On July 24, 1873, the citizens of Mount Carmel became fully aware if the fact that they could not continue without adequate firefighting defenses. On that disastrous day, a fire distroyed practically the entire west side of Oak Street between Second and Third Streets.

At that time, Mount Carmel had no fire department or bucket brigades. Following the fire, the citizens organized bucket brigades to combat future fires. Nine years later, on May 12, 1882, Mount Carmel's first fire company, The Anthracite Steam Fire Company No.1, was organized. The company was chartered on September 4, 1882 and later incorporated on July 7, 1952.

Mount Carmel's most prominent citzens of the day met in the Vastine Hall (northwest corner of Third and Oak Streets) to organize the fire company, and Chief Burgess W. H Stecker served as Acting Chairman. A committe on apparatus was appointed consisting of Richard Amour, William C. James, J. E. Reed, and Calvin D. Wright. Dr. E. W. Samuel, William F. King and W. F. Stine comprised a committee which conferred with the Borough Council for the furnishing of hose and the erection of a firehouse.

Chief Burgess Stecker was chosen President of the Anthracite Sream Fire Company. Other company officers were: Charles Schneider, Vice President; John O'Toole, Recording Secretary; H. T. Helwig, Treasure; Calvin D. Wright, Peter Mutchler, and Dr. E. W. Samuel, Trustees. Richard Amour was elected Foreman; Charles schneider, Engineer; George Stecker, First Assistant and John Gimore, Second Assistant. Joseph Schneider and William Amour were elected Stokers. The Board of Directors included Samuel Deitrick, William C. James, Patrick Kiley, Calvin D. Wright, Charles Strouss, Frank Stine, John O'Toole, Peter Kauffman, and J. Graff.

On May 19, 1882, the Anthracite decided to buy a third class LaFrance Steam Engine with a four-steam capacity and a hand drawn four-wheeled hose carriage. The cost of both pieces of apparatus was $4,407.00. Borough Council paid part of the remainder was raised by popular subscription. In 1912, after 30 years of service, the hose carriage finally went to pieces while enroute to a fire.

The first hose wagon purchased by the company was of wooden construction and was built in Mount Carmel by George and Charles Cope in 1896. It carried 500 feet of leather hose and two ladders.

A chemical and engine hose wagon combination was purchased from the American LaFrance Company in September 1910. It was a beautiful piece of apparatus with solid rubber tires and a steel body. Both LaFrance wagons were in use for many years.

The "Crab", a two-wheeled hose carriage, was bought shortly after the organization of the company. It was used only in emergencies, when the regular carriage was unable to transport sufficient hose. The gig, with its pleasantly sounding German silver bell, was loaned to the American Hose and Chemical Company when that company was organized in 1905, and later to the West End Fire Company upon their organizatin in 1915. It was successfully transferred to the Beaverdale Fire Company, Strong Fire Company, and finally to the short-lived Diamondtown Fire Company.

In, 1912, the equipment of the fire company included four horses, two steam fire engines, one combination chemical engine and hose wagon , two coal wagons, one street sprinkler, one moving van, one sand wagon, one dump wagon, five sleighs, as well as 1,200 feet of rubber and hose.

On February 1, 1917, the fire company took action to purchase a two-ton Jeffrey Quad truck. The truck replaced one of the two pair of horses to pull the steam fire engine. The Jeffrey Quad was also used in hauling coal. The other team of horses was retained to pull the hose wagon.

An Ahrens-Fox Triple Combination Pumper, a beautiful piece of apparatus was purchased in October 1919. The total cost was $12,300. In July 1921, the Anthracite purchased a service truck which carried s First Aid outfit, gum boots and gum coats, and hose clamps.

A Hahn Triple Combination Pumper was purchased in 1936, and it replaced the Ahrens-Fox Pumper. Cost of the Hahn Pumper was $7,800, minus $1,000 trade-in for the Ahrens-Fox.

On March 8, 1951, the company decided to puchase a Peter Pirsch Intermidate Aerial Ladder Truck with an 85-foot latter. The cost of the apparatus was $29,692.50.

After that, the company purchased a Hahn 750 GPM Pumper. It was purchased in 1969 and replaced the 1936 Hahn.

