Smith: South Fayette's Oak Ridge Volunteer Fire Department turns 60
In January 1956, a small group of residents of the former District 7 in South Fayette attended a meeting to lay the groundwork for the formation of what would become the Oak Ridge Volunteer Fire Department.
Gathering at the former Federal School on Thoms Run Road (now occupied by the Federal Firearms Co.), the 30 residents' district included homes on Battle Ridge Road, Federal, Dutch Hill and Union Avenue Extension leading into Oakdale.
Bridgeville-Oakdale Road (later renamed Oak Ridge Road in recognition of the fire department) also was included and later became the fire company's name.
Temporary officers elected at the meeting were Felix Mazek, president; John Bosi, vice president; Fred Pagliai, recording secretary; John Dulenc, financial secretary; and Louis Reinstadtler, treasurer.
At the Feb. 1956 meeting, the new fire department was christened the Oak Ridge Volunteer Firemen's Association of South Fayette Township and, in May, was chartered by the state and county.
A few months later, the Homeville Volunteer Fire Department of West Mifflin donated a 1927 American LaFrance pumper to the newly organized group.
Line officers were elected in May 1956 with James Hormel becoming the first chief and Dan Meehan, assistant chief. Also at this time, Mr. and Mrs. William Taylor, residents of Oak Ridge Road, offered to lease free of charge a building to house the fire equipment.
The Taylors' offer was gratefully accepted.
In July 1956, the Oak Ridge Ladies Auxiliary was formed.
The only auxiliary in the township, its fundraising efforts included card parties, cake bingos, dances, fish fries and dinners.
The group financed the addition of a well-equipped kitchen and other building improvements, including air conditioning and an acoustic ceiling.
They used to be responsible for all the food purchases and preparation of same for the department's longstanding Monday night bingo.
The Ladies Auxiliary disbanded in 2008 at the same time Oak Ridge discontinued its bingo.
In June 1957, a parcel of land bordering Oak Ridge Road was purchased from Mrs. Henrietta Meyer, a long-time South Fayette resident, and in 1960, construction of a fire hall at Oak Ridge Road began.
The firefighters provided most of the labor, completing the building in 1961. Two additions were constructed in 1977 and 1986.
An electronic sign at the entrance to the VFD complex was erected by B.J. Supan, a 2014 graduate of South Fayette High School and junior firefighter who completed the project as part of his Eagle Scout requirements.
The first new piece of firefighting equipment purchased was a 1960 Ford 750 gallon-per-minute pumper.
Other equipment consists of a 2002 International rescue pumper, a 2003 Ford pickup truck and a 2007 Pierce pumper.
Oak Ridge's social hall is available for rent, as are its tables and chairs.
To volunteer as a firefighter (training is provided) or to make a financial contribution, call 724-693-8880.
Charlotte Smith is a freelance writer for the Tribune-Review. Reach her at 724-693-9441 or firstname.lastname@example.org.