In 1925, S. M. Fife sold a parcel of land with a building on it to
the Airville Hall Association. The building was to be used as a meeting
place for the Airville Chapter of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.
Another local group called the Grange also used the building as a meeting
place after they moved from the Pine Grove Church hall.
On April 15, 1942 a garage burned downed in the town of Brogue which
is located just to the north of the town of Airville. The same day as the
garage fire, three local men meet that night to discuss the possibility of
forming a fire company in the Airville area. The three men who met that
night were Samuel Fife, Arthur Stokes and Marvin Swagert. During this time
frame the three nearest fire companies were located in Red Lion, Delta and
Fawn Grove. It was thought that with Airville being an equal distance from
these three towns that it would be a good location for another fire company.
To get started, posters were printed and displayed at local
businesses announcing a meeting on May 20, 1942. The meeting was to be
attended by all those interested in forming a fire company in Airville. It
was decided that the meeting would be held at the Airville Hall. At the
first meeting twenty-seven (27) men met and appointed Samuel Fife as the
chairman, Marvin Swagert as Acting Secretary and Kerr Anderson as Treasurer.
During this meeting it was also decided to appoint a group of directors who
would help solicit funds from the area residence. The directors were made up
of one man from each of the local schools and four more men from Chanceford
and Fawn Townships. Before this meeting adjourned the name of the fire
company was discussed and the name of Airville Volunteer Fire Company was
On May 25, 1942 the group met again and elected the first set of
officers for the fire company. Those officers consisted of Horace Grove as
President, Samuel Fife as Vice-President, Marvin Swagert as Secretary and
Kerr Anderson as Treasurer. It was decided to purchase a Ford truck chassis
and mount a tank and pump onto it. The contract was awarded to Howard
Smeltzer but was eventually cancelled by the War Production Board. The group
would have to wait until after World War II to buy a new chassis.
Around this time the members of the Fawn Grove Fire Company sold the
Airville Volunteer Fire Company a used fire truck. The truck was a 1930
Studebaker that carried 600 gallons of water, had a Darley fire pump and was
sold for the sum of $600.00. The Studebaker became the first piece of
firefighting equipment to be purchased by the Airville Volunteer Fire
Company and would serve the members well for years to come. The Studebaker
was delivered to the Airville Volunteer Fire Company on July 13, 1942 and
the same night Arthur Stokes was elected as the first Fire Chief.
During the first few weeks of the fund drive, the directors
collected over $500.00 and at the end of December 1942 the company had a
balance of $861.38 with all bills paid. Community support was overwhelming
and has continued ever since that first year.
On December 21, 1942 the Airville Volunteer Fire Company answered
their first call. The members were dispatched to the home of Charles Heffner
to extinguish a chimney fire.
The members of the fire company held their meetings inside the
Airville Hall which was also used to house the equipment. The Airville Hall
was rented for the sum of $200.00 a year with the option to buy.
In 1943 there was discussion about forming a Ladies Auxiliary. On
April 12, 1943 the Ladies Auxiliary of the Airville Volunteer Fire Company
was formed. Since that time the Auxiliary has supported the firefighters by
raising funds, serving banquets and bringing refreshments to the scenes of
large fires and other emergency.
On October 11, 1943 the first protective equipment was ordered from
the Red Lion Fire Company. The equipment consisted of four (4) helmets and
four (4) coats, which cost a total of $80.36 and was purchased by the
February of 1944 was a busy month for the members. It was decided to
write a monthly news letter entitled "Mail Call" which would be sent to
members of the fire company who were over seas fighting in the Armed Forces.
This letter was sent every month up until April of 1946. Also in February
the members discussed about placing a siren in town and whether or not to
build a new fire hall or to purchase the Airville Hall. The cost of the
Airville Hall would be $2,000.00 and to build a new hall would be
$16,500.00. The new hall would be about sixty by eighty feet. On February
23, 1944 a special meeting was held to vote on building a new hall or
purchasing the Airville Hall. It was voted to purchase the Airville Hall for
the sum of $2,000.00.
The members of the fire company received their Charter from the
State of Pennsylvania in May of 1944. At this time the fire company adopted
a constitution and by-laws.
