Organization of the Rough & Ready Fire Company, out of which was created the American Hose Company, took place on June 30, 1848. The first officers were Isaac Haupt as President, Charles Porter as Vice President, Wells Miller, Secretary and Paul Bock, treasurer. The dues of the company were twelve and a half cents or a “levee” per month, and the record of the company treasury shows that in July, the first month of its organization, the receipts were forty-three and a half cents. The company members adopted a uniform of service, consisting of bright red shirts with tails on the side, black hats and trousers. The original rules provided for the first man at the engine house taking the brass horn and acting as chief at the ensuing fire. The first appropriation received by the company from the borough was $30 in 1849.
The original apparatus was purchased soon after the company’s organization and consisted of a hand engine that saw service for many years. A tender or hose carriage, which was pulled behind the engine, was added in 1851. In 1851, the name of the company was changed to the American Rough & Ready, and the first complaint was made about the hose house. At a special meeting of the company, it was decided to notify the town Council that unless repairs were made, the company would go out of service on July 4th, which they did. Realizing that the loss of the company would be a blow to the department and the borough, Council later made repairs. After having met in the Scott Rifles Armory for some time, the company reoccupied their house and reentered service. At one of the early meetings, one member was fined half a “levee” for using profanity at a meeting.
“From May, 1861, until April, 1864”, the company files say, “no record of meetings was kept because of the entire company having joined the service of the North during the Civil War.”
Under the date of May 21, 1866, the name of the company was changed to the American Hose Co. No. 2. Jesse Drumheller was elected the first president and Jocob Britton, secretary. The home of the company was on Third Street, near Mahantongo; the company meeting in the first floor of the building and the Presbyterian Church being located in the second story. On March 29, 1869, the company sold the house for $800 and by adding a loan of $600, purchased the present site on Norwegian Street from a Mrs. Reps, whose dwelling occupied the site. Efforts to have Council purchase the property and erect a new house for the company were unavailing for a long time; the company asking $2,500 and Council offering $2,000. After several years, Council accepted the offer with the stipulation that the company purchases a new steam engine. In 1875, after many debates, the company purchased a Clapp and Jones steamer for $3,800. The official test was made at Tumbling Run. Robert Allison, a pioneer machinist and owner of the first automobile in America, approved the apparatus. A committee was appointed to go to Reading and inspect the fire houses of that city with the result that the house of the Hampden Fire Company seemed the most suitable for the local company and was adopted. The cornerstone was laid September 9, 1876, and a parade of the company and Council with a band was the opening feature of the cornerstone laying. The parade proceeded from the old town hall to the hose house.
In 1882, a hose carriage was purchased from D. G. Matthews, whose factory was a local industry and no change was made in the apparatus until 1889. The company bought a Halloway Chemical Engine and Hose Wagon, one of the firsts placed in service in the state. The new machine cost $1,800.
In 1914, the company purchased its first motor apparatus, a Boyd combination truck having accommodations for chemicals, hose, and men. This truck cost the company $6,150. In 1917, a triple combination LaFrance machine with pumping engine, chemical appliance, and hose carrier was purchased for $9,000. This was a 750-gallon pumper. The company sold this machine to Seltzer City in 1947. With the purchase of this new truck saw the end of the use of horses to move equipment and men to fires. However, it was not until 1924 when the company did away with the horse entirely and dropped the transfer and coal hauling business. It was in this year that a 450-gallon American LaFrance pumper was purchased for approximately $13,000.
In 1946, the company ordered a 1500-gallon American LaFrance pumper. This truck was delivered on March 4, 1948. It was one of the finest trucks at that time that money could buy. This new truck was the result of hard work by both old and young members, and cost the company approximately $23,000. In 1947, the company voted life membership to members having 35 or more years with the company. This would be continued yearly. In 1950, the Ladies Auxiliary was formed to help raise money for the company and apparatus with Dena Holstein being its first president. In 1952, the company purchased a 750-gallon American LaFrance pumper.
On January 21, 1960, the company broke ground for its new social quarters, erected joining its engine house on Norwegian Street. This fine firehouse, meeting and clubrooms provided many hours of relaxation for the members. In 1975, the company purchased a 1975 American LaFrance Custom Century pumper 1000 GPM, with 500 gallon booster tank and 1 ½ inch pre-connected crosslays, and sold the 1952 Pumper to East End Fire Co. of Palo Alto. In 1982, the 1948 1500 GPM was retired and sold to a collector. The company then awaited the delivery of a new 1984 American LaFrance Custom Century Pumper, 1500 GPM with 750-gallon booster tank and many updated improvements. The 1975 Pumper was under contract for sale to the Weston Fire Co. #1, Weston, PA, upon delivery of the 1984 Engine.
In October of 1984, the new 1500 GPM Pumper was delivered. It was put into service on November 10, 1984. This vehicle was equipped with an Onboard Foam System, digital flow meters, and large diameter hose. The nickname “CHROME PONY” was bestowed on this Pumper. In 1988, the company decided to drop the age limit to 18 for membership. In 1990, the company line officers sat down and decided, for safety purposes, to prohibit members from riding on the rear tailboard of the engine. To remedy this situation, they decided to put together a personnel carrier to carry firefighters to the fire scene. It is a 1991 Ford Chassis with a Grumman body. Yaissle Auto Body Works fabricated this vehicle. It also has a cascade air system to fill air cylinders.
In August 1995, the company formed a committee to set up specifications for a new engine to replace the 1984 American LaFrance. The committee decided, after meeting with different sales representatives, to break a company tradition and purchase an E-One (Emergency One) engine. Engine 71 was put up for sale and sold to the Harford Volunteer Fire Co. The sale price was $120,000. The truck was released to them on April 20, 1996, and the company ran with just the squad. The new engine was purchased for $366,000, received in November 1996, and put into service the first week in December 1996. The nickname “CHROME PONY II” was lettered in 18kt. gold on the cab crew doors. The E-one is equipped with a 2,000 gpm. Pump, on board foam system, digital flowmeters, and a laptop computer.
In 1997, the company purchased a “Thermal Imaging System”. This device could detect a person in a smoke-filled room by censoring body heat. In addition to this, it could find the seat of the fire, and also be used to detect vapors in hazardous environments. The purchase of the “Cairns Iris” was made possible through the efforts of local businesses in the Pottsville area, and the Jesse Stine family who had lost a son in a fire due to smoke inhalation. In 1998, the company celebrated it’s 150th Anniversary with a week long schedule of events for it’s members and community.