Our History

 It all started on January 14, 1897, after a blaze destroys Dr. Bernard Zackon's barn demonstrating the need for the Oley Fire Company. A meeting was assembled by Ammon Houck.

A committee was organized to draft a constitution and by-laws, and test various engines for the fire company.

The first meeting was concluded with 40 members enrolled.

A meeting was held on February 4, 1897 in which $400.00 was granted for an initial payment on a Rex engine. This piece of apparatus is still owned by the Oley Fire Company today.

During the first year of the Oley Fire Company's existence the fire fighting apparatus was housed in a shed owned by David G. Deysher for a rental fee of $5.00 per year.

At the meeting held on January 12, 1899, it was reported that 30 feet of ground had been purchased from Mr. Youse.

On January 26, 1899, it was reported that a brick building 26 feet by 54 feet would be erected on the property for about $ 908.00.


In 1912, the Fire Hall was wired for electricity.

In 1914, the Fire Company started monthly contributions for a 5 year period to fund street lighting for the community.

As the decade ended, there were specific notes disclosing the desire to purchase more modern Fire Apparatus.


In the beginning of the third decade, the Fire Company purchased a new chemical Apparatus.  This Apparatus was mounted on a Republic Motor Chassis that was purchased from W. C. Haas.  The total cost of the Engine was $ 2,200.00.

At the end of the decade, a Hale Motorized Pumper was purchased.  The total cost of the equipment was $ 10,192.00.

While physical changes were made to the property to accommodate the new equipment, the apparatus was temporarily housed at the Gilbertsville Fire Company.


During 1929, the Fire Company worked on ways to better serve the community.  Among these was the securing of the first smoke masks by the company, and constructing pipe lines from the creek to various areas in the village.

The innovation of this decade was the installation of an electric siren to be used as a fire alarm.  This installation took place on Jacob G. Keehn's property.

Previous to this decade, there was one member of the Fire Company who served as a Special Officer with definite authority in the cases of an emergency.  This inspired the appointment of Fire Police.

In 1932, discussion began about the purchase of more equipment.  Before this could be done, additional changes to the property needed to be completed.

In 1935, an additional piece of equipment was purchased.  It was a Ford V-8, one and a half ton chassis equipped with a hose cart and booster tank.  This piece of equipment is still owned by the Oley Fire Company today.


During this decade, the organization membership grew to unbelievable numbers.  With the growth, became the ability to organize a relief association.

The Fire Company began to formulate plans for a newer and larger building.


In 1948, a new Mack pumper arrived and was placed into service.  The total cost of the truck was $ 18,500.00. 

June of 1949 marked the Fire Company granting permission for the organization of a Ladies' Auxiliary.

At the April 7, 1950 meeting it was noted with sorrow the death of Fred D. Yoder. Fred was a charter member of the Fire Company and served as Fire Chief from the Organizations' start in 1897 to his death in March.

During this decade, foam was added to two pieces of equipment for better and faster service for some types of fires.

In 1951, the Fire Company took a great step forward by purchasing a Chassis that was built on a tank body. This was a Forerunner of all tank trucks in Berks County since it carried a water supply directly to the fire scene.

Mel Wentzel and John Delong played a large role in the completion of the truck.  The total cost of the equipment was $ 3,000.00.

In November 1955, the Fire Company moved into its present quarters at the site of The former Oley High School and Bryans' Garage.  The former Fire Hall is now used and known as the Oley Youth Building.


In 1959, Morysville Body Works was given a contract to mount the 1,100 gallon tank body onto the chassis of the tank truck.  The new body cost was $8,300.00 and was housed in June of 1960.

In 1960, a new motor was installed in the 1935 Ford.  A Hearse was also purchased and converted into an emergency truck.  This truck was then sold in 1963.

A 1963 Ford four wheel drive emergency truck was purchased in January of that year at a cost of $6,200.00.  This truck as well as a Ford 1,000 gallon tank truck with high pressure, was purchased in 1967 and was housed during the Zone 5 and 6 Parade which was held in Oley.  The 1963 Ford is still in service today known as Brush 5. 


