110th Anniversary Celebration
By Lionville Fire Company
February 11, 2021

On Thursday, February 11th, Lionville Volunteers gathered to celebrate our 110th anniversary. In order for us to celebrate, we need to reflect on how we got to where we are today.

110 Years ago, a group of concerned local citizens got together at John Temple's store to discuss the growing need for fire protection within the community. From those meetings, what we know today as the Lionville Fire Company came to fruition. Thomas Furry was elected as the company’s first President and later, C.H. Oberholster was elected the first Fire Chief.

The early days were tough, for twelve years the company had 25 members utilizing the hand-pull as their only piece of equipment, the company never had a motorized piece until 1923 with the purchase of a Seagrave Open Cab which operated out of a shed until 1930 when the first real firehouse was built. It wasn’t until 1935 the company purchased a new piece of apparatus, which we know today as the REO, currently sitting upstairs in our museum (its original quarters).

During War War 2, Harry Ruth lead the company as Fire Chief from 1941-1947, Schuyler Rennard, Henry Worthington and Harold Trego lead the company through the 1950’s. It was in the 1960’s where major changes began to take place. The Company was lead primarily by H.E. and Jack Trego as the two Fire Chiefs. It was also in the 1960’s when the building addition was underway, the membership did most of the work saving the company over $70,000. Tragically it was during this time period that we experienced our first line of duty death (LODD) as Charles Martin in 1965, a local farmer was killed during a brush fire on North Whitford Rd. One year later, in 1966, Jonathan Windle fell from a scaffold to his death during the building construction of the fire house.

The 1970's brought the completion of the firehouse and ushered in new era as H.E. Trego stepped down as Chief and Richard Ruth took over in January of 1975, and as the story goes, he stayed for a while. Richard guided the company for 22 years as our Chief and lead the biggest, nastiest posse in Chester County, who dominated the Goshen Fair Tug of War for 30 years. Richard along with his officers lead the company and advanced the apparatus from old antiques, to a more modern class for that era, buying a 1975 Ward Tele squirt, 1977 Autocar Tanker, 1985 Peterbilt and then our first Pierce, a 1994 Lance.

Bill Minahan succeeded Richard as Fire Chief in January 1998. In March of that year, tragedy struck again when we lost lost Firefighter Dave Good while operating on The Pennsylvania Turnpike. Lessons learned on that day and Bill’s zero tolerance for shortcuts on safety, is what has helped kept us safe all these years. Mike Holmes began his first term as Chief in 2006, creating a new era of operational efficiency as well as maintaining the #1 priority of safety, followed by Mike Chapman, Mike Holmes again, then Bill Minahan, to today where Mike Esterlis stands as our Fire Chief.

While the COVID-19 Pandemic has changed the way for our celebration, President Hull welcomed all of the members in attendance, and gave the above brief synopsis of the fire company history. It was then that Chief Richard Ruth gave a toast to the past, present, future members of the company, and to the safety and wellbeing of all, as we continue to serve our community.

President Hull took a moment to recognize Chief Ruth...

In 1956 Richard Ruth joined the fire company, and rose through the ranks. In January 1975, Richard Ruth became Lionville’s 13th Fire Chief. Richard Ruth remained the chief for 22 years, through the better part of 3 decades, leading the company during much different times then where we are today. The Ruth Brother’s Richard and Carl, along with their Dad, Harry who remained well involved in the company, became one of the cornerstone families of the organization with Doug and Lee joining later adding another generation of Ruth Firefighters within the company.

Today, 65 years later after he joined, Richard is still very involved as a Trustee, Fire Police Officer, and a member of the Upper Uwchlan Township Emergency Management Planning Commission.

It’s the dedication Richard has shown over the years that members strive to duplicate, and the leadership Richard displayed, is evident in the leadership that Chief Minahan, Chief Holmes, and Chief Chapman have cultivated into our Chief today, Mike Esterlis.

We congratulate Chief Ruth on this incredible milestone.

President Hull also unveiled a new award:

The Richard L. Ruth Lifetime Service and Dedication Award. This award is presented to those who achieve 40 years of service and dedication to The Lionville Fire Company. Those awarded were:

Bill Minahan, Assistant Chief

Linda Gramling, Fire Police Captain

Scott Trego, Trustee/Driver

We thank all of our community members, municipalities, and mutual aid companies for helping to support us over the last 110 years. We look forward to a successful year of placing our new Tower into service, and celebrating our housing in October (More information to follow!)

After the celebration concluded, Lionville Volunteers traveled to Jones Pond Park to train on ice rescue operations. Members practiced removing victims who fell through ice, and bringing them back to shore safely.