Return to Station 20 – Phoenix

Sta. 20 – History

The history of Phoenix Fire Company No. 2 of Pottsville actually dates back to April of 1829, the company has been under its current name since November 25, 1867.

The company was originally recognized by the Pottsville Borough Council on April 30, 1830 as the Schuylkill Hydraulian Company and as such, was the first regularly organized fire company in the community. Early company records and minute books were destroyed by a fire in the 1840’s. The Hydraulians were located on N. Centre St., the site of the present N. Centre Street elementary school.

At a meeting on April 17, 1861, in the fire house, a discussion on the Civil War was started and that same night a war resolution was adopted by the firemen as follows: “Resolved, that the members of the Schuylkill Hydraulian Fire Co. form themselves into a military company and offer their services to the United States government.” President Powers calling attention to the fire company’s motto, “when duty calls, ’tis our to obey”, called on the membership to enroll themselves in defense of the Union. The firemen adopted the name Union Guards of Pottsville and the unit left Pottsville on April 24, going to Harrisburg where they were greeted by Governor Andrew Curtain.

In 1884, then known as Phoenix Fire Engine Co. No. 2, the company moved to their present location on E. Norwegian St. The company used horse drawn equipment until 1919 when the company purchased a motorized American La France 75′ aerial ladder truck. They used this truck until 1939 when the Hahn Motor Company of Hamburg rebuilt the chassis into a tractor trailer with the ladders and other equipment placed on this vehicle.

In 1959, the company purchased an American La France aerial ladder truck with an extension ladder of 100 feet. It also carried 220 feet of ground ladders, smoke masks, pike poles, boots, coats, hats, inhalators, auxiliary lighting, etc., making it a first class piece of equipment. Since then, the truck went through many modifications. In 1978, the truck was refurbished and re-certified. It received a new Detroit Diesel engine coupled to an Allison automatic and International 2 speed rear, also the cab and tiller were enclosed. In 1992, the truck was refurbished a second time. Modern hydraulic outriggers were added along with extending the cab. Additional compartments were also added. Currently, the truck carries 243′ of ground ladders, 8 SCBA with 9 spare cylinders, rescue equipment, salvage, overhaul, turnout gear, vent saw, K-12, life net, battering ram, large compliment of forcible entry tools, auxiliary lighting, generator, and much more. All this in an effort to continue the tradition of service to the community to protect life and property.

Since its organization in 1830 as the Schuylkill Hydraulian Fire Company, and its reorganization in 1867 as the Phoenix Fire Engine Company No. 2, the East Side firemen’s organization has been headed by 40 presidents. There are no records of the presidents or other company officials who headed the Schuylkill Hydraulian Fire Company from 1830 to 1847, since fire destroyed all minute books and roster of officers.

Schuylkill Hydraulian presidents from 1847 to 1867 were:
– John W. Taylor, 1848
– John P. Powers, 1849, 1857-58, 1860-1887
– Philip C. Cromis, 1850
– Thomas Jones, 1851-1852
– M. Ketner, 1853-56, 1859

No meetings were held during 1866 since the entire membership of the Schuylkill Hydraulians enlisted in the services of the Union Army during the Civil War. John P. Powers was the last president of the Schuylkill Hydraulians, serving in 1866 until chartering of the present Phoenix Company the following year.