A milestone was reached by the Company in 1966. In April, the Company made the final payment on the building. To mark the occasion, the members were treated to a catered dinner and President Charlie Meiser conducted the Mortgage Burning Ceremony.
In October a Fireman’s Appreciation Day parade was held as part of the Diamond Jubilee Celebration of the Borough. The Company put on a fine show with many of the members sporting beards and mustaches which went well with the high hats, red shirts and suspenders that we bought for this special occasion. The Borough’s celebration lasted through a good part of the year and featured many events including a historical pageant held on the high school field which featured quite a number of Collingdale residents acting out the parts of historical persons who were associated with the development of the area in colonial times. Margaret Hudson, Al’s wife,was named Queen of the Celebration in recognition of her untiring efforts to assure its success. Bill Ruthrauff was the Mayor at the time. The Fire Companies provided a good deal of fun with there roving jail that traveled throughout the Borough arresting male residents who failed to grow a beard for the celebration. A good and memorable time was had by all.
Another new ambulance was received in March 1967. In addition a committee of Ed Glanfield Ch. Sam Arrell, Elmer Ritchie, Orland Dukes and Bill Ellis was appointed by President Doug Loftus and charged with the purchase of a new pumper. The committee developed a specification for the pump truck however, during the process of evaluating different apparatus it was noted that the Fire District was in fact in need of an aerial truck. The aerial in Darby and Clifton Heights were both quite old and somewhat unreliable and while our City Service truck was in good condition it did not provide the capabilities of an aerial. After some discussion on the matter, the committee approached the Company to request permission to investigate the possibility of acquiring an aerial truck instead of the pump truck. The Company concurred with the committee and gave its permission to investigate both a pumper and an aerial ladder..
The Company decided on the purchase of only one piece of apparatus and in April 1968, the committee presented the Company with information on both types of apparatus and a discussion was held on whether to purchase one truck or two. The decision was made that a Seagraves Rear Mount 100 foot Aerial be purchased for the sum of $64,529.00.
The following year bids were received for the new pump truck. In April 1969, the Hahn Fire Apparatus Co. was selected to build the truck.
On December 9 the Company voted to pay the Seagraves Fire Apparatus Co. for the Aerial Truck which had been received in July 1969. The truck was placed in service in January 1970. The delay in payment was due to the truck paint not being in accordance with the Company specification. A long negation was undertaken with Seagrave Corp over the cost of the truck and whether we were entitled to a financial settlement for the manufacturers mistake. The final cost of the truck was $57,470.
The Collingdale Millwork fire occurred in 1969, just a short time before the Aerial was placed in service.
As a bit of fire company folk lore, the nickname for the aerial was the “Queen”. The name was initially bestowed by Doug Loftus who had been in the Air Force and was a Boeing Vertol employee. Doug said that aircraft that were out of service for long periods of time were dubbed, “hangar queens” thus the nickname for the aerial. Rest assured though that when truck was finally placed in service it totally fulfilled the expectations of the Company although the nickname remained throughout the many years it remained in service.
Phil Neary, a leader of the Company for many years passed away in 1970. Phil was a driving force for the Company for many years. He served as Captain for 1949 and 1950 and was a member of the Board of Trustees for many years.
Bill Rowe, another long time member, fabricated the racks for the member’s running gear. The racks were made from steel from several old carnival stands. Prior to this time all of the running gear was carried on the trucks and it was first come first served when you were trying to find gear that would fit. The new apparatus did not have facilities for mounting gear. In addition, the number of men responding to fires had increased to where there was not sufficient space to store the gear, even on the old trucks.
The new Pump Truck was received from Hahn Fire Equipment Co.
The housing celebration for the Aerial and the Pump was held on September 12, 1970. Fred Howell chaired the Housing Committee which provided a grand celebration. 57 Companies joined us in this celebration, which was well organized and extremely successful. It was a proud day for all of us. Doug Loftus was President and Bill Ebinger was the Captain that year.
A motion was made to purchase a new ambulance for the sum of $21,104.50 less a trade in of $8,604.50
With the receipt of the new pumper the 1946 Mack Pump Truck was put up for sale. The “Pump” had served the Company well for 24 years. It was purchased by Fred Tattersall who was a former firehouse caretaker for Fire Company. After several years, the truck was purchased and is presently owned by George Kaiser. George is an active member of the Company and appreciates the attachment the Company has with the “Old Mack”.
The truck has been refurbished and is still used in various Antique Fire Apparatus Shows and pumping contests and, through George’s generosity, by the Fire Company for special occasions.
In April, 1971 the Company suffered another loss while fighting a major fire at the Janness Plumbing Co. on MacDade Blvd. Walter ‘Bud” Bley suffered a heart attack and died while working on a hose line on Rhodes Avenue. His untimely death was a shock to us all. Bud was a willing worker and a fine gentleman. He was always willing to lend a hand when needed.
The Janness Plumbing Co. occupied part of a one block long building on MacDade Boulevard between Rhodes and Staley Avenues. The building was heavily involved in fire by the time the alarm was received and a call was immediately placed for a district response. Fire fighting was hampered by the presence of approximately thirty propane tanks which were stored in a remote section of the building and which exploded at random times. As the fire progressed, a gas pipe, which passed through a brick wall between the plumbing company and the adjacent Ply-Gems Wood Paneling Store, broke off and vented gas into the paneling store. As preparations were being made to prevent the passage of fire into the paneling store the gas exploded and literally blew the paneling store apart. Due to the explosion and the rapid increase in the scope of the fire with the attending heat, it became necessary to relocate several hose lines as well as the ladder truck. It was at this time that Bud Bley apparently passed away. The ambulance crew responded immediately but their efforts to revive Bud were to no avail. The heat was so intense in the area that the beacon ray lights on the ladder truck, which was positioned across MacDade from the fire, were partially melted. The ladder truck was forced to move briefly until the initial flash of the fire subsided. The truck was then returned to service on the Rhodes avenue side of the building and set up ;to protect surrounding buildings.. Despite the situation, the spread of the fire was controlled very well and there was essentially no damage to residences on Rhodes and Staley avenues. The fire, which had started at about 9:00 PM, was finally extinguished at about 6:00AM. Fire companies assisting No.1 and No.2 at the fire included, Darby No.1 and No.2, Colwyn, Sharon Hill, and Holmes,
Andy Munley passed away in August 1971. Andy was a longtime member who was liked by all who knew him. He had served on the Board of Trustees and many other committees and was always a willing worker.
July 1973 saw the first applications by women to become active members of the Company. Eight applications were received, eight were rejected.
Leon Wright, a member for more than 50 years, died in ‘October 1973. Leon was active during all of his years as a member. He served President in 1933 and again in 1959 and as Financial Secretary for many years. In fact, Leon was the Financial Secretary in 1927 when the color of the trucks was changes from white to battleship gray. Leon, who was the Post Master at the Collingdale Post Office for many years, was also, at one time, the caretaker in the old firehouse.
A major improvement was to the hall with the installation of air conditioners in 1974.