Newark's Conflagration

The Large Dean Woolen Mills in Ashes. 

Engines sent from Wilmington

Every Evening, Wilmington paper, Monday, December 27, 1886 : Page 1, column 3, top of page

Picture: Dean Woolen Mills - erected in 1853 (as it appeared before December 25, 1886, fire)

A Bad outlook for 800 people who were dependent on the Mills for support -Loss exceeds $200,000 with insurance of $153,000. Alarm was sounded at 0910 by a long blast of the steam whistle, after discovery of dense smoke in the buildings. Employees using Mill hose and buckets tried hopelessly to control the fire. The Mill and four houses completely destroyed. The employees now out of work and their dependents, totaling 800, are more than one-third of the entire population of the town. Engines sent from Wilmington fire companies - the Phoenix and the Weocacoe companies responded.

The following pages are a detailed history of the Aetna Hose, Hook, and Ladder Company of Newark, Delaware. The above newspaper excerpt was one of the deciding factors to establish a fire department in Newark two years later. This history has been compiled after many man-hours of research and is accompanied by highly specific details and some pictures.

1888 - Hand Pulled Hose Cart

1888  -1922

On the evening of December 17, 1888, answering a call made by the Town Council of Newark, thirty 

citizens held a meeting in the Grange Room to organize a fire company. John A. Mullin acted as chairman; Isaac J. Moore, as secretary. The name of Aetna Hose, Hook and Ladder Company was adopted, then a motion was made to exchange the name to Newark Hose, Hook and Ladder Company. The motion lost by a standing vote of 15 to 12, and the original name adopted by a vote of 18 to 7.

By-laws and constitution were approved at the next meeting on January 7, 1889. The dues for active members was $1.00; contributing members paid $2.00 per year. Two days l

ater, twenty-four members attended a meeting held for election of officers. William H. Simpers was elected President; the Chief (or foreman as he was referred to then) was Joseph T. Willis.

The alarm system was the ringing of the catholic church, academy and college bells. Two hundred copies of the by-laws and constitution were printed. Six members agreed to sign a note for $150.00 for twenty-five uniforms and eight horns.

To raise additional funds, a ball was held on February 22, 1889, and a total of $125.00 was cleared. Equipment in these days consisted of a hand-drawn hose cart with 2 1/2" cotton hose and one extension ladder. This was assigned to the company by the Town Council of Newark on February 6, 1889, and could not be taken away from the town (unless for a fire) without the consent of the Town Water Committee

At a special meeting on May 11, 1889, a committee was appointed to see how much a lot for a fire 

house would cost; and how much it would cost to construct a building to house the equipment. On November 8, 1889, at a special meeting, it was voted to buy a lot 22' x

 65' on Academy Street from Mr. William A. Miller for $500.00. Mr. Miller donated the first two payments of $25.00 per year to the company, making the actual cost $400.00.

The company was incorporated on December 13, 1889, almost a year after its founding, with fifty-seven charter members. None of the fifty-seven are now living. In their memory, this book is respectfully dedicated. Their names are listed on the back of this book.

1890 Hose House with 1893 carriage on Academy St. looking towards Main St.

1893 Gleason, Baily & Company carriage

On January 15, 1890, the members voted to accept a bid put in by Joseph T. Willis to build a brick building on the Academy Street lot for $2392.00. The Council of Newark gave the company $500.000 

for the building and the people of Newark promised $1500.000. Construction was completed that same year and on March 11, 1891, Mr. A. J. Orr was employed as janitor at $3.00 per month. The company had a deed to this property but, through an oversight, it became part of an overall plot of land mortgage by Mr. Miller. When he failed to pay the mortgage, the sheriff of New Castle County conveyed the Miller mortgaged land to Mr. George T Brown on December 16, 1902. Thus the fire Company's title was wiped out without being known.

The City Council was asked for yearly appropriation but the request was turned down until the town building was paid for. The first turn-out coats were purchased on March 15, 1892, for seven pipemen. They were rubber coats and cost $3.50 each.

In 1893 the Company's first fair was held and a total of $508.58 was made. A committee was appointed to look into buying a hose carriage and on April 12 it approved the purchase of a carriage from Gleason, Baily & Company Ltd. with the following extras: one horse tongue, one portable driver's seat, and two tubular lanterns. The cost was $625.00 less $45.00 for changes or a net of $580.00. The new carriage was received in June, housed and photographed.

During the November 2, 1894, meeting, Mr. H. B. Wright gave the company six pairs of boots. The pipemen now had rubber coats and boots.

In 1897 the Town Council used the fire house for meetings. The Chief reported on January 7, 1898, the company now had 800' of hose in good condition and the Treasurer reported a balance of $59.18. In March of 1898 a pool table was purchased for $55.00 and a mortgage against the furniture was made for this money. A box was placed by the table for players' contributions to pay off the mortgage.

The first white coat for the chief was purchased in May 1899. In June the Town Council advised the company it could trade in the old cart on the purchase of another carriage, and the council purchased the company 100' of new 2 1/2" cotton hose. The carriage was never purchased as the company members did not wish to borrow this much money.

On November 4, 1901, the company attended the town council meeting in a body and asked for $250.00 year. This was approved "if the Aetna Hose, Hook and Ladder Company would keep in good condition at all times 750' of 2 1/2" hose, the cart and carriage, and pay all expenses of heating and janitor wages." The company accepted. On November 14, 1901, a parade was held as a fitting celebration of the appropriation.

