With nearly a century of serving the Unionville and Kennett area, residents throng open house event
By P.J. D’Annunzio, Staff Writer, UnionvilleTimes.com
Longwood Fire Company’s annual open house opened with a ceremonial twist this year as the company celebrated its 90th year of service to the community, showcasing the vehicle fleet, offering rescue demonstrations, and chicken barbecue on an open grill.
“We have an open house every year,” Longwood Fire Co. Financial Secretary Paul Augustini said, “This year we made it a big event because of your 90 years. We have a lot of things going on; we had a helicopter from the University of Pennsylvania come by, we’re doing a live vehicle rescue demo showing people how we cut up cars and rescue people in accidents, we have the Kennett Township Police here doing child ID kits, and also a chicken barbecue.”
Another addition to this year’s open house was the display of the fire company’s archives, showcasing photographs dating as far back as the 1920s and the display of a garage-spanning American flag, approximately 130 years old—containing only 45 stars.
The event also featured a smokehouse: a special trailer designed with the interior of a family household. Once activated, the interior fills with smoke and participants are instructed on how to properly exit a smoke-filled room.
Yet another attraction at the celebration was a vehicle extrication demonstration, allowing observers to witness a jaws-of-life based rescue firsthand.
“We basically give people an inside view of what the fire company does,” Fire Chief A.J. McCarthy said, “A lot of people think we’re career firefighters; we’re a volunteer organization.”
McCarthy— who is also West Chester police officer—went onto relay the important history Longwood Fire Co. has had in the early days of the community.
“We actually started as a brigade to protect the properties of Pierre DuPont,” he said, “This was in 1921, and it consisted of all the employees living on the property of Longwood Gardens…in 1926 his insurance company suggested that he upgrade the fire brigade, and through Pierre’s contributions, we opened up service and actually started responding to calls in the area.”
“Throughout the course of the years we started out with one truck, one engine and now we’ve grown into a full service fire station, and we provide an engine company,” he continued, “Basically the trucks carry the hose and the ladder…we have heavy rescue operations, we do swift water rescue with our boat, we do sharp angle rescue. In 1994 we got started in EMS and in 1998 we went from a basic life support unit to an advanced life support unit. We can provide paramedic ambulances to handle anything from a cut finger to a severe heart attack.”
Longwood now boasts a fleet of 16 vehicles ranging from hook and ladder trucks, to tankers, to ambulances, including water rescue craft that was active during the heavy rainfall and flooding the area has endured in recent months.
To learn more about Longwood Fire Company, visit http://www.longwoodfireco.com/content/history/