Defender Fire Company History

Berwick Adds a Third Line of Defense:

The Defender Fire Company, No. 3

The Defender Fire Company No. 3 of Berwick began after a group of men petitioned and later received a charter to begin the new Company from the Columbia County Courts. Once Defenders received their charter Berwick had three Fire Companies to protect the borough.
The incorporation of the Defender Fire Company No. 3 was made effective on December 7, 1903. At the newly formed Company’s first meeting the following officers were elected: I.B. Abrams as President; R.H. Hess as Secretary; and John W. Kelchner as Treasurer. The first foreman/captain of the Company was William Roup.
Shortly after becoming incorporated the next item to be taken care of was finding a hall for the newly formed Company. The Borough Council helped the Defenders by forming an agreement with the Jackson Woodin Company. Council agreed to close Oak St. from 9th St. to Freas Avenue in exchange for a brick building and lot on 6th St. The building had previously belonged to John and Henry Freas and was partially surrounded by the lumber yards of the Jackson and Woodin Company. Once the Defenders took over the building it was remodeled for their needs.  The first floor housed the hose cart which was donated by the former Berwick Community Fire Company and the hose for the cart which was supplied by the borough.
The second floor was used as a meeting room and recreational room. The present day location of the Defenders fire hall is 204 East Sixth Street.

Once the new organization was settled their first order of business was to purchase a new and up-to-date hose cart since the old one was not large enough for the growing community. A committee was appointed to look into the possibility of purchasing a new one. On January 8, 1904, a new cart was bought from a firm in Philadelphia for approximately $700.00. This cart was used until 1916, when a new piece of apparatus was purchased. Discussions of buying a truck began as early as 1914 because it was thought that the old hand cart would soon be inadequate to support the fast growing community. On May 29, 1916 a new Reo truck chassis was presented to the company by the Borough Council. Immediately, the Fire Company had a new body built for the truck. The Defenders paid J.W. Moore and W.H. Moore, approximately $125.00 for the new body and by October 1916 the truck was placed into service. This truck was used until January 28, 1925 when the Borough Council bought a new truck for the Defenders for $9,328.13. At the time this new truck was one of the latest and most up to date pieces of firefighting equipment they could buy.
Historical information taken from:
1941; 3rd Annual 4th of July Berwick Firemen’s Celebration Pamphlet
Apparatus History Information
1904 Hose Cart:  Manpower - purchased for $700
1916 Reo Hose Wage - Gasoline Pumper - cost unknown
1925 Mack Pumper - 4 cylinder Gas Power - purchased for $9,328.13
1951 Mack Pumper - 6 cylinder - purchased for $13,058
1978 Mack Pumper - 6 cylinder - purchased for $72,900
2007 Crimson Pumper - 6 cylinder - Diesel Power - $341,314