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History of The BFC

Providing High-Quality, Professional Service Since 1922

Everyday Brookhaven Fire Company Firefighters and EMTs will at a moment’s notice, set aside their interests to respond to a variety of calls, not to mention the countless hours spent training and fundraising.

Back in 1922 realizing the need for fire protection, a group of residents met at the Brookhaven schoolhouse located at what used to be called “Sneads Corner”, presently the intersection of Brookhaven Road and Edgmont Avenue. The result of these meetings was the formation of the Brookhaven Volunteer Fire Company which was chartered on June 7, 1922. Today some of the names of the charter members can be seen as street names throughout the borough. The Brookhaven Fire Company became the second fire company in Chester Township since Brookhaven was not a borough at that time. On that day in 1922 Brookhaven Fire Company started on its future for the pursuit of excellence and continued service to the community.

The names of the original chartered members:

Joseph Burk PresidentJ. H. Richardson Rec. Sect.J. E. Phillips Trustee ForemanG.T. Whitely Vice-PresidentWilliam Snow Trustee
Edward W. Flounders TrusteeJ. Carltton EdwardsThomas F. ConleyWilliam H. SweeneyWalter Smith
Henry HouserJ. WhitelyT. PennewillMoses D. PyleH. L. Hepperlen
W.H. Sweeney Jr.J. H. FloundersE.T. FloundersGeorge W. ListerWilliam J. C. Bennett
Delaware StantonSamuel ScottF.A. CollinsRobert R. ListerWilliam W. Dill
John RoderbaughW.F. NowlandW.E. CallahanThomas J. NewlinWilliam C. Williams
George R. CoebournE.K. EdwardsFrank ScolaGeorge D. HewesFrank Willhelm
Williams E. CollinsRalph C. CrithersAnthony PrestrakJohn E. AndersonJohn R. Dix
A. G. PennieRobert A. NewtonJohn E. WooleyMartin J ConleyJames Patchell
Louis WhitleyA. E. GuyerClinton WooleyJohn O. LintonWilliam B. Wright

After two years of struggling to raise enough money to purchase a fire truck, the company was able to purchase a truck from the City of Chester for $500. The members donated $250 of the $500 out of their own pockets.

The first new truck was purchased from Hahn in 1928 for $5000 and a siren system was established to alert the members of an alarm. The siren system consisted of one long blast for the initial alert, followed by a specific number of blasts that gave the approximate location of the alarm. That siren system is a far cry from the radio paging system of today, which not only alerts the members of an alarm but also gives the exact location and other pertinent details by voice and text.

As the needs of the community grew, so did the fire companies, but not without major setbacks. In the early 1930’s the fire company suffered many financial burdens. Unable to make payments on the new truck and barely able to keep up with the bills, it began to look as though the fledgling organization would not see its 15th anniversary. However, through hard work and dedication of the membership and support of other fire companies, Brookhaven Fire Company was able to get back on its feet.

When it seemed the fire company had put their problems behind them, disaster struck. In the early afternoon of February 13, 1938, the Brookhaven Firehouse was destroyed by the very thing it was dedicated to combat. The members and residents alike seeing the product of their hard work and dreams being consumed by fire struggled to save anything they could. After the trucks were pushed out of the building, efforts turned to a vain attempt to save the firehouse.

Once again, the members met at Brookhaven Schoolhouse to discuss the fate of the fire company. Although the firehouse was destroyed the members never forgot their promise to provide fire protection to the community. The fire company would have been dealt a mortal blow if it were not for the members and dedication once again. Meeting at the schoolhouse the members planned the reconstruction of the firehouse, and again were forced to dig into their own pockets. A fund drive was established to help rebuild the devastated firehouse. The community and the members pulled together to help keep the company alive. The new one-room building was constructed at Virginia and Barlow Avenues for a cost of $4500.

The late 30s and 40s was a time of change for the community, separating from Chester Township to form the borough of Brookhaven and establishing the Brookhaven Police Department. With a growing community, the fire company also had to find ways to bring in the additional revenue needed for the increasing costs of fire protection and operating expenses. Today the cost of equipping a single firefighter is over $3500.

In the 50’s the fire company witnessed an increase in alarms, from twenty in 1952 to eighty-one in 1959. The company purchased two new trucks in this decade, a 1954 Ahrens Fox pumper and a 1955 Ward LaFrance pumper. As the community continued to grow so did the firehouse. An addition was added to the existing structure which would serve as the new engine bay.  In 1963 and 1968, the company purchased two new Hahn pumpers and in 1965 Brookhaven became the South District’s AirBank, first utilizing the hose bed of an older pumper. A 1956 Chevy rescue truck was later purchased to house the air bank, a service that is still provided today.