In January of 1945 the Airville Fire Company Relief Association was
formed. The State of Pennsylvania provided the fire company with money that
was received from insurance taxes. This money was placed into the Relief
Association account and was used to purchase accident policies for the
firefighters. Since the time of its formation, the Relief Association has
continued to purchase items that pertain to safety for the firefighters.
On Monday February 4, 1946 a special meeting was held for the
purpose of purchasing a new fire truck. It was voted to purchase a fire
truck and over the next month the members worked on obtaining the items
needed. The International Harvesting Company was awarded a contract for a
chassis for the sum of $1,404.63. The Oren Company was awarded a contract
for a 500 gallon water tank and a 500 gallon per minute pump for the sum of
$3,403.50. In May of 1946 the members got a loan for $3,400 at four percent
interest from the Farmers and Merchants Bank in Red Lion to help pay for the
truck. In August of the same year, Mrs. Nora Posey contacted the fire
company and offered to loan them the money at an interest rate of two
percent. The members agreed and Mrs. Posey loaned the fire company
In the later part of 1946 a kitchen was added to the building. The
kitchen served the Auxiliary well and offered them the opportunity to hold
Between 1947 and 1950 the members responded to many emergency calls.
It was business as usual during this time frame and the only significant
event was when the fire company joined the Fire Police Association in
November of 1950.
In January of 1951 the members of the fire company formed a first
aid committee at which time several members started taking classes. Since
that time the fire company has had a large contingent of firefighters that
have been certified to administer first aid. The certification has been from
a First Responder up to an Emergency Medical Technician.
On March 26, 1951 the members voted to again purchase a new fire
truck. Over the next several months a 1947 Dodge chassis was purchased from
the International Harvester Company for $700.00. The water tank from the
1930 Studebaker was used and a 250 gallon per minute Hale pump was
purchased. The chassis for the 1930 Studebaker was sold at a public auction
on Saturday June 30, 1951 for $90.00.
On November 1, 1951 the members voted to use the fire siren to
announce the opening of the small game hunting season. It is not clear when
this practice may have been stopped.
During the time frame of 1952 to 1957 the only significant thing to
happen was the members agreed to change the meeting night from the second
Monday to the second Tuesday of each month. The change was voted on in
November of 1955. This meeting time has stood ever since except for when
elections or other important events have taken place.
In January of 1958 new call numbers for the fire trucks were
established by York County. The International would be identified as 221 and
the Dodge would be identified as 222.
In the latter part of 1958 there was some discussion on purchasing a
truck to haul equipment for forest fires. A vote was taken in April of 1959
to purchase a new fire engine. On June 22, 1959 a contract was signed and
the Howe Fire Apparatus Company delivered a new fire engine for $7,000.00.
The company was based in Anderson, Indiana and the engine would carry 500
gallons of water. The total cost of the engine and all the other equipment
was $11,752.94. As of the year 2007 this engine was still in service with
the Airville Volunteer Fire Company.
Between 1960 and 1973 the fire company continued to raise money and
respond to emergency calls. In October of 1965 the first turkey raffle was
held. The cost of a ticket was $.50 and twenty (20) turkeys were given away.
This raffle is still a fundraiser that the members hold in the fall of each
year and tickets have only increased to $1.00 a ticket. On December 9, 1969
the members of the fire company voted to purchase several acres of ground
next to the hall for parking. In May of 1972 an old canning house located on
the property was torn down.
In the early 1970's it was felt that a better communications system
was needed for the county. At this time several monitors were purchased and
assigned to members. Now the members would not have to listen for the siren
to blow. When the fire company would get dispatched to a call the monitors
alerted them as to where the emergency was and what it was. As time
progressed, the monitors turned into pagers that the members could carry
with them wherever they went.
In February of 1974 the members started to discuss the idea of
obtaining a tanker to carry extra water to the scene of fires. In March of
1974 the members held a special meeting where it was voted to purchase a
used 1959 Reo Fuel truck and convert it into a tanker. When the truck was
finished, it could carry 3,300 gallons of water and cost the fire company
about $8,500.00. In August of 1974 the Dodge was sold for $450.00.
In January of 1975 the fire trucks were again assigned new call
numbers. The International was designated Engine 55-1, the Ford was
designated Engine 55-2 and the Tanker as Tanker 55.
