The members and officers of the Alert Fire Co. No. 1 are supporting the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month by changing our outside lights to pink during October.  We urge all women to make appointments with your doctor for annual check-ups.

Link to Susan G. Komen – Philadelphia:  http://komenphiladelphia.org/




1887 Alert Banner

There are two important dates in the history of the Alert Fire Co. No. 1.  The first date is when twelve gentlemen of Downingtown gathered together and formed the fire company on August 18, 1887.  And, the second important date is October 13, 1887.  On this day, 127 years ago, the request for a Charter and Corporation was approved by the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County.

The current officers and members of Alert No. 1 would like to congratulate and say thank you, to those public-minded men who took a bold chance of starting a new organization with absolutely no money and very little support from the community, until a few fires occurred in those early days.

We would like to thank all of our current members, past members and supporters of Alert for making this a truly great 100% volunteer organization for the past 127 continuous years.  And, true our company motto “The Danger of our Citizens Prompts us to Action” we hope that we can continue to serve our neighbors of Downingtown Borough and East Caln Township for many more years to come.

Below, is a snip-it from the History of the Alert Fire Co. No. 1:

Twelve public minded men gathered at the offices of the Downingtown Review, a weekly newspaper, on Thursday, August 18, 1887 to discuss the urgent need for organized fire protection in the Borough of Downingtown.  At that meeting, the dozen organizers decided to begin, what would be the ninth oldest fire company in ChesterCounty, and agreed to name the new organization the Alert Fire Company No. 1 of Downingtown.

Prior to the existence of the company, each property owner was responsible for his own protection.  While various construction techniques afforded some protection from fire, most homes and businesses were likely to sustain significant damage from small fires.  With no organized fire protection, a small fire could venture beyond a single property, consuming large sections of a town.

The first members of the Alert Fire Company organized quickly and efficiently.  Robert McGraw, who with eleven other citizens was organizing the Brandywine Savings and Loan Association, was elected the first President of the company.  E. Vinton Phillips, operator of the Viaduct Roller Flour Mills, was elected Vice President.  The other inaugural officers of the company were as follows:  Ed M. McCaughy, Secretary; W. Howard Buckwalter, Assistant Secretary; James Leighton Guest, Treasurer; John Stout (three years), W. Howard Buckwalter (two years) and F. Fillmore Lewis (one year), Trustees.  In addition to the above officers, the remaining charter members of the company that were also at the first meeting in August, were Ezra Brown, Walter H. Gracie (Editor of the Review), John H. Lillie and Frank McGorkle.  In September, Mr. Stout was elected first Fire Marshal, or Fire Chief.

Without funds or members, the twelve men began to build the company.  Initial attempts to attract members were discouraging, with many citizens arguing that since their properties were insured, a fire company was not needed.  Wearing red flannel shirts with the letter “A” sewn on the front, the men of the Alert Fire Company attempted their first fair during September of 1887.  With the company turning out in parade every evening of the fair, the public slowly began to support the efforts of the group.

The proceeds of the fair and funds gathered from the annual dues, $1 per member, enabled the fledgling company to purchase their first hook and ladder truck.  The Rumsey and Company, of Seneca Falls, NY, hand drawn truck arrived on Monday, December 19, 1887 and the next night, the company responded to its first fire.  The Alert Fire Company saved the molding room of the Downingtown Stove Works by carrying buckets of water from the Park Run to the fire.  No men from east of the Brandywine Creek had volunteered for the company until the fire occurred, but three members from the East Ward were soon elected.

During this time of starting out, the small company was given permission to hold their meetings in the Excelsior Paint building on West Lancaster Ave., adjoining the public high school, near Viaduct Ave.  The hook and ladder truck was also kept in a small shed near the property.  As the membership started to grow out of room in the Excelsior building, on April 01, 1889 the company moved their meeting place to the spacious G.A.R. rooms in the Masonic Hall on the corner of Stuart and West Lancaster Avenues.

On September 13, 1887 the officers and members petitioned the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County for a Charter and a Certificate of Corporation.  Therefore, on October 13, 1887 President Judge J. Smith Futhey approved the request for the Charter and Corporation as the Alert Fire Company No. 1 of Downingtown.  The following persons were named as the membership of the new corporation:  President McGraw, Vice President Phillips, Secretary McCaughey, Treasurer Guest, Trustees Stout, Buckwalter and Lewis.  Members:  Ezra Brown, Samuel P. Brown, Mr. Gracie, Mr. Lillie, Mr. McGorkle, John Stitelery and J. B. Stringfellow.



