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Bryn Mawr Fire Company – founded 1903
Bryn Mawr Fire Company in 1906
901 W. Lancaster Avenue
On December 21, 1903, a certificate of incorporation of the Bryn Mawr Fire Company was presented in the Court of Common Pleas for Montgomery County. The court degreed that this charter was approved and upon recording would allow the incorporation of the Fire Company. On June 22, 1903 the Certificate of incorporation was issued. On February 2, 1904 the Bryn Mawr Fire Company became a Corporation. On the Charter were 32 names of Subscribers from Haverford, Bryn Mawr and Rosemont. Among the subscribers were men of wealth and great positions in the area and it became easy to see why the Fire Company got the nickname "Millionaire Fire Company."

In the early days of volunteer fire companies there was great competition among the four companies operating in the Township: Bryn Mawr, Merion, Narberth and Union Fire Company of Bala Cynwyd. They soon met and divided the areas into four sections. The first fire engine that Bryn Mawr acquired was a # 4 Metropolitan steam fire engine, which was delivered in 1904. It was kept in the coach house on a local estate until a one story stone building was erected, next to where the Fire House is now located. Soon after, a new chemical engine, carrying 400 feet of chemical hose, 1,000 feet of the highest standard quality hose, ladders and hand extinguishers was purchased. A makeshift fire gong, made from a locomotive tire, was hung outside the fire house. A local blacksmith rigged up a large sledge hammer, which operated by tugging on a rope, so when an alarm sounded its loud peal could be heard all over the countryside.

Each year a Fireman's Fair and Bazaar was held to raise funds for maintenance. A hall was hired with music and entertainment. In the summer they held picnics and the Bryn Mawr Brass Band, which had been organized in 1869, gave concerts. Everyone in the area pitched in to help. One group purchased a bell from the old Humane Fire Company of Philadelphia, which weighed 956 pounds and was hung in the tower of the building. In the first year the Fire Company rented horses, to pull the fire trucks, from a livery stable on Merion Avenue or from the Bryn Mawr Ice Company.

A foreman of a paint shop for a local carriage company offered to repaint the steamer truck and the chemical wagon at no charge. One day a committee from the Fire Company arrived at the carriage works, just as they were mixing a batch of green paint be used on one of the coaches. The group admired the shade of green and right then and there the agreed that the fire engines should be painted that green color, with gold for the lettering and striping. Soon they owned their own horses and three sets of harnesses were kept suspended above the two poles of the steamer and two sets of harnesses above the one pole of the chemical wagon. When the alarm sounded the horses trotted from their stalls to their respected places, the sets of harnesses were dropped over their heads and put on them securely. The steamer engine was fired and they were ready to leave.

Bryn Mawr Fire Company Engines – c. 1920

When automotive engines were being built, it still was more practical to use the old stand-by, the horse. The motorized engines had to be hand cranked and were slow to start. They also often broke down on the way to fires. Horses were quick to respond to the alarm, quick to fall into place to be hitched and made good time on the roads that were not paved. As early as 1904, there were a few fire hydrants, but not many.

Bryn Mawr Fire Company Engine – c. 1950

Over time, motorized vehicles became the equipment of the fire company and the larger the equipment became, the more difficult it was to house the vehicles. On October 14, 1995 the Bryn Mawr Fire Company led the only parade Bryn Mawr has had on Lancaster Ave. The Phillie Phanatic rode on top of the hook and ladder truck!

Bryn Mawr Fire Company – Today


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