History


Although the West Shore Bureau of Fire is the newest fire department in Cumberland County, the predecessors to this organization have a rich and deep history in providing fire protection services to their communities. What the West Shore Bureau of Fire has become is a direct result of that dedication to our citizens whom we have faithfully served for over nine decades. Therefore their history is our history and we would like to share it with you. It all started in the Borough of Lemoyne on June 19, 1905. A meeting was held in the Witman Building at Rossmoyne and Hummel Streets for the purpose of organizing a fire company for the Borough. The temporary chair man was William C. Bowman. Meetings were held once a week and speakers were obtained from surrounding companies, and election of permanent officers took place. The Citizens Fire Company #1 of Lemoyne was officially recognized by the borough council on July 6, 1906 after nearly a year of efforts by the residents. The first by-laws and a constitution were drawn up and approved on July 17, 1906. Its first piece of fire equipment was a hand-made hose cart that was originally kept in the stable of Dr. John Bowman. The apparatus was moved frequently to various stables and garages throughout the community until 1910 when the first fire station was built on Hummel Avenue. The company purchased a tract of land on Hummel Avenue, and a temporary wooden structure was built for $36.00. A second hose cart was added at this time, and the original was dismantled. The new cart was pulled by hand or with luck, a borrowed horse was hitched to it to provide a faster response. In 1911, the tract of land was sold for $1300, and another lot was purchased on Herman Avenue. The contract for the construction of the permanent firehouse was awarded to W. E. Bushey for $3375 on March 17. 1914. On September 5 of that year the fire apparatus was moved into the new building. During the construction of the building in 1914, a 304 pound bell inscribed with the Company name, date of organization, and date of incorporation was purchased from E. W. Wandinger Co. of Cincinnati, Ohio at a cost of $0.27 per pound, plus charges and freight, for a total of $82.71. The bell hangs in the bell tower to this very day. The Wormleysburg Fire Company #1 was also organized around this time and on March 5, 1909 elected their first officers. The Fire Company consisted of mainly bucket brigades until they purchased their first piece of fire equipment from Harrisburg Fire Department, a horse drawn cart that was converted to be pulled by firefighters. The horse cart’s purchase was very timely in that it was used when a tin shop caught fire in Wormleysburg shortly after it was placed into service. Beginning in 1915, the financial situation of the Citizens Fire Company became very poor. Relations with the Borough Council were severed, and the company almost lost their building in order to pay for their mortgage. In 1919, reorganization took place, and the company asked for assistance from both the Borough Council and the citizens of Lemoyne. Residents of Lemoyne voted to approve a loan for $7000 to purchase the department’s first motorized Fire apparatus, an American LaFrance, on November 19, 1919. In 1920, the Wormleysburg Fire Company also received its first motorized fire apparatus and in 1936 purchased a new diamond T to replace the previous unit. In 1921, a telephone was installed in the Citizens building and the second floor of the building was rented to the School Board for classrooms. The following year brought the dedication of the Citizens first fire truck. The first fire alarm system in Lemoyne, with individual street-corner boxes, was installed in 1923 at a cost of $2055. In 1925, the first prize for participation in a parade was won by the lads in a parade at Camp Hill. On June 3, 1938, a new Hahn fire truck arrived and the original motorized apparatus was remodeled and delivered in September of the same year. The company was the pride of the West Shore with their beautiful new pieces of apparatus. The borough purchased the new engine, and the remodeled engine was sold to the borough for $1.00 during that same year. In 1936 the Wormleysburg Fire Company purchased a new Diamond T apparatus to replace the previous unit.

In 1939 a hose tower was constructed in the rear of the Citizens building. All fire company equipment was turned over to the Lemoyne Borough Council on April 5, 1940. During the war years which followed, many sixteen year old boys and girls replaced the firefighters who were serving our country during World War II. It was toward the end of the war that these young men and women helped fight fires, one of which destroyed the Washington Heights School in Lemoyne. Another destroyed the Trinity Lutheran Church. Although both companies had immense pride in their respective fire companies, they continued to assist each other in times of need and sought out ways to better provide service to their communities. Toward that end, the Citizens Fire Company placed in service an emergency unit to hold rescue equipment in 1951. This gave them three pieces of fire apparatus to squeeze into a small two bay station. As a result, a new building addition was constructed beginning in 1952. In 1953 they added three bays to accommodate a combination rescue/pumper unit, the first one in the area. This unit was featured at the International Fire Chiefs Conference in Philadelphia before being placed in service. This unit boasted such features as deep rescue style compartments, enhanced pumping capabilities as well as flow gauges on each outlet to better determine fire flows needed. Citizens Fire Company also replaced their 1959 Rescue with a new 1983 Mack/Swab rescue unit. They also replaced the 1974 air wagon with a new unit in 1985. The older air unit was then redesigned and became Utility 11. In 1988 Citizens Fire Company also took delivery of a KME fire apparatus, which replaced the aging 1960 vintage Ford pumpers.

In 1992 Wormleysburg sent their Hahn pumper to Emergency One for a complete rebuilding on a new chassis, which included a totally enclosed cab for firefighters’ safety.

During the late 1980s both fire companies provided a valuable service to Cumberland County with the formation of the Special Hazards Operations Team, which provided Hazardous Materials response to the area.  Also, during the 1980s both fire companies worked to form a new Mutual Aid Force, “Battalion One”, which utilizes the services of four communities resources during the fire emergencies. In addition to Lemoyne and Wormleysburg, Camp Hill and New Cumberland Boroughs worked together to standardize equipment, tactics and response to each community. This was the start of the possibility of creating a regional fire service to provide better protection to the area. The Battalion has recently expanded to include the Fairview Township Fire Department of York County. In 1996, Lemoyne received a new Emergency One squad/pumper combination to replace both the 1983 Mack/Swab Rescue and the 1976 fire engine with this unit. This unit featured enclosed seating as well as an enclosed pump panel with an enhanced Compressed Air Foam fire suppression system. This was the first such unit in the entire Central Pennsylvania area, and has been utilized in various counties throughout the Commonwealth. In 1997, talks were started by both communities to form what is now the West Shore Bureau of Fire. This new organization was officially formed on January 1, 1998, and has been providing fire and safety services to the communities since that time. In February of that year, our new organization was faced with a major fire at the West Shore Farmers Market, which went to four alarms before under control. During this fire our new organization performed exceptionally and effectively. There were no firefighter or civilian injuries during the seven days that the companies were on the scene. We could not have accomplished this without the cooperation and efforts of our volunteers as well as the efforts of the mutual aid companies that assisted us. The first major fire had been handled, and it was time to tackle the first major purchase of the new organization. A new 1999 Emergency One air unit was purchased, and is housed at Station 1. Our future plans call for the replacement of the apparatus on a regular basis. In 2002, the West Shore Bureau of Fire was assigned a new company number. Company 13 came into existence with Station 1 in Lemoyne, the former Company 11, and Station 2 in Wormleysburg, the former Company 15. Station 1 presently houses Engine 1-13, Squad 13, Air 13, and Utility 1-13. Station 2 presently houses Engine 2-13, Engine 3-13, and Utility 2-13. We are very proud of our organization and also of the individual histories of the companies that helped make our organization what it is today. Reflecting on our proud past, we look forward to the future, with renewed dedication to continue providing outstanding service to our communities.