Members of the Bower Hill Volunteer Fire Department in Scott will celebrate their organization’s 90th birthday Saturday(Jan. 18) at an invitation-only dinner gala at the Hilton Inn Southpointe.
“This is a splurge for us because [the first meeting following officer election] is normally held at the station,” said member Ceil Kitchen, the department's secretary and safety officer.
Besides the department’s 80 volunteers — 32 of whom are life members — the birthday bash will include members from other township and local fire departments, as well as elected local, county and state officials. About 120 attendees are expected.
The event will include dinner, dancing, proclamations and the installation of officers. Plans call for the recognition of a life member, too.
“It will give us a chance to actively thank the other departments,” said Rob Losekamp, 41, who was recently re-elected as department president.
Bower Hill Fire Chief John Levi, 46, who was re-elected fire chief, added, “It's about service to our residents, but it's also about mutual aid to surrounding communities.”
Both men have been volunteer firefighters since the age of 14.
The landmark department, situated on a sharp curve on Vanadium Road, was formed in 1924. At that time, Glendale on Carothers Avenue was the only volunteer fire department in Scott and also the only township neighborhood to have fire hydrants. Though it had a hose car, the vehicle was not motorized.
“Basically, it was a bucket brigade,” said Kevin Trichtinger, 55, a 36-year member of Bower Hill and a paramedic/supervisor for Tri Community Emergency Medical Service.
Responding to public demand for fire service to Bower Hill, which was made up primarily of mines and farms at the time, Scott leaders approved a public water supply to the area and the fire department was born with 12 members. Within five years, it would grow to 54 men, or almost 20 percent of the community's adult males.
During World War II, the department continued to make history with the acceptance of its first female member, Esther Padgelek.
Ambulance service was initiated in 1956 and quickly received many incoming calls for assistance, with Bower Hill providing advanced life support ambulance service for the township by 1984. A Junior Fire Brigade was begun in the late 1950s.
The current station was built in 1952 and additions put on in 1976 and 1980.
In 1997, the department joined with Glendale Hose Co. No. 1 to establish the Scott Township EMS.
Currently, the Bower Hill company has about 30 firefighters and 60 supporting members on its roster. Based on previous rosters, more than 400 men and women have been members over the years.
“It's come a long way from pulling a World War I surplus hose cart,” Mr. Trichtinger said.
Ms. Kitchen noted that “Putting out fires is not the No. 1 thing we do. They're so many other things that people call us for.” Among those calls are to pump out flooded basements, get cats out of trees, and respond to vehicle accidents and gas spills.
“I'm proud of the people I volunteer with,” she said. “It becomes a big family.”
“The people of Scott Township in general don't realize how lucky they are,” added Mr. Trichtinger, who pointed out that all three volunteer fire departments are adequately staffed.
For more information about Bower Hill Volunteer Fire Department, including its history, call volume, current news and old photos: www.bowerhillfire.com. cq
Carole Gilbert Brown, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.