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The Christiana Fire Company is located at 214 S Bridge Street, in the Borough of Christiana. The construction of this fire station was completed in November of 2002. Currently, all five pieces of fire apparatus are housed here, as this station functions as the hub for all our emergency services and activities. They have worked very hard over the years to be able to serve our community out of such a state of the art facility.
The Christiana Fire Company was organized in 1882 under the name of “Octorara Fire Company No.1” and received its charter in 1884. It was first located in a barn behind 23 Gay Street. The first fire house was built in 1885 under the supervision of Isaac Broomell and James D. Reed, with David P. Sheeler as the contractor.
The building was located on East Slokom Avenue, next to the Masonic Hall and was electrically lighted through a donation by Andrew L. Melcher. The fire house was described as “a substantial two-story brick structure with a large cistern under the front capable of furnishing water for several hours to the hand engine which the company kept therein.” It was 20 x 40 feet in diameter, and the upper floor was used as the borough council chamber and also by the Building and Loan, the Board of Trade, Board of Health, the School Board and the local auditors. It was also reported that several secret organizations held their meetings there.
A report written at the time and appearing in the “Local Ledger” stated that … “On the first floor, which is nicely cemented, is kept the hand engine, hose cart, ladders and other fire-fighting appliances, besides the borough lock-up, an iron cage 6 x 8 feet, containing two cots, which, owing to the law-abiding qualities of our citizens, is rarely used, tramps for over night being its principal patrons. In the cupola is swung a fine-toned fire-bell which is tapped by means of a wire that hangs down to the engine room. Its apparatus has done invaluable service for our town when the emergency has arisen. The charter of the company provides for a membership of 50, but at present it is doubtful if there are 15 members in good standing. The efficiency of a fire department is of the utmost importance to the safety of life and property and while the laurels won by our company are a source of congratulation, we hope its equipment will someday be much increased. The company has in good order over 700 feet of hose, which with the borough water pressure of 80 lbs. The company temporarily retired the old hand engine from active service. The building costs over $1,600.00 to erect exclusive of the apparatus.
In March, 1896, the borough council refused to exonerate the fire company from payment of the borough tax, but promised to donate $25.00 per year and also bought the company 300 feet of hose. There were, however, some additional problems. The fire company minutes of October 6, 1898 read in part: “The trustees are instructed by motion to bring to the notice of the president of the borough council the matter of parties spitting on our carpet during Council meetings and request that it be stopped.”
In January 1898, the fire company voted to charge the borough $100.00 annually. In April, the borough offered $50.00 and the fire company voted to make it $75.00. The matter was settled when the borough agreed to a fee of $50.00 and a donation of $25.00 per year. The meeting room was also used by the Colored Masons. The minutes of January 5, 1897, reflect a change in the meeting night of the fire company so as not to conflict with a request of the Colored Masons. The Colored Ladies Lodge also met in the firehouse. The original rental fee is not recorded but in July, 1920, it was voted to increase the rental for the men to $3.00 and the ladies to $1.50.
The minutes of March 8, 1899 state that the Colored American Mechanics had requested to rent the hall. However, no further reference is made to that organization. The Sons of Temperance rented the hall until January, 1909, at which time the fire company took their organ in lieu of rental payment.The IOOF were tenants and apparently also had financial difficulties. The minutes of February, 1910 record that the trustees of the fire company took the IOOF cupboard for rental and sold it for $2.00. Unidentified “church people”, the Ladies Temple of KGE, a group called YPRCE and the Redmen met in the hall. In November, 1919, it was suggested “that a phone some place handy to the fire hall would be a good thing, so that in case of fire, neighbors could be called and the fire bell rung”. In December, 1925, a committee was appointed to investigate sirens and, in March 1926, a siren was installed at a cost of $396.00.
With the construction of the new fire house and its dedication in May, 1949, the old building on East Slokom Avenue was sold in October of that same year for $3,000. The burning of the mortgage celebrating the pay-off of the debt was held on September 23, 1956.
Over the years the company grew out the West Slokom facility. In April of 2000 the fire company discussed options with the borough council to see if the borough was interested in doing a land/building swap. The borough owned the property where the old Christiana School stood and the fire company thought it would great for their needs. The next year was very eventful. We got appraisals done on the firehouse and Hilton Hall, another building owned by the fire company that was used for equipment storage. In August of that year, Hilton Hall was sold to make a dinner theater. We then selected McComsey Builders as our general contractor.
In April of 2002, we held our groundbreaking ceremony, and soon thereafter, construction began. The construction lasted through the summer and into the fall of 2002, coming to completion in November of that year.
In March of 2012, the Christiana Fire Company expanded our fire district to now include the Borough of Atglen.
Christiana Fire Company continues to be an active presence in Christiana and the surrounding communities, protecting life and property.