Serving Horsham Township

History

On November 14, 1913 the record book begins, “Twenty-seven men interested in the welfare of Horsham and the surrounding country met in Benjamin Webster’s barn” with Ervin Ambler and George Dungan, who were the Chief and the Assistant Chief of the Enterprise Fire Company of Hatboro. The object was to lay the foundation for forming the Horsham Fire Company and elect its first officers. Clarence Geatrell was elected President and Forest Corson became the Company’s first Fire Chief. The only compensation the members were to receive “…besides the general excitement, is the knowledge, (and) the feeling that they are doing something worthwhile.” At the same meeting, a membership fee was placed at one dollar.

On December 2, 1913, the first piece of firefighting apparatus, a large hand pump on loan from the Enterprise Fire Company, was housed by the Company and a steel locomotive tire was hung up to serve as a fire alarm. The Company’s formal charter was granted on June 12, 1914 in Montgomery County Court.

A special meeting was held on January 20, 1914, at which time Mr. O.P. Smith donated ground for the firehouse. This was adjacent to our present Battalion 1 main station building. Donations of materials, including building stone and teams to haul it from the quarry, were eagerly offered. Fundraisers were held including a play, a dinner and a horse race at the Hallowell Race Track.

By June 1, 1914, our first “Fire Wagon” was delivered and readied for use. The cost was $272.12. Since such an expensive piece of equipment containing “…the latest firefighting devices” could not be stored outside, Benjamin Webster’s shed became the first firehouse. The Auxiliary has recreated this 1914 building in a Hometowne Collectible wooden figure. It may be purchased for $15.00 through any Auxiliary member or by calling the firehouse at 675-9859. The proceeds from this fundraiser goes to help purchase items for the fire company which are not part of its general operating budget.

Today, Horsham Fire Company has an inventory of 3 Pumpers, a 105′ Ladder, Rescue truck, 2¬†Ambulances, and 2 Command vehicles. We operate out of 2 stations, one located on Meetinghouse Road and one located on Horsham Road next to the Township Building. Our most recent additions to our Fire Company apparatus was the purchase of twin 2004 Pierce Custom Pumpers.

Horsham Fire Company completed its 95th year of operation in 2008. This was the busiest year in our history with a record 700 alarms being answered.

Malfunctioning residential and business fire alarm systems account for 10% of all our calls. This rate is at an all time low, but malfunctioning alarm systems still present a burden for our volunteers, in terms of time spent away from jobs, families and interrupted sleep. The need to properly maintain your alarm system can not be emphasized enough.

Horsham Fire Company lists 45 members responding from Battalion 1, located on Meetinghouse Road. Another 15 members are listed on the rolls at Battalion 2, located on Horsham Road, next to the Township Building. In addition, Horsham Fire Company Ambulance Corps lists 20 members on its roster, with another 10 people belong to the Special Fire Police, and approximately 12 members of the Auxiliary.

A career staff of 2 Firefighter/EMT’s and 4 firefighter/Paramedics supplement the volunteers of Horsham Fire Company. This is to ensure, during weekday daytime hours, that Firefighters are available to respond to fire emergencies. This staffing policy also ensures that Paramedics are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to respond to medical emergencies. These personnel are Fire Company employees (not employees of Horsham Township) and are paid from our 3.00 mill fire tax. Although this staffing is needed to better serve our residents, it drains our resources and limits the amount of money left for building maintenance, operations and capital purchases.

The Horsham Fire Company Ambulance Corps Division has been serving the residents of Horsham Township and surrounding communities for over 50 years. We respond to over 1,400 ambulance and 30 rescue calls per year. This is done with a combination of volunteer & career staff of over 35 Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT’s), Paramedics and rescue workers.

Currently, the Horsham Fire Company Ambulance Corps Division is seeking individuals to volunteer to help provide ambulance service to our community. The commitment will only be four to eight hours per week, and will give the individual a rewarding life saving experience. The Corps will provide the training and the knowledge to help a person in need, or to save a child’s life. Your community is counting on you.

