Over 100 years ago a small group of Montoursville Borough citizens decided that something should be done in the community to have an organized Fire Department. This story is the beginning of the Willing Hand Hose Co. # 1 of Montoursville.
On September 4, 1893, a group led by Horace Else went to meet with Borough Council about the organization of a fire department. Mr. H.G. Bennett, a borough coucilman told the group that Borough Council would do all they could to encourage the formation of the fire department. After this the group present nominated & elected the first company officers. They also established a list of thirty two charter members.
Since there was no constitution or by-laws established the secretary was instructed to contact Watsontown and Milton fire departments for copies of their constitutions and by-laws. It was decided to meet every Friday night at 7:00 p.m.
On September 27, 1893, the meeting was called to order with the business at hand being the selection of a fire company name. Suggestions of Citizens Hose Company, Liberty Volunteer, Willing Hand, and Active were made. An election followed with Willing Hand Hose Company being the winning name.
On November 3, 1893 it was voted to limit the company membership to 40 members. The by-law committee submitted the constitution & by-laws and they were approved.
On November 24, 1893 a formal agreement was drafted between the Willing Hand Hose Company and the Borough of Montoursville to provide fire protection.
Starting in January 1894, the first business at hand for this new Fire Company was choosing a uniform and badges for each member. The second business item was to appoint a committee to interview the candidates for borough council and berges and obtain their position as to improvements in the fire company.
On April 7, 1894 the company approved a motion to have the company incorporated. A committee was appointed to meet with an attorney and draw up the necessary paperwork for the corporation.
Now with all of the formalities out of the way, the New Willing Hand Hose Company was to move forward. Over the next several months discussion was made on several uniform options and designs. A uniform was finally decided upon and ordered.
On August 10, 1894 a committee was appointed to approach the Borough Council about acquiring fire apparatus.
On October 19, 1894 it was decided to price, then purchase fire caps and rubber boots. These items being the first protective clothing for the firemen.
During 1895, the two most memorable moments were September 18, 1895, the joining of the Pennsylvania State Firemen’s Association & November 18, 1895 being the first election of a janitor. This was to be done annually.
During these early years the equipment had to be pulled by hand or by horse. The company would pay $10.00 to the farmer who brought his horse to the fire station first to pull the equipment to the fires.
February 10th, 1899 the company’s first fire police were appointed. First equipment issued was a whistle.
As the years progressed, so did the fire department. In 1906 a bathroom was installed inside the fire station.
In July 1907 the first Company Picnic was held for the members and their families. Also a new hose cart was purchased, which is still in the company possession today.
In 1917, a Model T was donated to the fire department. This was the first motorized apparatus the company used.
During the early 1920’s through the mid 1930’s not much activity took place because of the depression and World War I. In 1940 the office of the president was changed from a six month term to a one year term. This was also the year that the Ladies Auxiliary formed to assist the firemen.
On November 7th, 1944 John Weaver was killed during World War II. He was the only active member of the Willing Hand Hose Company to ever be killed in the line of duty during a war.
In 1950 the Firemen’s Social Hall was completed. On November 15th 1950 the first BINGO was held for a fund raiser. Also during this year the company built and operated a dinner stand at the Lycoming County Fairgrounds. This stand, with the assistance of the Ladies Auxiliary, operated until the early 1970’s.
August 23, 1954 – The Fire Dept. “gets into the ambulance business”, accepts a donated Buick Ambulance from the Montoursville Lions Club.
September 28, 1954 – Official Ceremony held – Lion’s Club turns over the keys to the ambulance to the department.
October 4th 1954 – W.H.H. places the ambulance in service.
On August 18th 1965 ground was broke in the 800 block of Broad Street for the construction of the current fire station. The building was constructed at an approximate cost of $150,000.00, without any federal funds.
On April 25th 1966 the first meeting was held in the new fire station.
On October 3, 1976 a dedication ceremony was held at the fire station. At this event the mortgage was burned.
On December 18th 1978 the company brought in its first female member, Alice O’Shea. She was later to become the first female on the Board of Directors and the first woman President of the company.
Throughout the 1980’s & early 90’s the department underwent a modernization of its apparatus.
1981- New Engine & Ambulance is purchased.
1985- New Tanker purchased.
1986- New Ambulance purchased.
1990- New Brush Truck purchased.
1992- New Ladder Truck purchased.
1995- New Ambulance purchased.
1996- New Engine purchased.
2000- New Ambulance purchased.
2005- New Tanker purchased.
2006- New Ambulance purchased.
2008- New Ladder Truck purchased ($600,000).
2012- Duty Officer Vehicle is purchased.
April 1994- The department celebrates 100 years of service (100 years from the date of incorporation).
August 1994 – The Department hosts the Central District Firemen’s Association Convention in conjunction with its celebration of 100 years of service.
July 17th 2001- Due to the continued shortage of daytime Emergency Medical Technicians the Department votes in favor of a proposal to implement a paid E.M.S. Staff – Monday through Friday 6a.m. – 4p.m. Volunteers will continue to cover all other hours.
August 13th 2001- The first day of the daytime E.M.S. Staffing. – Response time when the “1st due” ambulance is available is less than 1 minute from dispatch.
Recent History / Highlights:
January-Engine-1-20 (The Departments Engine-Rescue apparatus) attains certification through the PA Department of Health as a Q.R.S. unit (Quick Response Service to respond on medical calls.)
May-W.H.H. Co. # 1 Inc. Ambulances named Lycoming County Ambulance Service of the Year by the Lycoming / Tioga / Sullivan County E.M.S. Council.
Aug. & Sept.-Fire Prevention Team wins 1st place at both the Central District Volunteer Firemen’s Association & the Firemen’s Association of the State of Pennsylvania annual awards programs for fire prevention education.
December-The Department receives recognition as a participant in the State Fire Commissioner’s new Training Certification Program.
The Department begins a Live In Program to assist with EMS incidents from 23:00 thru 06:00. The program is designed to give College Students a free living facility, in return for Ambulance coverage.
PA Department of Health QRS Certification for the Brush Truck
The Purchase of two AED’s for both the Rescue Engine and Brush Truck through State Grant funds. They go above and beyond the requirement for QRS certification
PA Water Rescue Accreditation through the PA Water Rescue Instructors Association
Last but not least; The Firefighter I Recognition Program by the State Fire Commissioner’s Office. The FFI program is a program that tests firefighters in basic firefighting skills. Each firefighter must fill out a very in-depth application that requires many completed courses in EMS, Haz-Mat, & Firefighting. After the application is accepted the individual firefighter is given a written exam which must have a passing score of 70% or above. Then in turn the Firefighter is tested/evaluated on basic hands on firefighting skills, such as search & rescue, hose line advancement, & sprinkler system hook ups by a professional review board. This department has not only participated in this recognition program, but has reached a new level that again is recognized by the State. The Department has been recognized for having over 50% of its active members with there PA FFI Certification in 2003. In 2004 the Department has increased its percentage level to 75%.
June- Bunk room expanded to allow for a better living space.
November- W.H.H. CO # 1 Ambulance chosen as State Ambulance Service Of The Year.