The mission of the Midway Volunteer Fire Company is to endeavor to protect and preserve life, property, and the environment in it’s primary service area of Buckingham and Solebury Townships, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and aid surrounding communities. To accomplish this end, the Company will employ state-of-the-art technology, train fire company personnel to nationally recognized standards, and enhance public safety through fire and safety awareness and education.
History, 1931- 1939
On May 10, 1931 at the Lahaska Methodist Church, a special meeting was held and a petition was presented from 144 residents pledging their support to form a fire company. Each person pledged an entrance fee of $3.00 and annual dues of $2.00. Col. George VanOrden served as the Provisional Chairman of the meeting. Also at the meeting, Executive Officers and a Board of Trustees were elected. The newly elected President, Col. George VanOrden appointed both an equipment committee and a By-Laws and Constitution committee. It was also at this meeting that those in attendance voted to name this new organization the Midway Volunteer Fire Company.
The first regular meeting of the Midway Volunteer Fire Company was held on June 4, 1931 at the Lahaska Methodist Church. It was at this meeting that the membership approved the purchase of the first fire truck, which was a White Chemical Truck from the Humane Fire Company of Norristown. Member George Sotter lent the fire company $250.00 so that it could buy the truck. An agreement to pay the remaining $250.00 in 90 days time to the humane Fire Company was also signed. The fire truck was left in Lahaska that night in the care of the first Fire Chief, George Davis. The last item of business conducted at this meeting was the adoption of the By-Laws and Constitution.
On June 8, 1931, an application for incorporation was filed with Bucks County Court of Common Pleas. This application was officially entered into the court records on July 18, 1931.
In August of 1931 the very first fund raising carnival was held on August 27th, 28th and 29th. This carnival is still is being held more than 75 years later. The fire company purchased the first personal protective equipment for the firefighters in September of 1931. Ten pairs of rubber boots for $4.25 each and ten rubber coats for $4.98 each, and 16 helmets for 40 cents each. To put these purchase in perspective, today a pair of boots could cost as much as $180.00 each, turnout coat and pants $1,200 for the set and a helmet would cost about $180.00.
In closing out the first year, the fire company printed 500 cards with the phone number to call to report a fire or emergency. These cards were then given out to the residents in our coverage area. The membership increased to 160 members from the initial 144 just seven months earlier. Over the next eight years the fledgling fire company struggled with issues of finance, growth and finding a home for the first fire station. Some highlights from this period include:
- A water supply survey of our coverage area to determine where water was most available from in order to help fight fires was conducted.
- On February 1, 1932 the fire company approved the purchase of a new fire truck, a 1932 International for $1,500.00 and the trade in of the White Chemical Truck, from the Philadelphia Fire Truck Works.
- The state of Pennsylvania granted a State Charter to the fire company on April 21, 1932.
- In 1935 the fire company purchased two gas masks for $40.00. These gas masks were the precursor to the modern day self contained breathing apparatus worn by firefighters today.
- The fire company approves the purchase of the property owned by H.D Paxson for $350.00. Plans for the construction of the first firehouse are underway. The fire company applied for funding from the government under the Works Progress Administration (WPA) program, but the request was withdrawn a year later. Instead the existing house and barn will be remodeled.
- The membership has grown to 178 members, 158 contributing and 20 active.
- January 1936, 192 members, 23 active and 169 contributing.
- The Rae property with an existing house and barn are purchased for $4,000. This will become the home of the fire company for the next twenty-two years.
- The fire company purchased and employed the use of small glass bulbs containing carbon tetrachloride in March of 1936. These “glass grenades” were thrown into small fires where the gas would smother the fire.
- Chances on the 1936 Chevy Carnival Car were a book of 15 tickets for $1.00.
- In 1939 the fire company purchased and took delivery of a 1939 Howe Fire Engine. The cost of this truck with equipment was $4,674.85. The 1932 International continued to serve with Midway as a “tank wagon” or what is now called a tanker.
The only Line Officer that the fire company had from 1931 until 1938 was a Chief. In 1938 the position of Deputy Chief was added. As both the number of firefighters and fire calls increased, there was a need for additional leadership on the fire ground.