Where it all started....

The Town of Cheswold began as a stop on the Pennsylvania Railroad known as Leipsic Station. Leipsic at the time had the largest cannery in the state, The Leipsic Canning Company. The railroad was completed in 1856. The primary landowner at that time was John S. Moore. He built a store on the property and was appointed Post Master. The new town was called Moorton after Mr. Moore. In 1888, the railroad asked the town to find another name because there was a Moorton, PA on the same line. The story goes that there was a contest to name the town. The winning entry, submitted by Minnie Dische, was “Cheswold”. The name came from combining “ches” for the chestnut trees that were common in the area at that time and “wold” meaning group of trees. The name officially became Cheswold on March 12, 1888.


Mr. Ford’s loss is variously placed at from $600 to $800. This includes 2700 half-barrel baskets, several thousand strawberry baskets, tools, machinery and the building, upon which there was no insurance. How the fire originated, occurring as it did in a storeroom for baskets forty feet from the engine and boiler on a bright moonlight night, is a great mystery.

Mr. Ford is an honest, industrious worthy citizen and loses all by the fire. He has, we learn, decided to rebuild in another part of the town.

The next mention came in a 1925 convention booklet from the newly formed Delaware Volunteer Fireman’s Association. The history of the Robbins Hose Company No. 1 of Dover states: “…the town (of Dover) had a hook and ladder pump (which is now the property of Cheswold, Del.)…”.


Mr. Ford’s loss is variously placed at from $600 to $800. This includes 2700 half-barrel baskets, several thousand strawberry baskets, tools, machinery and the building, upon which there was no insurance. How the fire originated, occurring as it did in a storeroom for baskets forty feet from the engine and boiler on a bright moonlight night, is a great mystery.

Mr. Ford is an honest, industrious worthy citizen and loses all by the fire. He has, we learn, decided to rebuild in another part of the town.

The next mention came in a 1925 convention booklet from the newly formed Delaware Volunteer Fireman’s Association. The history of the Robbins Hose Company No. 1 of Dover states: “…the town (of Dover) had a hook and ladder pump (which is now the property of Cheswold, Del.)…”.

In 1927 several men met regularly in C. H. Pearson’s store to discuss the need of forming a fire company in the town. Early in 1928 that need was proven when the home of Dan Turner caught fire. Friends and neighbors formed a bucket brigade until the Robbins Hose Company of Dover and the Clayton Fire Company arrived. Despite the effort, the home was destroyed. It is said that the only thing that saved the entire town from the fire was the easterly wind blowing that night.

Several meetings were held in 1928 on the subject of fire protection. The first official meeting of the Cheswold Volunteer Fire Company was held on February 2,1928 in the General Merchandise Store of C. H. Pearson. William S. Scarborough was elected as the first President and Willard D. Boyce the first Fire Chief. At the same meeting, William B. Harrington was elected Treasurer and John M. Ford was elected as Secretary. Approximately thirteen charter members were present at this first meeting, and they are believed to be Louis Anderson, Peter L. Barcus, Willard E. Barcus, Willard D. Boyce, Byron S. Creadick, John M. Ford, William B. Harrington, William W. Kerper, Denny R. Morris, William S. Scarborough, Edward Streets, N. Lee Remley, and Joseph E. Swain, Sr.

The first fire truck purchased was a used Model T Ford Chemical Wagon. It held 150 feet of hose and two chemical tanks. Each tank contained water and sodium bicarbonate. A small container of acid was opened inside the tanks to combine with the sodium bicarbonate to create pressure to force the water out. In 1929, a new Model A Ford pumping engine was purchased to replace the Model T. The silver bell from that engine is displayed in the trophy case in our present firehouse and is dedicated in the memory of our deceased members. Also on display is the original hand cranked siren from the same engine. The Pennsylvania Railroad donated a rail that was to be used to alert the new volunteers. It was bent into a circle and hung on a frame. When a fire occurred, it was to be struck with a sledgehammer to sound the alarm. That rail is now located near the entrance to our present hall.

Money for the new fire company was raised through subscriptions and suppers. Carnivals were held in 1928, 1929, and 1930 in order to raise funds to purchase equipment and a firehouse.


On April 10, 1931 at a regular monthly meeting the Cheswold volunteers adopted their first Constitution and By-laws. These were needed before the company could incorporate and on August 17, 1931 the Cheswold Volunteer Fire Company became incorporated.

