The Vigilant Hose Company is Shippensburg’s oldest fire company dating back to February 22, 1843. This date was obtained from the bell in the bell tower on top of the present firehouse. A charter was granted for the Vigilant Fire Company on February 14, 1844. According to records on hand the first officers were elected on February 13, 1849 in a meeting held in the former council house. They were John Bush – President, George Hubley – Vice President, D. K. Waggner – Secretary, Daniel Sites – Treasurer, Job Martin – Captain, J. O. Smiley - 1st Lieutenant, W. Williams – 1st Engineer, D. Walder – 2nd Engineer and W. Pague and W. Baughman – Axeman. The Company was granted a charter as the Vigilant Hose Company from the Cumberland County courts in March of 1899.
After working with less sophisticated equipment the company purchased its first pumper in 1860, a Button hand pumper known as “Old Hay Ladder”. This pump served the community until 1895. When the Borough installed water works in 1878 the Vigilant’s purchased a hand reel and wagon to carry the hose.
In 1919 Borough Council purchased for the Vigilants the first piece of motorized apparatus in the borough of Shippensburg. This was a Ford chemical and hose engine. Between 1919 and 1927 a Ford Model ‘T’ equipped with two 5 gallon chemical extinguishers and a 24 foot extension ladder was added to the roster. An American La France “City Service Truck” equipped with a pump, chemical tanks, hose and ladders was purchased by Borough Council in 1927.
The increased fleet of motorized apparatus had out grown the old Council House, in 1927-28 the Council House was torn down and replaced with a new two story brick building known as the Municipal Building. Company members added an addition in 1969.
On January 1, 1932, fire protection was extended to the rural areas surrounding Shippensburg and M. Garfield Barbour was named the first rural fire chief. He also served as President from 1918 to 1958 and Rural Fire Chief from 1932 to 1958.
On September 18, 1931 a 500 GPM Seagrave pumper was purchased for the price of $4500. On May 15, 1936 a Reo pumper, also built by the Seagrave Fire Apparatus Company, was added to the roster. On December 20, 1949 a “Flying U” design tanker was purchased by the company. This was the first tanker to be used in the Shippensburg area. The “Flying U” was replaced with an International 1000 gallon tanker on August 14, 1953. Borough Council purchased a 1950 Seagrave 750 GPM pumper and a 1950 Seagrave 750 GPM “Quad”. In 1963 the 1950 pumper was replaced with a 1963 Seagrave 750 GPM pumper, purchased by the company.
Several membership changes were seen during the 1960’s. December 18, 1961 young men between the age of 16 and 18 were allowed to join the Vigilants as junior members. Ladies became involved with the formation of a Ladies Auxiliary on April 27, 1964. The Vigilant Hose Company Station 2 was opened in Walnut Bottom, Pa. on June 20, 1966. A 1948 Seagrave pumper was purchased from Hummelstown, Pa. and placed in service at Station 2 on December 18, 1967. May of 1976 saw Station 2 separate from the Vigilant Hose Company to become the South Newton Township Volunteer Fire Company.
The 1970’s saw several apparatus changes. The 1953 tanker received a new International 2010-A chassis, the 1956 tanker at Station2 was consumed by fire and replaced with a used 1954 Ford 1000 gallon tanker from New Jersey. On October 3, 1976 Borough Council purchased a new International 1250 GPM pumper, built by the Bruco Company, for use in the Borough, this engine replaced the 1950 Seagrave “Quad”. This pumper was the first in the Shippensburg area to carry 4” supply line and the first to be painted lime-yellow, a color the Company used for the next 23 years. November 27, 1976 saw the purchase of a 1977 Dodge Powerwagon, 4 wheel drive with a utility bed, for use as a brush fire and medical assist vehicle.
April 27, 1977 saw the formation of a bunkroom to decrease the response time and to provide manpower for the medical assist program started in June of 1977.
Women were admitted as regular active members on October 17, 1977. Also in October 4” supply hose was placed on the 1963 rural engine for increased water supply capabilities and as a back up for the borough of Shippensburg.
On January 3, 1979 a contract was signed for yet another Seagrave pumper, this was to be a 1500 GPM pumper hopefully to be delivered around May 1980. Two years of waiting and delays pushed the in-service time as Engine 252, back to April 6, 1981. A 1969 Seagrave 1000 GPM pumper was purchased from the Greater Springfield Volunteer Fire Company of Fairfax County, Virginia on May 31, 1980. This pumper was placed in service as Engine 352 on October 26, 1980. Also in the spring of 1980 the 1973 International tanker was refurbished by company members and returned to service.
On April 28, 1983 Borough Council sold Engine 152, the 1976 International-Bruco, to the Berlin Fire Company of Vermont. This led to a name change for the 1969 Seagrave from Engine 352 to Engine 152. Also in May the 1970 Dodge rescue changed from Rescue 52 to Squad 52. This name lasted until 1986 when the Cumberland County Hazardous Materials Team suggested that Squad 52 be made into a communications vehicle for the county’s Special Hazards Operation Team (S.H.O.T. Team). With the addition of County provided equipment, $500 of Vigilant provided equipment and a new paint job; Squad 52 became known as Haz-Mat 52. This unit now provides communication and decontamination for the Shippensburg and Cumberland County areas.