In December 1902, 200' of 2 1/2" cotton hose was purchased at a cost of $118.75 and placed on 


January 1904 showed the company as growing in size and value. Membership had more than doubled and the Treasurer reported a balance of $490.58. Total 2 1/2" hose now owned by Aetna was 950'. In November another Hose Wagon was purchased for $545.00 and was received on April 10, 1905.

In May 1905 the first company alarm system was ordered. It consisted of a large $90.00 bell weighing 1200 pounds which was placed on the old building. It is now on our present siren tower. At first, the bell did not work out too well as the members could not hear it. During the year another 100' 2 1/2" hose was purchased at 60 cents per foot. Balance in the treasury at the end of 1905 was $265.54.

Phil Whittacker was janitor in 1906 and was paid $5.00 per month. In April a second fire house was proposed tot he Town Council near the B & O railroad crossing on Main Street in order to have hose on each side of the railroad crossing. No action was taken.

In February 1907 the first rubber lined cotton hose was purchased from Fabric Fire Hose Company @ 60 cents per foot for 300'. The dues increased to $2.00 for both active and c

ontributing members. Later that year the term "contributing members" was removed from the by-laws and the wording was changed to membership. The first small hose and a pair of 1: reducers were purchased in June.

The Company's first savings account was opened in June 1908 with $300.00. Before that (in 1904) building and loan shares had been purchased. The first large check received for service came from American Vulcanized Fibre Company for $50.00 for services rendered at a recent fire at their plant in August 1909.

Aetna Carnival Fundraiser

1913 - Active Members 

By December 31, 1910, the company reported a fine year. The inventory list included:

900 feet 2 1/2" hose $585.00

18 pair rubber boots 76.50

25 fire hats 100.00

1 hose wagon 545.00

1 parade carriage 615.00

1 expander 10.00

1 fire bell 80.00

6 nozzles 40.00

rubber boots 36.00

graphophone & records 35.00

banner & case 75.00

shirts, caps & belts 55.00

flag 10.00

rope, spreaders, dishes 14.00

blocking case, 3/4" hose 6.25

building & loan 982.75

24 chairs 30.00

1 desk 12.00

2 lounges 30.00

1 pool table 50.00

4 horns & cases 65.00

1 coal shovel .75

3 waste baskets 2.00

1 ton of coal 7.00

dumbbell ave. clubs 4.00

brooms .75

carpet & rugs 75.00

clock 15.00

weather vane 37.50

tables, shades, curtains 16.00

cuspidors, screens & mirror 19.50

cash 355.46

dues from members 101.32

Total $4,088.32

In 1911 snap couplings replaced threaded hose couplings. Motorized fire apparatus were being installed 

in the large cities. Chief Wilson saw the County's need of motorized apparatus but since the company lacked the funds with which to buy modern apparatus, the purchase had to wait. Members conceived the idea of having a carnival in order to raise the necessary funds for the new apparatus. They held their first carnival that year and made $1794.76. The second carnival was held in 1912 and a Ford five-passenger touring car was awarded at a cost of $690.00. Net made on the carnival that July: $2410.95. During the August 1912 meeting, a committee was appointed to look into a motor driven fire engine for Aetna. A special meeting was called on February 26, 1913, and an order was placed with United States Construction Company of Wilmington for the motor driven engine. At the March 7 meeting, the Engine Committee said the contract for it was not placed with U.S.C.C. of Wilmington. They had placed it with another company. This was later changed and the minutes reported the order had been placed with U.S.C.C. of Wilmington. The apparatus was built on a Thomas chassis and was received on September 6, 1913. Aetna was the first fire company in the state of Delaware - outside of the city of Wilmington - to have motorized apparatus. Cost of the truck: $7,500.000 of which a cash payment of $6,000.00 was made and the balance $1500.00 covered by a note to U.S.C.C. of Wilmington. This note was paid off in August 1914.

In October 1915 the company added 300' of new 2 1/2" hose. The Town Council had increased the annual appropriation check to $500.00.

In 1917 a committee was appointed to look into property on Academy Street for a new fire house as the old fire house was too small and with no room to expand. The janitor was now paid $10.00 per month, and the men were to clean the engine room. In 1918 a committee was appointed to look into the purchase of a new apparatus.

The carnival in 1920 totaled $15,063.96 in receipts, with a net of $8,865.96. By the end of the year, cash deposits, bonds and building loan totaled $29,371.78. The solid tires on the Thomas engine were replaced with tires and tubes.

In January 1921 the membership voted 20 to 2 to build on Main Street and a motion was approved to have the Stutz and Seagraves representatives come in to present their new engines. A contract was signed in February for a new Stutz 750 gallon pumper, 40 gallon chemical tank, one 35' ladder, one 20' ladder, one roof ladder, and hose bed to carry 1200' of 2 1/2" hose. Cost of the truck to be $13,500. This was housed by the Goodwill Fire Company of New Castle on June 18, 1921. In September the members voted 22 to 16 to accept ground from the Trustees of Newark Academy on Academy Street and Delaware Avenue corner for a new fire house.