In March of 1976 the members voted to purchase a 1972 Chevy step van
for $1,500.00. The van would later be converted into a rescue unit and
placed into service in 1976 as Rescue 55.
1976 also brought with it the arrival of the companies first SCBA's
(Self Contained Breathing Apparatus). These air packs would allow the
firemen to enter burning structures while breathing a fresh supply of
On January 31, 1978 the members held a special meeting to discuss
purchasing three and one-half acres behind the hall. It was voted on and
agreed to purchase the ground for $8,500.00. Also in 1978 the water tank was
replaced on the 1959 Ford engine.
In January of 1979 the 3,300 gallon tank truck was involved in an
accident and was damaged beyond repair. The truck responded to assist the
New Bridgeville Vol. Fire Co. in Duff Hollow at the scene of a fire. As the
truck was headed down a hill, the driver attempted to apply the brakes at
which time they realized the brakes had failed. The truck crashed at the
bottom of the hill and no one was injured. This has been the only major
accident involving a piece of fire equipment for the fire company. Later
that same month, the members decided to replace the tanker. In March of 1979
a used tanker was purchased from the Rawlinsville Fire Company from
Lancaster County. The tanker carried 2,200 gallons of water and cost
$7,000.00. This truck was designated Tanker 55 and placed in service in
September of 1979.
1980 was another busy year for the fire company. It was decided in
May to let the Delta Cardiff Vol. Fire Co. handle any calls in the lower
portion of Lower Chanceford Township. This was done do to Delta having
vehicle rescue capabilities. This area would be known as the 57-4 box. In
November of 1980 the members again voted to purchase a new fire engine. This
truck was an FMC pumper on a Ford chassis that carried 750 gallons of water
and could pump 750 gallons of water a minute.
January of 1981 found the firemen taking orders from a new chief.
After thirty-eight and one-half years as chief, Arthur Stokes stepped aside
for health reasons. Mr. Ray Walker became only the second fire chief of the
Airville Volunteer Fire Company.
The 1980's found the firemen responding to more calls and again
raising money to keep the organization going. In 1983 the International
pumper was sold for $1,200.00. In December of 1987 the members voted to
purchase a set of vehicle rescue tools (also known as the Jaws of Life).
In January of 1988, Ray Walker stepped aside as chief after seven
years. Taking his place was Wayne Stokes, the son of the fire company’s
first chief. In the early months of 1988, a Lucas Rescue tool was placed
into service and still serves the fire company to this day.
In 1991 the members joined the Adopt-A-Highway program and were given
a stretch of Rt. 74 from Richardson Road to Goram Road. The fire company is
still a member of the program. Also in 1991 the members agreed to have
Winross trucks made depicting an eighteen wheel tractor trailer tanker with
the Airville Volunteer Fire Company printed on the sides.
In February of 1993 the members once again purchased a new fire
engine. This engine was mounted on a GMC chassis carried 1,200 gallons of
water and could pump 1250 gallons of water a minute. This engine cost
$119,000.00 and was paid for in full when it was delivered. The Auxiliary
provided a check to the firemen to help with the cost of this engine. This
truck was designated Engine 55-1 and was placed into service in October of
that year. The members spent an additional $7,700.00 to supply equipment for
on the engine.
In February of 1995, a used 1985 Ford ambulance was purchased from
the Jacobus Ambulance Company. This ambulance was converted and painted by
the firemen for use as a service truck to replace the outdated Rescue Truck.
The old Rescue truck was sold in May of that year for $1,201.00.
In December of 1996 it was voted on to replace the tanker with a
more up to date truck. The fire company purchased a used 1984 GMC tanker
from the White Horse Vol. Fire Co. This tanker carried 2,000 gallons of
water and could off load the water in about one minute. This truck too was
designated Tanker 55 and placed into service in the beginning of 1997. In
April of that year the old tanker was sold for $2,101.00.
In 2001 with the increase of medical assist calls, the Auxiliary
purchased a new AED (Automated External Defibrillator) and presented it to the
firemen. This was a welcome asset to the members considering the leading
cause of firefighter deaths were related to heart attacks. With having the
AED on the fire trucks it meant that early advanced care could be provided.