The Brookhaven Fire Company encountered many serious incidents in the 1970’s. In the early 70’s heavy rains blanketed the entire state of Pennsylvania. The company was called to help with the overflowing waters of Chester Creek, which threatened nearby homes. The activities of the fire company were not limited to the Brookhaven area during this catastrophe. The fire company responded to the Wilkes Barre/Kingston area to assist the fire companies who were overwhelmed by the disaster. On January 13, 1975, the S.S.Corinthos exploded in the Delaware River at a Marcus Hook refinery. As the call for assistance sounded throughout the county, Brookhaven responded to the scene. Several apparatus changes also took place during this decade.  In 1974 a new Chevy/Swab rescue truck was obtained replacing the older unit.  In 1977 a new custom Hahn engine was purchased replacing the 55 Ward.  The Ward was eventually donated to the Duryea Fire Co. in Pennsylvania which experienced a devastating fire that destroyed their firehouse and apparatus.

In the ’80s, the company refurbished the 63 Hahn, reclassified the rescue with a 1985 Chevy, and purchased a 1988 Chevy/KME pumper to add to the fleet. To accommodate the ever-growing need for space, a new four-bay addition was built to the existing structure.  Unfortunately, the company lost two prominent members in 1989.  Linn Wheeler was the 2nd Assistant Chief when he suddenly passed away and Vernon Thompson held several positions and was instrumental in keeping the air bank functioning.  Later new apparatus purchased would be dedicated to these individuals.

The 90’s saw a whole new apparatus change for the company along with several celebrations.  In 1992 a Spartan/EEI engine and rescue were purchased.  These units replaced the 85 Chevy Rescue and the 68 Hahn.  As stated prior the new engine was dedicated to Linn Wheeler and the rescue of Vernon Thompson during their housing ceremony.  The company participated in Brookhaven Borough’s 50th anniversary celebration in 1995.  However, the bigger event came about in 1997 as Brookhaven Fire Company celebrated its 75th anniversary.  The company hosted a parade consisting of many fire companies and held a memorable banquet.  During the last several years of the decade, the company replaced the 77 Hahn and the 88 KME with a 1987 E-One Hurricane 55′ telesquirt and a 1999 Spartan/M&W rescue/pumper.  With these additions, the company could now perform multi-task operations with countless training hours conducted.

On May 5, 2002, Brookhaven Fire Company lost one of their beloved junior firefighters.   Christopher Kangas was responding to a fire call on his bike when he was struck by a motor vehicle and later succumbed to his injuries. In over 80 years of service, Chris was the first member of the Brookhaven Fire Company to die in the Line of Duty. In remembrance of Chris, we have a memorial case in the firehouse of Chris’s gear, pictures, awards, and things he loved.  On each of our trucks, with our accountability tags, we have a picture of Chris along with the Fireman’s prayer hanging from it reminding us that Chris is with us on every call we are dispatched. We are now awaiting legislation named” The Chris Kangas Fallen Firefighter Act” to recognize Chris as a firefighter so his name can be added to the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial in Emmetsburg, Maryland. For more information and updates click on Chris’ page.

In 2003, Brookhaven Fire Company discussed what more we could do to protect and help the residents of Brookhaven.  On June 1st, 2004, after many hours of planning and training, Brookhaven Fire Company added an Ambulance service to the Fire Company. After a couple of months of service, we purchased a second ambulance to be able to handle any second emergency if the first ambulance was on another call.  June 1st, 2009 will mark our 5th year in service serving an average of 800 medical calls for the Borough of Brookhaven.

Due to the number of apparatuses needed for the Borough, the Fire Company was looking for land to build a new firehouse.  Working with Borough Council we were able to secure land next to the Borough Municipal Center and Police Station where the old butterfly garden was planted. The members of the station worked with the Borough Council along with families of those to which the garden was dedicated, to successfully move the butterfly garden to a more visible and accessible area.  The new location is across from the Borough Hall on its little island. August 2005 is when Brookhaven Fire Company and Brookhaven Borough Council held a groundbreaking ceremony for the new building.  Throughout the next year, members of the fire company, their friends, and family volunteered their time and talents to build their new firehouse. This new firehouse was 90% constructed by the proud volunteers from Brookhaven Fire Company.  July 13th, 2006, was the big day that we waited for since the groundbreaking.  With many members and friends present we backed the fire trucks into the new station.  We were officially in our new station.

