|Berwick Adds a Second Fire Company: The Ranger Hose Company, No. 2|
In the year 1900 a group of boys known as the Junior Literary Society began meeting at the local Y.M.C.A. These boys wanted to join the National Guard but were too young so in 1902 they decided to organize into the Rangers Fire Company. They chose the name, “Rangers,” from their propensity to roam over the surrounding country.
In March of 1902 they unsuccessfully attempted to persuade Council to grant them the use of fire apparatus, but in April of that year Council finally granted them permission for a probationary period of six months. Before allowing permission Council insisted that Kinney Hagman and Clark Bower be admitted as overseers. The group agreed to this stipulation and thus was organized with 17 members and two overseers. On May 12, 1902, the Council decided that the firemen had shown their fitness for their posts and they were granted the permanent possession of the equipment.
The first official meeting took place on April 3, 1903 with Ray Bowman as President, Reagan Johnson as Vice-President, Ed Steck as Secretary, Fred Gilbert as Assistant Secretary and Harry East as Treasurer. Bower, Hayman and Frank Rough were the By-Laws Committee members. At this meeting the Company was limited to 40 members. Frank Fowler was the first member to be elected, the others were charter members. (Original members are listed below)
By November 24, 1903, the Rangers Company was asked to enroll in the Four-County Association. The Company agreed to this and elected Fred Lenhart to represent Rangers at the convention in Hazleton, PA.
On January 20, 1903, before the Company’s first official meeting, the Rangers began plans to secure a chemical engine. In April of that year it had been purchased and by October it was delivered. The members of the Company contributed $941 and the citizens $676 for the engine. To pull this chemical engine different horse teams were used. The first team used belonged to a Mr. Culp, then a team that belonged to a Mr. Kurtz’s was used and occasionally a team that belonged to a Mr. Averill was used to draw the chemical engine. On April 20, 1939, the Rangers received a Mack Triple 500 gallon Pumper with a 100 gallon booster tank. The cost for the Pumper was $6,379 and was bought by the Borough Council.
During the summer of 1936 the Rangers purchased their first uniforms for a cost of $1,000. These uniforms helped the Rangers win numerous prizes and loving cups at different conventions and parades that they entered.
In the early spring of 1939 the Rangers decided to remodel their fire hall at a cost of $3,500. The cost was paid entirely by the Rangers. Around the 1940s, the Rangers owned their fire hall entirely free of debt. It was estimated that the cost of the fire hall at this time was around $12,000. The present day location of the fire hall is 208 East Front Street.
Another interesting part of Rangers history is that the members had a mascot named “Lady Ranger.” “Lady Ranger” was the Fire Company’s beloved dog. She rarely missed a fire and each member waited anxiously for his turn to house the dog at his home for one week.
The Rangers were also greatly interested in athletics as well. The Company organized numerous successful baseball, football, basketball and track teams.
The original members of the Rangers Fire Company were:
Roy Bowman, Chas. Reese, Reagan Johnson, Richard Gilbert, Ed Steck, Clark Bowman, Harry Lohman, Ray Shive, Frank McBride, Fred Rough, Ernest Johnson, Harry Coombs, Claude Kurtz, Frank Rough, Ontos Chapin, Harry East, Fred Gilbert, Clark Bower, D. Kinney Hayman.
Historical information taken from: 1941; 3rd Annual 4th of July Berwick Firemen’s Celebration Pamphlet