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Forty Fort and Kingston have discussed merging ambulance and fire services since about 2002. After many years and time discussing and contemplating this idea, both Forty Fort and Kingston entered into a formal 18-month trial functional consolidation of ambulance and fire services on November 1, 2007. Both departments have acted as one since that time. Forty Fort went from a 12 hour crewed BLS service, with ALS provided by a secondary, private entity, to a 24 hour manned ALS provider in Kingston. Forty Fort also went from 1 career driver of the fire engine at any given time to 5 to 6 career firefighters with additional vehicle and apparatus responding.
Fire Tragedy on Yates Street
The volunteer Forty Fort Fire Co. was chartered in 1905. By an act of Borough Council on July 1st, 1912 “the Forty Fort Fire Company No. 1 shall constitute and be the Fire Department of the Borough of Forty Fort.” The Fire Company first utilized a two-wheel hose cart for its firefighting efforts. There being no physical record of its purchase, nor any surviving photographs, it is only speculation as to how it was configured and looked.
As the Borough was served by a streetcar system during these early years, the volunteers, at times took advantage of the system to 'hitch' a ride to a fire, if the streetcar/trolley happened along at the time.
The first motorized fire apparatus was purchased on September 8th, 1913 by Forty Fort Borough Council, an Indiana combination chemical and hose fire apparatus. It was purchased from the Keystone Motor Car Co. at a cost of $3,330.00. After the 1925 Maxim was acquired it was upgraded by adding a 500gpm rotary-geared fire pump, increasing its productivity and usefulness.
In 1925 the Borough purchased it’s first Maxim fire apparatus. It was a 500gpm rotary- geared pump and hose apparatus which cost $11, 830.00. It was also equipped with two chemical tanks and a booster line. These apparatus served the Borough through the Second World War. Both of these apparatus were disposed of during the 1950s.
Besides the commercial and residential districts a fire department are normally responsible for, a small general purpose airport forms the Borough’s northeast boundary, which at times saw considerable traffic. After the war, specifications were drawn up for an innovative piece of fire apparatus. In 1950 the second Maxim fire apparatus was delivered: A Hercules engine driving a 750gpm centrifugal pump, with a 150 gallon booster tank and 25 gallon foam tank, it incorporated an around-the-pump foam proportioner. No doubt this was a consideration because of the airport traffic. The apparatus was ahead of its time in that it had numerous compartments down both sides of the body, and carried two (2) 35’ 2-section wooden ladders, one (1) 24’ 2-section and one (1) 14’ roof ladder. The apparatus had a divided hosebed, able to layout 2 beds of 2 ½” hose with a separate bed for 1 ½” hose. The booster line was mounted across the rear of the apparatus, and a large roll-out shelf mounted many forcible entry and overhaul tools. This apparatus was in service until 1990. It was sold to a private collector.
In September of 1972 Forty Fort took delivery of its third Maxim fire truck. It mounted a 1,000gpm Hale two-stage centrifugal pump, 500 gallon booster tank, with large hose beds and much compartment space. This apparatus went through many stages of development in that it started life carrying 2 ½” and 1 ½” hose in multiple beds. It progressed through the ability to lay multiple lines of 3” supply line to carrying 4” LDH. It also progressed to 1 ¾” attack lines. This apparatus served the Borough extremely well until January of 2004, when it was placed out of service and sold to a rural Fire Company for use as a 2nd due fire apparatus.
In 1990 the Borough was spec’ing out its fourth Maxim when the Maxim Motor Division went out of business. They accepted a bid from the Sutphen Corporation, through Honesdale Fire Equipment Company for a 1991 Sutphen Deluge Pumper, with a 1500gpm Hale single stage centrifugal pump, 500 gallons of water, high side compartments for tools and SCBA, with a totally enclosed cab. It mounts a Hale 5KW gasoline-powered generator. This apparatus served the Borough with no problem and continues to serve at this time as their second due fire apparatus.
Late in 2002, specs were drawn up and bid on to replace the 1972 Maxim. Sutphen signed a contract to provide a 2004 Sutphen Rescue Pumper body with extended cab, a 1500gpm Hale single stage pump, 550 gallon water tank and heavily compartmented to provide space for the extended range of firefighting and rescue tools needed in the modern fire service. It also mounts an 8KW hydraulic generator, along with two power reels with 250’ of power cord.
Compliments of a State grant, both pieces of fire apparatus are equipped with computers, enabling the Department to utilize databases of residential, commercial, and ownership of properties. A comprehensive system of building surveys and pre-planning gives fire attack personnel a heads-up on any hazards and important information of involved structures. The thermal imaging camera is also operated through the computer, giving a command officer an up-close view of what might be occurring inside if the burning structure.
The Fire Department continues to lead the region in technological advances in fire attack and safety. A Fire-Trax computer system from the Salamander Corporation has been acquired to create a safe and secure method of accounting for all personnel on a fire or emergency scene. It involves utilizing a wireless network of laptop computers and handheld PDAs as tracking devices. It can tell at a glance the credentials of available personnel, along with any medical information that may assist in emergency treatment of injured personnel.
The Forty Fort Fire Department is a combination department, with a firefighter on duty 24 hours a day, to ensure immediate response of apparatus to an emergency scene. Volunteers are dispatched simultaneously to respond directly to the scene. There are four full time firefighters, 8 part-time firefighters, and approximately 25 paid-on-call volunteers that make up the Fire Department.
The Forty Fort Fire Department prides itself on its ability to perform under any emergency circumstances. Preventative maintenance is the foundation upon which their abilities is built. All apparatus and equipment is on a stringent schedule of prescribed service, thus ensuring longevity and reliability. The ability to get as much mileage out of its apparatus is an important concern when financial resources are hard to come by. The Borough has an automatic aid agreement with it’s neighbor, the Municipality of Kingston, for the response of an aerial ladder into the Borough for all structure and automatic alarms. This automatic aid agreement also calls for a Forty Fort pumper to automatically respond into Kingston to fill out its normal response of two engines and a truck when its apparatus is out of service on another call. Both towns are also an integral part of a Mutual Aid agreement that incorporates a total of 14 Boroughs in a pact of cooperation for fire and emergency response anywhere within the Mutual Aid boundaries.
As of June of 2009 the Forty Fort Fire Department is almost totally integrated with the Kingston Fire Department. One engine is stationed at Kingston Fire Headquarters and runs fire/EMS calls from there through the evening and night-time hours. An engine is stationed at the Forty Fort Borough Building that runs calls throughout the daytime, heavier traffic hours. The integration has been working to the advantage of both communities and the Department is now running automatic aid fire calls into portions of Edwardsville as Edwardsville apparatus is “on the box” for those areas of Kingston to which it can respond as easily, if not easier than Kingston/Forty Fort apparatus.