Pen Argyl has had fire protection from its earliest days, even though it was not yet thought of as a community. The first fire protection was given by the bucket brigade, and the first town council made the bucket brigade not only legal, but mandatory. Accordingly, every male resident of the town between the ages of 12 and 60 was required to have a "leather bucket" and when the alarm of fire was given, it was his duty to turn out and help put out the blaze. The men were generally helped by the women when fire threatened. The boys and men formed one line to pass the buckets of water from the wells or streams to the burning structure. The other line, made up generally of women and girls, handed the emptied buckets back to the source of water where the men again filled the buckets and sent them along the line of men to the fire. Heresay was that some men did not turn out when the alarm of fire was given and so with a law set up by the council were fined for their dereliction of duty.
In 1888 the Albion House, owned by Henry Small, burned to the ground. This fire was fought by the citizens with the Bucket Brigade. This made the citizens of Pen Argyl aware of the need for better fire protection.
On April 20, 1890, the Fire Co. was organized and on April 24, 1890, C.J. Fritzgerald, the Chief Burgess, called a meeting of the citizens at the Town Hall on Broad Street. They decided that the name of the association should be the Lookout Hose Co. No. 1. The following officers were nominated: C.J. Fritzgerald, President; George H. Ruth, Vice President; John W. Winsboro, financial secretary; Nehemiah Martin, recording secretary; George Branch, Treasurer; Wm. R. Frome, Fire Chief; Wm. F. Lobb, First Asst. Fire Chief; Wm. Harding, Second Asst. Fire Chief. The directors of the company were Fred Simpson, George Rundle, John Langdon, Wm. Smith and Francis Ruth. On June 9, 1890, the company was Incorporated and the charter members were as follows: Wm. R. Frome, T.E. Finkbeiner, Wm. Smith, Wm. H. Lobb, Robert Curry, George Rutt, Thomas Standlick, C.J. Fritzgerald, Wm. H. Young, Wm. F. Lobb, John Hayne, George Branch, Milton Bitz, Fred Simpson, Nelson Marlatt, Nehemiah Martin, John Nottle, James Lean, N.D. Chase, John W. Winsboro, George Rundle, John Langdon, Francis Ruth, Wm. John Hicks, Samuel Rundle, Archie McDonald, Doc Depue, Wm. Harding.
On May 15, 1890, the first two hose carts were delivered. The first uniforms were purchased at a cost of $103.70. They consisted of white trousers, orange caps and shirts and black belts.
A meeting of the Fire Company was held in the office of the Albion House on September 24, 1890 after the first fire since the company was formed. The fire was at the Smith Furniture Store at 120 East Main Street.
In August 1891, the Lookout Hose Co. No. 1 purchased a truck with special attachments, a pole and seat and other attachments necessary to use horses for $425. On December 15, 1891, a special meeting was held to make arrangements to move the Town Hall and Fire Company to George Street and Heller Avenue. In May 1896, twenty one uniforms were purchased from Mr. Turner for $10.00 a piece.
For the August Meeting in 1897, 75 cents was spent for refreshments and President Wm. J. Cowling asked the company to keep expenses down. Thereafter at the September meeting 55 cents was spent for refreshments, at the October meeting 35 cents, and at the May 10, 1898 meeting only 10 cents.
On September 13, 1898, the Lookout Hose Co. No. 1 joined the Pennsylvania State Fireman's Association. On December 13, 1898, it was decided that each member should pay five cents dues each month. On May 9, 1899, the Lookout Hose Co. No. 1 joined the Four County Firemans Association.
In February 1907, the Town Council purchased a steam whistle for a fire alarm signal. The only place that had steam around the clock was the Slate Belt Trolly Co., which also generated electricity for the trolly cars. On January 5, 1909, the company decided to accept the bid of Henderson & Co. for new buff uniforms. The price was about $10.50 per uniform. In March 1909 the Lookout Hose Co. No 1 moved to their present quarters at Robinson Ave and Bell Ave. Also at that time they changed the name to the Lookout Fire Co. No. 1, which was put on the lease with the borough.