In 2007 Brookhaven Fire Company was approved to buy a new truck. This truck is to replace the 1987 E-One Hurricane 55′ aerial Telesquirt with a Smeal 75′ Quint. The new truck arrived in October and after the members were trained placed in service on Dec. 7th, 2008.

Also in the summer of 2008, Brookhaven Fire Company purchased a New 2008 Ford/Horton class III custom demo ambulance that was obtained through Spitler Vehicle Specialties. This unit will be placed in service as 52-7A and old 52-7A will replace 52-7.

On October 17th, 2008, monuments were erected in front of the station completing our memorial.  One is engraved remembering Chris Kangas, our junior member who we lost in 2002.  The other is engraved with the Fireman’s Prayer.  Also on display is our firefighter statue with an active hose line into a stone basin.  The area is lighted at night and also catches the morning sun.

November 1st, 2008, was a day where Chris Kangas can finally Rest in Peace. The Delaware County Fire & EMS Memorial dedication commenced on this very day. With several hundred other participants including fellow firefighters, family members, and government officials, the officers and members of Brookhaven Fire Company attended the dedication of the memorial in Rose Tree Park.  This was especially somber to this company as our past member Chris Kangas did earn an honor on this wall.  His mother Julie was able to attend and share this moment with us as she placed a rose on her son’s plaque.  A lot of planning and hard work went into making this memorial a reality. Brookhaven Fire Company had a major part in the planning with a lead role with the fundraising committee. Company was in charge of the Brick Campaign which Firefighter Larry Baker took on with his own hands.

The day finally came when the purchase of the Smeal 75′ RM Aerial arrived at the station on October 25th, 2008, right around noon. Chief Rob Montella Jr. was the first to back the new truck into the station. The officers and members have looked forward to this day since the initial planning stages of the apparatus.  Due to the addition of several newly built and future multiple occupied dwellings including existing structures in the borough, the versatility of the Quint will add to firefighting resources as well as the added safety for our residents.  The vehicle will be first due on all building-associated calls in the borough and also requested the same in Upland, Middletown, and the Toby Farms development.  It will be secondary in the remainder of Chester Township and Neither Province. Quint 52 was placed in service on December 7th, 2008. The company is looking forward to many years of service with this apparatus. An additional mural that was added to the doors of Quint 52 is a depiction of the flag raising at ground zero with a remembrance statement plus an attached ribbon for our memory of Chris Kangas.

For the very first time in Brookhaven Fire Company’s history, on December 12th, 2008, just days after the Quint 52 was placed in service we got word that Brookhaven had received their first Federal Grant from the Assistance to Firefighter Grants (AFG) for $158,140 which must be used for Operations and Safety related. The company will be purchasing 37 new ISI air packs, which are used by the Military and a few other surrounding fire companies. They will replace the Survivor air packs. These packs use the newest technology and are ergonomically designed for comfort.

Since the new millennium Brookhaven Fire Company has been responding to more and more calls each year. For 2008, the fire company responded to 567 fire and 929 EMS calls. 2009 brought 579 fire and 1034 EMS calls leading 2010 to hold the Company record for alarms with 621 Fire calls and 1043 EMS calls.

With the continued increase in Fire and EMS calls, the fire company met with the

Brookhaven elected officials on the future needs of the residents and visitors of the borough. In February 2015, the Borough of Brookhaven hired 2 full-time Public Fire Safety Officials. Their job duties are to provide public education to residents, businesses, daycares, and schools including many social groups that are present in the borough.  The creation of the smoke detector program was launched for the residents and has been the most active program that many residents take advantage of.  The fire safety official assist with everyday operation by responding to emergencies, pre-planning, and representing the fire company during normal daytime hours when volunteers’ availability is limited.

In 2016, the fire company took delivery of the 2016 KME Predator Rescue with a Hale 1500GPM pump, and a 500-gal water tank, with rescue equipment for vehicle, water, and confined space. 2016 KME Rescue also was equipment with a 6-cylinder air cascade that continues to serve as an air bank when needed. This apparatus replaced the 1992 EEI Rescue sold to Potter Fire Department from Middlesex, NY which is still serving as their frontline piece of equipment.

