Thursday, December 8, 2011

1st Fire Engine: 1799 Philip Mason

Woodbury's first fire department had its start in 1793 when three men, Samuel Mickle, Andrew Hunter, and Dr. George W. Campbell formed a subscription list to buy fire buckets. Later, in 1799 a meeting was held at Jos Huggs Tavern to officially establish a fire company and after a few more meetings (and why not if the ale was good), a subscription list for an actual hand pump engine was signed and in the process the Woodbury Fire Company was founded.

In the mid-1700's, fire companies in North America began acquiring early fire pumps, predominantly made in Europe. The fire crews had to fill the pumps with pails of water by hand, which enabled them to forcefully project a flow of water from a safe distance. The pump purchased by the Woodbury Fire Department was made right in Philadelphia by Philip Mason, son of Richard Mason, a native of Pennsylvania, who made engines for the Northern Liberty, Queen Charlotte, Vigilant, Hibernia, Hand-in-Hand, Delaware, Assistance, and Diligent Fire Companies, and other Philadelphia wards. Richard Mason introduced hand pump engines that worked at either ends, compared to the common side-lever engines prevalent at the time.

* * *

For a detailed history of the Woodbury Fire Department which later became the Friendship Fire Co. #1 and for more recent photos of the hand pump please see their page HERE.

the 1799 Philip Mason Hand Pump Engine in front of the old 1846 Fire House located at 22 Cooper Street (across from Hendry's Court). It is now a parking garage.