Longwood Fire Co.: 94 years of service and going strong

Volunteers embrace — and serve —  the Unionville and Kennett communities

By Kim Chiomento, Staff Writer, The Times


Members of the Longwood Fire Company enjoy a moment, Thursday night, after finishing a rescue demonstration at the company’s Open House.

KENNETT — The Longwood Fire Company, a 100% volunteer organization, community pillar and impressive emergency response resource has been hosting its annual open house for over 50 years.  For the first time it was held “Under the Stars” last night, to the delight of children and adults alike. The open house was attended by many of its volunteer s; along with several hundred interested community members.

Guests were treated to a tour of the fire house, life-saving equipment, “give-aways,” refreshments and a live demonstration of the extraction of a 180 lb car crash “victim” (a practice dummy.)   A donated car was quickly cut and broken apart, using the “jaws of life” and special steel-penetrating saw and the Longwood responders quickly rescued the “victim” to safety.

Originally named The Longwood Fire Brigade, the company was founded in 1921 by Pierre DuPont to protect Longwood Gardens.  In 1926, the name was officially changed to Longwood Fire Company and Pierre DuPont permitted the company to aid in emergencies involving the surrounding community.  Today, Longwood Fire Company is a highly-trained, diverse tactical response team equipped to respond to: high speed crashes, chemical spills, swift water, rope and confined space rescues.


Area residents look on as Longwood Fire Company does a demonstration of an extraction from a damaged vehicle, Thursday night.

Longwood also participates in the county-wide Rescue Task Force – a group of specially trained firefighters from various fire companies that come together to assist any fire company that may need help with a certain, technical issue.  Longwood is the group leader for Confined Space Rescues.

Fire Chief, A.J. McCarthy, explained that Longwood has over 50 very active volunteers that serve the community, 25 of which are a core team that spend a lot of time on call at the fire house.  “Our volunteers are incredible.”

As a result of the community’s growth, Longwood has aggressively pursued two highly competitive federal grants. The first, a $198,000 “SAFER” grant, will be distributed over three years and shared with Avon Grove Fire Company.  The grant’s focus will be on purchasing equipment and adequately recruiting and training volunteers; with the hopes of easing the financial burden on the community, these two companies serve.  The Longwood & Avon Grove partnership has been fostered by the Southern Chester County Fire Chiefs Association which holds regularly meetings to review best practices and consult on emergency services related issues.

The second, “Fire Act Grant” for $90,000, will focus on retrofitting Longwood’s fire house to properly vent the noxious and destructive fumes associated with the large trucks and emergency services vehicles the company houses.  “We are and old fire company, in an old building, that was not designed to house the state-of-the-art equipment needed to serve the community today,” says McCarthy, “The emergency responders are in close proximity to these vehicles inside, and when they are running, the strong fumes are not healthy and also significantly contribute to the breakdown of the integrity of gear stored within the house.”  This grant will create a healthier environment and slow the rate needed to purchase new equipment.

All of the fire companies work very closely together to assist each other in serving the communities of Southern Chester County.  “You helped us today and we’re going to help you tomorrow,” says Chief McCarthy, “We have a great working relationship with the various fire companies throughout the area.”

The Longwood Fire Company is always in need of financial support and community volunteers.  Additional information on how to support Longwood Fire Company, volunteer and view examples of recent real-life emergencies Longwood has responded to, please visit:  www.longwoodfireco.com

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