The week of October 5 – 11 is Fire Prevention Week.  The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), along with the Downingtown Fire Dept. and other safety advocates nationwide are urging people to check the batteries in your smoke detector, review your emergency escape plan with your family and stay fire smart.  The national theme for 2014 is “Working Smoke Alarms Save Lives – Test Yours Every Month.

The Downingtown Fire Dept. hosted the Annual Fire Prevention Open House on Saturday, October 5th, from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM at Kerr Park with a great showing of community support.  All who attended saw all of our equipment that is used and had an opportunity to speak directly to the volunteer firefighters with their questions about fire safety and fire department operations.

The Alert Fire Prevention Committee, who took vacation days from their jobs, visited with 520 kindergarten and pre-school children within a two day period, to speak about fire safety.  The volunteers either visited at the schools or the classes made-it, a field trip to the station on W. Pennsylvania Ave. 

The Alerts would like to thank the following schools for allowing the children to participate in our Fire Prevention Week activities:

  • Beaver Creek Elementary
  • Beaver Creek Autistic Support Group
  • Lori Petrie’s Preschool
  • Messiah Lutheran Church Preschool
  • Regina Luminis Academy
  • St. Joseph’s Elementary
  • Step By Step Preschool
  • Teach & Learn Day School

In addition to the local schools, the Downingtown Fire Dept. would like to thank the following fire companies for participating in our Annual Fire Prevention Open House Display at Kerr Park:


  • West Bradford Fire Co. – Brush 39
  • First West Chester Fire Co. - Brush 51 
  • Lionville Fire Co. – Engine 47-5
  • West Whiteland Fire Co. – Tower 6
  • Chester County Haz Mat Team – Station 15
  • Smokey The Bear

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The DFD was invited to participate and help the Thorndale Fire Co. celebrate their 75th Anniversary today.  The volunteers at Thorndale have been providing professional service to Caln Township and neighboring communities and provides the Downingtown Fire Dept. Mutual Aid service during this entire time.

Fire Chief John Cordisco and President Miles “Mick” Arnold welcomed all of the guests and neighboring fire companies to the ceremony and introduced the various dignitaries.  A brief history of the fire company was read by the Chief and the officers of the company were recognized along with the committee that organized the joyful event.

Following the officer introductions, the members of the company who had 15 years or more of service  in the company were recognized.  Past Chief’s David Aberts, Donald Taylor and Jim Rice were recognized for being part of the company’s history bringing them to where they are today.

The evening concluded with a buffet dinner with members and neighbors getting together to socialize and enjoy the evening.

The officers and members of the Alert Fire Co. No. 1 would like to congratulate Thorndale Fire Co. on their 75th Anniversary and wish them many more prosperous years of service.

Photos are courtesy of Mick Arnold.




At 6:50 AM, the DFD was dispatched to an accident at the intersection of Business Rt. 30 and Quarry Rd., in East Caln Twp.  Assistant 46 (Heininger) arrived on location and found a three vehicle accident with one car on its roof.  Upon further investigation, it was determined that there was only one injured person that was transported to the hospital.

Photo is courtesy of DowningtownDoes.com




The officers and members of the Downingtown Fire Dept. would like to offer our thoughts and prayers to all of those family, friends and others of those who were affected by the attacks on America on September 11, 2001. We will never forget!9-11-NeverForget



Just after 9:30 PM, the Rescue 45, Engine 46-2, Medic 46 (Minquas Fire Co. No. 2) and three ambulances from Station 87 (Uwchlan Ambulance Assoc.) were dispatched to assist Ambulance 46-1 with an auto accident on E. Lancaster Ave. (Bus. Rt. 30) near Bell Tavern Rd.

When Ambulance 46-1 arrived on location, they found that a car and a local transit bus had collided.  As a result, the crews from Rescue 45 and Engine 46-2 assist EMS with triage and patient packaging.  A total of nine patients were transported to local hospitals by EMS units from 46, 87 and 55 (Good Fellowship Ambulance Club. Photos are courtesy of Irish Eyez Photography.




The Alert Fire Co. No. 1 hosted the Annual Chicken Bar-B-Que Fundraiser on a rainy Saturday afternoon! The dinner included a hearty half of chicken, a baked potato, corn on the cob, apple sauce, dinner roll, a drink and a dessert, for a donation of $13.00.

