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AIHS Fire Prevention

Wednesday, Jul 3, 2024

Brandywine Springs Fire Prevention

Wednesday, Jul 3, 2024

Richardson Park Fire Prevention

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The Belvedere Volunteer Fire Company, organized in 1949 and incorporated in March of 1951, was the first predominantly black volunteer fire company in Delaware. The primary reason for it getting started was to address the problem of the the high three homes per year average loss due to fire in the Belvedere community then comprised of 280 dwellings.

Because during the early years the Belvedere Volunteer Fire Company was not part of the County Fire Board, members had to listen to fire calls involving Belvedere and Cedar Heights properties going out to other fire companies. When such an alarm was heard, the Belvedere Volunteer Fire Company's siren had to be manually activated by pressing one of three buttons located in Thomas Bulah, James Gardner, and Richard Watkins residences. Therefore, high on the Company's agenda was to complete the minimum requirements of personnel and equipment to qualify for membership to the Delaware State and the New Castle County Volunteer Firemen's Associations. This would enable the Belvedere Volunteer Fire Company to receive state and county aids like many of the other volunteer companies were already recieving. Through steadfast perseverance, increased manpower, and an ever expanding stable of equipment, the young fire company won a lengthy court suit awarding it membership into the New Castle County Firemen's Association. However, before aid was awarded, the Belvedere Volunteer Fire company purchased its first pre-owned fire engine and a small amount of hose from the Delaware City Volunteer Fire Company for $500 of the $600 dollars raised mainly through donations from many of Belvedere's then 1300 residents. A second used truck was purchased from the Holloway Terrace Volunteer Fire Company, and a third pre-pwned Mack fire truck was purchased from the Brandywine Hundred Volunteer Fire Company. In 1956, the Belvedere Volunteer Fire Company purchased its first new GMC Howe and with the funds they received as a result of the court's ruling, a new GMC Hahn pumper was purchased in 1965. This was one of the first cab over designs in the state. In 1982, it put into service a new Seagrave 1500 gallon pumper. Next, the company purchased a new Pierce-Lance 10 Man cab pumper with a 1000 gallon tank capacity and a 2000 gallon per minute pump. In 1993, a new Pierce-Lance 55 foot Squrt with a 10 Man cab, 700 gallon tank, and 2000 gallons per minute pump was put into service. Lastly, three passsenger vans was added to the Belvedere Volunteer Company fleet of vehicles. On January 10, 1951 approximately two months before the Belvedere Volunteer Fire Company became incorporated, an Auxiliary of Ladies was organized to help the firmen meet their goals. In 1954, the Belvedere Volunteer Fire Company $4000 for its very first firehouse which the members built themselves. Additonal space was added in 1958, and another expansion costing $300,000 occurred in 1977. To give the growing membership more room, the company  expanded the 1st floor social hall and added the 2nd fllor offices, hall, and recreation areas. Before getting its first firehouse, the Belvedere Volunteer Fire Company met each Thursday evening at 2000 in the Absolom Jones School.

Elected officers were Joseph Maiorano (President), Alvert Money (Vice-President), Calvin Epps (Secretary), Edward Knotts Sr. ( Assistant Secretary), and James Theodore (Treasurer). At this time the company still had not elected a Chief. Later, Bennie Sartin was elected and thus became the Belvedere Volunteer Fire Company's first Fire Chief. Currently, the Belvedere Volunteer Fire Company has a atotal membership of just over 100 men and women.

Although it's area of coverage is only 1 - 1/4 square miles in New Castle County, the fire company has fought fires from Oxford, PA to Smryna, DE. The only surving member of the Belvedere Volunteer Fire Company's five original Board of Directors (Ned W. Brown, James W. Gardner, Joseph Covington, Alexander Bailey Sr., and Job Trusty) that held office at the time of the company's incorporation is Ned W. Brown. Thomas Bulah, who served as Fire Chief for 19 years, is the Belvedere Volunteer Fire Company's oldest living active original firefighter.