For information, or to receive an application for membership as a member of the Fire Department, Ambulance Corps, Special Fire Police or Auxiliary, stop by the Horsham Fire Company at 315 Meetinghouse Road in Horsham, or call (215) 675-9859.

Horsham Township is named after the town of Horsham in Sussex County, England. Horsham is one of several townships in Montgomery County whose name and size were determined by master survey lines drawn by William Penn’s engineers as they first plotted this part of the colony for sale and settlement. Parallel lines, projected at intervals of a mile and a half and extending in a northwesterly direction from settlements along the Delaware, served not only as base lines for measurement of individual land grants but also as courses for future highways. County Line Road, Horsham Road, and Welsh Road are examples of highways so laid out. The effect of these survey lines upon the development pattern of Eastern Montgomery County is very much in evidence today.

In 1684, the entire township of 17 square miles was made available to individual purchasers. Samuel Carpenter, from the town of Horsham in Sussex County, England, after which the township is named, purchased five thousand acres, forty two hundred of them within the present boundaries of the township. In 1709, Carpenter, then Treasurer of Pennsylvania, began to sell tracts of land to migrating Quakers. In 1717, Horsham Township was established as a municipal entity by a vote of the people.

In 1718, Sir William Keith, then Provincial Governor of Pennsylvania, acquired twelve hundred acres of Carpenter’s land on which he erected a house in keeping with the dignity of his office. The development of Keith’s “plantation” proved to be a step in establishing closer ties between Horsham and neighboring communities, particularly those of Hatboro and Willow Grove. He was responsible for the construction of the present Easton Road (U.S. Highway 611) from the old York Road junction at Willow Grove to his mansion on County Line Road in 1722.

The first significant settlement in the Township centered around the junction of Horsham and Easton Roads and was known as Horshamville. Keith’s extension of Easton Road prompted the establishment of the Horsham Friends Meeting House.

The township’s early social and economic life revolved around this Meeting House. In a similar way, Prospectville, originally known as Cashtown, was established at the junction of two roads, Limekiln Pike and Horsham Road. This portion of Limekiln Pike was an extension of the original segment established in 1693 to provide a thoroughfare between Old York Road and the limekilns of Thomas Fitzwater in Upper Dublin Township. Prospectville, on a high elevation point within the township, offering a resting spot with a tavern for those traveling along either Limekiln Pike or Horsham Road. Here lived several generations of the Simpson family, one of whom was the mother of Ulysses S. Grant, the 18th President of the United States.

The hamlet of Davis Grove grew at the intersection of Keith’s Road (now called Governors Road) and Privet Road and was once a focal point of community life. It was here the residents of the township came to vote, discuss politics, and attend community meetings. The “Golden Ball Inn”, which at one time was used for housing guests of Governor Keith, enjoyed much Revolutionary splendor. The two roads were formerly through links. Keith’s Road extended from Easton Road to Keith Valley Road and Privet Road, from Horsham Road to Easton Road. Expansion of the Willow Grove Naval Air Station caused the closing of these roads and the absorption of the hamlet. Today, there are virtually no remaining signs of the original settlement.

Through most of the early and the middle 19th Century, Horsham’s population grew slowly. Its character was not altered in any significant way until about 1872, when the North Pennsylvania Railroad extended a rail line from Glenside to New Hope and established a station in the nearby community of Hatboro, two and three-quarter miles east of the nucleus of Horshamville. Horsham-Hatboro-Byberry Road provided easy access to Hatboro’s station and, as a result, residential development began along the road virtually linking the two communities together. By 1890, the township’s population reached 1,300.

In 1896, the Philadelphia Rapid Transit Company’s northern extension of the Philadelphia-Willow Grove trolley service was extended to Doylestown along Easton Road from the Willow Grove Amusement Park at Easton and Welsh Roads. This provided various connections to other trolley lines.

