History of Houston Volunteer Fire Company

Before I endeavor in my humble efforts to compile a brief history of the Houston
Volunteer Fire Company, I wish to state that its conception and birth was due to an occurrence
or rather a number or occurrences.

In the early part of 1926 Houston and the vicinity were victims or a series of disastrous fires, which forcibly brought the community face to face with this fact: the need for some form of firefighting equipment to combat future fires.

After several discussions on the matter by various groups of residents it was agreeably decided on a certain date to hold a meeting for the purpose of obtaining the sentiments of the citizens of Houston in this matter.

On March 8, 1926, at 7:30 p.m., a goodly representation of residents of Houston and the nearby countryside assembled in the Houston Public School building. By request H. F. Scott acted as temporary chairman and J. B. Councelman as temporary secretary. The purpose of the meeting was then put before the assembly and everyone present was asked to freely express their opinions pro and con. After a short discussion on the matter, a standing vote was taken to decide: Shall we organize a Fire company? Shall we back it up l00%? To which all present voted yes.

Then the first officers of the company were named and elected, by a standing vote of those present. They were as follows: President - H. F. Scott; Secretary - J;. B. Counselman (temporary); Chief - Merrill W. Thistlewood; Ass't Chief B- Fred Hayes and D. E. Greenley; Treasurer - David Vinyard (Permanent); and Engineer and Driver - William H. Sapp.

Members were as follows: Irving Vienot, Lawrence Armour, Lloyd Armour, Thomas Sharp, Harvey Marvel, Emory Webb, G. S. Armour, Oley Sapp, William Reynolds, Augustus Morgan, William Ennis, Joseph Hayes, Clinton Marvel, Elmer Dawson, John A. Dawson, Thomas Cahall and John Brittingham.

The first Monday night in the month was selected as meeting night. A collection was then taken from those present, which was the beginning of the fund which purchased the first equipment. The exact amount of this collection is not definitely known, owing to the fact that the proceeds were, in all probably, recorded on tablet paper that was discarded before proper minute books and books for the Treasurer were procured. The minutes of April 16, 1926, show that Treasurer David Vinyard reported the sum of $168. raised to date. This may seem a small amount, but in view of the fact that the public had been in the habit of donating to the Carlisle Fire Company at Milford, who was our source of help in time of need, many were somewhat doubtful that so small a community could successfully organize a practically equipped organization. But a few with faith in the project kept busy until they achieved results.

The next donation was a hand drawn one tank chemical out-fit, 50 feet of 1 inch hose, one 16 foot ladder, one 32 foot extension ladder, and two 12 quart buckets presented by the Town Board of Houston. This equipment had been purchased by the town a few years prior to this; however, in the few attempts made to use it, it had never proven of much satisfaction. This was due to the fact that there was no one to keep it in condition and that it could not be transported to any advantage except on short runs.

This equipment was in part traded in on twin tanks purchased from the Robinson Fire Apparatus Company of New York; the Model T Ford chassis purchased from Edgar Harrington of Milford, dealer. and on which a body was built to carry tanks, hose, buckets and other equipment. This work was practically all done gratis by residents of Houston who were mechanics in various branches.

This apparatus was used with satisfactory results until the latter part of 1928 when at a special meeting at the home of H. F. Schtt. The committee appointed, signed an agreement with the Hale Pump Company of Conshohocken, PA, for a 300 gallon pumper mounted on a Ford chassis at a cost of $3,600. They agreed to take over the old twin tank chemical outfit and its equipment at an allowance of $700. There seems to be no record of the exact date of delivery of this outfit owing to the death of the treasurer. Undoubtedly, the delivery was made early in November 1928, as records show that on November 12, 1928, a committee was appointed to purchase 500 feet of 21/2 inch fabric hose. The same was purchased of the New York Fabric Hose Company at a cost of $600. Shortly after that 200 feet of 1 inch chemical hose was also purchased at a cost of about $15.

In April 1934, ground was broken for our new building on the land that had been purchased the year previous from the Pennsylvania Railroad Company. In the early autumn of that year, the new Firemen's and Community Building was completed and turned over to the Fire Company and community by Mr. Georse Thomas who was the contractor and builder, of Dover. Much credit is due the building committee who generally speaking took a personal interest in the project. E. Frank Burris in particular spent endless time and effort in obtaining as much for our expenditures as possible. Owing to the greater majority of the members being busy at that season of the year, there was no formal dedication held when the building was completed.