In 1976, Joe Shields was President and George Seifert Sr. was Chief. The Company members undertook the task of refurbishing the firehouse hall. The work included a complete renovation of the facility including; wall paneling, new ceilings, new sound system, new lighting and complete rewiring of the hall including a central switch panel for the hall lights. The kitchen was also rearranged to serve as a combination food preparation area and bar for company functions.
Don Armentario displayed his prowess as a plasterer by placing cinder blocks in place of the hall windows facing the parking lot and stuccoing the exterior of the block to match the finish on the building. The less talented members were left with the task of mixing the cement. Don proved to be a tough task master and was able to keep us quite busy with our cement mixing task. The approximate cost of the refurbishing effort was just over $7,000 and the selfless effort of just about every active member of the Company. The cooperation and spirit of the membership in completing this task in less than one month was truly admirable. A page was set aside in the minutes in self appreciation of the efforts of those members who contributed their time and talent. As an aside, Joe Shields had been an artillery officer who had served in Viet Nam. He was a quality guy with a real ability to get things done.
During August 1977, the City of Johnstown Pa. experienced severe flooding. Several of our members traveled to Johnstown to assist the residents of that city.
In March of 1978, Delaware County dedicated a memorial plaque in memory of firefighters of the County who had lost their lives in the fire service. Collingdale #1 had three members memorialized at that time: William Gorgas, who lost his life in 1920, when the apparatus he was riding on overturned while responding to a call in Darby; John McNeill, who, in 1952, was overcome by smoke while fighting a fire in the Penn Pines development and subsequently died in the hospital; and Walter “Bud” Bley who suffered a heart attack and died while manning a hose line at the Janness Plumbing Supply Co. fire in Collingdale in 1973.
On April 16, 1978 we added the name of Donald Felker to the list of our members who gave their lives in the service of our Company. Don was a 1st Lt. at the time and suffered an aneurism while on an ambulance call. Don’s widow, Patricia, received Don’s Life Member card at our banquet that year since he died in his twentieth year as an active member. Don had been an extremely active member of the Company holding several offices and serving on many committees. His sons now continue in his footsteps and we are sure he would be mighty proud of their efforts on behalf of the Company.
In July 1978, we mourned the loss of Harry Owens. Harry, an electrician, was active in many activities of the fire company and was largely responsible for the electrical work done on the hall modernization project.
Doug Loftus was appointed to chair the Company’s 75th Anniversary Committee. The anniversary was not until 1981 but it was felt that, to really celebrate the event in Collingdale No. 1 fashion, we should get an early start.
Elmer Ritchie received his award for 50 years of extremely valuable service to the fire company. He served as; Captain in 1941, 1964 and again in 1966, and was member of the Board of Trustees for a number of years. He was employed as a professional fireman at the Philadelphia Navy Yard and conducted many training programs for the fire company. Elmer was also very active with the fire prevention activity of the fire company.
In June of 1979, Helen Hahn was elected to active membership. Helen was our first female active member. She was active with the ambulance and was a real asset to the company. She made a valiant effort to participate in the fire fighting activities and the workings of the Company.
In November of 1979, the Company ordered another new ambulance and approved the initial steps for our ambulance to become a paramedic staffed MICU.
The Company was deeply saddened in October 1980 with the passing of Doug Loftus. As the minutes of the Company show, Doug is, “one who will be missed for his true dedication to all his fellow men and to God”. The comment in the minutes was correct. Doug had served as President of the Company in 1970, trustee for several years, a line officer and was active in all of the activities of the Company. Doug was Chairman of the 75th Anniversary Committee at the time of his death and was principally responsible for the planning, scheduling and success of our Diamond Jubilee Celebration. Having been a member for twenty years, Doug’s Life Membership was awarded to his wife Patricia at our annual banquet.
1980 saw the change in the title for the top line officer in the company from Captain to Chief. (New name, same work and responsibilities) There was also a major change in the operation of the Ambulance Service. In October, the Ambulance was placed “ON_LINE” as an ALS unit.
This marked a major milestone in the Collingdale Fire Co. No. 1 Ambulance Service. Strict procedures were put in place and a complex learning process for the members became necessary. Through it all however, the service has adapted to the changes and continues to be one of the finest Fire Company sponsored ambulance services in the County.
1981 was a busy year for the Company as it marked our 75th Anniversary. We marked this occasion with a year long celebration which included a Citizen’s Appreciation Day, a Businessman’s Appreciation Reception, several socials, our usual Fire Co. carnival, and the annual Banquet; In addition there was a fantastic anniversary parade on September 12th, 1981
Elmer Ritchie and Jimmy Taylor now 50+ year members continued to be active and a new breed had once again shown itself in names like; Jim and Tony Reardon, Ken Smith, Jim and Bill Kerns, John Mooney, Jules Rygiel, Fred Howell Jr. John Zdun, John Cleary, Dave Peterson, Gene Bidoli, Barry Olanoff, Tony Tursi, Lou
Mozer, Rick Caruth, Bill Pentecost, Gerry Egan, Dale and Kerry Hall, Bob Adams, Pat & Jim Dallatore, Paul and Pat Young, Jack Arner, John Hewlings, Jack O’Neill, Bill & Dan Lefferts, Fred Martin et al. These men and others like them continued in the old traditions and pride which have held our Company together for the past seventy five years.
In September 1980, a motion was made to purchase a new pumper from Hahn Fire Apparatus Co.
A new truck, which came to be known as “BIG JAKE” and which was intended to replace the ”Booster Truck”, was received. Although initially intended tobe a replacement for the small Booster Truck the new truck was in fact a full Class”A”Pumper. The cost was approximately $110,000.
Ground was broken for a major addition to the Fire Co. building which included an ambulance bay and a large room, jokingly referred to as the “Pizza Hut” which was added to the hall to provide additional storage. The room also served as the pizza preparation area for the carnival. Cost of the addition was approximately $68,000.
A new P&L Custom Body and Coach Type III Ambulance was received in 1983. The cost was approximately $43,000 including trade-in.
The hall kitchen was completely remodeled in 1984. The work included new equipment, tile walls, and new counters. The kitchen was also rewired to facilitate improved food preparation. A good deal of the work was done by the members.
With the dawn of the digital age it became necessary to get computerized. The Company purchased its first computer in 1985.Through the efforts of Bill Haney and the expertise of Ed Zuccarini software was selected and installed to enable the conversion of many of the activities from the old typewriter to the computer. While at times frustrating, the computers have become a valuable asset to the company. The functions of the Secretary, Treasurer, Financial Secretary and the Trustees and even the line officers are now dependent upon the computer. The Ambulance activity has also been computerized to facilitate the keeping of numerous records that are now required by ALS activities.