100 years ago, citizens of what was then the Borough of Yorkville called a meeting to obtain fire protection.
On October 27, 1891, the company was formed and the initial meeting was held on November 16th of that year. A charter was issued to a dozen members of the newly formed company on February 2, 1892. Those charter members were as follows: August Wachter, President; Rudolf Wachter, Vice President; Charles Benseman, Jacob H. Dimmerling, George Wachter, Jacob Bildheiser, Leonard C. Schiebelhut, John Long, John J. Buehler, James Gibbs, Thomas Rowe, and Benedict Maher.
The first piece of fire apparatus the Yorkville Hose & Fire Co. owned was purchased from the Phoenix Fire Co., of Pottsville. It was the hook and ladder type. The company was loaned a lot by the borough council, with the provision that they could purchase it later. On this lot they then erected a frame building to house the apparatus.
In 1898, a more modern piece of apparatus was purchased from the Rescue Fire Co., of Lykens. In 1906, a piece of ground at the corner of 20th and Norwegian Streets was purchased by the company and on it was erected a modern brick building in 1907. The company is still quartered there today.
Yorkville fireman were admitted to the Pottsville Fire Department shortly after their building was occupied. In 1912, The Yorkville Hose & Fire Co. purchased its first auto truck, a White pumper, which was later badly damaged by fire. In 1922, another White pumper truck was purchased and put into service. This truck was later sold to the Hendricksville Fire Company. In 1927, another piece of apparatus was added when a Hahn truck was placed in service. This truck saw a lot of service and was overhauled in 1937. This truck was again renovated in 1950 when more modern equipment and two-way radios were installed. At this time the truck color was changed from blue to red. In 1949, a new Maxim Quad was purchased in the sum of $30,000 and was the last word in fire fighting apparatus at that time. As was the case previously, the company from time to time added more modern type equipment, namely radios and walkie-talkie equipment.
May, 1957, marked another landmark in the history of the Yorkville Hose Company when they purchased the ground from the city of Pottsville where their first building formerly stood, and in the fall of that year ground was broken for their new fire apparatus building. This building was built for the future, as the expanding of the Yorkville section called for new planning; thus a new building was erected. This building was constructed in such a way, that if it is needed, the building could be added to. The new building was completed and dedicated May 31, 1958, at a cost of $42,000.
The Yorkville fireman pride themselves in their fire fighting equipment as well as their two buildings, both well kept. In 1967, the company purchased a cab-forward Maxim Quad. This truck, Truck 61, had the latest in fire fighting equipment with many features, which were designed to meet the future needs of the company. The cost of this apparatus was approximately $47,000.
From time to time improvements have been to the original company building. Several years ago Yorkville fireman erected one of the most modern grilles in the county, which is located in the basement of this building. In December of 1970, a fire occurred in the social quarters. After extensive remodeling, Yorkville Hose Company had one of the nicest social quarters in the area.
In the mid 1970’s the Hurst Rescue System was purchased to improve our rescue capabilities. In 1980, due to an increase in the number of rescue calls the decision was made to purchase a 1981 Swab/International Rescue truck. This went on to win 1st place in the heavy rescue category at the 1981 PA State Fireman’s Convention. In 1984, Truck 61 was refurbished with a new engine, automatic transmission and some body modifications. In the fall of 1990, with the 100th Anniversary approaching we agreed to purchase a new rescue truck that would make our celebration even more memorable.
In December of 1990, Wilfred E. Wachter chose to give up the office of President after 42 years of dedicated service. He was succeeded by John Wollyung, who remains there today. In November 1991, after many hours of discussion, a 1992 Spartan Chassis with a Swab Rescue body was ordered and delivered in September of 1992. Then on October 17, shortly after the delivery of Rescue 63, the members proudly housed this new piece of apparatus in conjunction with the Company’s 100th Anniversary. This was a milestone in the history of the Yorkville Hose Co., not only for their past 100 years of dedicated service to the community but also the commitment to improve and advance their rescue capabilities.
In July of 1996, a 1986 Custom Deluxe Chevrolet Pickup truck was purchased from the Army Surplus. Through the work of the company’s members, this truck was renovated, painted and put into service as Utility 64. The 4 wheel drive capabilities of this vehicle prove to be a very valuable aid in both fire and rescue calls. In the summer of 1999, a 210-gallon portable tank was placed on the truck to aid in fighting brush fires in the area. This has since proven its usefulness not only in Pottsville, but its outlying areas as well.
November 1997 brought both joyous and somber moments to the members of the Yorkville Hose Co. The purchase of a new Spartan/Swab 2000 gpm engine was a welcomed addition to the company but this also meant the departure of a truck close to all members. After 30 years of service Truck 61 was sold to a collector of Maxim fire apparatus in Florida.
The latest decision in the Yorkville Hose Co. was to become involved as a QRS (Quick Response Service) in the Yorkville coverage area. This service would offer the aid to citizens of Yorkville for things such as cardiac arrests, breathing problems, and other life threatening emergencies where ambulance service may not be readily available. With much of the needed equipment already on hand and a number of EMT’s and several newly trained “first responders” as members this service is deemed to be an asset to the community at little cost to the Company.
Today, the members of the Yorkville Hose Company remain dedicated to providing the best possible fire and rescue protection to the citizens of Pottsville and surrounding communities.