This decade brought a large amount of innovation to the Fire Company.  Among this was the installation of the fire phones in the first and second Fire Chiefs' homes, the mounting of two additional sirens at each end of town, and the housing of tone alert monitors for the Firemen's' homes to give faster response for the community.

In August 1970 the Reading Hospital ended it's ambulance service, which made available two Cadillac ambulances. Both ambulances were purchased for $8,200. On August 17, 1970, a special meeting was held, and it was unanimously approved to accept, house and administer one of the ambulances under a separate committee to be know as the Oley Fire Company Ambulance Committee.

The Ambulance Committee purchased a used 1971 S &S Cadillac ambulance in 1975 for $10,500. The 1968 ambulance was then sold for $1,800.

More Building renovations were completed with the close of the decade. A new oil burner was installed and automatic pin setters were installed in the bowling alleys, at a cost of $25,000. The fire company was converted to local sewer service at a cost of approx. $ 7,000.00.

In February 1977, a new International Chassis and a Hammerly Tank body were delivered to the Fire Company from Hammerly Custom Productions.  The total cost of this equipment was $ 43,500.00.  At the same time the 1959 tank truck was sold for $ 2,000.00.


At the August 3, 1979 fire company meeting, the township announced that it had received an official grant from the state of Pennsylvania for the purchase of a new ambulance. Consequently, in December of 1979 it was announced that a new 1980 Lexington Ambulance was expected to be delivered in May or June of 1980.

On October 14, 1981, the Oley Fire Company went fully  "on line"  with the Central Dispatch System.

In 1983, a Ford E350 Reading Body Rescue truck was purchased.


The village of Oley celebrated its 250th Anniversary in 1990.  A parade that included participation from Zone 5 and 6 was held on June 2, 1990.

One of the highlights of 1990 was the purchase of a 1990 Ford Yankee Coach Ambulance from K & S Ambulance sales, Inc. at a cost of $85,000. This ambulance was placed into service on October 31, 1990

A group named Citizens for Improved Firefighting Equipment was organized for the purpose of securing funds for a new piece of Fire Apparatus.

Approval was given to proceed with the purchase of a 1991 E-One, Spartan Chassis, Class A 1,500 g.p.m. pumper with a 1,000 gallon water tank. The purchase price of this piece of equipment was $ 193,500.00.  This Apparatus was placed into service in May of 1991, replacing the 1948 Mack, which was sold to a private individual.

Mrs. Jake Scholl notified the Oley Fire Company that monies received from her husbands memorial fund be forwarded to the new truck fund account.

On May 16, 1992, a parade and housing was held.  The event celebrated the purchase of the 1990 ambulance and 1991 pumper.

During this decade, many improvements were made to the property and the Fire Company building.

In November 1993, a committee was formed to investigate the feasibility of purchasing new fire apparatus.

In June 1994, the 1967 Ford pumper ( formerly 5-1) was involved in an accident.  The vehicle was deemed un-repairable by the insurance company.  Fortunately, no one was seriously injured in the accident.

On December 8, 1995 the ambulance crew was given approval to order 1996 Ford E-350 ambulance at a total cost of $98,689 from Glick Fire Equipment, Inc. The truck crew was also given permission to purchase a Rescue Truck and Pumper from Glick Fire Equipment Inc. at a total cost of $ 405,464.00.

February 7, 1996 marked the first official meeting of the 100th Anniversary and Parade Committee.

The  E-350 Ford ambulance was delivered in June 1996. After purchasing an additional $20,000 of equipment including radios and various emergency supplies, the ambulance was placed into service on July 25, 1996.

The E-One Rescue Truck arrived in late August and was placed into service in September of 1996 at which time the Ford E350 Reading Body Rescue truck was sold to Trevoes Fire Company near Philadelphia, Pa.

The E-One Four wheel drive pumper arrived in early September and was placed in service in October 1996 replacing the 1967 Ford that was involved in the accident in June of 1994.


More History of the Oley Fire Company to come......