For the year 2017, was the normal operational year to continue the service to the community and provide the best fire and EMS service. On December 26th, 2017, at 1755hrs, the fire company experienced one of the largest building fires with multiple rescues made in the borough. Company 52 was dispatched to 5200 Hilltop Dr, the ‘C’ Building for a building fire with entrapment. Assistant 52 Charles Leslie arrived with a 3-story occupied multiple dwelling, multiple occupants trapped on division 3, fire showing from the Second floor, third floor, and through the roof. An aggressive interior attack and search efforts began immediately. Due to quickly deteriorating conditions, firefighters were pulled out of the building, and master stream operations were started. Firefighters from Quint and Rescue 52 rescued multiple victims from a third-story apartment. It took approximately one hour to bring the fire under control. However, units remained on scene for approximately 7 hours completing extensive overhauls before returning available. Assistant 52 had Brookhaven Command and Chief 52 had operations. Mutual Aid fire companies assisted 50 (Middletown Fire Company), 65 (Garden City Fire Company), 46 (Rocky Run Fire Company), 45 (Parkside Fire Company), 47 (Chester Township Fire Company), 57 (Upland Fire Company), 17 (Aston Township Fire Company), 23 (Media Fire Company), 44 (Springfield Fire Company), 16 (Yeadon Fire Company), 14 (Swarthmore Fire Company), Crozer Paramedics, North Penn Canteen Services, Red Paw, Red Cross, and Delaware County Emergency Services Mobile Unit. Brookhaven Emergency Management activated and opened the Borough Hall as a shelter for displaced residents. Chief Rob Montella Jr presented the company with a unit citation of all personnel on the scene who assisted in rescues and ground operations. Valor awards were awarded to 3 firefighters who made the rescues of families. Both plaques are on display in the meeting room at the station.

The fire company continues to see an increase in alarms and with the EMS service becoming more of higher demand the continued use of the ambulances brought many hardships with breakdowns and repairs of the EMS units.  The fire company purchased a third ambulance to help with the rotation each month and has a spare ambulance available if and when an ambulance needs repairs. In 2018 they took delivery of a 2018 Ford Horton ambulance from VCI listed as Amb52B.

            In 2019, was also the start of the fire company receiving FEMA AFG for Portable radios for $39,913. This was the start of many grants that would be rewarded through 2023. The grants listed as AFG (Assistant to Firefighters Grant), CEDG (Community Economic Development Grant), State Fire and EMS Grant, SAFER (Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response), and Enbridge Community Grant.

YearGrant namePurposeTotal
2019AFG37- SCOTT 5500PSI SCBAs$244,904
2019CEDGRescue Tools ehydraulic$24,000
2020AFGAir cascade and fill station$49,904
2020State Fire1.75 hose and nozzles$15,000
2021AFGHose 5in & 2.5in$49,924
2022CEDGRescue Tools ehydraulic$36,000
2022State FireTurnout gear$15,000
2022AFG SAFERRecruitment & Retention$432,760
2023Energy Transfer PartnersTurnout gear$10,000
2023Enbridge Community4- Industrial Gas Meters$5,500
Total:10 $882,992

The amount of grant money rewarded has saved the taxpayers almost a million dollars.  For the past 6 years, the fire company has updated equipment and PPE to better serve the community and gives the latest technology in firefighting and rescue services.

In 2020, Brookhaven Fire Company joined the worldwide response to the COVID-19 pandemic that killed millions of lives worldwide.  New safety protocols were put into place against an unknown and unpredictable disease. This disease was released from a China laboratory and appeared accidentally which spread throughout the nation and travelers brought it back to their countries. A country shutdown occurred, and call volume has decreased for fire, but the EMS services were constantly responding to calls. Due to a high demand for supplies, it became hard for medical professionals to find safety gear and equipment for their people which created a major supply and demand issue in which the country still trying to recover from its years later.

In 2021 as the world was getting back on its feet, history was once made as the fire and EMS call records were both broken with 699 fire calls and 2,236 EMS calls. The EMS call record would be set a new record at the end of 2022. On March 13, 2021, during early morning hours, Company 52 and mutual aid companies responded to a working commercial strip mall fire in the first due. Chief Rob Montella Jr. had Brookhaven command and went on scene and reported a 1 story commercial strip with fire showing on the Charlie side of Cocco’s Pizza. With heavy wind conditions, the fire ran the roof line to all 3 of the storefronts. 1 adjacent storefront was spared from the fire. The first arriving units spent 20 minutes performing interior operations, but due to rapid changes in fire conditions, crews were evacuated from the structure to defensive operations. The fire was placed under control after a few hours. No injuries were reported, and the cause of the fire was from spontaneous combustion of 3 weeks of cleaning rags in plastic buckets that were waiting to be picked up from the cleaning company. The fire was caught on interior cameras of the business. Mutual Aid Companies that assisted at the fire were Aston Twp. Fire Dept, Parkside Fire Company, Upland Fire Company, Garden City Fire Company, Middletown Fire Company, Rocky Run Fire Company, Media Fire Company, and Lower Chichester Volunteer Fire Company.