In April 1911, when the company attended a parade in Slatington, they got a flat rate on the D.L. & W for a special car for $20.00. From April 1918 until February 1919 there were no company meetings due to war activities. In March 1919 they had their largest fire - the Fitzgerald & Speer Planing Mill. The fire companies from Bangor, East Bangor, Nazareth and Easton assisted.
In May 1921, fifty new uniforms were purchased for $1471.20. On July 4, 1921 the Lookout Fire Co. No. 1 held a picnic at the new Weona Park. In January 1922, the Fire Co. accepted Mrs. Barnett Sobers' offer to place Fire Chief Sobers' helmet on the mantle of their meeting room. In August 1914, Fire Chief Barnett Sobers was killed when a piece of slate fell on him while he was working in the hole at Parsons Bros. Quarry.
In August 1923 the Fire Co. received their first fire engine, an American LaFrance 1000 gallon pumper. On June 1-4 1927, the Fire Co. and Labor Unions held a joint carnival celebration. In 1933 the Fire Co., the Park Improvement League, and the Pen Argyl Band sponsored a carnival on Labor Day Weekend at the park. In 1935, the Fire Co. alone sponsored the Labor Day Parade and Celebration at the park, and from then until the present time it has been a Fire Co. tradition. The first bingo party was run by the company on February 5, 1937. Bingo was discontinued in September 1979. In March 1937, they agreed to have a Ladies Auxiliary.
On May 8, 1941, Lookout Fire Co. members who had attended the Easton Fire School from January through May graduated. They were - Clarence Branch, Fred Lobb, Herman Lakey, Charles Smith and James Vosper. During World War II, they purchased a number of Liberty Bonds. They sponsored a Memorial Plaque to be placed on the Borough Hall lawn in honor of the men and women in service.
On May 17, 1944 William Tucker, who had been Fire Chief for 34 years, passed away. In May 1947, they gave a donation of $100 to the Exchange Club to help sponsor the G.I. Memorial Gates at Weona Park Athletic Field. The smae month they purchased a resuscitator for $793. It was capable of taking three patients at one time. In October 1948, a new Hahn Fire Engine was purchased. It was one of the finest pieces of equipment in the area. In 1950, the Fire Company received a letter of thanks from the Civil Aeronautics Administration for the rescue work at the time of the plane crash on the mountain above Pen Argyl. In 1951 it was announced that the new Civil Defense Unit would embrace Wind Gap to Portland. The fire company decided to donate as a free service the amplification of the home football games at the high school.
In 1956, the Lookout Fire Co. voted to purchase a new utility truck from Dietrichs for $6,000. In 1958, the Fire Co. was assisted by 14 other fire companies when the Realty Building burned. Some of the companies kept watch over town so that other fire from flying sparks would not get out of hand. The heat was so intense that water had to be sprayed on the Upper Bank and Weavers Pharmacy (now Blacks) to keep the damage to a minimum. Fifty one active and six retired members of the Lookout Fire Co. turned out to help fight the fire. In 1970, the Methodist Church in Pen Argyl burned to the ground which was the last major fire in the community.
In 1970, the Fire Co. purchased a van for carrying emergency equipment and supplies. In 1974, they purchased a new American Lafrance truck, a most modern piece of equipment. In 1988, a new Grumman pumper was purchased, and in 1998 a new Smeal pumper was purchased. In 2010 the Company marked its 75th Annual Labor Day Celebration and Parade, in which they set a world record for the largest parade of emergency vehicles.
Throughout the beginning of this article, you will recall men attending Fire Schools. In later years, it has been compulsory for members to attend Fire School. Every member has attended one or several different courses. Back in the old days, pulling the first hand cart to fires was a terrifying experience when the cart got on a steep grade and started traveling faster than the men pulling it were able to run. At the present time, Lookout Fire Co. has the most modern equipment and one of the most efficient volunteer fire companies in the State of Pennsylvania.
Thus, the Fire Co. carries on the spirit of the founders from the 1800's.
Then the most modern equipment was a "leather bucket". Who knows what it may be tomorrow.
Please Check Back soon for updates as we are in the process of going back over are records.