History of the Allentown Fire Department

 Originally, there were several fire companies in this area. It was not until 1867, when Allentown first became recognized as a city, that efforts were made to bring the volunteer companies together to form one fire department for the city. After several furious battles over which company was going to be considered “Company Number 1,” Council stepped in by banning the use of that number by any fire company. On February 9, 1870, the various companies were finally organized as the Allentown Fire Department under the leadership of Chief Simon P. Snyder. At that time, there were four (4) companies…

  • America Hose Co. No. 2 (16 S. 6th St.)
  • Goodwill No. 3 (22 S. 8th St.)
  • Columbia No. 4 (South Side of Hamilton between 7th & 8th St.)
  • Liberty No. 5 (715 Chew St.)

The following year, two more companies were added. They were…

  • Hibernia No. 6 (631 Ridge Ave.)
  • Allen No. 7 (136 Linden St.)

By the late 1800’s, as the population of Allentown was approaching 30,000 citizens, the fire department had expanded to 25 men, 15 pieces of equipment and responded out of 9 firehouses. At that time, the average salary for a firefighter was a little over thirty-eight dollars per month. By 1914, Allentown added four more companies (totaling 10). They were…

  • Rescue No. 8 (632-634 Linden St.)
  • Pioneer No. 9 (701 N. 8th St.)
  • Franklin No. 10 (1348 Turner St.)
  • Fairview No. 11 (929 S. 7th St.)

By 1929, the Allentown Fire Department was 13 Companies strong. In those fifteen years, Allentown added…

    • East Allentown No. 12 (Dauphin and E. Walnut)
    • Rittersville No. 13 (2034 Hanover Ave.)
    • Fearless No. 14 (S. Front St.)

Shortly after the stock market crash of 1929, a time when industrial production was on a downward spiral and Americans were losing jobs, the members of the Allentown Fire Department felt it was necessary to officially become a brotherhood. On December 30th, 1929, the International Association of Firefighters added yet another Local to their membership. On that day, Local 302 originated.

Over the years, the fire service has evolved to meet the challenges presented by our ever-changing society. Firefighters are now trained in specialized fields such as Hazardous Materials, Under Water Recovery, and Bomb Disposal, just to name a few. Often being first on the scene of medical emergencies, most Allentown Fire Department personnel have the qualifications of First Responder, Emergency Medical Technician or Paramedic. In addition, firefighters are certified on the Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) through a cooperative program between Allentown EMS and the Fire Department.

Today the Allentown Fire Department, under the leadership and development of Fire Chief Robert Scheirer and Deputy Chief Robert Kudlak, protect the homes, businesses and over 106,000 residents within the 17.7 square miles of the city.

*Information gathered from “Allentown Fire Department – First 125 years” By Harold “Sei” Seibert. and “Souvenir History of the Allentown Fire Deartment”