When the borough was incorporated in 1909, there were quite a few residential and commercial structures here, and many more were being planned and built. In 1910, a group of residents and businessmen formed a fire company and bought their first piece of equipment – a horse-drawn pumper which was kept in the Snyder School later named Hillsdale Avenue, where the fire department was located today. A Gamewell air horn system was installed on the roof of the building at West Liberty and Potomac Avenues, and a coded series of two-digit numbers was set up to identify the location of fires. After the Municipal Building was erected in 1918, the Gamewell horn was put onto its roof, where it was used until the building was closed in 1999. Many of us remember the blare of that horn – especially at night.
An agreement between the borough and the fire company was that the borough would furnish and maintain the trucks and equipment and a meeting room in the new building. The fire company was responsible for furnishing the room, buying their own uniforms, and raising funds for all other expenses. The borough also hired the fire truck dispatchers/operators, who put out the alarms and drove the equipment to the fires, where the firemen met them. This provided a response of less than five minutes to any location in Dormont. This system worked so well that it became the model for other towns and is still the standard operating procedure here. In 1929, a state charter was obtained that incorporated the fireman as the Dormont Volunteer Firemen’s Association.
Dormont was one of the first fire companies in the area to require formal training and hold regular drills. New recruits must serve a two year probation and must complete a state-approved fire school course and receive certification to the State Firefighter 1 level before receiving regular membership.
For years a special telephone system supplemented the air horn to alert the firemen and truck operators. Personal pagers and monitors have now been in effect for more than 25 years, and the air horn has been retired. Fire equipment here now consists of two pumper trucks, an aerial ladder truck and a utility vehicle which carries special tools, extra air bottles, and other specialized equipment. Dormont has had members in Allegheny County’s Hazardous Materials teams with special equipment and training since their inception in the 1980’s. Our firefighters exchange assistance regularly with other towns when extra manpower and equipment are needed to fight a bad fire or at times of other disasters.