1921 Stutz 

1913 Thomas Engine

1922 -1935

During the March 17, 1922, meeting Mr. Clarence Hope of Wilmington, a local architect, was given a contract to layout the new building and on April 17 the plans were approved. On May 25, by a vote of 27 to 3, J. C. Willis was awarded the contract to build. The building cost was $22,324.00; heating installation by Dan Stoll added $2,885.00; electrical work by Electric Company of Delaware cost $294.00. 

The Trustees of Newark Academy in October 1922 asked the company to go one half of the expense of a walk and stone wall, same as the fire house. Company approved payment of one half of the cost and the wall was put up on Academy Street and down Main Street to the end of the Trustees' property. 

In March 1923 a new pump was ordered for the Thomas engine and in April the members were told the pump could not be obtained. Since a new pump could not be found the old pump, now ten years old, was repaired and the truck put in good condition again. 

In February 1924, two bowling alleys and a double shuffle board were purchased for $400.00 from North East Maryland. Carnival profit in July was $5,301.08. An order was placed in October for 500' of 2 1/2" hose @ $1.30 per foot. In November, a motion was approved to get bids on a new engine as the old one was in very poor condition. Also to get bids on how much it would cost to fix up the old Thomas engine. A siren was installed this year, being used the first time on October 25, 1924, at 11:00 p.m. The fire was a small building in back of the Women's College which was practically destroyed before the alarm was received. Damage was $200.00 and the fire recorder was Frank M. Lutton. 

On the 25th of January, 1925 the old Thomas engine was repaired at a cost of $575.00. The carnival profit this year was $7,545.48. On October 29 the Directors called a special meeting to discuss the purchase of a new fire apparatus. Bids were received from Mack, Seagraves, Stutz, and U. S. Fire Apparatus of Wilmington. It was voted on November 1 by a vote of 30 to 16 to buy a Seagraves and the old Thomas to be sold. The Seagraves ordered was a 750 gallon pumper with 40 gallon chemical tank, one 20' ladder, one roof ladder and a hose bed to carry 100' of 2 1/2" hose. Cost of the new engine was $11,500.00. 

At the January 1926 meeting it was voted to send Cranston Heights $250.00 to be distributed to the families with a letter expressing sympathy for the firemen killed when a Cranston Heights engine turned over. The new Seagraves was received in February and in April 500' of new 2 1/2" hose was ordered. 

The first ambulance, a Studebaker, was purchased in 1926 and placed in service the following year. This was a much needed service and Aetna has furnished the area ambulance service ever since. 

In 1927 the bell was moved from on top of the building and placed on the siren tower. New tires were purchased for the 

Stutz in 1929 at a cost of $440.00 for the four. In July an inhalator and two smoke masks were purchased. In 1930 the ambulance was given a motor overhaul and a new rear had to be put in the Stutz this year. The 1930 carnival profit was $2147.31. 

In 1931 the Town Council suggested a paid driver and they would increase the company's appropriation to $1,200.00 instead of $500.00. Company turned down the offer because they could not afford to pay the difference. A siren was placed on the ambulance for the first time in 1931. 

The company's assets in 1932 including cash, building, apparatus, and accounts totaled $65,454.13. New uniforms were ordered this year. Because of the depression it was decided not to hold a carnival until business was much better. 

A new chemical hose was purchased for the Seagraves in 1934. The company members attended the Maryland State Firemen's Convention in Cambridge on June 22, 1934; thirty members and the Seagraves made the trip. 

In January 1935 the membership total was 140 and the average monthly meeting attendance was only 18. The president asked for more interest to be shown with regard to meetings. A new gas tank was placed on the Seagraves. 

1928 Fleet with Studebaker ambulance purchased in 1926

1921 Stutz Engine and 1926 Seagrave Engine (Old Bessie)

1921 Stutz after being refurbished in 1935


In 1936 the ambulance engine was rebuilt at a cost of $117.00. In July all 2 1/2" hose was tested; 300' were no good and 500' new 2 1/2" hose was ordered. The company held a picnic on August 15 at Delaware Beach. Motion was passed at the September meeting to appoint a committee to look into doing away with the ambulance, as the company was financially not able to operate it. It was necessary to cash $2,000.00 in building and loans to meet expenses. Howard Murphy was elected caretaker as Mr. Gregg advised he wished to move. Committee was appointed to get prices on an oil burner to replace the coal furnace and 500' of 1 1/2" hose. The hose was purchased and the oil burner purchase held up. In December the ambulance committee reported working out plans with town council to keep the ambulance in service. 


In January 1937 a bell was added to the phone in the upstairs apartment so it could be easier to hear. A new ambulance was ordered, and a drive by both the company and town council was made to pay for it. Company started a new ambulance account to be kept separately as no more ambulance bills were to be paid by the fire company. The new ambulance was received May 7. In April it was decided to write Stutz Corporation and secure a bid on rebuilding the Stutz engine. The bid to rebuild the Stutz was $5,650.00 which was approved and the chiefs were to work out details with the Stutz Corporation. The chemical tank was replaced with a booster tank at no cost to the company. The engine was shipped to the Stutz plant at Hartford City, Indiana, in June 1937. A motion to look into removing the post in the engine room was approved. The bid ($1,015.00) was too high and the post was not removed as the company did not feel they should spend this amount at this time. A radio was purchased for the social room for $39.00. Town Council and Chamber of Commerce were contacted to see if they were in favor of holding the state Firemen's Convention here in 1938. The Chief reported he had checked with both and they were favorable. The company's softball team under Charles Eissner was champion this season. Aetna housed Christiana's new fire truck on September 18, 1937, and presented them with a rotary light. The insurance check in 1937 was $828.00 and the state appropriation was $750.00.


