History of La Mott Fire Company
Formed on August 18, 1910, La Mott Fire Company #1 today protects more than 2,100 people living in an area of 1.8 square kilometers (1.12 square miles). The Company operates out of a single station that protects a primarily residential area.
The La Mott Fire Company is one of five companies that provide fire protection for the Township of Cheltenham in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. The Township is just under nine square miles with a population of approximately 36,875 (2000 Census). The La Mott Fire Company is located in Fire District Number 2. In addition to the residential areas, there are two schools, a major shopping mall, numerous churches, one major apartment complex and one apartment mid rise. Currently, the station houses two pieces of fire fighting apparatus, one engine and a chemical unit.
The purpose of the 1910 meeting was to form a fire company for the protection of homes in both La Mott and the surrounding area, with service being extended to all regardless of race, color or creed. From this meeting, the La Mott Fire Association was formed. The motto of the Fire Company is “With Willing Hearts, We Hasten to Assist.”
In the early days of the organization, the founders were faced with finding ways to obtain a home for the Company that would be worthy of the community, as well as the necessary equipment to adequately protect it. That they were ultimately successful was due to long hours of unselfish sacrifice on the members’ part; their efforts placed the new fire company on an equal basis with the older companies of both the township and the county. (On September 21, 1896, a group of men gathered in Cheltenham Hall for the purpose of forming a Volunteer Fire Company to be known as Cheltenham Hook & Ladder Co. No. 1.)
The first home of the La Mott Fire Company was a little building that still stands at Willow Avenue and Keenan Street. This location served as the home of the Company until 1914, when a fire house was built at 1618 Willow Avenue. The new building served the needs of the company until May 18, 1957 when the Company then moved to a larger building, its present home, at Penrose Avenue and Humphrey Merry Way. Over the years the present building has seen many alterations.
The Company’s first piece of equipment was a two-wheel horse cart with 500 feet of 2½” hose, two lanterns and a number of buckets. This equipment was placed in service in January of 1912. The equipment was housed in a barn behind Schmidt’s Hall. In the early days the Company answered alarms in the West Oak Lane and East Mt. Airy sections of Philadelphia. This service resulted in Philadelphia offering the Company an engine -- an offer that had to be refused because there was no room for it in the barn.
In October 1914 the Company purchased an Isotta Franschini chassis (http://vea.qc.ca/vea/marques1/isotta.htm) and a patrol body was installed. This was the Company’s first piece of motorized equipment, used to pull the hose cart to alarms. In 1916 a 1908 Packard was purchased and a patrol body was placed on the chassis. A chemical tank was placed on the Isotta at the same time.
Two years later the Company purchased its first pumper, a Simplex with a 500 gallon per minute (GPM) Hale pump. The year 1924 saw the purchase of a new Brockway truck built by American La France (http://www.americanlafrance.com/Museum) on which was installed a chemical tank.
In 1929 the company retired the hose cart – storing it in the cellar – and traded the Simplex for a 750 GPM Hale pumper.
In October 1938 the Brockway chemical was traded for a Reo GPM pumper. In June 1951 the Company purchased two 750 GPM Mack trucks with 250 gallon booster tanks. This was an improvement over the 50-gallon booster tanks that the Company had been using.
In May of 1963 the Company was operating with three trucks when another Mack pumper was obtained. The new Mack had a 300 gallon booster tank. Four years later they obtained a 1,000 GPM Mack pumper with a 500 gallon booster tank, automatic transmission, and closed compartments on the upper left side to store air packs. The following year, the remaining 1951 Mack – dubbed “Old Faithful” by the crews -- was designated as a foam truck. This truck was retired in 1972 and a National Foam Chemical truck built on an International chassis was housed. In June 1974 two 1,000 GPM Macks with 500-gallon tanks with preconnected crosslays were obtained. In 1982, the Company purchased a Pierce foam chemical truck with a 1,000 GPM pump, 500 gallon foam tank, 500 gallon water tank and 1,000 pound dry chemical. The truck also carried all equipment, chemicals and suits necessary to cope with a hazardous material incident.