At the annual firefighter’s banquet on November 7, 1987, Charles E. Myers was named Vigilant Hose Company Chief Emeritus in appreciation of his numerous years of service. He joined the Vigilants on June 18, 1962 and was involved in the forest fire service for 2 years prior to this. He has dedicated his life to this department and has served as Fire Chief, Assistant Fire Chief, Assistant Borough Fire Chief, Founder of the Shippensburg Fire Safety Task Force and the Vigilant Hose Fire Prevention 4-H Club. Charlie is still active in the fire police, fire prevention activities and as the “official” representative of the Vigilants to conventions, parades and social functions.
Rural water supply was upgraded in 1990 with the purchase of a new 1989 GMC tanker built by the Four-Guys Company. This tanker carried 1500 gallons of water and was equipped with a 500 GPM pump. This unit was placed in service and was demolished in an accident while responding to an alarm on April 6, 1992. A replacement was ordered from Four-Guys on May 18, 1992. A 1992 GMC tanker similar to the 1989 tanker was received on July 17, 1992 and placed in service on July 20, 1992.
Quick Response Service (QRS) was enhanced with the purchase of a 1990 Chevrolet Suburban designed to respond on medical assist and auto accidents, it was known as Special unit 52. This unit also carried specialized rope rescue gear for the S.A.V.E.S. Team (Shippensburg Area Vertical Extrication and Search Team) which was organized at the Vigilant Hose Company in 1986. The Chambersburg Hospital used the Special Unit as Medic 84 after their unit was damaged in an auto accident. With the decrease in medical assists caused by paid ambulance personnel and full time ALS medic service this unit was deactivated and now serves as Utility 52.
In preparation for a new E-One pumper, Engine 252, our 1981 Seagrave, was sold to Black Eddy Township, Pa. on may 20, 1893. In November we received a new 1993 E-One Cyclone TC and placed it in service as engine 252 on December 28, 1993.
The 1977 Dodge brush unit had its chassis replaced with a 1995 Dodge 3500. Later company members replaced the pump, plumbing and tank.
During the 1980’s and 1990’s the Vigilant's looked into the future and purchased land across from Shippensburg Mobile Estates in March 1984, from Frank Holler, with the intention of erecting a social hall and possible fire station. On September 17, 1988 the Vigilants joined with the Cumberland Valley Hose Company No. 2 of Shippensburg to build a joint social hall to support our bingo and other fundraising activities. This joint venture broke ground on the northwest corner of West Orange Street and Seneca Avenue on July 2, 1991 to build the Shippensburg Firefighter’s Activities Center (SFAC). The building was dedicated August 16, 1992. The Borough of Shippensburg transferred ownership of the Municipal Building on East King Street to the Vigilant Hose Company on March 23, 1993. This building was not designed to house today’s apparatus and the Vigilants have outgrown it. Land was purchased across from the SFAC for the purpose of building a new fire station. Plans were for a joint station that would also house the Cumberland Valley Hose Company. These plans fell through and today the Vigilants is looking for a place to build.
As we neared the new millennium Engine 152, the 1969 Seagrave open cab, was taken out of service on February 3, 1999 and sold to Vigilant Captain Andy Spotts. In March a 1999 E-One Cyclone II arrived. With a 1500 GPM pump and 500 gallon water tank Engine 152 was placed in service April 17, 1999. This engine marked the end of the lime-yellow used since 1976 and reintroduced the red and cream colors of the 1950’s, 60’s and early 70’s. In May of 2000 Engine 252, the 1993 E-One, was also painted red and cream to match Engine 152.
In March of 1984
the Vigilant's looked into the future and purchased land near
the intersection of Route 11 and Shippensburg Mobile Estates,
from Frank Holler, with the intention of erecting a social hall
and possible fire station.
On September 17,
1988 the Vigilant's joined with the Cumberland Valley Hose
Company No. 2 of Shippensburg to build a joint social hall to
support our bingo and other fund-raising activities. This joint
venture broke ground on the northwest corner of West Orange
Street and Seneca Avenue on July 2, 1991 to build the
Shippensburg Firefighter’s Activities Center (SFAC). The
building was dedicated August 16, 1992.
The Borough of
Shippensburg transferred ownership of the Municipal Building on
East King Street to the Vigilant Hose Company on March 23, 1993.
This building was not designed to house today’s apparatus and
the Vigilantes have outgrown it.
After a year of
talking about it a committee was formed in February of 2002 to
see if any other fire department in the borough was interested
in building a joint station. By October the only interest was
from Shippensburg Area EMS.
were studied before the summer of 2008 when the old University
Lodge location was considered. The property at the intersection
of Walnut Bottom Road and East Orange Street had been labeled a
blighted property by the Cumberland County Redevelopment
In October of
2008 the newly formed building committee met with SGS
Architects, of Carlisle, to develop a plan to move towards
construction of a new facility. In September of 2009 Chandler
Associates were contracted to begin a Capital Campaign for the
new station. That December Brechbill and Helman Construction was
brought on as General Contractor.
August 2, 2010 a
ceremony was held at the site to begin the \process of
demolishing the old abandoned hotel. By late spring of 2011
financing was secured and on June 30, 2011 Vigilant Hose Company
and Shippensburg EMS members and local dignitaries broke ground
to begin construction of the Shippensburg Emergency Services