Cheswold purchased their third piece of apparatus in the mid 1930’s. It was a 1933 V8 Ford tank wagon. It held 540 gallons. By today’s standards this may seem small but in the 1930’s, it was a lot of water.

On September 17, 1936, Willard Boyce, the company’s first fire chief was elected President of the Delaware Volunteer Fireman’s Association. He would be the first member from Cheswold to hold this honor. This is remarkable considering the fire company was only eight years old.

On August 3, 1937 at a special meeting of the fire company, it was approved to purchase a new 1937 Reo triple combination fire engine. It was ordered from the Hale Fire Pump Company of Conshohocken, PA. The truck would include a Deluxe cab with doors and a roof, a 166” wheelbase, a 250 gallon tank, a 500 gallon per minute pump, a 268 cubic inch six cylinder engine with 85 horsepower at 3000 rpm’s, dual rear wheels, one 14’ roof ladder, one 10” locomotive bell, one 10’ pike pole, 12 fire buckets, and 150’ of ¾” four ply rubber hose with a ¾” nozzle. The total purchase was $4665.55 and it was delivered on December 6, 1937. The 1928 Model A Ford was traded in for this truck.

During the late 1930’s, it was decided to purchase a fire siren to replace the railroad rim that had been used up to that time. One would imagine that hitting that rail with a sledgehammer was very hard on the hands.


Cheswold’s new tank wagon caused their alarms to increase. All of the neighboring fire companies began to call for it often, much to the pride of its owners. Because of its increased usage, in 1941 it became apparent that a new chassis was needed. A special meeting was held on March 21, 1941 where it was approved to purchase a new 1942 Ford V-8 chassis for the tank wagon. It was purchased from Bolan Motors of Dover for a cost of $650.00. The old 1933 Ford V-8 was traded in for $150.00. When the new chassis arrived, the Cheswold firemen did the tank change over themselves. On January 14, 1944 the company voted to purchase a 500-gallon per minute pump for the tank wagon. It was purchased from the W. S. Darley Company. The members mounted it on the tank wagon when it was delivered.

On December 8, 1945 the firemen suffered the largest fire loss to date when Marker’s Hatchery burned. In spite of the efforts of Cheswold and every fire company for miles around the building was totally destroyed causing $300,000 in damage. This fire was proof to the Cheswold volunteers that they needed more and better equipment to serve their territory.

Because of the increasing amount of men joining who didn’t live in town, a new fire siren was purchased in January of 1946. The new siren was purchased from the Federal Siren Company at a cost of $436.30 and it was put into service in March of that same year. The siren that was replaced was sold to the Wilmington Manor Fire Company for $150.00.

On January 24, 1947 a special meeting was held to decide where to install the new fire phones. These phones would ring when the Cheswold fire number was dialed to report an emergency. The person who had the phone would also have a button in their house to blow the siren. It was decided to put the phone in the residence of C. W. Reynolds with an extension in Nick Sawyers residence.

On February 14, 1947 it was voted to send Elsmere Fire Company $100 to help rebuild their firehouse that had been destroyed in a fire. It was also decided to blow the fire siren every day at noon except Sunday, which continues to this day.

In 1947, the Leipsic Fire Company was formed. Cheswold had provided fire protection to Leipsic up until this point. It was decided to donate an old fire siren to the new Leipsic volunteers. The siren was delivered and Leipsic sent Cheswold a check for $35 to thank them for their gift. A motion was made to send the check back to Leipsic but when it was voted on, the motion failed and Cheswold kept the money.

In February of 1948, two all-purpose gas masks were purchased. These would be the first breathing apparatus for Cheswold. The final major purchase made during the 1940’s was on May 14, 1948 when a new engine block had to be purchased for the 1937 Reo. The cost of the new block was $427.80. To help pay for this new engine block and to help with other expenses, the fire company held carnivals during the late 1940’s. In July of 1948 Cheswold received $25 in fuel oil to thank them for their help at the Cross Roads Restaurant fire.

On October 4, 1948 a stamp was issued by the post office in honor of volunteer firemen across the country. Congressman Caleb Boggs had submitted the legislation for the stamp after the Cheswold firemen responded to his home on Christmas Eve in 1947. One of his family members had thrown some wrapping paper into the fireplace for disposal and the smoke caused a neighbor to call in the alarm. The firemen responded quickly but found the Boggs family safe.

