History

In 1955, several fires around the county prompted several members of the community to see the need for a fire department in Philomont. Captain Richard Patch was one of the community members concerned about fire protection. After a discussion about the problem, Captain Patch stated that if the community would build a fire station to house the truck, he would donate the money to purchase it.

In May of that year a group of Philomont residents raised the funds necessary to begin construction on a two-bay fire station and Captain Patch donated $18,500 for the fire truck. With the money, the department purchased a new 1956 FWD fire engine.

The initial two lots for the station were donated to the Volunteer Fire Department in 1956 by the Lake family who lived across the street. The department purchased a second lot from a Mr. Irwin and later these lots were supplemented by the acquisition of the “spring lot” from Mr. Dick Lake. The whole property now contains about three acres.

The first President of the company was Albert “Pomp” Pearson. Other founding members were: W.R.Altizer, Robert George, Bob Griffith, Russell Hawes, Truman Hawes, Robert James, Carol Kephart, R. J. Lake, R. K. Patch, Pomp Pearson, West Pearson, W. Procter, Nelson Ryan, Shirley Trussell, Franz Rajca, and Charles W. Underwood.

Soon after purchasing the 1956 FWD, the department purchased a used 1935 International /Hahn engine and an early 1950s ex-military GMC tanker to provide additional water and pumping capability for the community.

The original station built by the department was a two-story, two-bay structure. Construction began May 10, 1956 and was completed around November 28th of that year. The volunteer members built this entire station.

The original 1950s GMC tanker had to have its tank replaced in the early l960s and in 1968 that 1,500 gallon tank was transferred to a new International chassis built by the 4-Guys Company.

In the late 1950s, the department utilized a piece of property off Colchester Road opposite Pelham Court as a horse show grounds and training area. In the early l960s the department acquired the six-acre plot it now uses for the horse show grounds on the south side of the village. The department built a pond on the property as a water supply source for the trucks. The property was purchased for $4,200.

In 1974, a used 1962 FWD, 500 GPM engine was purchased from Broomall, Pa., to supplement the 1956 FWD.

In 1975 the station was expanded by the addition of a third engine bay and the upstairs meeting hall. The addition cost $17,000. The third bay was added to house the used 1962 FWD engine.

On August 4, 1966, the department responded to a large field fire on the property of Victor duPont near Bloomfield. The 1956 FWD engine driven by Truman Hawes was involved in fighting the fire. The wind unexpectedly shifted direction and the fire engulfed the truck driven by Truman. The smoke from the fire was so heavy, that it stalled out the FWD and the fire overran the truck. Truman jumped from the truck cab and ran to escape the fire. When he ran, the fire set his shirt on fire and he was severely burned. Truman suffered second- and third-degree burns and spent a month in intensive care in the Winchester Hospital. The fire burned the tires off the truck. Boots, coats and other equipment were lost. The truck was saved but it had to be repainted and repaired.

In 1978, a new Ford/Segrave Pumper was purchased with the help of the ladies auxiliary, whose members raised $2,000.

Over the years, equipment included a 1984 Ford Brush truck, a 1987 Segrave/FWD pumper, and a used 1984 Ford/Emergency-One. Also, a 1976 Ford utility truck was donated by Bell Atlantic, and a used 1990 Chevrolet Suburban EMS vehicle were purchased.

In l997, a Freightliner/SEMO 1,850 gallon tanker was designed and purchased and the old 1967 International tanker was sold to Neersville, Loudoun County.

In 1994, the company added a major four-bay addition to the east side of the station. A contractor was hired to build the major essentials and the members completed the detail construction work over the next year.

In 2002, a KME Custom Pumper was designed and purchased and the old 1985 Ford C-800 was sold to a fire apparatus vendor.

In 2002, the department ran 302 calls, an increase of 15% from 2001.

The current Fire Chief is Ed Zimmerman. Prior Chief’s of the department were William Piggott, Russell Hawes, Larry Payne, Stanley Lickey Sr, Bill Schwartz, and Pete West.

To read the name list of the over 220 past members

Portions from the Philomont Historical Association – Volume 2 No.1, Spring 2000

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