History of Union Historical Fire Society

Our Society had its real origin through some of it’s founding member’s memberships in the Society for the Preservation and Appreciation of Motor driven Fire Apparatus in America, more commonly known as "SPAAMFAA’’:

On June 29, 1969, 20 area men petitioned SPAAMFAA for it’s first local chapter outside it’s founding City of Syracuse. This group was granted a charter as the Mid-Atlantic Chapter. This charter remained in force until February 22, 1975, at which time it was cancelled and recalled due to lack of interest and activity. Upon notice of this recall action, several of the founding members of Mid Atlantic met to decide what action should be taken, if any. At this point the Mid-Atlantic idea was put to rest forever and dissolved. This meeting took place at Conshohocken, PA, on May 4, 1975. However, the Phoenix rising from the ashes, a committee was formed and charged with the responsibility of drafting a new constitution and by laws describing the purposes, functions and officer structure for an entirely new organization. At a meeting held at Horsham, PA, on July 13, 1975, 29 men agreed unanimously to not seek any affiliation with SPAAMFAA, but rather to stand alone as an independent group, seek a Charter from the State and to govern ourselves and to coordinate our own activities. The name Union Historical Fire Society was chosen, honoring Benjamin Franklin, one of the nation’s earliest fire fighters. An interim Slate of officers was elected to serve until the beginning of our first fiscal year, which was , January 1, 1976, until December 31, 1976, as spelled out in the new constitution.

Plans include, but are not limited to apparatus pumping meets, fire memorabilia flea markets, tours of big city fire departments, parades, model shows and annual banquet. We have been publishing the minutes of our meetings, along with a newsletter, called the Register which contains reports of recent events, future dates to remember, items for sale and wanted, general, local, regional- and national news. This publication is published bi-monthly and was chosen for a third place award in a nationwide contest for such writings in 1979. The general area from which we draw the bulk of our membership is a territory bounded by Reading on the West, Scranton on the North, Wilmington on the South and several counties in New Jersey. However, there are no geographical boundaries limiting the area in which we operate. As a result, we have members nationwide and as said before, several overseas.

Therefore, we WELCOME YOU, regardless of your address. Our meetings are informal in format and are held on a rotating basis throughout the area, so that no one is burdened with continued travel expense in order to remain active. We mentioned numerous collections of Fire Memorabilia within the Society, such as helmets, photos, patches, mugs, front pieces, fire marks, slides, stamps, etc. From a very inconspicuous start in 1979, the Society’s Annual Spring Fire Memorabilia Flea Market, held each year in April, has grown to three times its original size and draws vendors from as far away as Virginia and Upper New York State.

On September 7, 1975, 26 members met at Quakertown, Pa. to ratify the constitution and by laws and to establish the dues structure. A nominating committee WEIS selected for the forthcoming election, the design for a Society arm patch was submitted and the first financial report was read, showing the Society to be in good financial shape despite its youth, a situation that has persisted ever since. On January 18, 1976, 31 members met at Conshohocken, Pa. and elected the Society’s first slate of officers. Elected were: Stuart Lathrop, President; Earl Byerly, Vice President; Abe Weisberg, Secretary; James Quigley, Treasurer; and Jack Robrecht and Robert Ludwig, as Directors.

On December 8, 1976, the Department of State of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania granted a Corporate Charter to the Society as a non-profit, educational, scientific and historical organization. This was followed immediately by a tax exempt status from the I.R.S.

On August 12,1977, the Society sought and was granted. A charter as the Delaware Valley Chapter of SPAAMFAA. At the close of business December 31, 1987, 375 members were on the rolls from as far away as Alaska and England, making us an international organization of sorts. A count of antique apparatus owned by members taken in 1986, listed 91 pieces, including several steamers and hand drawn pieces. All during our meetings and deliberations we have strived to make the Society the type of organization that would not only welcome, but actively seek members whose interests run in the areas of the history of the fire service, such as collectors, historians, authors, restorers, modelers and students, to name but a few. It has always been and will continue to be the intention of the Society to plan events and functions that will best serve the member’s interests, regardless of where these interests lie. As a result, we will welcome potential members and their input, whether they are paid or volunteer, buffs, collectors, researchers, flea marketers, model builders, etc., either active or retired.

Guided, chartered bus tours of area bigger city fire departments and museums have proven popular off-season activities for us. We attempt to compensate our ladies for their patience with us at an annual banquet, held each year in April. We are confidant that we have something to offer YOU, regardless of which phase of the Fire Service History scene your interests lie. We cordially invite you to attend any and all of our functions, especially the meetings, with an eye to give your thoughts, ideas, run for office, or your important vote to help the society continue with it's interests in fire type functions. The Officers and Members of the UNION HISTORICAL FIRE SOCIETY Welcomes You.