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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
On April 11, 1955 it was motioned to instruct our delegates to vote in favor of allowing South Bowers to become a “part-time” fire company.

On September 20, 1956, John W. Bamberger, Sr. was elected President of the Delaware State Fire Chief’s Association. Five hours later, he was stricken with a heart attack and died the next day.

The mortgage taken out to remodel the firehouse in 1950 was paid off in October of 1958, and the mortgage was burned at the annual Christmas dinner held in December of that same year.

At a special company meeting held on November 21, 1958 two major purchases were made. It was approved to purchase a new 1959 Ford F-600 fire engine from the William S. Darley Company of Chicago, Illinois. The engine was ordered with a V-8 motor, 175 inch wheelbase, 500 gallon capacity water tank, a Darley Champion Triple Combination front end pump which pumped 500 gallons of water per minute, and two top crank rewind hose reels with 300 feet of ¾” hose on each. The total purchase price was $7,715 and the engine was received and put into service in July 1959. It is still in service as truck 43-5. To help purchase this new engine, the 1937 Reo fire engine, which served the company for twenty-one years, was sold to Allen Reynolds for $175. The second major purchase made during the meeting was a new 1958 Cadillac ambulance from the Wolfington Body Company. The 1952 Cadillac was traded in on this new ambulance.

The 1950’s saw the Cheswold Volunteer Fire Company change at an unprecedented pace. During this time they bought two new fire engines, moved into a new building, and started an ambulance service. The Town of Cheswold was changing also. Around 1954, the W. L. Smith plant that packaged peaches, apples, and dill pickles closed. This was the last of a long line of businesses that once operated out of the railroad station in town and the freight depot there. Around 1957 the depot was removed. Two years later a spur was take out leaving only the single track running through town. When the fire company was formed, there were five stores in town and by 1961 there was one. The population of the town declined slightly in the 1960 census. These changes would affect the future of the company. The 1960’s would bring the company into the modern era. The minutes of the meetings of this time show a lot of familiar problems. Many members now lived outside of town. There were discussions about whether people who lived outside the territory should be able to join. Bingo was discussed at almost every meeting, lack of help being one of the major reasons (at one point it was agreed to pay each worker $10 per night, this was later reversed and the money was returned). The ambulance was also a frequent topic of discussion. The 1960’s started with thoughts of expansion, or possibly building a new firehouse. With that idea in mind, at the September 1962 meeting it was approved to purchase 37 acres of land across the street from the present firehouse for $20,000. This land was then rented to area farmers until the membership decided how and where their expansion would take place.

During a special meeting held on July 18, 1960 the problem of getting the ambulance out was brought up. The company was involved in many transfers of patients to distant hospitals for advanced care. A motion was passed to pay the ambulance driver and necessary crew $2 per hour on long distance runs and transfers to Wilmington and Philadelphia during working hours and that any money received from ambulance ticket sales be placed in a fund for this purpose.

At the regular company meeting on November 12, 1962, a motion was passed to contact the Robbins Hose Company of Dover to see if they would answer our emergency calls and dispatch us. This was after several attempts in the 1950’s to have a county dispatch center created.

Elections held on December 10, 1962 became very interesting when outgoing Fire Chief Fred Willey made a motion to suspend the by-laws and allow every member to vote in the election. This motion passed. Mr. Willey was elected President. At the next meeting, a motion was passed to have another election that followed the by-laws and this time Elbert C. Golder was elected President and some of the other offices also changed.

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