The Stutz was received in February 1938 in good condition except for a cracked windshield. New 3/4" hose was purchased for the Seagraves. The inside of the station was cleaned and painted by Charles Tasker at a cost of $564.00. In May, trouble was reported with the Stutz pump. The Seagraves was painted in July by Fader Motor Company at a cost of $195.00. In August the outside of the station was painted by Charles Tasker, costing $265.00. The State Firemen's Convention was held here on September 7 and 8, 1938; chairman was Edwin L. Shakespeare. Advertisements in the program book paid for the convention expenses with $140.00 balance left when all bills were paid. Chiefs asked for dual wheels to be placed on the rear of the Stutz approved and ordered.

1938 - Continental Band, Active Firemen & Equipment


On February 3, 1939, a committee was appointed to contact the Newark Town Council to increase our appropriation to $1000.00 a year. Council asked for a statement of expenses for the past year. This was approved to be submitted. Also the State Firemen's association entered a bill this year to increase each company's appropriation to $1,000.00. In November, Council advised they had not received our financial statement and the president ordered the secretary and treasurer to send it at once. The statement was sent and the appropriation was approved. The company also received from Levy Court $1,250.00 annually. 


In March 1940 a new booster tank was put on the Seagraves at a cost of $151.00. In July, signs for members' cars were purchased for 30 cents each. The council questioned how much they should now appropriate the company; and increased their appropriation to $1,500.00 a year. Two more smoke masks were added and more firefighting coats and helmets. The New Castle County Firemen's Association asked for a financial report for the past year and the president ordered the treasurer to mail the same one sent Newark Council with updated information. Motion was approved to exempt all members who are in the service or go in the service from payment of dues till further notice. 


In January 1941 a committee was appointed to get information and bids on a new apparatus. During the June meeting a new Seagraves was ordered at a cost of $9,256.71 and a new Hale pump was put on the Stutz at a cost of $2,593.00. Also a committee was appointed to go over the building to see how the new engine would be housed. In July 1200' of 2 1/2" hose and 200' of 1 1/2" hose were ordered for $1,740.00. Twelve new chairs were ordered for the basement and the first water cooler was ordered for the station, costing $131.00. The addition of a wing on the north and south side of the building was approved. The architect was Mr. G. Morris Whiteside and the contractor was W. S. Hawthorn & Son; bids were $13,460 for construction; $807.60 for architect fees. 

The new Seagraves was received in March 1942. An Open House was held in June to show the house and equipment to the area residents. Trouble with a leaky roof was reported during the first year in the South wing of the new building. This was finally corrected after months of contact with the builder. 

1942 - Active Fireman, Pumpers (Seagraves, 1941 & 1926, Stutz, 1938), Ambulance (Chevrolet, 1937) 

During 1943 the meeting room was used for a Red Cross nurses' class. Building Loan shared that became due were put into war bonds. The Stutz had new brakes put on it and coats and boots were ordered for twelve men. The insurance check this year was $910.99. A carnival came up for discussion but no action was taken. Cigarettes were mailed to all members overseas. 

In January 1944 the fire phone was put up in the apartment with an extension downstairs. The subject of a carnival again came up, with no action taken. The city's appropriation check was received in August for 1943. Christmas supper was attended by 84 members. 

Caretaker Howard Murphy advised he would move in April 1945. George Neighbors was made chairman of the ambulance committee to handle all ambulance problems. Motion was approved to look into buying a new ambulance in October and to ask council to pay $2,000.00 and the committee would raise the rest from the town residents. Council approved and the members contracted local companies and residents and raised the balance. 


A new siren was placed on the tower in February 1946. An additional alarm system was discussed in March and a committee was appointed to look into it. They recommended another siren at another location. No action was taken because of cost. The first Scott Air Mask was purchased in April from Southern Oxygen Company for $152.20. A party was given for the returning service members on July 26, at a cost of $378.60. This was paid for by special donations at no cost to the company. The Back Room Committee or social committee was started this year. An order was placed for 500' of 2 1/2" hose and 300' of 1 1/2" hose in October at a cost of $1,090.00. The financial condition of the company in December 1946 showed total cash assets of $31,888.02, or just a little more than the cost of new apparatus.


In February 1947 the company voted to start carnivals again and a committee was appointed. During March $100.00 was sent to the Elsmere Fire Company who had a fire loss of station and equipment. George Neighbors suggested, at the April meeting, letters be sent to area residents for donation to help buy a new engine. No action was taken. Mr. George Moore donated the company an old fire axe claimed to be over 200 years old. This was placed in the trophy case. A Coke machine was placed in the social room in July, with profit to go to the social committee. The carnival profit was $7,832.17 in 1947.


