donated lumber for our first Carnival. At the time there were approximately 225 people in the Township.

The present location of our firehouse, here at Madison and Ivy was bought $25.00 and Harry Wambold and  donated the $25.00 back to the Fire Co. Mr.Danz would like to know whatever happened to the charter and the money. This was in 1926 that day started a firehouse at its present site, and was completed in 1927.

Mr.Danz also raised the question of why he wasn’t one of the charter members.

Interview for 45 minutes Conducted by P Petrun & A. Poekert

Interview of Mr. Joseph Kunkel      (charter member & president)      January 8, 1969

As far as Mr. Kuunkel knew the company didn’t start until 1925. He mentioned he thought Fire Company started because they were collecting items at York and Street Roads one day. The first fire house was at our present location and has a one car garage. Next they added a shed for a pool table and then a kitchen.

William Powell gathered articles. First major fire was on Fir Street, the house burned to the ground when the people went to Willow Grove and left their stove burning.

“We just didn’t have enough men,” said Joe. They averaged about 12 fires a year.

Mr. Kunkel was president in the early 30s. He also noted the truck carried 1500 to 2000 feet of hose along with 500 feet of hose.

Interview conducted by Paul Petrun & Art Poekert

The 1960’s

February 1960 Mr. Charles Bosch found a Cadillac ambulance for sale and it was purchased for $500. This was the start of the fire company’s ambulance service.

February 27, 1964 Township Board of Supervisors hired its first fire marshal and established an ordinance that introduces the first fire code for Warminster Township.

The old frame building dating back to 1927 was grazed to make way for four day engine room and community hall. July 23, 1966 the fire department dedicate a new fire station at Madison and Ivy Streets the cost of $68,000, they also housed a new 1966 Boardman high-pressure 1000 gallon pumper at the central station and a new $26000.00 1965 Hahn 1000 gallon pumper at the West End station. Following the dedication and housing of vehicles, a parade of 79 fire companies marched and over 5000 people lined the parade route according to the local paper.

The May 17, 1966 primary election the Warminster Township voters, voted 4 to 1 for a two mill fire tax, this was a referendum the Board of Supervisors opposed. A house assessed at $1800.00, the tax would be $3.60.

October 1, 1967 the first test of our home alerting system occurred.

August 22, 1968 fire department purchased a new Oldsmobile ambulance at a cost of $8995.00

January 1969 the company took delivery of a fire rescue truck for $13,900 this replaced a panel truck that had been in service for rescue purposes.

November 1969 because of the growing need for a ladder truck and a proposed of a new five-story hospital the fire department took delivery of a Peter Pirsch 100 foot aerial ladder truck. The ladder truck price was $62,000.00.

Author, Perry Matlack

The early days of the ambulance corps

I have been asked to recite the early days of the Warminster Ambulance Corps. This is not an easy task because time is a lapse which is about 28 years or more. As I recall, the first the fire company discussed an addition of an ambulance was sometime in the early 60. It was triggered by the frequency of the Horsham Ambulance responding to calls in Warminster Township. Recalling only the briefest discussions at the regular monthly meeting.  The discussions became more heated and more serious after we found the Horsham Fire Company was soliciting funds from Warminster residents. After we protested to them they said that they would only solicit funds for the ambulance corps.

As a result of their action, the fire department authorized a committee to look around for an ambulance. The fire company minutes for the year 1961 and 62 are missing but I remember it that I was on the Board of Directors when the ambulance committee reported back that they found a secondhand vehicle for I believe $500. The meeting of March 1961 was hot and heavy, but in the end they bought the thing. I voted against it.

