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From Shoe Leather to Rubber
Written by Larry Roeder, Editor
2024-03-20

An upgrade the community needed and volunteers appreciated

 

            There has been much conversation about volunteer fire companies in Pennsylvania over the past few months, primarily about funding and a sore need for volunteers.  Fortunately those conversations led to actions that helped in both of those areas.  We'll keep our hopes up that it continues.

            During those recent conversations we mentioned the cost of new fire apparatus

East Greenville Fire Company's new Stutz arrived on May 5,

1923.  It was equipped with a 105HP six-cylinder motor, a

600-gallon-per-minute Stutz pump, a 40-gallon chemical

tank, two ladders, 1,500 feet of hose, and all accessories.

to replace out-of-date trucks.  The prices start at around $800,000 and skyrocket from there.  It's not the volunteers who declared the units too old to use, it's the insurance companies, underwriters, legislators, and appointed or hired commissioners.  They set the standards for when a unit is too old to perform.

            I am not disagreeing with them, I'm just saying don't blame the volunteers.

            There was a time, not too long ago, when motorized fire apparatus (aka fire trucks) were kept and used by many of our local fire companies for two, three, or more decades.  They were cared for by the volunteers who dutifully serviced and maintained them.  After all, these red chariots were the pride of the community.

            One such case comes to mind.  That of the volunteers of the East Greenville Fire Company and their first piece of motorized fire apparatus – a Stutz.

            Prior to that, the volunteers had a hand-drawn hose cart sitting on the floor of

The first East Greenville firehouse, located in the 400

block of Main St., was home to only a hand-drawn hose

cart prior to 1923.  The purchase of the new Stutz re-

quired renovations to be made to the firehouse including

new doors and a new floor. 

their firehouse in the 400 block of Main Street.  The purchase of the new Stutz required renovations to be made to the firehouse including new doors and a new floor.  It hasn't been a firehouse for many decades but the building still remains there as a silent monument to the early volunteers.

            Lack of a motorized fire truck didn't keep the volunteers from traveling long distances to fight fires.  In the early days of the automobile, it was not unusual for the volunteers to drive their personal vehicles to the firehouse and load them up with equipment when responding to fires too far to tote the hand-drawn hose cart. 

            According to an article in the May 11, 1923 issue of the Town and Country, the truck arrived in the borough on May 5, 1923.  It was equipped with a 105HP six-cylinder motor, a 600-gallon-per-minute Stutz pump, a 40-gallon chemical tank, two ladders, 1,500 feet of hose, and all accessories.

            Imagine responding to a fire in that truck today.

            Before the truck was inspected by underwriters, which was scheduled for May 12, the company took the opportunity to designate and train drivers.  Named as drivers were: Elwood Wiltrout, Lawrence Schlicher, Ray Rapp, Edwin Miller, Charles Dimmig, and Willard Kranzley.

            Named as Engineers were: Willard Smith, Addie Ziegler, Harvey A. Heck, Elmer S. Stahl, Herbert Barr, and Howard Wambold.

            The inspection was originally scheduled for May 11 at the Perkiomen Creek by the East Greenville pump house.  But the fear of an overflow crowd forced officials to move the date and place for the testing.

            On May 12, the insurance underwriters, the volunteers of the East Greenville Fire Company, and most of the community gathered at Sweinhart and Heimbach's ice dam at the end of Second Street just over the borough line in Upper Hanover Township, to witness the rigors of testing the Stutz went through.

            After the tests were completed the underwriters signed off on the unit and the East Greenville Fire Company volunteers officially accepted the truck.

            At the time it was heralded that few communities in the country, of the size of East Greenville, can boast of such an elaborate apparatus.

            The cost of the Stutz was $10,750 (around $200,000 in today's dollars).  The borough contributed $8,000, the fire company $2,500, and donations of $250 completed the funding.

            The Stutz served the borough and fire company well into the 1940s. 


 

 

 

 

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