In January 1948 the company and city paid $75.00 each for a cutting outfit to be used by both. North East Fire Company carnival supplies including stands, wheels, etc., were purchased in March for $750.00. The heater room and basement were cleaned, painted and tile put on the floor. The pump on the old Seagraves was rebuilt at the factory during May and June. Carnival total receipts were $16,902.82 and net profit was $5,639.77. Levy Court check for insurance this year was $1,308.17. A motion to raise membership from 200 to 250 members was defeated by a vote of 34 to 15. A permanent carnival bingo stand was built on the Willis property and, between carnivals, the other stands were stored in this stand. Christmas dinner was held December 16 and was well attended. Most of the food was donated. 


The first television set, an RCA, was purchased in January 1949 at a cost of $425.00. A bingo game was held in the basement in February and was unsuccessful. In June the Continental Band was turned over to the company with the Board of Directors appointing the governing body. Dave Chalmers was the Band Director. A committee was appointed to investigate the purchase of a tank-wagon (either a Dodge or Ford was recommended) with an 800 gallon water tank. The vote was Dodge 40 and Ford 8. A contract was signed with Duncan Fire & Safety for American Fire Apparatus Company to build the body and pump. Costs were Rittenhouse Motor Company for the truck $3,618.75; American Fire Apparatus for the body, pump, etc. $5,026.00 - making a total of $8,644.75. The Ladies Auxiliary was formed this year. In December 250' of 2 1/2" hose and 800' of 1 1/2" hose were ordered costing $1,382.00. 


The Ladies Auxiliary, even though only formed a very short time, donated a new nozzle for the Dodge tank wagon in January 1950. A membership drive for "Aetna Ambulance Association" was started by the ambulance committee this year and received just over $2,000.00. This annual drive is held each spring. An Iron Lung was presented to the company by V.F.W. Post 475. The highest net profit on a carnival, $10,146.27, was made this year with Walter Wassmer as chairman. The university of Delaware gave the company 800' of 1 1/2" hose. The Directors started having monthly meeting during this year. Fifteen coats and boots were purchased in November.


After a complete search of the deed, the company acknowledged, in January 1951, they could not prove ownership of the old station. A committee was appointed to look into the ground on which the Academy Street and Delaware Avenue station stands. The original land assigned for the center part of the station stands, plus both wings and 26' north of the north wall of the station, was purchased from the Academy Trustees for $6,200.00. A $2,000.00, down payment was made with the balance to be paid off at the rate of at least $1,000.00 by October 1st of each year. Discussion for more sirens around town again was held pointing out to do this would require 13,660' of wire @ $334.00, four starters @ $80.00, labor @ $150.00 - not including the cost of the sirens. No action was taken because of the cost. A committee was appointed to look into the purchase of an aerial ladder wagon. Bids were received from Mack ($35,539.00), Seagraves (no bid), and American LaFrance ($31,900.00). The vote was American LaFrance 17, Mack 6, Seagraves 0. An order was placed in April for the LaFrance Ladder Wagon; and after making some changes the final acceptance price was $29,875.00, delivered. In May the company went on record as opposing the one way street program for Main Street and Delaware Avenue. The first full set of tools was purchased for the engineers at a cost of $96.00. Carnival profit this year was $8,132.26. Twenty-five-year pins were purchased from William B. Bridgewater, cost $694.00. The first 1000' of threaded 2 1/2" double jacket hose was purchased from Fabric Hose Company, cost $1.930.00. The Christmas dinner was held on December 6 and was well attended, cost per ticket was $1.50 each. The new American LaFrance aerial truck was received and the company borrowed $8,000.00 to pay the balance of the cost in order to leave the company's reserve in bonds and building and loan intact. These were the only cash assets the company had. 


An A-D-T system covering the Chrysler Parts Plant had been in the station for several years; in January 1952 a Gamewell system was put in for the Tank Plant. The first fire school with an outside instructor was held that year, with Chief Whalen of the Wilmington Bureau of Fire acting as instructor. The state radio Fire Net was started with Aetna Hose, Hook & Ladder Company as New Castle County's base station. A large Civil Defense siren, weight 2 1/2 tons, was donated to the company in June by the Chrysler Corporation. A minstrel show, with Walter Gainer as chairman, was held to buy new and additional uniforms. It was very successful. All carnivals were stopped this year due to a State law. Fund Drives were started late this year under chairman John Cunningham. The drive ran into 1953 due to its late start.

1952-Pumpers - Seagraves (1941), Stutz (1938), Tanker (Dodge 1950), 

Aerial Ladder (1951, American LaFrance) 

1953-WWII Siren Tower from Ammunition Storage Area 


Lockers for the most active firemen were assigned in January 1954, including helmet, coat and boots. President and Directors met with City Council and requested the appropriation be increased to $5,000.00 annually; and asked why the $1,500.00 had not been sent for 1953. The Council approved $3,600.00 to be paid at $300.00 a month; and advised they would send the $1,500.00 for 1953 as soon as possible. Two-Way radios were purchased for all apparatus lacking them. In April, 500' of 1 1/2" hose and 75' of 3" hose was ordered. The Directors and Officers met with the Brookside Civic officers to discuss a fire company in Brookside. After many meeting, all present felt it was best to leave the fire protection to the Aetna Hose, Hook & Ladder Company. A new ambulance was purchased in June and the members were asked to help all they could to man it. A 4' opening was made in the stone wall between the north engine bay and Academy Street in order to have an opening to the parking lot. a two-way radio hook-up was completed with the Elkton Fire Company; we purchased a receiver on their wave-length; they purchased one on ours. The Air Force Recruiter started using the station each Wednesday afternoon for recruiting duty in the Newark general area. The fund drive this year raised $10,259.00. 


