Tarentum Fire Hall tour honors history and those who served
October is National Fire Prevention Month, so to recognize this, three Tarentum fire halls are opening their doors and inviting the community to stop in.
The free Tarentum Fire Hall tour begins at 10 a.m. sharp Oct. 21. Guests will board the bus at Riverview Memorial Park in Tarentum to visit Highland Hose Company, Eureka Fire & Rescue and Summit Hose Company.
At each location, firefighters will share some of the history of each fire house and offer fire prevention information and advice.
This tour is part of the ongoing 175th anniversary celebration of Tarentum. Other tours have included the water plant, churches, landmarks and a walking tour.
The fire departments wanted to be a part of this tour because fire prevention is so important, says Terry Chambon, fire chief at Highland Hose Company. It also will be a time to encourage people to become firefighters, he says, and honor those who have lost their lives fighting fires.
In the Louie's Garage fire in 1961, nine firemen were injured, four seriously, including Frank Goralka of Summit Hose Company, who later died of his injuries.
In 1999, Michael Simms of Highland Hose Company died from a head injury after falling from the fire engine's jump seat on a way to a fire in East Deer.
“We must never forget these heroes who lost their lives,” Chambon says. “They've given the ultimate sacrifice. We know it's a dangerous job, but we as firefighters are dedicated to this community.”
The history of Highland Hose Company extends to Aug. 18, 1894, when a number of citizens of the first ward of the borough of Tarentum met for the purpose of organizing a volunteer fire department and considered ways and means for building a fire house.
It became officially known as Highland Hose Company on Feb. 12, 1913, after being referred to as First Ward Fire Company. In 1928, the fire company moved to its current building.
“If we can save one person from dying in a fire, then this tour will all be worth it,” Chambon says.
Eureka Fire & Rescue is a combination fire-rescue-EMS department that is made up of 24 volunteers, intermixed with 11 full-time and 10 part-time personnel.
The present-day Eureka Fire & Rescue was organized as Independent Pump & Hose Company, officially chartered as Eureka Hose Company in 1907. Eureka founded the borough's ambulance service in 1936, and established rescue services in conjunction with the ambulance service in 1969 and advanced life support capabilities in 1983.
Summit Hose Company was incorporated Jan. 16, 1907. During the first six months, this company raised $1,465 and by the following year had enough money to build a hose house next to its present location. The 1914 Seagrave combination chemical and host car was the first piece of motorized fire apparatus in the Valley. It was purchased by Summit Hose in September 1914.
All three current fire houses were designed by the same architect, says Cindy Homburg, Tarentum town historian, who is planning the tour.
“There is so much history inside these fire houses,” Homburg says. “There is so much to learn, and it can be a time to thank the individuals who risk their lives for our safety if there is a fire.”