In 1926, Harold F. Pitcairn, a pioneer in the development of the autogiro, a forerunner of the helicopter, outgrew his flying field in Bryn Athyn and purchased 191 acres of farmland along Easton Road in the vicinity of Graeme Park. The new “Pitcairn Field” remained in operation for testing “autogiros” until 1942 when the United States Navy purchased the field. Today, the base is still in operation and, after the acquisition of additional land for the expansion of facilities; it has become one of the largest Naval Air Stations in the nation.

Horsham Fire Co. No.1 Ambulance was started with Theodore Miller Sr.’s personal ambulances. In 1941 the Fire company took over operations.

Today Horsham Fire Co. No. 1’s EMS Divsion proudly protects an estimated 22,611 people living in an area of 16.77 square miles. We operate out of our main station which is located at 315 Meetinghouse Road. Our department is a public department which has a combination of both career and volunteer personnel.

One of the first fundraisers for the Horsham Fire Company was in 1919. The badges for the Fire Company were purchased with possibly some of the money earned by Miss Margurite Webster, who sponsored a play in Loller Academy for the purpose. Miss Webster later married Chester G. Duckworth, who became the next Fire Chief. The Ladies Auxiliary also donated money to pay for a Hahn truck on May 20, 1938. The Ladies Auxiliary, though it existed previously, officially became an entity of the Horsham Fire Company in 1949.

The Auxiliary is in charge of many fundraisers. Beginning in the early days with Miss Webster’s plays, there have been many other ways the Auxiliary has raised money for the Fire Company. From selling calendars and first aid kits for your car to running Pancake Breakfasts and Beef and Beers, activities have fallen just about everywhere in-between the two. Some of the most recent sales have included candles and wooden replicas of the original Firehouse. Horsham Day is one of their largest events, where they begin with selling the food for the fishing contest and end with selling glow necklaces before the fireworks.

The Auxiliary also sponsors many events for the Fire Fighters and their families. An Easter Egg hunt and a Christmas party for their children are still annual events, and they have in the past sponsored Breakfast with Santa and a Halloween party for the children. They are also on call to provide food for fire calls, when the Chief feels it is necessary to activate them. There is a phone chain in effect for these times, so they can all be notified of the need.

In October of 1990 the first male member joined the Auxiliary, closely followed by the second. The name was officially changed from the Ladies Auxiliary to the Auxiliary in 1994 to accommodate the males in the organization. They have had five male members since that time.

The membership of the Auxiliary has been an ever-fluctuating number. With anywhere from four to five officers, the number of members has been as low as 7 and as high as almost twenty. The current Auxiliary has five officers and consists of twelve members, two being men.

Please check out their schedule of events for the coming year. They would love to see you attend one or more of their functions and support your local Fire Company.

MEADVILLE in Crawford County, Pennsylvania is credited with appointing the FIRST FIRE POLICE in the year 1896. These “police”, of course, had no other authority than that which could be provided by their fire department and the municipality in which they served.

No legal recognition or authority was given to fire police in the Commonwealth until the year 1941. On June 18th, of that year the Pennsylvania Legislature adopted the FIRST FIRE POLICE legislation – Public Law 137, No.74. The law was entitled; “An Act Providing for the Appointment, Powers and Control of Members of Volunteer Fire Companies as SPECIAL Fire Police”.

On August 25th, through the 29th.of the year 1941,the FIRST FIRE POLICE TRAINING COURSE was conducted. The Fire School and Arthur W. Espey, head of the Public Service Institute, Department of Public Instruction, State Board of Vocational Education, sponsored the school. This course was added to the Third Annual Firemen’s Training Conference held at the PA State College in State College, PA.

The first state wide organization for fire police was established in 1948. That year that the Pennsylvania Fire Police Association was founded. This association was issued a State Charter, December 30,1949

In late 1983, the Director of the Pennsylvania State Fire Academy, Mr. Robert C. Grening, authorized the completion of a basic training manual for Fire police. This manual was compiled, printed and distributed by May 1984.

Although training for fire police is provided through a State agency (The Offices of Fire Safety Services), the State has not, as of this date (1990) mandated this training. However, many municipalities have made training a requirement to perform the duties of a special Fire police officer.

The State Fire School became the State Fire Academy in 1981.