The Media Fire and Hook and Ladder Co., Number 1 was formed in 1891 by citizens concerned about the lack of an organized group to respond to fires in the town. Although the earliest efforts lacked equipment, funding, and a permanent station, the dedicated volunteers persevered. The founding members sponsored fundraising fairs contributed their own money and used their own properties to help establish the first fire company. Over the years they purchased a steam engine and a hose cart. Adding more equipment and upgrading through the years, the Media Fire Company later added an ambulance division and eventually a ladder truck to their complement. Today the Media Fire Company operates two engines, a truck company, a rescue, two basic life support ambulances, and two advanced life support vehicles with an active crew of more than 35 members.
In 1886, Borough Council provided a hand engine pump that was kept in a stable on Jasper Street. However, there was no group organized as a fire company, and it was up to all the residents to assist in an emergency. In 1889, the Delaware County American, a weekly newspaper published in Media, called attention to the need for an organized body of men to fight fires.
In September 1890, a meeting was held in Borough Council Chambers to organize a fire company, but little was done at that time. The hand pump was housed wherever there was space. Later that year another meeting was held to organize the Media Fire Protective Association, which took charge of the hand pumper. In 1891 an application was made to the Delaware County Court for the incorporation of the Media Fire and Hook and Ladder Company, Number 1. The charter was granted on October 6, 1891. The company first had quarters on Jasper Street and then Plum Street, before moving in 1893 to the new Borough Hall and Fire House at State and Jackson Streets, where it remained until 1969. The Company purchased for $2,900 an American LaFrance Piston Steam Pumper, which was kept in service until 1922 when it was donated to the newly formed South Media Fire Company. Later in 1891, the Company ordered a hook and ladder wagon for $640. Media now had a first-class fire company.
In May 1900, the largest firemen's parade in the town's history was held to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Media Borough's founding - more than 1,000 firemen marched with their apparatus.
In March 1911, the Company became the 23rd member of the Delaware County Firemen's Association and hosted the County Convention and Parade in 1913.
In 1914, the Company became motorized with the purchase of a Mack chassis, upon which was placed a horse-drawn chemical apparatus. Also that year, the Company discussed purchasing an ambulance, but the first ambulance was not
purchased until 1923. Until that time, first aid was administered from fire engines, which carried a small first aid kit and a stretcher.
At the beginning of 1920, the membership of the Company was 501 members. In 1923, the first Packard ambulance was placed in service, and the fire bell was moved to the top of the firehouse roof. In 1924, a Hale Fire Truck with two 35-gallon tanks attached was purchased for $2,790. Because of the fast speed of the new truck, a speedometer was placed on it. By the end of 1928, the Company had answered 106 alarms for the year. On August 19, 1929, the most serious accident in the history of the Media Fire Company occurred. While answering an alarm on Mt. Alverno Road in Middletown Township, the 1925 Seagrave Pumper, in turning from Elwyn Road onto Middletown Road, at the bridge over the railroad tracks, missed the turn and dropped about 50 feet onto the tracks. The driver of the truck, Marion Baker, and fireman Morgan Wood was killed instantly, and several others on the truck were injured. A committee reported that repairs to the truck were not possible, and a new 1929 Seagrave Pumper was purchased for $9,150. The Media Fire Company maintains the 1929 Seagrave to this day.
In 1932, the heart of the great depression, the Company was forced to sell Liberty Bonds in which it had invested in order to maintain the expenses of the Company. In 1939, the Media Borough Council purchased a fire siren, ending longstanding complaints by firemen of not being able to hear the fire bell. The siren was still in use until a few years ago. The old fire bell, which had been in use since 1895, is now on display alongside the fire station.
In 1941, the Company celebrated its 50th anniversary and hosted the huge Delaware County Firemen's Association Convention and Parade. In April 1943, due to a shortage of firefighters caused by World War II, the Company enrolled 25 junior members.
In 1945, the 1915 Seagrave Truck was sold to the newly formed Lima Fire Company for $100. In 1947, there were 105 fires and 309 ambulance trips. In 1948, an organizational meeting was held to re-establish a Ladies' Auxiliary for the Fire Company.
In 1949, the Company investigated the purchase of a piece of land along Jackson Street between Front and Jasper Streets for the construction of a new firehouse. Although the Company was favorable toward the purchase, it would be 20 years before a new firehouse was realized on the site.
In May 1950, a new firefighting device was demonstrated: the Scott Air Pack. It would be used to enter burning, smoke-filled buildings for rescue work and firefighting.
During the winter of 1949-50, the Company worked hard to purchase new uniforms for Media's Centennial celebration in 1950.
In 1950, the Media Lions Club presented the Company with a portable iron lung, the only one in the County, for use in transporting polio patients. During the late 1940s and early 1950s, the polio epidemic raged throughout the country. Media Fire Company was one of the only companies in Delaware County to transport polio patients. Only single men, all volunteers, were permitted to transport these highly contagious cases.
In 1953, a new American LaFrance Aerial Truck with a 65-foot ladder was delivered. In 1954, Media's ambulances assisted in moving patients from the old Lankenau Hospital in Center City to the new facility on Lincoln Highway near City Line Avenue.
The topic of a new fire station had come up repeatedly during the early 1960s, and in 1964 Media Borough Council arranged to have a referendum placed on the May ballot for a new firehouse. The Company had leaflets in favor of the referendum delivered to every house and apartment in the Media. The referendum was passed by a wide majority. In 1966, the Company agreed to operate under the new county radio and numbering system. Also that year, plans were approved for the new firehouse. The new firehouse was dedicated on October 4, 1969. In December 1969, the Company approved the purchase of an 85-foot Snorkel for $88,296 - the new Snorkel was delivered in March 1971.
In March 1971, the Company agreed to go on the new county radio system for the dispatching of fire and ambulance calls. The Media Fire Company became Station 23 and all equipment was numbered using the "23" prefix.
By 1976, the ambulance business was changing, and new rules and regulations demanded that the crews have either an emergency medical technician or a paramedic.
In 1982, the fire siren was turned off for a one-month test period. After many complaints by firemen and citizens, the siren was reactivated by popular demand. In 1988, the Company bought a new "Squrt" for $296,432 - the most expensive piece of equipment ever purchased by the Company at that time.
In 1991, the Media Fire Company celebrated its 100th anniversary and again hosted the Delaware County Firemen's Association Convention and Parade.
2000 & Beyond
As it entered the 21st Century, the Media Fire Company continued to have a vision for the future. In 2001, the Company authorized the purchase of a new Snorkel truck for $715,000, with delivery expected in October 2002. The Company continues to provide quality emergency medical services. With a call volume that continues to grow each year, some paid emergency medical technicians have been added to ensure a prompt response. The Company continues to meet the challenges of recruiting new members, providing comprehensive training, and delivering prompt, efficient, and effective fire, rescue, and medical services to the residents of Media and beyond.