On December 10, 1948 Nick Sawyer requested to have the fire phone removed from his home by Christmas. On Christmas night of 1948, Cheswold assisted the Citizens Hose Company of Smyrna in extinguishing a fire in the Smyrna Town Hall.

In January of 1949 it was decided to send the Bowers Beach Fire Company $5 to help with their building fund. Also at this meeting, Nick Sawyer announced that he had decided to allow the fire phone to remain in his home.


As the 1950’s began, the fire company had big plans. They needed more room to store equipment. They were in negotiations with the Dover Special School District to purchase the former Cheswold Elementary School. There also was discussion about starting ambulance service.

On the night of the January 1950 meeting the firemen were called out to a fire around 7:30 PM. While trying to get back on a fire truck at the scene, John Bamberger was struck by a car. His injuries required him to go to the hospital and he later recovered.

On July 19, 1950 at a special meeting it was approved to purchase a new 1950 Ford F-800 chassis from the Ennis and Deakyne Company of Smyrna. The wheelbase was specified as 178 inches. A fire equipment package for this chassis was purchased from the Capital Fire Equipment Company of Roanoke, VA and was mounted on the chassis by the Oren Roanoke Company. The package included a 750-gallon per minute multi-stage Hale pump, an 800-gallon water tank, side hose reels, and a lighting plant. This engine was received by the fire company on February 9, 1951 and was stored in N. Lee Remley’s garage until the new firehouse was completed. It was known as Truck 4.

On September 22, 1950 at a special meeting it was approved to purchase the school building from the State Government for $1.00. A clear deed from the State was received in January of 1953 and a mortgage was taken out to remodel the structure. The old firehouse was sold to Nick Sawyer for $4,100.

On December 11, 1950 at a special meeting, it was voted to purchase a used 1947 Buick Dynaflow ambulance from Nick Sawyer for $700 and to “beg all equipment possible”. In the months to follow, twelve members took a first aid course taught by the Fire Chief from Leipsic, H. Allison Helm. Those members were: George Cahall, Joseph B. Roy, John Bamberger, Fred Willey, Earl Asher, Dave Mitchell, Ross Kyle, Phil Messina, Corbit Reynolds, Lloyd Warren, Franklin Luff, and Elbert Golder.

On August 8, 1952 it was approved to accept the donation from Leona Hazel of a used piano that was in need of tuning. A motion was also passed to have the piano tuned.

After making ambulance calls as far north as Odessa and as far south as Little Heaven it was decided to purchase a newer ambulance. At a special meeting held on January 19, 1953 it was decided buy a new 1952 Cadillac ambulance from George Bryson of Smyrna. This ambulance was the first one south of Wilmington to carry four stretchers.

In 1953, John W. Bamberger, Sr. was elected as President of the Delaware Volunteer Fireman’s Association. He was the second member to be elected to that position. Also in that year, Elizabeth Luff McMillan served as President of the Ladies Auxiliary Association.

On April 26, 1953 the new firehouse purchased in 1950 was officially dedicated. Presiding over the event was Governor J. Caleb Boggs who was also joined by Wisconsin Congressman Glenn R. Davis. The two of them had worked together on the bill to create the volunteer fireman’s stamp in 1948. The festivities began at the home of Mr. & Mrs. Edgar J. Boggs (the Governors parents) and proceeded the quarter mile to the new station. The only apparatus in the procession were the new ambulance and fire engine to be housed. Members of Leipsic Fire Company cut the ribbon to officially dedicate the new station while members of Robbins Hose Company and Citizens Hose Company housed the new engine and ambulance respectively. There was a performance by the Citizens Hose Company band and refreshments for all who attended. A special mention was given to W. L. Smith Orchards for making their water available to fire tank wagons for reloading purposes and also for allowing the use of its 1000-gallon tank wagon whenever needed.

On May 13, 1953 it was approved to train Ladies Auxiliary members on the ambulance.

In February of 1954 it was necessary to purchase a new water tank for the 1941 Ford V-8. The water capacity of the new tank was 550 gallons.

To help supplement the income of the fire company the game of Bingo was started on March 12, 1955 and is still being played every Saturday night to this day. At one time it was the largest single source of income for the company.

On April 11, 1955 it was motioned to instruct our delegates to vote in favor of allowing South Bowers to become a “part-time” fire company.