The first home of the Anthracite was located on South Apple Street. A plot of ground was leased to the company rent free, in the fall of 1882. The station was used until 1889, when the company moved to their new quarters, a two-story frame structure on the Town Park.

At 1:05 A.M. on February 2, 1908, a fire of unknown orgin broke out in the second story near the hay loft of the Anthracite home, and the station burned to the ground. All apparatus was saved, but lost were several sets of harness, a wagon, a sleigh, the chutes required in hauling coal, and most of the stock of wrenches, tools, uniforms, and gum coats. All records were distroyed except for one book of minutes. The old instruments of the Anthracite Band, the chairs and tables, and personal property of the compny were lost. A goat, which was the company's mascot, butted his wat through the heavy door and escaped the fire. Total property damage lost exceeded $2,000.00. Shortly after the company burned down, a fire occured in Mount Carmel, and it is interesting to note that the Anthracite was the first company to respond, even though its apparatus were stored in various parts of the borough.

Following the fire, construction of the temporary headquarters for the company began on the Town Park on February 12, 1908 by council. On October 2, 1910, the Anthracite purchased the old Park School building, abandoned by the Mount Carmel School Board, and later converted it into a new home. The building purchased for $625.00. The company began moving into the school building on December 17, 1910.

Erected on the Town Park, the Anthracite moved into its present home in November 1916. It was worthy to note that due to automatic equipment, the horses were harnessed and the apparatus was on the street in nine seconds after an alarm sounded.

On February 24, 1989, the company's firemen, battling tremendous odds, received the plaudits of an admiring public when they put an end to the mine fire at the Girard Colliery, later known as the Black Diamond Colliery. At the risk of their own lives, the firemen recovered the body of John Griffiths, fire boss, who was trapped in the workings. In 1903, the company organized a drum corps. The Anthracite Band, a popular music, was organized in 1905. The band performed in many of the local parades and functions of its day. The band did not break until 1912. In September 1912, the Anthracite Glee Club was formed.

During the Summers of 1904 and 1905, the company engaged in the ice business. Nine horses and two mules were kept busy continually.

Each year, the Anthracite maintains a link to the past by holding it's "Prince"'s Birthday Banquet. "Prince" was one of the two horses purchased in 1889 to pull the four ton engine. As a result of the fire that destroyed the fire company on February 1, 1908, "Prince" was seriously injured and was placed in the care of a veterinary surgeon. Iron gray in color, "Prince" won a prize as the oldest fire horse in the Six County Firemen's Association. He was eventually retired to the Borough Poor Farm. Prior to "Prince"'s birthday, the company held its banquet on Washington's birthday.

While attending the Six County Firemen's Association Parade in Shenandoah on June 16, 1910, the company won First Place as the best appearing steam fire engine in line. The company recived a prize of $50.00.

Since 1948, the year Little League Baseball was organized in Mount Carmel, the Anthracite has sponsored a baseball team. In all the Little Leaguers have captured eight league titles (1948, 1950, 1953, 1954, 1956, 1960, 1972, 1981) four divison crowns (1957, 1967, 1968, 1973).

On November 29, 1911, the Anthracite Fire Company Athletic Club sponsored a boxing tournament at the G.A.R. Opera House. A large crowd watched an excellent program and the Anthracite Band played between bouts.

While the fire company occupied the Park School building, the company sponsored a men's basketball team. Most recently, members of the fire companyhave organized softball teams which have won trophies at various local tournaments. Also, there is an intra-company shuffleboard league during the winter months. The company has sponsored men's and women's dart teams, and even a women's shuffleboard team in the most recent past.

In March 1950, land was leased from the Northumberland County Board of Commissioners for recreational purposes. Located on Railroad and Hickory Streets, the Anthracite erected picnic sheds and built a Little League baseball field on the ground. The land was donated to the Borough in January 1971 for recreatoinal purposes and it is still used for various local picnics, and the ball field is used by Little League teams.

The Anthracite is a member of the Six County Firemen's Association, which represents fire companies of Columbia, Luzerne, Montour, Lackawanna, Northumberland, and Schuylkill Counties, and the Pennsylvania Firemen's Association.

© Anthracite Steam Fire Company. All rights reserved