For 2021, being a busy year, another historic event occurred on June 12, 2021. Station 52 and numerous other agencies associated with Delaware County and the State, responded to a large fuel incident at the Gas ‘N’ Go on Edgmont Ave at 0600 hours.

The 9-1-1 call came from contractors on W Brookhaven Rd and Gray St smelled the heavy odor of gasoline in the storm drain. The fire company responded and traced it back to the Gas N’ Go. Residents were advised that they may note an odor of gasoline in the Borough. Crews worked to mitigate the gasoline spill for several hours. Local first responders, state environmental agencies, and the County’s Hazardous Materials Team were on the scene containing the situation. No injuries were reported or evacuations to the public but environmental damage has occurred. Environmental damage is evident as the Sheppard’s Run tributary and Chester Creek had many dead fish, turtles, and frogs. Ground contamination of the soil is also extensive as the spill ran unreported for several hours overnight Friday into Saturday morning. The investigation concluded with criminal charges against the tanker truck driver who intentionally dumped almost 2,000 gallons of gasoline over the embankment next to Coebourn School that traveled through the storm system through the residential streets for several hours just to make the tanker truck driver’s route shorter. These intentions were caught on camera. A catastrophe was avoided as the odor and presence of gasoline in storm drains that ran underneath houses, behind yards, and next to other infrastructure could have been a lot worse situation from any type of ignition source. The cleanup lasted up to the start of the school year.

On June 7th, 2022, Brookhaven Fire Company Celebrated 100 years of volunteer service to the Borough of Brookhaven and surrounding communities.  The year was eventful for membership and families as many social events were scheduled throughout the year. The EMS Lieutenant was disbanded due to EMS being covered by career staff. On March 19th, 2022, the fire company held its 100th anniversary banquet at Springfield Country Club that brought all members back together over 220 in attendance to start the celebration of its 100th year of service. 2022, brought the 20th anniversary of the fire company’s 1st line of duty death Chris Kangas in which the annual ceremony was held on May 5th to remember Chris with his family a service that has been held every year. Another major event was a trip to the 9/11 museum in Manhattan, NY to visit the site as a company and honor the victims of 9/11. As 2022 was going on the fire company met with the Borough officials and made a purchase of two new fire trucks that will replace the 1992 EEI Engine and 1999 M&W Squad with twin engines from 4-guys fire apparatus manufactured based in Pennsylvania. The fire company took delivery of the new Ambulance 52A which is a 2022 Ford with Horton body box from the previous Ambulance 52A to save the fire company money and rebuild time. The 100th year of service ended with 663 fire calls, 2,639 EMS Calls (new record), 24 working fires, 120 box alarms, and 5 pins.

For 2023, the fire company took delivery of 2- twin engines from 4-guys fire apparatus.  The 1992 EEI Engine 52 was sold to a White Oak Fire Company in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.  The 1999 M&W Squad 52 was sold to Crisp County Fire Department in the state of Georgia serving as their frontline apparatus. Engine 52 was placed in service in April 2023 and Squad in July 2023. The fire company reviewed current tactics that shifted the fire company into creating box alarm assignments for arriving units for more efficiency and to reduce unnecessary radio transmissions. With the grant rewards and the delay in delivery of equipment with supply and demand issue that has been ongoing since the Covid-19 pandemic. The company received the equipment and began to place it in service updated the entire fire apparatus and personnel with the latest technology and equipment to perform their job duties safely and efficiently.

The fire company received an AFG SAFER grant for recruitment and retention to pay for a stipend program for volunteers. This program will be put in place on January 1st, 2024, and I hope it helps bring volunteers into the fire service.

Since 1922, the Officers and members of the Brookhaven Fire Company have been doing their best to protect the lives and property of the area residents and businesses. Without compensation, these men and women give up their time to help their neighbors. The professionalism demonstrated over the years by the Brookhaven Fire Company is a testimonial to the people that formed its membership. Through the Depression and five wars, The Brookhaven Fire Company has been a cornerstone of the community and will continue to be there when needed for many more years.