On September 20, 1956, John W. Bamberger, Sr. was elected President of the Delaware State Fire Chief’s Association. Five hours later, he was stricken with a heart attack and died the next day.

The mortgage taken out to remodel the firehouse in 1950 was paid off in October of 1958, and the mortgage was burned at the annual Christmas dinner held in December of that same year.

At a special company meeting held on November 21, 1958 two major purchases were made. It was approved to purchase a new 1959 Ford F-600 fire engine from the William S. Darley Company of Chicago, Illinois. The engine was ordered with a V-8 motor, 175 inch wheelbase, 500 gallon capacity water tank, a Darley Champion Triple Combination front end pump which pumped 500 gallons of water per minute, and two top crank rewind hose reels with 300 feet of ¾” hose on each. The total purchase price was $7,715 and the engine was received and put into service in July 1959. It is still in service as truck 43-5. To help purchase this new engine, the 1937 Reo fire engine, which served the company for twenty-one years, was sold to Allen Reynolds for $175. The second major purchase made during the meeting was a new 1958 Cadillac ambulance from the Wolfington Body Company. The 1952 Cadillac was traded in on this new ambulance.

The 1950’s saw the Cheswold Volunteer Fire Company change at an unprecedented pace. During this time they bought two new fire engines, moved into a new building, and started an ambulance service. The Town of Cheswold was changing also. Around 1954, the W. L. Smith plant that packaged peaches, apples, and dill pickles closed. This was the last of a long line of businesses that once operated out of the railroad station in town and the freight depot there. Around 1957 the depot was removed. Two years later a spur was take out leaving only the single track running through town. When the fire company was formed, there were five stores in town and by 1961 there was one. The population of the town declined slightly in the 1960 census. These changes would affect the future of the company. The 1960’s would bring the company into the modern era. The minutes of the meetings of this time show a lot of familiar problems. Many members now lived outside of town. There were discussions about whether people who lived outside the territory should be able to join. Bingo was discussed at almost every meeting, lack of help being one of the major reasons (at one point it was agreed to pay each worker $10 per night, this was later reversed and the money was returned). The ambulance was also a frequent topic of discussion. The 1960’s started with thoughts of expansion, or possibly building a new firehouse. With that idea in mind, at the September 1962 meeting it was approved to purchase 37 acres of land across the street from the present firehouse for $20,000. This land was then rented to area farmers until the membership decided how and where their expansion would take place.


During a special meeting held on July 18, 1960 the problem of getting the ambulance out was brought up. The company was involved in many transfers of patients to distant hospitals for advanced care. A motion was passed to pay the ambulance driver and necessary crew $2 per hour on long distance runs and transfers to Wilmington and Philadelphia during working hours and that any money received from ambulance ticket sales be placed in a fund for this purpose.

At the regular company meeting on November 12, 1962, a motion was passed to contact the Robbins Hose Company of Dover to see if they would answer our emergency calls and dispatch us. This was after several attempts in the 1950’s to have a county dispatch center created.

Elections held on December 10, 1962 became very interesting when outgoing Fire Chief Fred Willey made a motion to suspend the by-laws and allow every member to vote in the election. This motion passed. Mr. Willey was elected President. At the next meeting, a motion was passed to have another election that followed the by-laws and this time Elbert C. Golder was elected President and some of the other offices also changed.

On May 18, 1963 Fire Chief Jim Roy explained the new dispatch system to the company at a special meeting. All calls on the Cheswold emergency number would be answered by Dover. They would activate the siren. The first member to respond to the station would call Dover on the radio to take the call.

At the regular company meeting on December 20, 1963 it was approved to purchase a new fire engine. A new 1964 Ford chassis with a 534 cubic inch V-8 motor was purchased from Bolan Motors of Dover for $7,100. The American LaFrance Company installed their fire equipment package on the chassis for $27,400 making the total cost for this engine $34,500. The package installed included a 1000-gallon water tank, a 750-gallon per minute pump, booster reel, and a canopy cab. The engine was delivered by railcar in Dover in June of 1964. The International Latex Company (now Dow-Reichhold) donated a large deluge nozzle for the new engine (the first for Cheswold). This was Cheswold’s first modern fire engine and has been the template for each engine we have purchased since. It was number 43-2.

On February 10, 1964 it was approved to purchase the Learnard property on the east side of the firehouse for $10,000. A one-car garage on that property was used to house one of the ambulances. The house on that property was sold in July of 1965 for $250 and moved by the new owner.

