The Downingtown Fire Dept. participated in the Annual Downingtown Good Neighbor Christmas Parade today. In keeping with tradition, 22 of our volunteers pulled by hand, the retired 1892 Silsby Steam Fire Engine in the parade.
The DFD was also honored to host the family of John, Carla, Finn, Siennna Dougherty and Lauren Miller during the parade. The Dougherty family won the opportunity to ride on any firetruck in the parade at a recent Habitat for Humanity of Chester County Auction, that was sponsored by Mayor Josh Maxwell, of the Borough of Downingtown. After a tour of the old and new fire apparatus at the parade, they chose to ride in Rescue 45.
The heavy Silsby Steam Fire Engine was originally pulled by two horses when it was in service. The Silsby was actually the second piece of fire apparatus for the Alert Fire Co. No. 1, purchased back in 1892 (the first was a Rumsey Ladder Wagon in 1887). It served the Alerts from 1892 until 1908, when it was then given to the Minquas Fire Co. No. 2, when they formed, in 1908. It was in service at Minquas until the early 1930′s. In the early 1970′s, due to limitations in space, at the fire Minquas firehouse on E. Lancaster Ave, the steamer was sold to a collector of antique carriages. Minquas was able to purchase the Silsby from the collector in the late 1990′s where it was placed into storage until the new Minquas firehouse was built in 2013. The old steamer was taken out of storage in 2010 and taken to the Alert firehouse, where volunteers spent every night for three weeks scrubbing and cleaning many decades of dirt from the antique. It made its first grand appearance, since the 1970, to the public in the 2010 West Chester and Downingtown Christmas Parades. And, it has now been a new tradition that the DFD volunteers pull the heavy steam fire engine in the Downingtown Christmas Parade. This is a piece of early Downingtown firefighting history and the volunteers of the DFD are very proud to show-it-off. If you would like to get a close-up look at the Silsby, it can be seen, by appointment.
The photos are courtesy of Mike Dunn, Cory Butler, Linda Stevens and Betsy Zapotoczny Barron.