Welcome to Alert

The mission of the Alert Fire Company Number One of Downingtown, PA shall be the preservation of life and property from the destruction of fire in the Borough of Downingtown, PA and vicinity. Also, the care of such apparatus and equipment as may be placed in its charge.

~ Serving Downingtown and East Caln Since 1887 ~



The Alert No. 1 officers would like to invite all current and retired Active Force Members to the Annual Alert Thanksgiving Social Gathering on Wednesday, November 26, 2014, anytime after 7:00 PM.

This will be a great opportunity for our members to catch-up with some old friends and for current and and retired members to meet and make some new friends.  If any of our retired members have any old photos or newspaper clippings, you are encouraged to bring them with you to share with our newer members.  And, bring an appetite, because there will be plenty to eat.

Alert A Logo-2-Modified



The officers and members of the Alert Fire Co. No. 1 would like to say thank you to all of our veterans who have served our country so that we may enjoy our freedoms and security of the greatest nation on earth.  God bless all of you and God bless America.

We would like to honor the 84 members of the Alert Fire Co. No. 1, who served our great nation during World War II.  Below, is the list of those Alert Heroes.


Thomas J. Adams Jack C. Henry Julius Nagy
Herbert H. Berstler Paul D. Henry Martin H. Neff
George W. Bousum Charles E. Hilton George E. Nixdorf
Lewis A. Bowman James J. Hilton George W. Osborne
Charles W. Bruton C. Hoopes A. Penrose
Robert S. Bryce Howard T. Hopkins Alfred H. Peterman
Frank A. Casenta James H. Hurtt W. Mylin Plank
C. Clarkson William E. Ingram Fred M. Pollock
Norman H. Conner Donald L. Jameson George Quinn
Charles E. Crisman Fred J. Jameson Irwin L. Ralston
Joseph P. Darlington George C. Kacy Stanley Sarmento
Fred J. D’Attilio Herbert A. Kennedy * William J. Schneider
Theodore E. D’Attilio Wybert F. Knauer Benjamin F. Shay
James R. Davis Jacob C. Lammey F. Leslie Sheeler
James DelPaggio Vernon C. Lee Charles K. Sigle
R. Dennis George J. Loomis Albert C. Skiles
Donald M. Dixon Gerald J. Lyons, III Earl L. Smith
F. Robert Dougherty James R. MacDougal Earl L. Stern
C. Dowlin Dominick Marinelli * Francis B. Stringer
H. Fitzgerald James Marinelli * Charles T. Thomas
Donald I. Forbes Harry McAllister Walter F. Touchton
Leon E. Gable J. McGowan Vincent Travaglini
Emerson N. Glauner B. McQeen J. Trego
George C. Gregory Michael J. Mento Paul Tweed
Earl W. Hamilton Francis J. Merkt Laban A. Ward
Chester F. Harple  * Max Morris Thomas L. Williams
Bruce M. Hashinger William S. Murray William Wilmont
Raymond J. Hashinger Richard E. Myers Chester A. Woodward
 John W. Yocum

* Indicates those who did not return from the war.



The DFD was dispatched, just before 6:00 PM for an odor of smoke inside of the E-Building of the Black Hawk Apartments.  Deputy Chief 45 (Moore) arrived on location confirming the odor of smoke.  After further investigation, the crews found the cause to be an electrical wiring issue inside of one of the walls.

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The year was 1997 when the last time the Downingtown Fire Dept. had a full-fleet photo taken!  The attached 1997 photo was taken in the cul-de-sac on Robbins Way in East Caln Twp.  Two things have certainly changed since 1997; there would be several buildings in the background if we shot the 2014 photo on Robbins Way, and we have a few more apparatus today!

We would like to thank Mark Walsh of IrishEyez Photography (www.facebook.com/IrisheyezPhotography) for working with the DFD today in taking these long, over-due photos of our fleet.  Mark had some great ideas and was easy to work with.  The individual Alert No. 1 apparatus photos can be seen in our Apparatus Link.

