When it’s the new year, the Union Fire Company will reach a historic milestone of 100 years in existence.
The Union Fire Company celebrates this achievement on Jan. 15, which was the date in 1920 when about 20 charter members came together to create the company.
Members formed the fire company in a garage around Washington Crossing in 1920 and held their very first meeting on Jan. 15.
“The fire company is an integral part of the community especially in the earlier days. In the earlier days, there were limited activities,” said Mike Chipowsky, who served as president of the Union Fire Company and Rescue Squad from 1993-2006. “Your town activities seemed to center around the churches and the fire company.”
The residents in Washington Crossing and Titusville created the station to protect lives and property from tragic loss, according to Union Fire Company and Rescue squad officials.
For Chipowsky, being a part of the company was following in the steps of his father.
“My father, before World War II, was part of building the current firehouse. It was a family thing that you just kind of followed along,” Chipowsky said. “This is a generational fire company. Husbands and wives are also both involved.”
The Union Fire Company is not just a fire station in Titusville, but a rescue squad that is officially known as the Union Fire Company and Rescue Squad.
In 1943, a rescue squad was formed and established for water recovery for people who had drowned in the Delaware River.
“It was originally created because of water rescues with the river and increased their responsibilities with an ambulance service that still continues today,” Chipowsky said.
The fire company and rescue squad has two fire engines, a tanker, two ambulances, a brush truck (for smaller brush and grass type fires), a utility pickup truck and three boats as part of its marine unit.
Actively, the Fire Company consists of about 35 firefighters. The company also has 30 administrative or auxiliary members.
“We have a lot of tradition and are so community based. We are able to get consistent members volunteering that has sustained us through the years,” said Peter Swanson, current president of Union Fire Company and Rescue Squad. “If you look at our membership we have multiple members with a connection through the generations. My own son has joined at the age of 14, as junior youth team member.”
Swanson also became a part of the company as a junior youth team member when he was age 14.
“I had friends who were a little older than me that joined and they came to me and said I should join with them. It was really word of mouth and that is how I got started,” Swanson said. “This is about helping your fellow community members and those in need in an emergency situation. You definitely feel like you belong to a bigger family.”
He explained that everyone a part of the fire company and rescue squad helps out as much as they can.
“It will be neat to fall back and take a pause a reflect on what has happened in the last 100 years. This Fire Company really started as a grassroots organization,” Swanson said. “To think that this started in a garage. It really humbles you to know where we were when this started to where we are now.”
The current firehouse, the major part of it, was completed in 1936 and is located halfway between Washington Crossing and Titusville.
“I hope people who have not been involved see this as an opportunity. The comradery and the family atmosphere that exists has always been welcoming,” Chipowsky said. “I hope this fire company continues for another 100 years.”