After the turn of the twenty first century, there was a lot of
discussion about building a new firehouse and banquet facility. In 2003 the
fire company purchased four acres of ground along Rt. 74 just outside of the
town to the south. This site would become the new home of the Airville
Volunteer Fire Company. Construction was started that same year and with the
help of many of the members it was completed in the early months of 2004.
The building can house six fire trucks, has a radio room, meeting room,
bathroom facilities, a large banquet hall and an up to date kitchen.
Wednesday February 25, 2004 was a big day for the fire company. On this
evening the members moved the fire trucks from the old fire hall to the new
one. The oldest engine (the 1959 Ford) was the first truck parked inside the
new hall and the newest (the 1993 GMC) was the last to be parked. In March
of 2004 the old fire hall was sold bringing an end of its service to the
Airville and surrounding communities. On May 24, 2004 a special meeting was
held at which time it was voted on to purchase a used 1995 E-One engine.
This engine could carry six firefighters inside and hauled 1,000 gallons of
water. The members held an open house slash dedication ceremony for the new
building on July 17, 2004. In August of 2004, the members were given a
donation to be used for the purchase of a Thermal Imagining Camera (TIC).
The camera will allow them to see through smoky conditions which can result
in a faster rescue of trapped occupants of a burning structure.
In January of 2006, Wayne Stokes stepped down as chief and Ronnie
Miller became only the fourth fire chief in the history of the fire company.
Also in 2006, the members voted to purchase an up to date vehicle rescue
tool. After testing many different brands, the members bought a new TNT
rescue tool. In the past when the members would stand by at another fire
station, they would have the rescue tools with them and none left at the
Airville station. With the purchase of this tool, the members can now take a
set of rescue tools with them and still have one in their own station.
The start of 2007 found the members of the fire company forming a
committee to look into replacing the old 1959 Ford engine. During the first
part of the year the committee gathered information while deciding just what
they would want on the new engine. In August of 2007 the fire company was
approached by a member of the community inquiring if they might be
interested in having a used fire engine donated to them. The fire company
decided to look into this and found that the Media Fire Company from
Delaware County PA would be the ones donating the engine. The used engine
was purchased new by the Media Fire Company in 1975. The engine was a Pierce
Arrow that could carry upwards of seven firefighters. In 1992 the Media Fire
Company refurbished the engine from front to back and from top to bottom.
After the work was completed, the engine was capable of pumping 1500 gallons
of water a minute and would carry 500 gallons of water on it. This engine
had two large reels on the back that could carry over 1,000 feet of large
diameter supply hose. The donated engine was designated Engine 55-3 and
would remain the color yellow just as the members had received it. The
members decided to keep the old 1959 Ford engine and refurbish it over the
Since the 1959 Ford had been replaced, the members switched gears
and started to look into replacing the 1984 GMC tanker. Again the truck
committee gathered information and presented their findings to the body of
the fire company. The members decided to purchase a new tanker from Freedom
Fire Equipment based out of Georgia. The new tanker would have a Peterbuilt
chassis, a tandem axel, two cross lays, be able to pump 1250 gallons of
water a minute and would carry 3,000 gallons of water. The paperwork was
signed and tanker was ordered on Thursday March 13th. The cost of the new
tanker would be around $165,000.
Near the beginning of 2008, the Auxiliary voted to purchase a pick
up truck for the firefighters. After gathering some information they decided
to buy a brand new Ford F350 pick up truck. The truck would be red in color,
have four full size doors with a short bed. The engine would be gas and the
motor would be a V10. The truck was ordered on Thursday March 13th through
Apple Ford in Red Lion. The cost of the pick up was around $24,000 and the
firefighters would pay to have the truck lettered and equipped with warning
lights and a siren.
The history of the Airville Volunteer Fire Company was the vision of
a few men. If these men did not have the support of others, their vision
would not have become a reality. Many things have changed over the course of
the fire company’s existence but one thing has stayed the same. Just as
those men who founded the fire company depended on the help from the
community, those who serve in the ranks today also depend on the community.
No one knows what will happen in the future, but with every ones continued
support, the Airville Volunteer Fire Company will continue to be around to
serve those in their times of need.