A Brief History of the Keystone Fire Company No. 1
In 1873 an application was made to the Court of Common Pleas of Berks County for the incorporation of the Keystone Steam Fire Engine Company, the preamble of which reads -"The usefulness of association for the extinguishment of fires having long since influenced the citizens of the Borough of Boyertown to form themselves into a company for that purpose." On May 15, 1873 a No. 2 Silsby Steamer, a hose truck and 600 ft. of leather hose was purchased by the company at a cost of $6,000. The first president of the Keystone Fire Company was I.B. Hankey and the motto, "When Duty Calls 'Tis Ours to Obey", was adopted. For six years this apparatus was stored in a house leased for that purpose and in 1878 a parcel of land was purchased. In 1879 a two-story building was erected on this land, the first floor for the housing of the apparatus, and the second floor for the use of the company for meetings and recreation, a part of this second floor was also reserved for the use of the Town Council. By the year 1899, Boyertown had grown into one of the most solidly built, clean and healthiest towns in the state. Boasting good schools, strong banks, industrious merchants, and manufacturers whose products were then being distributed throughout the United States and even into foreign lands, and also two excellent volunteer fire companies. On July 4, 1899 the first Firemen's Parade was conducted by the Friendship Hook and Ladder Co. and the Keystone Fire Company. Fire companies from Pottstown, Royersford, East Greenville and Pennsburg also participated. For this special occasion a souvenir book was prepared, and in the foreward of this book, the General Committee stated most prophetically "should fire in its ghastly ravages make an appearance, the Boyertown Fire Department will be on hand." On January 13, 1908 these words were very forcibly fulfilled, when one of America's most serious fire disasters occurred in Boyertown. The Boyertown 'Opera House' fire in which 180 persons lost their lives. On April 27, 1914 the Company bought the land for its next home, from the William Binder estate at a cost of $5500 and on April 26, 1915 the building was ready for the housing of the company's apparatus. The first chemical and auto truck was purchased December 27, 1920 for $12,500. In 1961 the Company purchased an International Utility and Brush truck. In 1973, the Centennial anniversary of its founding, the Company added a Ward LaFrance 1,000 GPM Pumper truck. The fire apparatus has been consistently modernized so that today Boyertown can pridefully boast of having a Fire Department consisting of the most up to date fire fighting equipment manned by highly trained volunteers well prepared to render efficient and effectual service to this community. In addition to affording the citizens of Boyertown protection against fire, the Keystone Fire Co. has also rendered a distinct service in its contribution to all worthwhile causes and in its financial assistance to needy families. The Keystone Fire Company has also rendered a further service in providing for entertainment not only to the members but at various times for the entire community. The first Basket Ball Games, the first movies, the first boxing exhibitions in Boyertown, have been staged in the auditorium of the Keystone Fire Company. Other forms of entertainment such as Indoor Circuses, Fairs, Festivals, Card Parties have at different times been presented in this auditorium. At its present location the Company offers auditorium and banquet facilities as well a bowling alley to the public and a social hall/taproom to its members.
(*adapted from the 1973 Centennial Anniversary Program)
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