Wilkins Township V.F.C. #304


Serving our community since 1953
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History

When the Eastmont plan of homes began to open in 1953, several small fires and one large fire in an abandoned farm building (scheduled for demolition), convinced a number of new residents of the wisdom of establishing a volunteer fire company in this section of Wilkins Township. The establishment of a fire company became a function of the Eastmont Civic Association in the very early years.

Through a local fire equipment salesman and a member of the Wilkins Township Board of Commissioners who worked for the Allegheny County Road Department, several interested residents learned about a 1929 vintage fire engine in the McKeesport area. In November of 1953 four local gentlemen each contributed the grand sum of 25 cents in order to purchase the first fire engine and complete what amounted to a good-will donation to a group struggling to start a new fire protection service - thus Eastmont Volunteer Fire Department was born.

A year later, through fund raising efforts and willingness of members to co-sign a bank note, a loan of $500 was obtained to purchase from Swissvale a 1923 American LaFrance chain-driven, right-hand steering wheel pumper with a 1000 gpm pump in order to increase the ability to respond to fire calls with aged equipment.

1923 American LaFrance pumper
 
1929 Ward LaFrance pumper
 
 

1956 American LaFrance pumper

 

1970 American LaFrance, E-304-2

 

For approximately the first two years until property could be obtained and funds were raised for a building, the fire engines were housed under tarpaulin where the Croatian Fraternal Union Building now stands. This was, at that time, the parking lot for the model homes and sales office for the Sampson Brothers Development Company. To report a fire, residents had to call the home of the several listed volunteer firemen. The first alerting siren was mounted on the home of a fireman on Kingston Drive. The turnout gear was stored in the garage of one of the office buildings of the Sampson Company.

On property which was then the end of Frazier Drive, a two-bay garage was constructed which served the civic association as a combination building - a recreation center for youth and a fire station. In the late 1950's the civic association turned over the ownership and the mortgage for the building to the Eastmont V.F.D. By that time the fire company had its own non-profit charter from the courts and was no longer operating as a division of the civic association. In the 1960's the fire company added a second floor room which has been able to serve both fire company and community organization needs.

In December of 1956, the company purchased a brand new American LaFrance pumper, which had a 750 gpm pump, a 300 gallon booster tank and a V-12 gasoline engine. In December 1970 we purchased a new Ward LaFrance engine, with a 1000 gpm pump and a 500 gallon booster tank, according to a replacement plan arranged with the Board of Commissioners and with partial financial assistance from the Board. The 1956 engine then became a reserve apparatus.

In the summer of 1975 we purchased a GMC rescue truck. The purpose of this vehicle was to carry tools and equipment specifically designed for rescue that, due to weight and size, could not fit on a pumper and also to serve as a personnel carrier. In 1983, we purchased a Sutphen pumper, which had a 1500 gpm pump and 750 gallon booster tank. This vehicle is still in service today. The 1970 Ward LaFrance became a reserve pumper for the township, which is also still in service. In 1995, the department purchased a Ford F-350 4-door pickup truck for use as a squad and also transportation of equipment. In 1997, we purchased a Freightliner chassis with a 17' box from American Fire and Rescue to replace the GMC rescue in which equipment needs had outgrown the available space on the vehicle.

During the winter of 2007, we received great and long overdue news. Our department, after several years of trying, received a federal grant towards the purchase of a new engine. It will replace our 25-year old Sutphen front line engine. After an impatient and hurried year of planning, we took delivery of the new engine shortly after Christmas 2008. Our new engine, a 2008 Smeal pumper mounted on a Spartan Gladiator ELFD chassis equipped with CAFSPro 2000 GPM pump, has the latest in firefighting technology and safety. We hope the new engine will serve the township and its residents as proudly as the vehicle it replaced.

Historically, our Fire Department has been known as Eastmont Volunteer Fire Company or Wilkins #4. In order to be recognized within the Allegheny County 911 system, each station in the county has an exclusive three-digit number, and ours is 304. We began to use this designation when we switched to the 911 system in 1998, in order to avoid any confusion with other companies. So, if you hear any Company 304 equipment or personnel on the air, be advised that you are listening to “the people on the hill” here in Eastmont, Wilkins Township, Pennsylvania!

The now retired 1975 GMC Rescue 23

1983 Sutphen Engine 304-1

1995 Ford F-350 Squad 304

1997 Freightliner Rescue 304

2008 Smeal Sirius CAFS Engine 304

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