Zelienople Fire Department History

The Zelienople Fire Department was formed in 1898. The first apparatus purchase was a hose cart with 800’ of 2” hose that was pulled by the members through town. This was motivated by the installation of city water through Zelienople beginning in 1902. Following this event, the ZFD began advancing their technology. In 1919 the ZFD purchased the first motorized fire apparatus in Butler County, a Model T Ford modified for the fire service. Later a Dodge Chemical Truck was modified to carry 150 gallons of water. From 1936 to 1940 more purchases were made to make the ZFD larger. These substantial changes were imperative to the success of the fire department. The department’s first custom-made fire apparatus was purchased, a Seagrave Triple Combination Pumper. It featured a 12 cylinder 180 hp engine with 600 gallon per minute pump.

By the year 1941 the department grew from 35 to 50 members. A rescue squad was organized from the year prior and on stand-by for any calls. This would continue to develop into one of the first modern day rescue companies in the county. Everyone was so excited for this brand-new squad that the American Legion and the fire department held an annual carnival for the whole community to attend and share in the excitement. The community could not get enough of celebrations during this time so the ZFD had its own band for parades and functions. Along with carnivals and parades, firemen loved partaking in community benefits. They held a raffle specifically for the purchase of new band uniforms for the Zelienople High School.

When World War II broke out in 1942 The U.S Government requested the firemen to organize an Air Raid Auxiliary Unit of 35 members, and train them under government specifications. This unit was organized and served the community faithfully during the war. The 35 members were separate from the fire department but after the war their names were put on the waiting list for fire department membership. Some of these individuals were used to fill the vacancies in the department created by the draft into the Armed Forces. The State Defense Council sent a 500 G.P.M. Pumper and 500 ft. of 2” hose, 300 feet of 1” hose to be used for air raid emergencies.

In the years 1943-46, the brave firemen seemed unstoppable. For the second time, the Kaufman Hotel caught on fire. Harmony and Ellwood City responded. Pryor Borthers in Portersville was set ablaze and Zelienople was there to assist. The Winfield Burgh residence on Clay Street burned to the ground and Zelienople responded ready to help.

To give back to the community after a series of tragic fires the department organized its first car raffle. The vehicle with a 1946 Hudson. It netted $200.00 profit and gave a lucky community member a brand new car. In 1947 a motorboat and trailer was the selected prize. The car raffle was so successful that it continues today and is a large source of the Harmony Fire District’s income.

The 1950’s were busy for the department. The ZFD became a part of the National Defense Council and actively took part in many of their functions. A 24’x36’ room was added onto the engine room by the firefighters to house the rescue truck and equipment. Additionally, the firefighters built a training building at the new training grounds near the borough reservoir. Firefighting gear was purchased for all members, which included bunker coats, boots, helmets, and coveralls. Until this time there were only 12 sets of gear for the whole company to share. To wrap up the 50’s a Scott Air Pack was purchased, which was again a county first.

For the next 65 years the ZFD continued devote time to the community, grow with members and different fire apparatuses that can be seen in our previous apparatus gallery.