Bower Hill Volunteer Fire Department
Scott Township Fire District - Allegheny County Station 255
A Brief History of Bower Hill VFD
1925 Firefighters

Bower Hill Volunteer Fire Department was chartered in 1924 to answer a public outcry for Scott Township to provide fire protection to southern portions of the township. It was only with the threat of incorporation as a borough and secession from the township that the township commissioners reluctantly agreed to allow a fire department and provide a public water supply to the area. From an initial membership of twelve, the department grew rapidly, and five years later, 54 men, or nearly 20% of the adult male population of the community, were members. The department's first firefighting apparatus was an ex-World War I, U.S. Army Surplus hand-drawn hose cart, but this was soon replaced by a motorized Chemical and Hose Car. The department enjoyed great support from the Bower Hill community and continued to grow and prosper as Bower Hill, formerly a small coal mine and mill town, became a residential suburb of Pittsburgh. The Bower Hill VFD survived the depression years and World War II with limited resources but great resourcefulness. The department accepted its first female member, Esther Padgelek, during the war years. After the war, the residential housing boom changed the balance of power in the township government, and the department finally began to see support from township officials.
As the community grew, the department moved from its single-garage building in the heart of the "old" Bower Hill neighborhood to a new building on the other side of the railroad line, closer to the burgeoning suburban neighborhoods. Bower Hill VFD began to provide ambulance service in 1956, and this service soon comprised the majority of the department's call volume.

By 1983, Bower Hill VFD was the Advanced Life Support ambulance provider for the township, and EMS responses were approaching 500 calls per year. The population of Scott Township peaked in the 1960s and '70s. By this time, nearly all possible building sites were occupied, and in subsequent decades, the population would fall as young adults with families were no longer able to find housing in the township.

The Junior Fire Brigade, launched unofficially in 1957 and officially organized in 1969, trained many young people in firefighting and EMS skills, and many of the Junior members would later become the leaders of the department, though many others would take these skills elsewhere as they moved out of the community to find work and raise families. By the 1990s, the fire department faced the double problem of a decreasing pool of young adults willing to become firefighters and EMS providers, and an aging population that needed more care. In 1997, Bower Hill joined with Glendale Hose Company No. 1 to form Scott Township EMS to provide continuous ALS ambulance coverage to the township. The department maintained its aggressive "hands-on" fire fighting approach with continuously improved equipment and regular training.

In its 90-year history, Bower Hill has owned 25 firefighting and emergency vehicles, and co-owned seven ambulances with Glendale Hose Company No. 1. Today, the department operates three Engines, one Squad, and one Command vehicle, and with Glendale, supplies four jointly-owned ambulances to Scott Township EMS. Though no comprehensive membership roster exists, from existing rosters we know that at least 400 men and women have served as members over the years. At present, Bower Hill has about 30 firefighting members and about 60 supporting members, as well as about 10 members who are currently inactive. The department continues to focus on Engine Company operations, since this is the greatest need in the service area. Mutual aid agreements and cooperation with neighboring departments provide for Truck Company, Rescue Company and other services. Bower Hill, in cooperation with Glendale, provides Rapid Intervention Team (RIT, sometimes known as "Go Team") response to neighboring departments.

For a more detailed look at the department's history, use the links below to go to a specific era or use the navigation links at the bottom of the page. Details on the history of the station facilities and former apparatus can be found by following the links on the sidebar at the left of the screen under "About BHVFD" or by following the links in this paragraph.
So, on to the story. Use the navigation links below to see the history in chronological order, or use the bar at the bottom of the page to jump to a specific era.


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Bower Hill VFD
161 Vanadium Road
Bridgeville PA 15017-3025


Emergency Dial 911

Business Phone 412-221-3497

Fax 412-221-3990


e-Mail bhvfd255@yahoo.com











This Page Last Update:

January 7, 2014