Members of the Aston Township Fire Department pose following the decommissioning of the Aston-Beechwood Fire Company.
Members of the Aston Township Fire Department (ATFD) were joined last week by commissioners, officials, friends and neighbors for the decommissioning of the ATFD West station, formerly known as the Aston-Beechwood Fire Company #72 located on Mount Road.
ATFD President Sean Joyce welcomed attendees and discussed what the 68-year-old Aston-Beechwood has meant to the community.
“Traditions in the fire service are very important,” said Joyce. “We, as the newly formed Aston Township Fire Department, feel the same way and believe this station is a very important part of our legacy… Change is not always easy, and in order to grow and continue to serve the community, we must continue to move forward.”
A merger between the Aston-Beechwood and Green Ridge fire companies took more than 11 years. The Aston Board of Commissioners officially recognized the ATFD as the official township fire company in January, 2015.
Commissioners then had to decide the location of the newly established company. Would the Aston-Beechwood building be sold, leaving the Green Ridge site, and possible new construction at either the site of the township municipal building on Pennell Road? Or purchase a property and build at the corner of Concord and Red Hill roads.
Several, well-attended public meetings were held. With added expenses and the possibility of a tax increase being primary concerns among a majority of the residents, commissioners ultimately voted to maintain the Dutton’s Mill site, which will be expanded.
Joyce said the Dutton’s Mill Road site, the former Green Ridge Fire Department, was the preferred site of members of the fire company.
Township Emergency Management Coordinator/ATFD Director Thomas Morgan, Sr., read a brief history of the Aston-Beechwood Fire Company prior to the decommissioning ceremony.
Morgan said resident Ed Cordell, in 1945, began talking to neighbors and friends about forming a fire company. Joined by Harold Eusden and Thomas Fisher, Cordell saw his dream come true in 1947 when the first slate of officers was elected for the fire company. A charter was granted Feb. 13, 1948 and the department soon grew to 68 members.
Land for the Aston-Beechwood Fire House was purchased in 1949 and the first cinder block structure was built in 1951.
In 1976, a bell that sits at the entrance to the station was dedicated after being donated by the Franklin Fire Company in Chester. The bell will be moved to the ATFD’s Dutton’s Mill Road site and placed in a position of prominence.
“It is not with solemn hearts that we bid farewell, but with pride, joy and dedication to the future that we respectfully forge our new path into the unknown,” Morgan said. “May God bless all those that have served in this station, and all those that will continue that same service in our new home.”
The bell was then rung one time to signify the last call for the Aston-Beechwood Fire Company.
“This fire company holds great memories for me,” said Aston resident Cathy Jones. “All of my children ran with the company as did my late husband, Ronnie.” Florence Fisher was also there and said she and her husband, Lew, were the first couple to have their wedding reception in the fire company hall in 1953.
“What is interesting is that my son and his wife were the first couple to have their reception in the Green Ridge Hall,” Fisher said. “We have so many great memories of this place.”
Second Ward Commissioner Carol Graham said the decommissioning was bittersweet.
“This fire house has been in this community for a long time,” Graham said. “However, things change and time marches on. I am very grateful for everything our emergency personnel do for this community.”