Our guests had an opportunity to eat at the firehouse or take their dinner out. This was also a great way for neighbors to socialize with each other and meet some new friends. We thank all of you for supporting your 100% volunteer fire company by having another SOLD-OUT Chicken Bar-B-Que. This is the fifth consecutive year that we sold-out before 6:30 PM!  And, we would like to thank all of our volunteers who spent approximately 16 hours on Saturday for making this event a huge success.



The DFD hosted the 16 hour Pennsylvania State Fire Academy – Basic Rigging For Rope Rescue training course, with many newer and experienced members of the DFD attending the course.

The students learned many things such as the different rope characteristics, rope hardware and various knots and hitches. In addition, several different methods of patient packaging and practical haul systems and their uses.






It is with deep regret that the Alert Fire Co. No. 1 of Downingtown, PA announces the following:

Whereas, the Almighty God, in his infinite wisdom has removed from our midst on Sunday, August 3, 2014, one of our beloved brothers and Life Member, G. Bruce Nixdorf, who was always found faithful in the discharge of his duties and whose every thought and purpose was for the welfare of his company and department. And, while we deeply regret and mourn the loss sustained in the death of our late brother, we bow in humble submission to the Divine Will.

Therefore, be it resolved that we, the members of the Alert Fire Co. No. 1 of Downingtown, PA, do hereby extend and convey to the bereaved family and friends our deep and heartfelt sympathy.


Bruce passed away at UNC Hospitals, Chapel Hill, NC after the result of an accident. He was the loving husband of the late Judith B. Nixdorf.

He was born on November 2, 1940, in Philadelphia, PA to the late George E. and Eloise Nixdorf and then moved to Downingtown as a child, and lived there until after his retirement, where he and Judy moved to Stacy, NC with his daughter Shannon and family. Bruce was employed at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Philadelphia, PA until his retirement, and then he did consulting work.

Bruce was a 1959 graduate of Downingtown High School, and he was a veteran of the United States Army. Also, in 1959 (55 years ago) he became a second generation firefighter of the Alert Fire Co., then became an active member as a Fire Police Officer in the 1960’s. He retired from the daily activities of the Downingtown Fire Police after being on the front lines for more than 50 years, after moving to North Carolina, but continued to visit Downingtown and could be seen volunteering on the streets with the DFP for special events. Bruce visited the firehouse as often as possible and helped out with various tasks that needed to be done when he was in town.

Following the footsteps of his father George, Bruce played a major role in helping to shape the company; he held several officer positions since joining the company in 1959. They included, Fire Police Lieutenant and Captain, Trustee, Vice President and President. In addition to volunteering at Alert, Bruce was a long standing brother of the Free Masons and Past Chaplin of Williamson Lodge No. 309, F. & A.M. of Downingtown.

Mr. Nixdorf is survived by his daughters, Dana Reinhart of Norristown, PA, Lauren N. Riddell of New Castle, DE and Shannon N. Wright of Stacy, NC; brother, John Nixdorf of Naperville, IL; sister, Virginia Laughlin of Leesburg, VA. Also surviving are two grandsons, Leo M. Wright, IV of Stacy, NC and John Graham Riddell, III of DE.

In addition to his parents and wife, son-in-law Leo M. Wright, preceded him in death.


A memorial service will be held at 11:00 AM on Wednesday, August 6th, at the Otway Christian Church in NC. A celebration of life, for those who wish to pay their respects and honor his service will be held on Saturday, August 16, 2014, from 1:00 until 5:00 PM, at the Alert Fire Co. No. 1 in Downingtown, PA.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in his name to the Alert Fire Co. No. 1, 122 W. Pennsylvania Ave., Downingtown, PA 19335.

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Monday, July 21, 2014
The members and officers of the Downingtown Fire Dept. offer our thoughts and prayers to the Robert Miller family and the West Bradford Fire Co. for the untimely passing of Ryan Miller on Saturday, July 19, 2014.

Ryan was currently an active firefighter with the West Bradford Fire Co. and a member of the Good Will Fire Co. No. 2 of West Chester and the East Brandywine Fire Co.

Ryan’s father, Robert, is currently a Fire Police Officer with the Downingtown Fire Dept. Fire Police and a member of the Alert Fire Co. No. 1.