The Cheswold, Leipsic, and Camden-Wyoming fire companies hosted the Delaware Volunteer Fireman’s Association annual convention in 1967.

On January 15, 1968 at a special meeting, it was approved to purchase a new 1968 ambulance. A Cadillac ambulance was purchased from the Ritter Miller-Meteor Company for $14,235. Instead of trading in the 1958 Cadillac ambulance, it was decided to keep it for a backup, since ambulance service was being provided for Dover Downs racetrack on a regular basis. The new ambulance was put into service on May 7, 1968.

At a special meeting held on March 25, 1968 it was approved to build a new two-car garage to house both of the ambulances at a cost of $1,200. This new garage was built next to the old existing garage, which was torn down.

On November 10, 1969 it was approved to purchase a new American LaFrance fire engine for $51,874.64. It was ordered with a 671 Detroit Diesel 238 inline, 5-speed transmission with 5th over, 1000-gallon water tank, 1500 gallons per minute pump, and a canopy cab. The new engine was delivered in March of 1971 by railcar to Dover. It was one of the first diesel fire engines in the state and would be known as 43-1. It was also Cheswold’s first white fire truck.


At the first regular monthly meeting held during the 1970’s, two major purchases were approved. On January 12, 1970 it was approved to buy a new 1970 Superior Cadillac ambulance from George Bryson of Smyrna for a cost of $14,600. The 1958 Cadillac ambulance which served the company for twelve years, was sold for $131. The second major purchase approved was a 1953 Reo rescue truck. This truck was purchased from the Seaford Volunteer Fire Company for $1,850.

On April 13, 1970 it was approved to sell the farm property purchased in September of 1962 to the Dover Associates, Inc. for $80,000. Four acres of the 37-acre parcel were retained by the Cheswold Volunteer Fire Company for future use.

During the regular monthly meeting in September of 1970 it was approved to build an addition to the east side of the existing firehouse. Saxton Lambertson was contracted to build this addition for a cost of $104,331. The garage used to house the ambulances was move across the street from the firehouse to make room for the new addition. The new addition was completed in January of 1971.

It was voted in October of 1970 to purchase a used aluminum boat and trailer from the Leipsic Fire Company for $50. This boat is still in service.

In 1971, Elbert C. Golder served as President of the Delaware Volunteer Fireman’s Association and his wife, Margaret, served as the Ladies State President. They remain one of the few husband and wife teams that the association has ever had.

Cheswold’s first modern ambulance was approved at the October meeting in 1972. The new “box type” ambulance would be built on a Dodge chassis by the Swab Company of Elizabethville, PA. The total cost would be $18,549. It would have much more room in the patient care area than the traditional station wagons previously used. It would be known until 1986 as A-43, when it was renamed B-43 and would remain in service for over 20 years.

At the regular meeting held on February 12, 1973 a motion was made by Dick Dempsey and seconded by Kevin Fleming that all company members get crew cuts, short sideburns, and clean shaven faces. The motion failed 6-8.

Chief Nickerson reported at the January 1974 meeting that the new county callboard was in operation and was handling our emergency calls. The old seven digit numbers used by Cheswold would remain in use until the new phone books came out. He also reported that any remaining fire phones that members had in their homes could be removed. Up to this time Margaret Golder had been Cheswold’s main ambulance dispatcher, taking the calls over the phone from her home.

After receiving a complaint from a neighbor about the company basketball court, Elbert Golder reported at the May13, 1974 meeting that he had moved it. He then made a motion, which was seconded by Lou Deneumoustier to put up three more basketball hoops.

On July 20, 1974 at 12:46 AM, Cheswold was dispatched to a fire at the abandoned granary at Bishop’s Corner. The five-story wooden grain storage facility was completely destroyed despite the efforts of nine fire companies. A garage owned by Doverdel Tractor located about 30 feet from the granary was saved with minor damage.

In 1974, James R. Roy, Sr. was named “Fireman of the Year” by the Delaware Volunteer Fireman’s Association. He would be the first member to achieve this honor.

After several years of work, the 1953 Reo rescue truck purchased in January of 1970 was place in service. This renovation included a new engine, paint job, and generator. Company members performed the majority of the work. It was designated as 43-6.