The next motion was to establish an ambulance crew with officers and so forth. Although I voted against the purchase of the purchase, the body elected me captain of the ambulance crew.  I agreed to undertake the position on the condition that I would have full charge and authority with no interference from the fire fighters officers. After certain amount of haggling, it was passed and I became the first captain of the ambulance crew. John Scheetz was elected lieutenant. The first thing I did is make up a set of rules which I felt were necessary for successful and efficient operation of the squad. I don’t have a copy of these rules but I’m very glad to learn that some of these rules are still observed in the squad. The first rule was that all members of the ambulance crew must take and pass American Red Cross training and must be 21 years of age and have a valid driver’s license if they wish to be a driver. I further agree to have the ambulance phone in my home and Bert Decker would have one in his home. The fire company bought uniforms which I insisted we wear both to set us apart from other ambulance corps and to protect our clothing. We also stood by in the firehouse every evening from 7 to 11 PM his we had reason to believe those were the most dangerous hours. We also stood by all weekends, all day.

The first official appearance of the Warminster Fire Company Ambulance Corps was in the Memorial Day parade of 1961. The next morning about 5 AM we got our first call. Carl Bosch was supposed to drive but he had a terrible cold and since I was already awake having answered the phone, I took the call with another member who I am ashamed to say I don’t recall, set out for the address in the west end of the Township to pick up and expecting mother. Just west of York Road we were flagged down by one of our police cars and they transferred the patient into the ambulance and we went off to Abington Hospital.

Captain Albert Beyer


April 1970 the fire department decided to grazed the old west end station on Norristown Road and replaces it. There was a groundbreaking ceremony that July and the cost of the station was set at $26,000.

April 4, 1971 the fire department moved into its West End station.

May 2, 1971 the Warminster Fire Company and the Lacey Park Fire Company under the direction of the Township Fire Commission to started to talk about merging.

June 6, 1971 the fire department started the committee known as the ambulance betterment committee.

July 1, 1971 a charter for the Warminster Volunteer Ambulance Corps was obtained.

June 19, 1971 the fire department dedicated the new West End Fire Station and housed at the central station 100 foot Pirsch ladder truck and a new Emergency One rescue truck, also housed a National Sentinel ambulance that same day.

March 5, 1972 civil disorder erupted in Warminster Heights. It became a very busy time for the fire service.

April 9, 1972 the Township in hired the first full time fire marshal.

March 5, 1973 the fire department took delivery of two Imperial 1250 gallon gpm pumpers, the cost was $75,734.

July 2, 1972 the fire department sold its Maximum fire truck to Sun Valley fire Department in the Poconos for $3000.

April 4, 1973 at the regular meeting of the fire department a resolution was passed to separate the ambulance corps from the fire department.

June 30, 1973 the fire department hosted the county firemen parade and housed its two new Imperial pumpers and a new Oldsmobile ambulance.

August 4, 1973 the Centennial School Board approved  to lease ground on Centennial Road, so that the fire department could build a station in the east end of the Township.

November 15 and 16th 1974 the Warminster fire Department hosted the 73rd anniversary meeting of the Keystone fire Chiefs; our Fire Chief Jack Armstrong was elected president of the Keystone Fire Chiefs.

April 4, 1977 the Police and Firemen Scholarship Fund was established.

February 5, 1977 the Association changed its name from the Warminster Fire Company No#1 to the Warminster fire Department.

The main fire station at Madison Ave. and Ivy St. (Station 90) was razed in 2005.  A new, two-story station with five apparatus bays was built at the same location.  The new station was completed in 2006

Author was Perry Matlack

Warminster Fire Company No#1

Fire Chiefs

1927    John L. Richards         1932    Lloyd Morgan             1934    L. Storyminste

1939    H. Prey                        1945    Pat Ferry                     1955    Joe Wobensmith

1956    Fred Kruezberg           1957    Robert Schafer            1959    Elmer Otto

1964    Walter Curley             1968    Stan Mackey               1973    John “Jack” Armstrong

Warminster Fire Department

Fire Chiefs

1981    Charles Moyer                        1985    Byron “Ron” Powell

1985    Clifford “Moose” Gledhill     1989    Joseph “Joe” Faust Jr.

1991    Raymond “Pete” Croak          1999 Albert Carbone

2007    Mitch Shapiro