Recognizing the Need
On August 31, 1936, a small group of civic-minded citizens recognized a need and gathered together at the Hickory High School to formulate a plan that would serve as a nucleus of the, then, Hickory Township Volunteer Fire Department. This group of citizens had a vision, as the Township was still a rural farmland and had not yet shown signs of it’s growth into a major population area, business community, and residential suburbia within Mercer County. Such growth would follow World War II, and this rapid growth still exists in our community today.
Articles of Incorporation
Individuals such as William Smith, the first fire department president: B.W.O Dickinson Jr, Vice President; William Poole, Secretary; and Lawrence Wilhelm, Treasurer, had the Articles of Incorporation drawn up in November 1938 by Judge Leo H. McKay. The Articles of Incorporation, which granted and accepted by Mercer County and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, established the fire department as a legal organization without funding.
First Fire Engine
On December 12, 1938, as a result of fundraisers, citizen contributions, and other efforts of the volunteer fire fighters, the W.S. Darley Company of Chicago was awarded a contract to build a Champion Model fire engine for the township under guidance of the Fire Chief Thompson. That first fire engine served the City of Hermitage until the fall of 1958, when it was retired and replaced with a new Seagraves/FWD pumper.
Building the Buildings
In April of 1942, the volunteers needed a home for the first engine, purchased a vacant building at the intersection of East State Street and Route 18 at the present site of Walgreens. The building was expanded into the Township’s fire station, police station, and meeting place for the Township Board of Supervisors. The department stayed in these cramped, sometimes cold, and drafty quarters until 1967 when they moved with the other city offices to the new city building on North Hermitage Road. During the late 1950’s, fire protection needs were recognized within the Patagonia District of Hermitage. Once again, citizens banded together and formed the Patagonia Volunteer Fire Department, which is located on Superior Street and is know as Patagonia Station 86-2. The city was growing and additional fire protection was needed. The department opened a substation in a vacant service station at the intersection of North Buhl farm drive and Highland Road. The volunteer fire department then sold the original fire station and purchased property at the intersection of Mercer Ave and Maple Drive. This Station is now known as Station 93-3. The rented fire station was closed and things remained same until 1976. In 1976, the City of Hermitage, along with the volunteer fire department, obtained a Federal grant that partially covered the cost to construct the Central Fire Station and Training grounds on Highland Road, which is now known as the Hermitage Central Fire Station 93-1.
The Value of Hard Work
All of this was accomplished with the hard work of citizens who had foresight of the future, not knowing that a Township with a population of less than 6,000 in the 1960’s would expand into a community of over 18,000 citizens, 125 Miles of roadway, and cover 29.6 square miles. In area alone, Hermitage is the third largest City in Pennsylvania. Hermitage abounds with new homes, apartment complexes, condominiums, commercial business, and industry, with no end in sight. Fire Protection and emergency services are being provided on a daily basis by citizens serving as volunteer fire fighters and representing their departments with pride and enthusiasm.