The fire company’s first station was located in the side garage bay of the Gulf Service Station located at Stroschein Road and William Penn Highway (business SR 22). The station had a pole siren that alerted its members that was activated when the Police Dispatcher called the gas station and the attendant went into the back room and flipped a light switch. Only members that heard the siren would respond and they had no idea as to the nature of the call until they arrived at the station.
The Department started with a 1947 Open Cab American LaFrance Engine with a 750-gpm single stage pump and 300 gallons of water. They also purchased a car, which they used as a manpower squad for members who responded and missed the first out engine.
Monroeville Station #5 was one of the first volunteer departments in the area to install 2-way radio communications in their vehicles, which allowed them to communicate with the Police Dispatcher when they were responding to calls. The fire company was licensed by the FCC as KGF378 on Frequency 33.860. When the rest of the Monroeville volunteer fire companies later applied for their radio licenses, the call signs that were issued were almost sequential.
Monroeville Station #2 had closed its doors by this time and donated all of its equipment and vehicles to Monroeville Station #5.
In 1962 the members of Monroeville Volunteer Fire Company #5 made a major purchase of land which was in an industrial park under construction. This moved the station to the center of the first due response area, and provided improved response times to their citizens. This also allowed them to finally have a station of their own that provided them room for additional vehicles, meetings, and training. The station was a single story red brick structure that was constructed with a great deal of work from its own members providing labor making the new building affordable. The monthly mortgage was around $350.00 a month, unbelievable, but a tremendous amount of money to pay each month at the time.
In 1967, under the leadership of Chief W. Donley Reed, the Department and Administrative Officers made 2 major equipment purchases, the first was a new American LaFrance Engine. In staying with tradition, this unit was once again an open cab, with a 1250 GPM solid bronze pump.It carried 3 hard suctions, an unprecedented 750 gallons of water, 2 booster reels, 1 - 1 ½" pre-connected hand line and was power by a 350 hp Detroit Diesel, which was also considered rare at the time and a 5 speed manual transmission. This purchase set the company back a whopping $37,000.00. The second major investment involved the fire company providing ambulance service to the residents of Monroeville. Monroeville Volunteer Fire Company #5 purchased a brand new Cadillac Ambulance, which cost approximately $20,000 dollars.
The two new purchases allowed the company to more efficiently respond to the 100 fire calls and 70 ambulance calls each year. That was fairly busy for the times considering every response was handled, by home response, even in the middle of the night.
In 1973, Monroeville Volunteer Fire Company #5 was the one of the first area fire companies to move up in the Emergency Medical field by selling the old Cadillac ambulance and purchase a new van ambulance in preparation for handling the new and advanced training in the way of EMT's and yes, even Paramedics.
In 1974, two new major additions would happen to the company. First, the local government decided a second aerial device was needed to compliment the 100' ladder already purchased and housed at Monroeville Station #4. The new aerial was needed to handle Monroeville's rapidly expanding business and residential community. A 1974 American LaFrance, 85' Snorkle (Articulated Platform) was purchased and housed at Station 5. The new truck was equipped with a Detroit Diesel, 1500 GPM 2 Stage pump, and had all of the modern day truck equipment needed to perform truck work. This unit was the first in the area to come equipped with an Allison Automatic transmission and set the standard for most future purchases.
While this unit was on order, the members of company 5 needed to make accommodations to house the new vehicle. They obtained financing and began construction and remodeling of the old station. This would include 2 additional bays that would have 12' bay doors and measure 65' in length. The inside of the station would be expanded and renovated to include a bunkroom that could sleep 10, kitchen, expanded meeting room / lounge, new bathroom facilities, a radio room, and 2 new large storage rooms. The exterior of the building was renovated with new brick and signage to give the facility a brand new look.
The Late 80’s brought new equipment and growth to the fire company. Monroeville Volunteer Fire Co. #5 took delivery of a 1988 E-ONE Cyclone Pumper. The new Engine 51 replaced the 1976 Seagrave. 1989 brought a new era and major component in the history of the fire company. Our municipal leaders accepted our suggestion and made the purchase of a 135' E-ONE Ladder Truck, replacing the 1976 American La France 85’ Snorkle.
The first was the new Engine 51 was one of two engines purchased to save money. Engine 42 is the twin and currently in service at Station #4. The second was the purchase of the new 135 foot Ladder Truck. Chief Harvey had reviewed almost all of the company’s truck calls in the past and found that in most cases, trucks equipment and manpower were used much more than an elevated master stream. The study also revealed that when the power ladder was used, it was for rescue, lighting, moving manpower up or down the structure and not as an elevated master stream, so the decision was made to order Truck 5 without a pump and use the space for additional crucial equipment such as a 20KW Onan Generator. The 135' horizontal reach would enable Truck 5 to reach the roof and majority of the structures in Monroeville from the street, and that still holds true to this day.