And, thanks to all of the DFD drivers for volunteering several hours of your day, to make this event happen.

DFD-1997View More: http://irisheyezphotography.pass.us/alert--minquasAlert Minquas Fire Companies-Alert Minquas-0012View More: http://irisheyezphotography.pass.us/alert--minquasView More: http://irisheyezphotography.pass.us/alert--minquasView More: http://irisheyezphotography.pass.us/alert--minquas




The members and officers of the Alert Fire Co. No. 1 are supporting the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month by changing our outside lights to pink during October.  We urge all women to make appointments with your doctor for annual check-ups.

Link to Susan G. Komen – Philadelphia:  http://komenphiladelphia.org/




1887 Alert Banner

There are two important dates in the history of the Alert Fire Co. No. 1.  The first date is when twelve gentlemen of Downingtown gathered together and formed the fire company on August 18, 1887.  And, the second important date is October 13, 1887.  On this day, 127 years ago, the request for a Charter and Corporation was approved by the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County.

The current officers and members of Alert No. 1 would like to congratulate and say thank you, to those public-minded men who took a bold chance of starting a new organization with absolutely no money and very little support from the community, until a few fires occurred in those early days.

We would like to thank all of our current members, past members and supporters of Alert for making this a truly great 100% volunteer organization for the past 127 continuous years.  And, true our company motto “The Danger of our Citizens Prompts us to Action” we hope that we can continue to serve our neighbors of Downingtown Borough and East Caln Township for many more years to come.

Below, is a snip-it from the History of the Alert Fire Co. No. 1:

Twelve public minded men gathered at the offices of the Downingtown Review, a weekly newspaper, on Thursday, August 18, 1887 to discuss the urgent need for organized fire protection in the Borough of Downingtown.  At that meeting, the dozen organizers decided to begin, what would be the ninth oldest fire company in ChesterCounty, and agreed to name the new organization the Alert Fire Company No. 1 of Downingtown.

Prior to the existence of the company, each property owner was responsible for his own protection.  While various construction techniques afforded some protection from fire, most homes and businesses were likely to sustain significant damage from small fires.  With no organized fire protection, a small fire could venture beyond a single property, consuming large sections of a town.

The first members of the Alert Fire Company organized quickly and efficiently.  Robert McGraw, who with eleven other citizens was organizing the Brandywine Savings and Loan Association, was elected the first President of the company.  E. Vinton Phillips, operator of the Viaduct Roller Flour Mills, was elected Vice President.  The other inaugural officers of the company were as follows:  Ed M. McCaughy, Secretary; W. Howard Buckwalter, Assistant Secretary; James Leighton Guest, Treasurer; John Stout (three years), W. Howard Buckwalter (two years) and F. Fillmore Lewis (one year), Trustees.  In addition to the above officers, the remaining charter members of the company that were also at the first meeting in August, were Ezra Brown, Walter H. Gracie (Editor of the Review), John H. Lillie and Frank McGorkle.  In September, Mr. Stout was elected first Fire Marshal, or Fire Chief.

Without funds or members, the twelve men began to build the company.  Initial attempts to attract members were discouraging, with many citizens arguing that since their properties were insured, a fire company was not needed.  Wearing red flannel shirts with the letter “A” sewn on the front, the men of the Alert Fire Company attempted their first fair during September of 1887.  With the company turning out in parade every evening of the fair, the public slowly began to support the efforts of the group.

The proceeds of the fair and funds gathered from the annual dues, $1 per member, enabled the fledgling company to purchase their first hook and ladder truck.  The Rumsey and Company, of Seneca Falls, NY, hand drawn truck arrived on Monday, December 19, 1887 and the next night, the company responded to its first fire.  The Alert Fire Company saved the molding room of the Downingtown Stove Works by carrying buckets of water from the Park Run to the fire.  No men from east of the Brandywine Creek had volunteered for the company until the fire occurred, but three members from the East Ward were soon elected.