The first rescue truck was purchased in January 1955, used, for $250.00. A 500 gallon gas tank was placed at the north end of the building by Shellhorn and Hill as the company's gas purchases had reached an all-time high. The company received so many requests for water during this dry spring that a motion was approved to haul water only to those who were trying to make arrangements to secure water from new wells or mains as soon as possible. The Chief Engineer was elected for the first time this year; this office had been an appointed one. A special savings account was opened with Wilmington Savings Fund Society for future fire station expansion with $10,000.00 from was war bonds that had matured plus a $4,000.00 depreciation fund account for new apparatus. The company supported the passage of a State Fire Code along with other county and state companies. Plans for a Delaware Avenue extension, consisting of three engine bays with a television and game room, were submitted, approved and sent out for bids. The first accident on an ambulance occurred this year; a hernia while lifting a patient. The insurance company turned down compensation but, several months later, paid the claim. The members played the Lions Club in a donkey baseball game with all the $420.28 profit going to the fire company. In August, 1000' of Dacron 2 1/2" hose was purchased, at a cost of $1,680.00. The parade committee under chairman James Wood held a fun fair and raised $856.56 for new uniforms. The addition to the building, with three bays facing Delaware Avenue, was approved for $20,348.00. Nowland Brothers, being the lowest bidder, received the contract in October. A new motor was put in the 1941 Seagraves at a cost of $2,200.00. The old Seagraves was sold to Rodney Dann for $250.00. A change was made in the by-laws so the president would be elected by the membership, instead of by the Board of Directors. The fund drive totaled $16,069.65; $4,000 was placed in the depreciation fund for a new apparatus, the balance deposited in the building fund. 

1955-Used Rescue Truck from Civil Defense 


In January 1956, a new International Rescue truck was ordered for $2,551.00. The old carnival stands were sold in February as company plans to raise needed money by Community Fund Drives. A plaque was placed in Station 9 Rec Room in memory of Chief Ellison. The County Civil Defense truck was assigned to the company and we were advised to use it if it were needed. The company sponsored Benson Brothers Circus on the Stafford property on Ogletown Road which was unsuccessful. The State Fire Schools were now held in Camden-Wyoming and Aetna had a number of men attending these classes. The members voted not to take part in the proposed County Call Board if it went into effect. In March a new Cadillac Ambulance was purchased for $3,000.00, plus the ambulance which had been damaged earlier that month in an accident at Glasgow. All ambulance drivers were again requested to use extreme care in their driving at all times. A new and larger fire siren was purchased and the old rescue truck was sold to James Julian Company for $150.00. The company joined the Mutal Relief Association of the Delaware StateFiremen's Association and dropped the insurance they had been carrying. In October a letter was received from caretaker John List advising he was moving. The company's Little League team won the pennant in 1956 for the second straight year. The company membership voted to close the membership until new by-laws could be incorporated. The parade committee made $641.09 from the fun fair for uniforms. Eight new tires for the Dodge and Stutz and a second portable pump were ordered. Mrs. Marion Mayko was accepted to be the answering caretaker and the cleaning was to be done by the members. Arthur T. Moore painted the siren tower at a cost of $365.00. The Christmas dinner was held on December 13 and was very well attended. Four shares of stock in "American Telephone & Telegraph" were given to the company by Chester E. Ewing. A committee was appointed to look for a location for a second fire station and instructed to check with city and county planning committees on location. A new two-way radio was purchased for the ambulance and it was changed from the State Police Band to the Fire Radio net. The fund drive total was just a little over $15,000.00 and the city appropriation was $2,600.00 a year. 


In January 1957 an intercom system was installed between the apartment and the Newark Police Station. A second ambulance was added in April at a cost of $12,950.00. A new gas heating, hot water system replaced the old oil burner at a cost of $2,050.00 providing heat and hot water for the station. The pump was rebuilt on the 1941 Seagraves. The ground on East Cleveland Avenue could be obtained for a second fire station and they were looking for other locations. A committee was appointed to draw up specifications and send for bids on a new pumper-tank truck. The American LaFrance Company submitted the low bid of $23,465.00 and received the order for a new pumper-tank truck with 750 gallon pump, 750 gallon water tank, to carry 1200' of 2 1/2" hose, 400' of 1 1/2" hose on each side pre-connect, with rear end intake. Fund drive this year was $17,248.25. The Company went on record as requesting Aetna of Newark to be the host company for the 1959 Delaware State Firemen's Convention. 


The company membership went on record in February 1958 to advise council they favored Main Street and Delaware to remain two-way streets. The representative for the 1958 convention program book was requested by the Board of Directors to leave Newark and not to solicit because of his statements to some of the business people. Aetna sent Smyrna a check for $100.00 with a letter advising them of this action. Olan Thomas was elected County President and a Director of the State Association for the year of 1958. He was the first member of Aetna to hold both the County Presidency and a State Office. The membership requested Harry Crissman to contact Levy Court to see if Aetna could buy the Civil Defense rescue truck. The old siren was reported as blowing too long and members were asked to turn it off after the apparatus had gone into service. The addition of sirens or radios was recommended and a guard rail to be placed around the ladder in the siren tower, no action was taken on any of this. The wooden railing around the top of the north and south engine bays was taken off in April. Mr. Albert J. Windsor of Brookside gave the company an old model steam apparatus and clock to be placed in the meeting room. Four indian tanks for field fires were purchased. 

