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On October 10, 1993, a Housing and Muster was held in the Ackers
Hardware parking lot for the new "905", the rescue truck. The committee
started looking in 1985 for a truck to replace the 1974 G.M.C. Fire Rescue
Vehicle. A special committee spent many hours evaluating the needs of the company.
After drawing up specifications and sending them out to manufacturers, a proposal
from Saulsbury Fire Apparatus Company of Tully, New York was accepted. The
1992 Ford Saulsbury Rescue Type Vehicle was delivered on March 8th 1993. After
several weeks of installing equipment and training drivers, the new truck was
placed in service on April 28th 1993. The Saulsbury can carry 8 men enclosed
and is equipped to serve as a command post when in service. It also contains
first aid equipment, heavy rescue equipment, an Automatic Defibrillator (AED),
a 30 ft 6000 watt light tower, a 20 K Watt generator, a 4 bottle Cascade air
refill System, and rechargeable gas detection meters that detect four different
types of gases.
In recent years, the Fire Company was fortunate enough to purchase
equipment for the Saulsbury that would upgrade their rescue capabilities. In
the year 2000, the "Jaws of Life" was purchased from the Huntingdon
Valley Fire Company. In 2002, a State grant allowed them to order upgrades
for SCBA. A grant, facilitated by State Rep. George Kenney, also allowed the
company to purchase a Thermal Imaging Camera. The camera displays a black and
white image. Heat is represented in intensities of white, and varying degrees
of black represents cold. In a smoke-filled room, the hand- held camera allows
a firefighter to find a person. It also can be used to determine where a person
has recently walked. For example, the firefighter would be able to the footsteps
of a child who has walked into a closet to hide from a fire. The camera is
also useful in displaying heat or fire within a wall.
In 2002, the Saulsbury became one of only six trucks in Montgomery
County that are certified for rescue by the State of Pennsylvania.
At present the fire co. has 52 active force members and 153 company
members - 50 of which are Life members. Financially, the company is doing well.
It is not as dependent on fundraisers as it was in the past. It now gets approximately
40% of its income from Borough appropriations. The other 60% is obtained from
hall rentals and fundraisers such as Pancake Breakfasts', Shrimp Nights, and
Beef & Beers.
Last year was the best financial year the company has ever had.
It received over $83,000 in Federal and State grants (about 50% from each).
In prior years, the most the company ever received was $10,000.
Although fire protection and prevention are the priority for the
Fire Company, let it not go unnoticed that there are plenty of occasions for
fun, laughs and socializing.
The firehouse itself is the hub of the community. A member is always welcome
to stop by, socialize, watch T.V., play ping-pong or playa game of pinochle
with anyone else that may happen by.
The Ladies' Auxiliary, which was organized in the 1920's as a
social group, provided a chance for the "significant others" of the
membership to get together and enjoy each others company. The ladies sponsored
social gatherings, ran the canteen at Bingo games and threw the annual Christmas
Party for the Active Force. Over the years, the Ladies' became more involved
with the operations of the Fire Company. They raised thousands of dollars over
the years from many fundraisers that provided the ability to supply the firefighters
with equipment that was needed to do their job. The Auxiliary was dissolved
in the 1980s.
The Active Force meets Thursday evenings to train and sharpen
their skills. For the past four years, they have put these skills to the test
by competing in an event known as the "Firefighter's Challenge".
Approximately 12 local fire companies, including Huntingdon Valley and all
of the Cheltenham companies, attend this competition. It takes place on the
first Sunday following Fire Prevention Week. It consists of timed events that
involve climbing ladders, dragging hoses, and running an obstacle course wearing
a complete set of gear. Other events include an Iron Man competition as well
as guarding an apartment and a house during simulated fires. The last event
of the day is always a stretcher race.
Another annual tradition for members is the "Turkey Bowl".
For many years, they get together with a local Fire Company on Thanksgiving
morning to playa game of football.
A classic radio moment in the company's history occurred when
responding to a garage fire at the Hathaway house on Sylvania Avenue . The
Rockledge Imperial Pumper stopped down the street to lay line and connect to
a hydrant. A McKinley fireman, seeing the truck stop up the street, hailed
the Imperial over the radio saying "Yo, Rockledge! It's down here!" Steve
Neri of Rockledge replied, "Holdonhoney. We're coming. We're coming."
On the night of a Cheltenham "boxer shorts" party, Rockledge
got a call. Firemen attending the party showed up wearing only shoes, shorts
and ties. (At the time, the members did not use bunker pants, just long coats.)
With their long coats on, these guys looked like they were wearing nothing
underneath. One of the other members, not knowing about the party, looked at
his companion, jumped off the truck and said, "I'm not riding with him!"
In this year, 2003, the Rockledge Fire Company celebrates its
100th anniversary. They are proud of the past and look forward to another 100
years of dedication to the citizens of the Borough and surrounding communities.
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