On April 11, 1976 engine 43-2 was responding to a reported fire on State Route 42 when they were involved in a collision at Bishops Corner. Engine 43-2 was stopped waiting for northbound traffic to yield so it could cross when a tractor-trailer failed to stop. The tractor-trailer struck a car and then went on to strike 43-2 on the passenger side of the front of the vehicle. 1st Assistant Chief Lee Severson was briefly pinned in the cab and was treated for knee injuries at Kent General Hospital. Engine 43-2 would remain out of service for an extended period of time. When it returned, it would be painted Cheswold’s new color, white.

On May 5, 1977, Cheswold firefighters fought a stubborn blaze in Sawyer’s Apartments at the corner of Commerce Street and New Street. The fire started when a gas appliance was removed without shutting the gas off. The fumes exploded causing the fire to spread rapidly. No one was seriously injured in the fire but several animals were rescued. Seven area fire companies assisted Cheswold.

On July 11, 1977 it was approved to purchase a new American LaFrance fire engine for $104,250. It was ordered with a 671 Detroit Diesel 238 inline, five-speed transmission with fifth direct, 1000-gallon water tank, a 1500-gallon per minute pump, and a canopy cab. The new engine was delivered on August 17, 1978 and would be known as 43-3. The 1950 Ford F-8000 (Truck #4) was traded in for $4,400.

On September 6 1978, Cheswold assisted the Sudlersville Fire Company at the Delmarva Sash and Door fire in Barclay, MD. Cheswold was one of several Delaware companies that were requested to respond. The fire destroyed the towns only major industry.

In September of 1978, Cheswold would celebrate its 50th anniversary. On Wednesday September 27, a memorial service was held to honor the deceased members. Former Governor and Congressman Caleb Boggs was the guest speaker. On Friday September 29, a dinner and dance was held. On Saturday October 1, a parade was held with many fire companies in attendance. After the parade, the new apparatus was housed.

In 1978, the Delaware State Fire Chief’s Association named George J. Pyott, Jr. “Heroic Fireman of the Year”.

In 1979, Elbert C. Golder was named “Volunteer Fireman of the Year” for the State of Delaware.


On a cold morning in January of 1982, Cheswold firemen responded to a fire at the Corrugated Metal Containers plant on the north side of town. The fire quickly spread to the Delaware Recyclers building. Freezing temperatures and a strong wind hampered the efforts of several fire companies to halt the flames. Assisting companies were sent first to Cheswold’s station to thaw out from the ride before they were sent to the scene. Several firefighters were treated for minor injuries including frostbite. This fire was one of several that have made Cheswold infamous in this area for large fires in extreme weather.

During the Super Bowl in 1985 Cheswold responded to a house fire on Commerce Street. Several hours later, the street would be covered in a thick layer of ice and the house was gutted. Subfreezing temperatures and strong winds made even simple tasks difficult. Several companies assisted with manpower and water.

In July of 1986 a new 1986 Ford/Brawn ambulance was placed in service. It would be named A-43 and the 1974 Dodge was renamed B-43.

President James R. Roy, Sr. related an unusual incident at the February 9, 1987 meeting. Apparently a member’s pants had been removed from him and flown on the flagpole. President Roy asked that this sort of behavior be stopped.

In celebration of Delaware’s 200th anniversary as a state, Cheswold received a grant to renovate the boardroom on the second floor. The room is part of the original building, which served as school prior to being a firehouse and is one of the few historically significant structures still in existence in town. On April 26, 1987 the room was officially dedicated with a ceremony put on by the Town of Cheswold and the fire company. The room has been used by various community groups for meetings. The renovation was done mostly by members in their spare time.

On June 13, 1987, the former Van Holten Pickle Factory in Kenton was destroyed by fire. More than 150 firefighters from 24 companies responded to the blaze. They battled the heat and humidity as well as the flames. The factory was being used to manufacture equipment for vegetable processing. The complex had been the site of at least two other major fires over the years.

On April 20, 1988 President James R. Roy, Sr. was awarded an Outstanding Volunteer Award by Governor Michael N. Castle. This award was presented to him for serving the Cheswold Volunteer Fire Company for over 30 years.


On March 12, 1990 it was voted to purchase a new Chevrolet Suburban to use as a utility vehicle.  It was delivered in May and would be known as 43-8.