For the first time, two company fire schools were held at the same time: one for advanced firemen, the other for new or less than two-year firemen. A phone was placed on the front of the station for reporting of alarms and ambulance calls. A new water tank was placed on the Dodge and two new Scott Air masks were purchased. Mr. Robert "Bert" Crow, a past Assistant Chief. died in the station after answering a phone alarm for a barn fire on June 11, 1958. A new flag was given the company by the Junior Order of American Mechanics. The old rest room on the second floor was removed and a chief's office replaced same. The 1941 Seagraves and Dodge were proposed for sale and the purchase of a new pumper-tank truck to replace them was recommended. The company was offered $8,000.00 as a trade-in for the two trucks for a net cost of $16,700.00 for a new engine. The chiefs were instructed to get all the information and report back. Both trucks could not be released at once, one must stay in Newark until the new one could be received. Aetna housed a new engine for Hockessin Fire Company in September. New chairs were purchased for the television room. The Middle Department of Fire Underwriters made a study of Aetna's fire equipment and advised the company's present apparatus was satisfactory and would still be satisfactory if two old engines were replaced with one combination truck. The old 7 1/2 hp Federal Siren was loaned to Civil Defense so an electric siren could be blown from State Civil Defense controls center. Charles Wollaston was appointed chairman for the 1959 State Convention to be held in Newark. A committee was appointed to get bids on an emergency generator large enough to run all of the station's equipment. Bids were received and the generator purchased from Graybar Electric Company for $4,632.50. A steel building was placed under the siren tower for the generator at a cost of $839,80. fifteen sets of coats, boots and helmets were ordered. All companies in the county were on the Call Board system by the end of the year, except Goodwill Fire Company of New Castle and the Aetna Hose of Newark. The fund drive for 1959 brought in over $17,000.00.


The County Civil Defense rescue truck was purchased in 1959 for $3,000.00, including all the equipment. Twenty new tables for the Auxiliary were ordered for the basement, and were to remain in the basement. The International Rescue truck was sold to Cecilton Fire Company, Cecilton, Maryland, for $1,600.00 and the Civil Defense rescue truck just purchased was painted red. A stone mason checked and repaired the building masonry. The 1941 Seagraves was traded for $3,000.00 and a new American LaFrance pumper-tank truck was purchased for $22,450.00. The new engine was a 900 series, 750 gallon pumper with 750 gallon water tank plus 1000' of 2 1/2" hose. The company accepted a special Philadelphia Inquirer feature, having the front page covering Aetna Hose, Hook & Ladder Company. The entire station was painted inside and outside by John Tweed. A field fire truck (a government 3/4 4X4) was discussed; no action was taken. It was decided to have the two social rooms air-conditioned but, at the following meeting, this was canceled. A new public address system was purchased from Rawlins & Kincaid for $250.00. The fund drive folder was changed and cards for names and addresses of invalids were included. A metal "I" was placed on the front of all homes where invalids lived. An air compressor was recommended with no actions taken as it was felt not enough greasing was done to warrant this. The meeting room floor was sanded and refinished, a storm door was placed on the television room entrance, a new trophy case was made in the rear of the meeting room, and all new window shades were purchased. An Addressograph machine was discussed; no action was taken because of cost. The members asked the old Armory Building on Delaware Avenue in Newark be turned over to the City of Newark and so wrote the Governor. Roofs were repaired on the north and south engine bays. General discussion was held on hiring janitorial services to clean the station; estimates were too high and the members continued to clean the station. A new Cadillac ambulance was purchased in August for $5,890.00 plus trade in. Four battery trickle chargers were ordered: one for the generator and three for all other station apparatus, total cost $250.00. The state convention, held in Newark on September 18th and 19th, was very well attended. Wilmington Trust Company gave the company a large safe for the office, plus a great many chairs for the meeting and social rooms. Aetna had a second member elected to a state office: George Smith became Treasurer of the State Fire Chief's Association and elected President of the County Fire Chief's Association. The fund drive went over the goal of $18,000.00 by more than $1,400.00.

1959 - Aetna Fleet 

1959 - Aetna Fireman Early Uniform (Convention Photo) 


In January 1960, committee was appointed to again study the siren, radio, and telephone methods of alerting members. A safety ring was put around the ladder on the siren tower, plus a new metal floor on top of the tower and a metal railing around the top deck at a cost of $1,180.00, with one-half paid by Civil Defense. Fifteen new tarpaulins were purchased at $4.00 each; and a new smoke ejector was purchased for the rescue truck. The City Council was asked to increase the yearly appropriation from $4,200.00 to $6,000.00 a year. The first Spring banquet was held on May 28 and was well attended. A check for $50.00 was sent to Smyrna Fire Company for Glen Mathews, an ambulance driver from Smyrna who was in a serious ambulance-car accident. Chief Clifton Knotts reported enough time had been spent looking for a surplus truck for brush fire use and recommended a used army truck be purchased as soon as possible. This was approved, was purchased and equipped for $2,500.00 plus a few hundred dollars for small equipment and a radio. The apartment was painted by John Tweed for $225.00. A general meeting was held with all local civic association leaders to assure them our protection was adequate, and to secure a lower fire insurance rate for them. This was successful; the National Board approved a lower rate for all protected areas in the county with fire hydrants. A new 1961 Cadillac ambulance was purchased in November and the oldest one traded in. New tires were purchased for the ladder truck. Olan Thomas was elected president of the Delaware State Fire Chief's Association. Jackets were purchased by the members and were paid for when ordered by each man. 