The interest in college students from all over the state and even the country soon caused the new Chief and the membership to consider yet another building renovation.
In 1993, the members moved out of their current facility to temporary quarters in an unoccupied office building within walking distance. Only the vehicles remained in the station for some of the time. A building project had been approved resulting in a major renovation and partial demolition of the station. When the truck bays were scheduled for work, the vehicles were moved across the street into an open lot.
Almost 1 year later, the new station expanded the first floor, in addition added a second and third floor. The first floor became all offices for the Chief, Administration, and Officers. It also included a combination meeting / training room and a separate conference room. The second floor was now the "hang out", which included a large day room, bathrooms, a much larger kitchen and a dining area. The third floor included a radio room, men's locker room, women's locker room, and a large bunkroom with 20 bunks and room for more. The station has slide poles from both the dayroom area and the third floor. A hose tower was constructed where the hose is hung on posts to dry after being cleaned.
In 1997, two significant events would occur. The first was taking delivery of a new Emergency One Hush Pumper. Chief Harvey assigned Assistant Chief Thomas Cook, Assistant Chief John Snyder, and the line officers to prepare the specifications resulting in another very unique addition to the company’s fleet. Second, Chief Harvey wanted to find a way for his company to earn additional income. There did not seem to be many possibilities. The station did not have enough land to add a social hall. Street fairs were not possible and they were losing their popularity. There was also a matter of funding the project. Any idea that would have the potential of raising income would be a major investment and there was the matter of raising the funding.
He finally came up with the idea of purchasing a Harley - Davidson motorcycle and raffling it off. The membership approved the idea and the purchase of a Harley - Davidson motorcycle was made. With Lieutenant Rick Atwood heading the ticket sells, the raffle was a tremendous success. So much a success, Chief Harvey and Lt. Atwood would convince the company to do it again the next year. The second raffle was an overwhelming success and in-hand earned the type of investment funds that Chief Harvey was looking for to invest in a more permanent fund raising project.
In 1999, Chief Harvey presented the idea of a do-it-yourself car wash along with an automatic bay. It was the type of idea the company needed because the project did not have to be built next to the fire station or be supplied with manpower to run. Customers could wash their cars and the manpower could remain at the station were it was needed. By September of 1999, B.J.'s Spotless Car Wash Inc. (named after the company’s resident Dalmatian) was open for business. Please visit the carwash page on our website to learn more.
With most of the pains of opening a new business behind them, Monroeville Volunteer Fire Company #5 decided to purchase a vehicle they believed would provide a much needed service to the community and to the regional fire service. In 2000, the Department ordered a new Kenworth / Pierce Tanker. This tanker carried 3,200 gallons of water and 300 gallons of foam. The was is equipped with a Husky III foam system, allowing it to flow foam out of any one of three pre-connected hand lines and or the pre-mounted deck gun. With responses to limited access highways such as U.S. 376 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike, along with hazardous material responses the truck was the only one of its kind in the area. Monroeville Station 5 took delivery of the Tanker in August of 2001.
At the end of 2001, Chief Harvey retired as Chief and John Snyder was elected Chief. Chief Snyder held the top position from 2001 through 2006. During Chief Snyder’s tenure the fire company made an investment with the other municipal fire companies, and support from our municipality, in new SURVIVAIR breathing apparatus, turnout gear replacement, and major hose replacement that brought further municipal standardization. Additionally, officers and members of company 5 evaluated and invested into the HOLMATRO Core Rescue Tool System to replace our aging HURST rescue tools.
The volunteers held numerous small events through the year to celebrate this achievement. To end the year in style, Company 5 held a week long gathering and Saturday Banquet at the Monroeville Radisson Hotel to commemorate this crowning achievement. Members from the past 50 years graced us. Numerous members created various displays to show the younger members the history of the department. The event was an amazing success and enjoyed by all.
Ron Harvey was again elected as the Chief in May 2006. Chief Harvey and staff were instrumental to several department changes. The company ordered a 2007 Kenworth T-800 / KME Tanker with 3200 Gallon Water, 300 Gallon Class B Foam to replace the 2001 Kenworth / PIERCE that was sold in 2004. Chief Harvey and staff instrumented the replacement of the 1988 E-ONE Engine 51 with a 2007 E-ONE Cyclone II Rescue Engine and took delivery of a new E-One 100' Tiller aerial device and a Chevy C4500 Lifeline ALS ambulance in 2009.
Please watch the website on a regular basis for further updates in this process. The Volunteers of Monroeville VFC #5 continue to make strides in growth and advancements that will benefit the community in years to come.