The West Ridge Fire Department is a combination Part Time Paid / Volunteer Fire Department that is located in the southwestern Millcreek Township, a western suburb of Erie, Pennsylvania. Currently, Millcreek Township is the 2nd biggest municipality in Erie County with a population of around 53,000. The West Ridge Fire Department is officially designated as Erie County Fire Department #46.
The Part Time Paid Firefighters staff Station 46 Monday - Friday from 8am - 6pm.
In the 1920’s, the area which comprised the West Ridge Fire District was primarily agricultural. The Zuck family, owners of Zuck Greenhouses on Ridge Road (now W. 26th St.), had accepted responsibility for providing fire service to southwest Millcreek. They would send their employees along with two hose carts equipped with chemical tanks to handle any fire in the area. Two substations were eventually built, one behind Parkers Garage at Rt. 20 & Cemetery Rd (Sterrettania Rd.) and the other behind the Millcreek High School (now the Millcreek Education Center). Lines were laid along the Ridge Road Blvd. to Asbury Road and down Powell Avenue to 23rd Street. Along with this, fire hydrants were installed by the residents to protect their own properties. A chemical cart and three hose carts were procured, and the nucleus of a volunteer fire department was formed. This loose knit organization served as fire protection for the next fifteen years. Calls were received by phone and an alarm was sent out by whistle on Zuck’s Boiler House. On January 25, 1940, a charter was granted to form the West Ridge Volunteer Fire Department. On January 27 a group of men met at Kallenbach’s Greenhouse to begin formalizing the company. This group consisted of the following men: J.W. Evans, Ray Smith, George Keinath, E.C. Feidler, Harold Koh, Hayes McCreary, Glenn Halderman, Floyd Brown, Clem Frank, A.L. Norwall, Francis Flynn, Karl Von Buseck, Floyd Anderson, Kenneth Kallenbach, Chris Rabe, William Schreader and Harry Love Jr.
Once the organization was completed along with the location of a building and the adoption of by-laws it was time to acquire a fire truck. To house equipment West Ridge leased the old Grange Hall from C.W. Zuck & Son and with relief labor, constructed a two-stall garage attached to the rear of the hall to house the equipment. In September 1940, a used Diamond T Fire Truck was purchased. That same year turnout gear was purchased, which consisted of rubber coats, hats, and boots. In 1941, a used chassis, four new tires and a used gasoline tank was acquired. This was the first tank truck. In 1949, a new International Truck with a Metro body was purchased to be used as a first aid truck and ambulance. A new 1951 Mack Fire Truck was added, giving West Ridge a total of four pieces of equipment. With these new equipment additions, the original fire hall had reached its capacity. With all eyes looking toward the future, the firemen drew up plans for a new fire hall. It was to be centrally located with ample room to house fire equipment, a multi-purpose room, full kitchen, and an area where there would be additional room to grow. Local businesses were approached for donations of money and materials. Area builders donated to the project and the firemen donated countless hours completing the finish work. The residents came through with donations to cover any final items that needed to be purchased. The end result of this wonderful community cooperation was an excellently constructed modern fire hall in the area. The new home of the West Ridge Hose Company, 3142 West Ridge Road was dedicated in the summer of 1955. Once this project was under their belts, it was time to modernize West Ridge’s communication system. Until now they used the telephone chain method to alert the firemen in an emergency. Once the trucks left the hall, they had no way of communicating with anyone. Surplus civil defense radios were purchased and installed in the emergency vehicles and in each fireman’s home.
The 1960’s showed the addition of a new tank truck and ambulance. In 1970, a 75-foot snorkel, pumper, and pocket pagers were acquired. A second station at Grubb and Sterrettania Roads with a training building and picnic grove was built. By building a modestly priced butler building as a second station, the company almost doubled their equipment capacity and was better able to provide coverage to the rapidly growing southern portion of Millcreek Township. There was, however, a need for expansion at the headquarters building at West 26th St. and Homer Ave. As a result, a two story addition was added and the work was completed and dedicated in 1984.
The 1980’s were also a time of great population growth in the West Ridge area. This increase in population and in property to be protected resulted in the 1989 purchase of a new state of the art 100-foot aerial tower truck. The 1990’s through today challenged members of West Ridge with increased demands in the area of Emergency Medical Services, fire protection and fire prevention. The West Ridge Fire Department currently operates with 6 pieces of apparatus. The fleet is comprised of 2 engine companies, 1 truck company, 2 support services vehicles, 1 Argo UTV, 1 special operations trailer, and 1 Chief’s vehicle. Members belong to several regional teams, including Hazardous Materials Response, Swat and Rope Rescue. Areas of expertise in West Ridge include, but not limited to: Emergency Medical, Firefighting, Fire Police, Vehicle Rescue, water rescue (both swift water and SCUBA), and Incident Management Members regularly attend local and regional training sessions, and well as state and national classes for training in various topics. Members are all trained in firefighting, emergency medical including CPR, and the National Incident Management System. The Fire Prevention Program runs year around, and last year reached approximately 1500 children. During this educational program, we cover fire prevention, general safety, weather, and various other related topics, depending on the audience. West Ridge has been servicing the community since 1940 and would like to thank previous members for their dedication of service and present members for their continued efforts. A special thank you also goes out to the members of the community which we serve. Without your continued support the West Ridge Fire Department would not be able to provide you with all the services that are essential to a safe community.
Each Millcreek Township Fire Department also has their own "On-Site" operations channel. The West Ridge On-Site channel is a branch of 1 of the operations channels and utilizes a mobile repeater system. When operating outside the boundaries of Millcreek Township, the fire departments are capable of utilizing Erie County Fire frequencies or use a cross band radio system.
The first due district is a suburban setting. In our district, you will find highways, schools of all levels, several industrial facilities, residents, nursing facilities, several shopping plazas, hotels, few high rises and other miscellaneous buildings. When responding to mutual aid first due districts, you will find a major shopping district, 2 interstate freeways, several nursing facilities, several major traffic ways, hotels and several other types of structures.
In Millcreek Township, you will find 4 other all volunteer fire departments. These fire departments are West Lake Fire Department (Station 48), Kearsarge Fire Department (Station 44) and the Belle Valley Fire Department (Station 36). For several years, all 4 departments have been acting on mutual and automatic aid dispatches and requests.
Back in 1999, the 4 fire departments along with the Lake Shore Fire Department (Station 50) came together and formed Millcreek Paramedics Service. Millcreek Paramedics Service (MPS) is a career ALS ambulance service that covers Millcreek Township and surrounding districts when requested.
Since WRFD utilizes Volunteer Firefighters, we are always looking for new members. If you would like additional information on how to join, you can stop by either fire station whenever a member is at the station or on Monday evenings at 7pm. The classes of membership are firefighter, junior firefighter, fire police or auxiliary.
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