Serving the Community of Edgewood Since 1888

Historical Fires

December 1899: The Western Pennsylvania Institute for the Deaf and Dumb, now The Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf, ​was completely detroyed by fire. All 500 students were taken to safety by the teachers and no injuries were reported. The fire, which had an estimated $150,000 in damages (around $4 million today), was believed to have been started by a burst gas pipe. While the students were displaced, they were taken in by homeowners in Edgewood and Wilkinsburg. 

1969: Houses in the 300 block of Maple Avenue, which were set back far from the street, caught fire and could not be reached easily due to their positioning. The brand new ladder truck, just purchased by the EVFD, could not be used and the houses burned out of control.

October 1981: Fire ripped through the mansion of Rockwell International owner Willard Rockwell, burning it to the ground. The mansion was located on Rockwell Manor, now named Rockwell Lane.

September 2007: Fire broke out in a 6-story apartment building, displacing dozens of residents. The fire started on Saturday and took all day to extinguish. The fire rekindled on Sunday morning, taking hours to fully extinguish again. Because of the looming threat of a rekindle, Edgewood Primary School, located next door, was cancelled on Monday.

137 Fire Chiefs Over the Years

B. Reynolds


J. Ireland


J. Amos

S. Halle

D. Andrews

E. Bechtold
*Last paid chief

T. Hale

R. Bozurich

C. Smith

J. Gross
*Last chief to live
at the station

Where did we come from?

The Edgewood Fire Department was founded in 1888 to serve as the fire protection for the Borough of Edgewood. It began with three firefighters who answered calls around the clock, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In the early 1900s, the Borough began to employ the Fire Chief as a paid member and the firefighters as Department of Public Works employees. They were required to live in the station on a rotation, answering the fire calls when the tones went off. 

In 1961, the Borough accepted a charter for a full volunteer firefighting service. Although this may have been the case legally, the Fire Chief, dispatcher, and DPW employees were on the Borough’s payroll, technically making the EVFD a combination department. 

The EVFD was restructured to support both the paid and volunteer roles. The Fire Chief, one of the paid employees, was allowed to appoint one Lieutenant. The volunteers were allowed to appoint a leader, who would be the rank of Captain, ranking just below the Fire Chief. The volunteers were also allowed to appoint one Lieutenant, who was given the title of 2nd Lieutenant. Some of this nomenclature remains in place to this day.

In the late 1980s going into the 90s, the EVFD vastly increased their presence on the highway.  In an effort to unify responses to the Penn-Lincoln Parkway, or I-376, it was decided the EVFD was to respond to all incidents from the Squirrel-Hill Tunnel to the Forest Hills exit, a stretch of nearly three miles. This new emphasis on vehicle rescue played a large roll in the specifications for the new apparatus purchased in the early 2000s. At times, nearly 70% of calls the EVFD ran were on I-376.

On December 13, 2005, the EVFD moved to the Allegheny County 911 format. Whereas previously, each individual fire department answered and dispatched their own emergency calls, this format allowed for one central call-taking and dispatching center. This incredibly overhauled the fire service in Western Pennsylvania, allowing each department to work together, something difficult in the past. To date, only a handful of departments remain in the old format. 

Past Apparatus

*Due to its size, the 1969 American LaFrance Ladder Truck, pictured left, was delivered via train and dropped off right at the back of the fire station where the tracks pass by.