History of the Charotin Hose Co. No. 1 - Fire Stations

Fire Stations

Fire equipment was first stored at the Hoffman & Follweiler Stables located on the southeast corner of Sixth and Liberty Streets. The upper portion of the main stable collapsed during a snow storm in 1995. However, the lower level and other out buildings are still visible today.

Hoffman & Follweiler Stables

After a few years of keeping fire equipment at the Hoffman & Follweiler Stables, it was time to find a home for the borough offices and the fire department. Land was purchased from the Lackawanna Land Company for $1.00 with the understanding that it be used for a municipal building and firehouse only. In July 1910 by special ballot, the citizens of the borough decreed that a municipal building be erected. Another decree in December 1910 increased indebtedness by $7,000 to cover the cost. A two story structure was built on the Northeast corner of Sixth and Arch Streets to house the fire company and borough offices.

The front of the building was buffed brick with concrete trim. The sides and back were red brick. The first floor had large double doors to the front and was home to the apparatus and a small lounge. The second floor consisted of council chambers and two small offices for conducting fire department business. A brass pole was installed allowing firefighters to quickly access the engine bay from the second floor by sliding down it. Lighting was by gas and electric and a boiler was located in the basement. Also in the basement was a gymnasium for Charotin members. The front tower was used to hang fire hose to dry. To this day, the times enjoyed by members in the gymnasium (social hall) in the early years are still of some legend.

The Fire Department, Police Department and Borough offices moved to new quarters and in November 1983. The old fire station, then vacant and structurally unsound, fell victim to the wrecking ball. Public bids were accepted and the property along with a small garage located to the rear of the original building was sold to Roman’s Auto Body. Roman’s Auto Body was located across Arch Street and used the old Charotin property to hold damaged cars until they are repaired.

In 2009, the former home of the Charotin was sold by Roman’s Auto Body to the Porter Masons. The Masons use the property as a parking lot for their facility, the old home of the Charotin Club.

Charotin Hose Co. No. 1 and North Catasauqua Borough Hall c.1910

In the late 1970’s, Borough Hall was relocated to the old North Catasauqua School located on the Southwest corner of Arch and Fourth Streets. The building was built in 1913 and dedicated on July 4th of that year. North Catasauqua sold the school in the mid 1950’s to the Catasauqua School District for $1.00 when the two school districts merged. With construction of a new elementary school, the North Catasauqua building was no longer needed and the school district returned it to the Borough for $1.00. A fly in the ointment however was that the school district did not return all the property they were given. Instead the school district subdivided the property and sold off a large piece to a developer for homes. This was viewed as an injustice by many residents since the property was originally purchased with North Catasauqua tax payers money and given to the school district in good faith that all of it would be returned if not needed.

Prior to the arrival of the new fire truck in December of 1980, it was learned that major renovations would need to be done to the floor of the old fire hall if the new truck was to be housed there. The new truck was going to be much larger than the 1957 Howe and the floor simply would not support the weight of the new truck. Council asked members of the Fire Department if they wanted the floor reinforced in the old hall or would prefer a new engine house constructed behind the newly located borough hall. There were promises made that the fire department would be allowed to move their offices into the old cafeteria in the basement of the hall if they choose to move. The members of the fire department agreed that it would be better to build a new facility than deal with all the problems associated with the old hall on Sixth Street.

Construction began on a borough garage next to the Borough Hall and instantly problems developed. The building was designed using the measurements of the old truck, the new truck, which was longer, would fit, however there would be no room to walk around the truck as the depth of the new garage was almost exactly the same length as the new truck. There also would be no room for hanging bunker gear and boots. Adjustments were made and the foundation was expanded to allow ample room to move about.

The promise of the cafeteria for office space vanished shortly before the department moved into its new station. The cafeteria was given to the public works department and the Charotin was left with a few chairs and a desk behind the fire trucks. The West bay of the garage was used to house the fire trucks while the East bay housed the borough garbage truck and other public works equipment. Luckily, Borough Council realized these conditions were unacceptable and the Public Works Department was moved to another area of the basement and garages were built on Main Street to store equipment. This opened up the entire garage at Fourth and Arch Streets for Fire Department use. Members of the Charotin began renovating the cafeteria area and soon had a nice room in which to conduct business meetings, training sessions and socialize. An administration office was also carved out of this area as well as an equipment storage closet and a cloakroom.

By the early 1990’s, the Charotin was sharing the basement of the municipal building with the Catasauqua Junior Baseball Association as well as the Public Works Department. Public Works had just finished construction of a new office at the Main Street facility and the baseball association was in the process of building their own facility at Opportunity Field. Seeing this as a great opportunity to expand and develop a fully functional fire station, the officers of the Charotin approached Borough Council with a plan to renovate the entire basement. Lacking any other plans for the basement, Borough Council gave permission to the fire department to occupy the entire basement with the exception of the borough records vault, the police evidence room, and utility areas.

The Charotin slowly began renovating the basement using their own money. The first task was turning the old coal bin into a physical fitness room. After a year of working, the room was completed. A universal weight machine, a treadmill, free weights and a bench, an exercise bike, a stepper and other equipment were installed to give members a place to keep fit. It is hoped that this room will keep fire fighters in better condition and perhaps save a life.

Progress was continuing painfully slow in 1999 when Borough Council came to the rescue by providing the funds necessary to swiftly complete the work to the basement. A large multi-purpose room was constructed for meetings, training classes, fundraising events, and banquets. The multi-purpose room was completed the night before the Charotin hosted the Four County Fireman‘s Association Annual Convention on June 16, 2000. This room has a large kitchen with two gas stoves, a refrigerator, and a standing freezer. The lavatories each have multiple stalls as well as showers and locker rooms so firefighters can shower contaminants off themselves at the station and not bring harmful agents home to their families. This area can also double as an evacuation center in the event of a major disaster.

Using it’s own money the fire department renovated the old meeting area into a social room with a pool table, dart board, TV area, a small kitchenette and rehabilitation center - (see gymnasium of old hall). The social room was completed just in time for the Four County Fireman’s Parade on October XX, 2000, which was hosted by the North Catasauqua and Catasauqua Fire Departments. The Charotin now has one of the finest facilities in the area for conducting training and fire department business.

In the spring of 2005, the Charotin membership voted to renovate the administration office. The office was over twenty years old and in desperate need of updating. It also was the last area of the lower floor not to be renovated. The room was completely gutted with a new drop ceiling, carpet, and paint. New office furniture, desks, file cabinets, and a new copier were purchased. The previous furnishings were a motley ensemble hand-me-down desks and file cabinets. The old copier had been donated by the borough years earlier and was barely able to copy. The work was done by President and Assistant Chief Jack Thomas. Although somewhat cramped, the new office is a great improvement. It is much more functional and cleaner than the old one.