One April evening, one-hundred years ago, a small group of men sat down at a meeting in the newly incorporated Borough of Denver, Pennsylvania. Their meeting was for the purpose of organizing a volunteer fire company.
At that time, before telephones, automobiles, and mechanical fire-fighting equipment, fire once started, was often uncontrollable. Fear of fire and the lack of facilities for controlling it, was in the minds of the borough incorporators in 1900.
The crude method of extinguishing fires, carrying well and creek water great distances, brought people to realize the need for a common water system. They figured the community would have to be incorporated.
So the community was incorporated, and the Borough Council laid plans for a water system. The system was almost completed when the little group of men
interested in starting a fire company held its first meeting.
The firemen elected J. R. Lutz their first president. Other officers were: J. S. Reider, vice-president; L. M. Mellinger, treasurer; Raymond Find, secretary; and
Milton Grimes, chief foreman. Trustees were M. E. Grimes, Solomon Thalheimer, John Hartman, J. R. Lutz, Charles Gensemer, and Stephen Sweigart.
Charter Members .
These men laid the foundation for the organization of the fire company. It wasn’t long before others joined them. By the time a charter was drawn up, the company, named Denver Fire Company No. 1, was thirty-six men strong. The charter members were:
M. B. Grimes, Jesse Lutz, L. M. Mellinger, N. E. Gudenkunst, Henry Bearinger, Harry Gerhart, E. E. Eberly, A. E. Kurtz, A. H. Bucher, John Oberlin, M. E. Kurtz, E. S. Sharp, Solomon Thalheimer, John Hartman Stephen Sweigart, H. W. Bard, S. H. Bucher, Harvey Bard, H. E. Eberly, Alvin W. Mentzer, J. B. SwallY’ J. J. Faust, W. B. Grimes, Jesse Rider, Raymond Fink, Charles Gensemer, S. Frank Weinhold, S. G. Brubaker, S. H. Miller, A. J. Ream, H. E. Imhoff, George Rutt, W. L. Stober, P. W. Brubaker, C. O. Henry, and J. E. Kempfer.
Presidents – 1902-1907 J. R. Lutz, 1908-1923 Silas E. Bard, 1924-1926 1. S. Witmyer, 1927-1934 Guy K. Bard, 1935-1937 W. Earl Stober, 1938 Carl Weaver, 1939-1940 Leroy G. Weinhold, 1941-1942 William W. Becker, 1943-1947 Leroy G. Weinhold, 1948-1956 Leonard Smith, 1957-1960 Donald W. Stauffer, 1961-1963 John Leid, 1964-1965 Harold Sweigart, 1966-1970 Robert E. Getz, 1971-1975 John Leid, 1976-1977 Bruce Wagner, 1978-1979 Tim Ensinger, 1980-1999 Rev. Larry G. Hummer, 2000 John K. Weaver, 2001-present Donald Ernst Jr.
Chiefs – 1902-1905 M. E. Grimes, 1906- 19091 A. H Bucher, 1910-1918 E.S Dornbach, 1919-1952 Samuel L. Snyder, 1953-1955 Paul Miller, 1956- 1959 Arthur Messner, 1960-1964 Robert E. Getz, 1965-1984 Donald W. Stauffer, 1985-1988 Terry L. Buckwalter, 1989-1992 John K. Weaver, 1993-1997 Bill Messner, 1998-present Matt Leid.
Service awards are given out every year at the annual fire company family night for the members of the fire company and their families. Awards for 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 years of services are given. After 25 years of service, life member awards are given. Over the years several members of company have been recognized by the community for their dedication to Denver Fire Company.
Today, Denver Fire Company No. 1 has a membership of 390 and an active Ladies Auxiliary, which supports its thirty-five active firefighters. Current active firefighters spend countless hours training on state and local levels. Recent trainings include: trench rescue, rope rescue, EMT, Haz-Mat, vehicle rescue and weekly trainings set up by the officers.
The first meetings were held in the office of Dr. W. D. Fink, physician and burgess. Later the company rented and finally bought a building for $1100 in Railroad Alley, once belonging to Alvin W. Mentzer, known as Mentzer’s Hall.
Other borough organizations also used the building for meetings. At one time Borough Council had a cell installed there so law violators could be locked up overnight before being transported to Lancaster for hearings. In 1915, the men began discussing building a new fire hall.
Finally in 1922, they bought a lot at Fifth and Main Streets and began construction of a $23,000 building. The firemen themselves did some of the work in their spare time. The building was dedicated on May 1, 1926. The Ladies’ Auxiliary of the fire company was quite helpful in beautifying the new building. The donated substantial sums of money to the company and helped with the interior decorating.
After the fire hall was built, it became the most widely used public building in town – a meeting place for Borough Council, The Lions Club, the Boy Scouts, and many other temporary and permanent groups. It was the scene of many community suppers, lectures, and entertainments. The fire siren itself was not only for fires, but announce noontime on Saturdays, mock air raids during World War II, and 11 A.M. each Armistice Day.
Plans for remodeling the fire hall started in 1961, and plans for building a new fire hall started October 1962. The plans for the new hall were accepted April 13,1964. The building of the new fire hall was started in May, 1964.
February 10, 1965, the company moved into the new hall on Locust Street, and dedicated it June 13, 1965. On December 16, 1968, the note was paid and burned by the Ladies’ Auxiliary and Firemen with great pride and joy in our accomplishments, thanking firemen and citizens and industry for their support in achieving this goal.
Since 1965, as in the past, the present facility has been used by various civic organizations, community events and social gatherings.