Station 292: West Homestead V.F.D.

The West Homestead Volunteer Fire Department was officially chartered in the Allegheny County Courthouse on June 8, 1901. The original membership was comprised of 40 men, and the firefighting techniques utilized back then were obviously vastly different from the technology used today.

When the department was formed, the major piece of firefighting equipment was a "tongued" wagon, which carried the tools used to fight fires. The firefighters of the day actually pulled the wagon by hand. Sometimes they got lucky and a streetcar was traveling in the same direction. They would hook the wagon to the streetcar and ride to the fire. Hose reels, extinguishers, and other equipment were stored in various locations around the Borough to make it easier to fight fires. The first alarm system used to notify the firefighters was the school bell atop the old Walnut Street School. This building presently houses a retail business named Sign Creators, and the old bell is still hanging in the bell tower.

The department's first "fire truck," donated by the former Mesta Machine Company, was a converted, hand crank touring car. By 1917, a Prospect fire truck equipped with a pump was a welcome addition to the department's fire-fighting capabilities. The department upgraded its equipment significantly in 1938 with the purchase of a 500 gallon-per-minute Ahrens-Fox fire engine and an Ahrens-Fox squad car that was used to carry personnel and equipment. These two pieces of apparatus remained the major piece of fire-fighting equipment until a new American-LaFrance fire engine was purchased in 1951.

Tent City

The 1950's were the peak decade of membership in the West Homestead V.F.D. The department roster at the time showed a total of almost 150 members! It was during this time period that the department began a tradition of attending the Western Pennsylvania Volunteer Firefighters Convention. Every summer, the department would attend the Convention and set up their camp in "Tent City." The tradition of attending the Convention continues but now modern amenities are utilized and members stay in a hotel!

Ahrens Fox

The department began to modernize its equipment in the late 1960's and early 1970's. A Chevrolet van was purchased to haul additional equipment and personnel, and in 1974, a new American-LaFrance 1,250 gallon-per-minute fire engine was added to the department. The 1951 engine was overhauled, and a 50' tele-squirt was added to it. This "one-two" combination of fire engine and ladder made the department even more effective at firefighting. A Ford one-ton cab and chassis with a utility body was purchased in 1974 for vehicle rescues and salvage operations. A complete Hurst rescue system was purchased in 1975.

When the West Homestead V.F.D. celebrated its 75th anniversary in 1976, the department was considered one of the best in the Mon Valley area. In the 1980's plans were made to build a new fire hall and leave the quarters in the old Borough Building that had been used since the inception of the department. This plan came to fruition in 1987 when the department moved into its present location. The new fire hall was constructed in the tradition of an old-fashioned "barn-raising" where members of the department and others in the Borough completed most of the work.

In 1992, the Department again upgraded its equipment by purchasing a Rescue unit with a new Hurst system. In 1996, the Borough Council purchased for the department a 1,250 gallon-per-minute Spartan fire engine with a 6-man cab. In 1997, the Department purchased its present Squad, a Ford pickup with an extended cab.

Barn Raising of the New Fire Hall

The 1974 American LaFrance was refurbished in 1996 with the 50' tele-squirt added to it, and it served well as our ladder unit until 2004 when it was replaced by a 1988 Spartan tele-squirt.

Today, the West Homestead V.F.D. continues to strive for excellence. In 2007, the department purchased a brand new Smeal pumper/rescue, which replaced the 1992 Rescue and the 1996 Engine. Combining the two vehicles into one vehicle has enabled the department to be more versatile in our firefighting and rescue capabilities.


Also, in conjunction with the West Homestead Emergency Management Agency, a new Ford Expedition has been purchased to serve as a Command vehicle. In addition, new MSA Firehawk SCBA's were purchased in 2007.

Finally, the department is very excited about its newest addition: a refurbished 2001 Quint.

All of this clearly demonstrates the dedication and commitment that the members of the department possess. The West Homestead V.F.D. has served proudly for over 100 years and will continue to do so in the future.