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Cheswold Vol. Fire Co.
371 Main St.
P.O. Box 186
Cheswold, DE 19936

Phone: 302-736-1516
Fax: 302-736-6237

Company History
The first fire truck purchased was a used Model T Ford Chemical Wagon. It held 150 feet of hose and two chemical tanks. Each tank contained water and sodium bicarbonate. A small container of acid was opened inside the tanks to combine with the sodium bicarbonate to create pressure to force the water out. In 1929, a new Model A Ford pumping engine was purchased to replace the Model T. The silver bell from that engine is displayed in the trophy case in our present firehouse and is dedicated in the memory of our deceased members. Also on display is the original hand cranked siren from the same engine. The Pennsylvania Railroad donated a rail that was to be used to alert the new volunteers. It was bent into a circle and hung on a frame. When a fire occurred, it was to be struck with a sledgehammer to sound the alarm. That rail is now located near the entrance to our present hall.

Money for the new fire company was raised through subscriptions and suppers. Carnivals were held in 1928, 1929, and 1930 in order to raise funds to purchase equipment and a firehouse.

On April 10, 1931 at a regular monthly meeting the Cheswold volunteers adopted their first Constitution and By-laws. These were needed before the company could incorporate and on August 17, 1931 the Cheswold Volunteer Fire Company became incorporated.

Cheswold purchased their third piece of apparatus in the mid 1930’s. It was a 1933 V8 Ford tank wagon. It held 540 gallons. By today’s standards this may seem small but in the 1930’s, it was a lot of water.

On September 17, 1936, Willard Boyce, the company’s first fire chief was elected President of the Delaware Volunteer Fireman’s Association. He would be the first member from Cheswold to hold this honor. This is remarkable considering the fire company was only eight years old.

On August 3, 1937 at a special meeting of the fire company, it was approved to purchase a new 1937 Reo triple combination fire engine. It was ordered from the Hale Fire Pump Company of Conshohocken, PA. The truck would include a Deluxe cab with doors and a roof, a 166” wheelbase, a 250 gallon tank, a 500 gallon per minute pump, a 268 cubic inch six cylinder engine with 85 horsepower at 3000 rpm’s, dual rear wheels, one 14’ roof ladder, one 10” locomotive bell, one 10’ pike pole, 12 fire buckets, and 150’ of ¾” four ply rubber hose with a ¾” nozzle. The total purchase was $4665.55 and it was delivered on December 6, 1937. The 1928 Model A Ford was traded in for this truck.

The old 1928 Model A Ford did not retire when it was traded in. It was purchased from the Hale Pump Company by Dr. Beswick, a resident of the town of South Bowers, DE for $900. The story is that Dr. Beswick was interested in starting a volunteer fire company in South Bowers and so he bought some old firefighting equipment. So, one fire truck may have helped start two Delaware volunteer fire companies.

During the late 1930’s, it was decided to purchase a fire siren to replace the railroad rim that had been used up to that time. One would imagine that hitting that rail with a sledgehammer was very hard on the hands.

Cheswold’s new tank wagon caused their alarms to increase. All of the neighboring fire companies began to call for it often, much to the pride of its owners. Because of its increased usage, in 1941 it became apparent that a new chassis was needed. A special meeting was held on March 21, 1941 where it was approved to purchase a new 1942 Ford V-8 chassis for the tank wagon. It was purchased from Bolan Motors of Dover for a cost of $650.00. The old 1933 Ford V-8 was traded in for $150.00. When the new chassis arrived, the Cheswold firemen did the tank change over themselves. On January 14, 1944 the company voted to purchase a 500-gallon per minute pump for the tank wagon. It was purchased from the W. S. Darley Company. The members mounted it on the tank wagon when it was delivered.

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