At the August 13, 1990 meeting it was approved to buy a new 1991 American LaFrance fire engine.  It would have a 1500-gallon per minute pump and a 1000-gallon water tank.  It went in service in August of 1991 and is known as Engine 43-4.  It was also decided at this meeting to donate the old rescue truck to a fire company in North Carolina that had been hit by Hurricane Hugo.  The 1953 Reo was loaded with old gear and other supplies and sent down to its new home.

Tragedy struck the Amish community on June 2, 1991 when two young boys died in a barn fire on Seeneytown Road.  They had been playing with matches in the loft when a fire started, trapping them.  Cheswold and Hartly fire companies responded quickly but the fire was too far advanced to save the children.

The 1992 Delaware Volunteer Fireman’s Association’s annual convention was held in Dover.  The Cheswold Fire Company served as co-host of this event with Dover, Hartly, Magnolia, Camden-Wyoming, and Little Creek fire companies.  Frances Deneumoustier served as President of the Ladies Auxiliary Association for 1992.

In October of 1994, ambulance A-43 caught fire on the scene of an accident.  It would remain out of service for about a year.  During that time, the 1974 Dodge was again placed into front line service.  When A-43 returned to service with a new 1995 Ford chassis, the 1974 Dodge was sold.  It was decided at this time not to replace it and to keep only one ambulance in service.

Due to an increase in ambulance calls and decrease in available EMT’s during the daytime hours, Cheswold hired its first full-time paid EMT/Firefighter.  Howard “Ebbie” Neal started his first day in February of 1998.  A second employee was hired a year later.


Katie Knox became the first woman to complete her probation and become a full regular member of the Cheswold Volunteer Fire Company in April of 2000.  She was followed by Krystle Eacho in 2001.  Today, there are several female members in the fire company.

In 2000 it was approved to purchase a new Ford/Horton ambulance.  It was delivered early in 2001 and was designated as B-43.  The new ambulance featured a larger patient care area and more room to store equipment. A-43 was kept so that Cheswold would again have two ambulances.

Terrorist attacked the United States on September 11, 2001.  Commercial airliners were flown into the Pentagon in Virginia and the World Trade Center in New York City.  Answering a call from New Jersey emergency officials, Cheswold along with many other Delaware fire companies, sent an ambulance to assist at the World Trade Center scene.  B-43 responded to the Meadowlands Stadium complex to await further orders but was returned when it was realized that there were enough resources on hand.

At a special meeting on October 22, 2002 it was approved on a motion to purchase a new fire engine.  It would be a Pierce Dash with a 1000-gallon tank and a 1500-gallon per minute pump.  It would also feature a foam system and a light tower.  It was delivered in July of 2003 and is known as 43-2.

At the November 2002 company meeting, the membership voted to donate the 1964 Ford/American LaFrance (43-2) to Crawford, Texas.  Crawford is the hometown of President George W. Bush and was found to be lacking dependable fire equipment.  In December, Fire Chief William Dempsey III and Vice President James Roy Jr. traveled to Texas to deliver the engine.  They were joined by several officers of the Delaware Volunteer Fireman’s Association and members of the Hockessin Fire Company who had donated their old rescue truck to Crawford.

In February of 2003 a large snowstorm hit the region.  Cheswold responded to many incidents during this weather emergency.  While returning from one of those incidents, engine 43-3 overturned in a ditch.  Firefighter Lee Ridgway suffered a shoulder injury and five others were treated and released from the hospital.  Engine 43-3 was sent to Pierce Manufacturing for repairs and returned to service in June of 2003.

On July 11, 2003 the Cheswold Volunteer Fire Company responded to a trench rescue.  Several construction workers were digging in the development of Garrisons Lake Green to connect to the sewer system when a collapse occurred.  One worker was completely buried about 15 feet below ground.  Upon the arrival of Cheswold’s responders, they found that the workers had uncovered the victim’s head but he was still trapped below the neck.  Crews from Cheswold and Dover dug the victim out and shored the hole to prevent another collapse while Cheswold EMT’s and Kent County Paramedics treated him.  Approximately one and a half hours after being dispatched to the call, the rescuers freed the victim and he was flown to Christiana Hospital by the Delaware State Police helicopter.

As of Today.....

Today, the Cheswold Volunteer Fire Company protects its citizens with four fire engines, one heavy rescue truck, two grass fire trucks, two ambulances and a boat.  They occupy a large building that contains vehicle storage, meeting areas, a bunkroom, a recreation area, and a large hall that is rented out to raise funds.  They respond to about 250 fire and 1200 ambulance calls per year.