During this time of starting out, the small company was given permission to hold their meetings in the Excelsior Paint building on West Lancaster Ave., adjoining the public high school, near Viaduct Ave.  The hook and ladder truck was also kept in a small shed near the property.  As the membership started to grow out of room in the Excelsior building, on April 01, 1889 the company moved their meeting place to the spacious G.A.R. rooms in the Masonic Hall on the corner of Stuart and West Lancaster Avenues.

On September 13, 1887 the officers and members petitioned the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County for a Charter and a Certificate of Corporation.  Therefore, on October 13, 1887 President Judge J. Smith Futhey approved the request for the Charter and Corporation as the Alert Fire Company No. 1 of Downingtown.  The following persons were named as the membership of the new corporation:  President McGraw, Vice President Phillips, Secretary McCaughey, Treasurer Guest, Trustees Stout, Buckwalter and Lewis.  Members:  Ezra Brown, Samuel P. Brown, Mr. Gracie, Mr. Lillie, Mr. McGorkle, John Stitelery and J. B. Stringfellow.



The week of October 5 – 11 is Fire Prevention Week.  The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), along with the Downingtown Fire Dept. and other safety advocates nationwide are urging people to check the batteries in your smoke detector, review your emergency escape plan with your family and stay fire smart.  The national theme for 2014 is “Working Smoke Alarms Save Lives – Test Yours Every Month.

The Downingtown Fire Dept. hosted the Annual Fire Prevention Open House on Saturday, October 5th, from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM at Kerr Park with a great showing of community support.  All who attended saw all of our equipment that is used and had an opportunity to speak directly to the volunteer firefighters with their questions about fire safety and fire department operations.

The Alert Fire Prevention Committee, who took vacation days from their jobs, visited with 520 kindergarten and pre-school children within a two day period, to speak about fire safety.  The volunteers either visited at the schools or the classes made-it, a field trip to the station on W. Pennsylvania Ave. 

The Alerts would like to thank the following schools for allowing the children to participate in our Fire Prevention Week activities:

  • Beaver Creek Elementary
  • Beaver Creek Autistic Support Group
  • Lori Petrie’s Preschool
  • Messiah Lutheran Church Preschool
  • Regina Luminis Academy
  • St. Joseph’s Elementary
  • Step By Step Preschool
  • Teach & Learn Day School

In addition to the local schools, the Downingtown Fire Dept. would like to thank the following fire companies for participating in our Annual Fire Prevention Open House Display at Kerr Park:


  • West Bradford Fire Co. – Brush 39
  • First West Chester Fire Co. - Brush 51 
  • Lionville Fire Co. – Engine 47-5
  • West Whiteland Fire Co. – Tower 6
  • Chester County Haz Mat Team – Station 15
  • Smokey The Bear

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The DFD was invited to participate and help the Thorndale Fire Co. celebrate their 75th Anniversary today.  The volunteers at Thorndale have been providing professional service to Caln Township and neighboring communities and provides the Downingtown Fire Dept. Mutual Aid service during this entire time.

Fire Chief John Cordisco and President Miles “Mick” Arnold welcomed all of the guests and neighboring fire companies to the ceremony and introduced the various dignitaries.  A brief history of the fire company was read by the Chief and the officers of the company were recognized along with the committee that organized the joyful event.

Following the officer introductions, the members of the company who had 15 years or more of service  in the company were recognized.  Past Chief’s David Aberts, Donald Taylor and Jim Rice were recognized for being part of the company’s history bringing them to where they are today.

The evening concluded with a buffet dinner with members and neighbors getting together to socialize and enjoy the evening.

The officers and members of the Alert Fire Co. No. 1 would like to congratulate Thorndale Fire Co. on their 75th Anniversary and wish them many more prosperous years of service.

Photos are courtesy of Mick Arnold.




At 6:50 AM, the DFD was dispatched to an accident at the intersection of Business Rt. 30 and Quarry Rd., in East Caln Twp.  Assistant 46 (Heininger) arrived on location and found a three vehicle accident with one car on its roof.  Upon further investigation, it was determined that there was only one injured person that was transported to the hospital.

Photo is courtesy of DowningtownDoes.com