Did you know? Volunteer firefighting began in 1736 in Philadelphia. The man who is credited with the idea also invented bifocals and helped draft the Declaration of Independence. You might have heard of him — Benjamin Franklin.
Yep, ‘ole Ben wasn’t just out flying kites to test electricity in the atmosphere; he was also brainstorming ways to fight disasters in his community. We think that makes for a pretty cool beginning to our labor of love.
Franklin wrote articles in The Pennsylvania Gazette about the dangers of fires and how Philadelphia needed organized fire protection. He wanted to rise above the old “fire clubs” of Boston, where members only protected members, and instead have crews that would battle all fires, no matter whose property was burning.
In 1736, Philadelphia faced a serious fire, leading Franklin to create a fire brigade called The Union Fire Company with 30 volunteers. He felt good about this size, so rather than expanding his company, additional companies were formed. Each company bought its own equipment, funded through the wealthier members, and were scattered throughout the city. The crew was entirely volunteer. No cities had paid firefighters before 1850, making volunteers essential.
Test Your Local VFD History Knowledge
Now let’s talk about the history of some local volunteer fire departments and see how much you know. Ready for your true/false quiz?
- True or False: The O.W.L VFD’s charter was granted in 1918.
- False. Their charter was granted in September of 1940.
- True or False: The original fire station was located in Occoquan near Mill Street and Poplar Alley.
- True. The station consisted of just two bays — one for the pumper and one for everything else!
- True or False: In 1958 the O.W.L. VFD erected a new facility to expand operations and be of greater assistance to the Woodbridge citizens.
- True. The second O.W.L. station was built on Jefferson Davis Highway and named Friends Station. The station call number later changed to Company #12 when the original department station moved to its current location on F Street, and Prince William County began numbering each station individually.
- True or False: Their first few meetings were held at various local spots due to the lack of a permanent station in 1969.
- True. Early meetings were held at prominent members’ homes, the Old Stone House on Sudley and the Ben Lomond Farm House.
- True or False: The department purchased their first emergency vehicle for $3,000 in 1970.
- False. They actually only paid $1800 for a 1968 ¾-ton carry-all station wagon from Fairfax that year. It served as the first ambulance and was stored behind the Ben Lomond Farm.
- True or False: On April 4, 1971, SJVFD officially began running fire calls and began rescue calls shortly after on April 13.
- True. Between the start dates and the end of September that year, they responded to 233 calls.
In Prince William County and all around the country, volunteer fire departments were our first first-responders. That tradition proudly continues today. Won’t you join us?
Are you looking for a change? Here in Prince William County, the volunteer departments provide fire and emergency medical services to the County’s citizens and visitors during weekday evenings, weekends and holidays. Prince William County’s volunteer fire and rescue departments are seeking motivated individuals who have the desire to make a difference and provide an important service to their community. Learn more now.
- Posted by ATW
- On August 15, 2017
- 0 Comments