The first proposal for fire protection in the Borough of Southwest Greensburg was presented by Albert M. "Bert" Bell at the November 1902 council meeting. This idea was voted down, five to three, by the citizens in attendance at this meeting.
Not a man who easily gave up, Mr. Bell again on June 26, 1905 was a spokesman at a meeting of the citizens of Southwest Greensburg. This meeting was also called to discuss organization of a Volunteer fire department. So much business had to be attended to, that this meeting was carried over to July 11, and again to July 19.
At the July 19 meeting, a motion was made and carried that a committee consisting of Harry Boyer, Bert Bell, and Caleb Long waiting on council and arrange a meeting with them on July 27, 1905. Another motion was carried that Jacob Funk, John Wilson, and John Haines form a committee to confer with George F. Huff about a donation.
The fire department in Southwest Greensburg was formally organized at the meeting on July 27. The meetings were held at the voting shanty at the junction on Alexander Street and Oakland Avenue. Permanent officers were elected. Those officers were: James B. Smail, president; Bert Bell, vice-president; Charles Hunter, secretary; Caleb Long, Financial secretary; John Haines, treasurer; and Albert Plough, Frank Hayden, and W. N. Davis, Trustees. It was noted at this meeting that Colonel George F. Huff would donate a hose cart. This was the first piece of fire fighting equipment to be used by the fire department. It was little more then two spoked wheels connected with a pipe. The hose was wrapped around the section of pipe. It was also decided at this meeting that twenty fire plugs would be installed in the Borough at a cost of $600.00. Dues was set at 10 cents per month. The initiation fee was $2.00. The official name of the fire department was Southwest Greensburg Hose Company No. 1.
At the next meeting, the election of the officers was declared illegal and again a vote was taken. Officially the following men were listed as officers: Charles E. Hayes, president; Bert Bell, vice-president; Harry T. Snively, secretary; Oliver Wilson, assistant secretary; Caleb Long, Financial secretary; John Haines, treasurer; Albert Plough, David Shupe, and W. N. Davis, trustees.
In September of that year, the hose cart promised by Mr. Huff arrived. In October the fire department paid $2.00 per month to store the hose cart in a stable behind the present Holy Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church. In November, the results of the election for working officers were: George W. Croushore, fire captain; W. J. Wolfe, 1st lieutenant; and A. O. Hunt, 2nd lieutenant. It was also noted at this time that 250 feet of hose was donated by the Star Brewing Company.
In March of 1906, the fire company purchased a second hose cart. The cost of the cart was $180.00. In April of that same year, the community's first fire alarm was installed. It was a dinner bell donated by Mr. Jacob Eisaman. Also in April, the men received their fire department uniforms. The cost of each uniform was $15.95.
As time passed, the need for a larger structure to house council chambers and the fire company became apparent. In 1907, construction was started on a fire hall and municipal building. A committee was set up to aid with the specifications of the building. The fire department moved into their new home in 1908. On November 12, 1908, the bell was placed in the tower of the municipal building. Prior to this, the fire alarm was the bell located at the Alexander and Guthrie school house.
By 1912, progress was apparent with the installation of alarm boxes and lines. These went into service in April. At the December 1915 meeting, the name of the fire company was changed to the Southwest Greensburg Fire Department.
The first piece of motorized equipment to be purchased was a six cylinder Studebaker. This was bought in 1918 at a cost of $1,500. Naturally the old hose carts became obsolete and one was donated in 1926 to the Harrison City Fire Department to help them get started. The following year, the first gas masks were purchased.
The Southwest Greensburg Fire men's Relief Association was formed in 1930.
June 5, 1931, marked the arrival of a 500 gallon per minute Mack pumper. Borough council purchased this pumper and presented it to the fire department with "no strings attached as long as it was taken care of in the right way."
The next piece of equipment to be purchased was a 1941 Plymouth Salvage Truck.
In 1954, a Mack 750 gallon per minute pumper was purchased and delivered to the fire department in September of that year. An open house was held for the public to view this engine.
In 1967, a Mack 1000 gallon per minute pumper was bought for $26,000. This engine was in service to our Borough through the year 2000.
On September 9, 1973, ground-breaking took place at the intersection of Alexander and Guthrie Streets to start construction on our present day fire house. The Reicher Building Company was the general contractor and completed the structure in May 1974. Dedication of this building took place on June 28, 1974. The total cost of the new fire house was $133,015.
At the time of the new stations dedication, the department boasted a 1954 Mack pumper, a 1967 Mack Pumper, and a 1972 International Utility truck.
Two days before the ground-breaking for the new fire station, on September 7, 1973, probably the most potentially dangerous situation arose which our fire department has had to face. Chemply, a chemical manufacturer located off the railroad tracks on the eastern side of the Borough, had an inadvertent leak of chlorine gas from a tank car on a rail siding next to the plant. People in the area of Mount Pleasant street and South Main Street were evacuated. Others near the center of the Borough were alerted to that possibility. All of the hours of training by Southwest Greensburg Fire Department and the neighboring fire companies paid off. The leak was contained and no one was injured.
In June of 1979, council again voted to open bids for a new fire engine. The next month they voted to buy a Mack 1000 gallon per minuted pumper for $85,265. The 1981 Mack was delivered in the fall of 1980, and served our department as our pumper until May 2011. 1981 also saw the department purchase a 1974 GMC Light and Salvage Truck and a 1981 Pontiac Safari to be used as the fire chief's car.
In 1989, a Super Vac Light and Salvage unit was purchased at a cost of $123,000. The unit won many trophies through the year for the best appearing and equipped specialty unit, including the Westmoreland County Firemen's and Pennsylvania State Fire Conventions.
In 2000 a new fire engine was purchased to replace the 1967 Mack fire engine. The new engine, a 2000 Pierce Dash, has a fully enclosed cab with seating for eight. Also on board is a Husky Foam system.
In 2008, Southwest Greensburg Fire Department became a "Participating Department" through the State Fire Commissioners office. This program "recognizes those organizations that support, promote and encourage their emergency response personnel to voluntarily certify within the Commonwealth's Certification Program."
In April, 2010, Southwest Greensburg Fire Department received notification from the Federal Emergency Management Agency that the department had successfully been awarded an Assistance to Firefighters Grant in the amount of $650,000. This grant, written by one of the departments own members, was used to replace the aging and outdated 1981 Mack, and the 1989 Super Vac Salvage. The grant to the department took the burden off of the Borough citizens to replace the two aging pieces of apparatus. On June 5, 2010, Chief Shaun Teacher signed a contract with Smeal Fire Apparatus to purchase a 105' Quint apparatus at a cost of $650,000.00.
In 2017, after 2 years of planning between the Fire Department, and Borough Council, a plan was finalized to sale the aging 2000 Pierce Dash, and replace it with a new Rescue Pumper. The needs of the department had out grown the Pierce. 4 Guys fire trucks was selected as the vendor to build the new Rescue Pumper. The Pierce was sold to nearby Wilpen Fire Department in Ligonier Twp. In April of 2018, Delivery of the new Spartan / 4 Guys Rescue Pumper was delivered at a cost of 589,000.00.
The Southwest Greensburg Fire Department remains very committed to protecting the citizens of the Borough and surrounding communities. Members pride themselves on their quick response times, and aggressive, safe, tactics. The members of the fire department work hard at training and certification to meet and exceed the expectation of protection of our citizens.