A calendar of events was started in January 1961 so that more than one group would not be scheduled to use the basement at one time. A copy of both Directors' and Regular meeting minutes were mailed to all Directors on a trial basis and this has been made a standard procedure. A ventilating fan was placed in the meeting room. The slate roof on the main building was repaired. Members had their blood typed, and cards with this information are on file in both the radio room and in the rescue truck. Vending machines for candy and cigarettes were obtained. The profit from these machines and the Coke machine is turned over to the social committee. A receiver and de-coder with controls to Number One fire siren were installed in April so the call board could blow our siren. The sum of $5,000.00 was willed the company on the death of a Newark resident who requested that her name be withheld. The planning and grounds committee reported the B & O Railroad had turned down Aetna's request to buy next to the A & P store on Ogletown Road. Addressograph plates were purchased for all members so mailings could be made often. Paul Gainer was appointed Company Chaplain. A Bell & Howell model 385K, 16MM sound movie projector and screen were purchased at a cost of $407.00 for fire schools and showing of fire film to civic group meetings. Two rifles were given to the company for parades by the V.F.W. Post 475.

In June the members approved the purchase of 40 radios on the fire radio net, plus an encoder to activate them at a cost of $6,702.50. They then voted to go on the County Fire Call Board. The second fire siren was put on call board controls and all calls for fire and ambulance from this time on were answered by the call board, manned by full-time paid operators. A flag which flew over the Capitol Building in Washington was presented to the company by Senator Boggs. The first fire prevention film was purchased - a school safety film - costing $185.00. Replacement of the ramp in front of the engine bays on Academy Street to cost $2,219.70 was discussed. No action was taken as the officers recommended it not be torn out before the new station was completed unless absolutely necessary. The wall in the south bay was taken out to make room for all equipment and the south bay became an ambulance bay. Three tires for the ladder truck and six batteries for other trucks were purchased. George Willet was accepted as the caretaker and became the first non-member caretaker. The 1959 ambulance was traded on a new Cadillac ambulance, net cost $5,100.00. 

In September the members voted to purchase the lot on Ogletown Road from B & O Railroad who had reconsidered after receiving many letters from business men, educational leaders, the Mayor of Newark, and other interested persons in the area. A new timer was put on Siren Number 2 costing $85.00. A new metal trash container was purchased to be used with the new city trash truck, cost $150.00, and the old 50 gallon trash cans were removed from the side of the building and thrown away. The Christmas party was held on December 16th. A plot of ground on Chestnut Hill Road owned by the University of Delaware was discussed for a possible site for Station #3. It was moved and passed that arrangements be made for assignment of this lot. The annual fund drive totaled $19,246.00, with a few returns still to be received. 

1961 - Aetna Firemen 

1961 - Aetna Fleet


In January 1962 large maps covering our fire district were placed on the walls of the radio room and in the hall by the radio room. It was noted that for years the company had been going under the wrong name. The correct name is Aetna Hose, Hook & Ladder Company of Newark Delaware" and not No.1, Inc. as had been used. Additional coats, helmets, boots, a siren for the brush fire truck, two Scott Air masks, and positive parking brakes for trucks #100 and #105 were ordered at total cost of $675.00. The Wilmington Trust Company gave the company six more chairs for the meeting room. Workmen's Compensation benefits for Aetna were discussed with no action taken. Financial officers Allen Smith and Sam Gray reviewed the company's financial condition and advised the membership it was practical and advisable for us to proceed with building plans. Architect Whiteside, Moekel and Carbonell were approved and advised to proceed with the building committee and chairman Robert Mitchell in drafting plans. The Home Committee of the V.F.W. Post 475 presented a large flag to the company. The fire station was used for Federal distribution of food for persons in this area all during the year. An insurance committee was appointed consisting of Don Butterworth, chairman, Allen Smith, Charles Eissner and Charles Wollaston. This committee reviewed Aetna's overall insurance needs and recommended and insurance Broker system. The committee and the broker have done an outstanding job since, The Spring banquet was held on May 12 at the Brookside Union Hall and was well attended. 

All during the year the major subject at all meetings was Station Number 2. Directors changed the time of their meetings during the summer months to 8:00 p.m. and thereby made all their meetings start at 8:00 p.m. throughout the year. The Mayor and City Council members were invited to a meeting in the company meeting room where a complete picture of this company's operation, both financial and fire fighting, was presented. All but one councilman was able to attend and a review was held with him at a later date. Caretaker George Willet advised he would move and in about four weeks the apartment would be available. Clyde Crow was accepted as the new caretaker. The large generator was changed to 3-phase by Hatzel & Buehler Company, total cost $610.00; the house was now covered by both 110-and 220-volt current all the time. Fifteen sets of firefighting gear were purchased at a cost of $825.00 as a great many new members were taken in during the last two years. A picnic committee was appointed and a family picnic was held in August and a fine time was had by all. 

The radio alerting system was reported as having a problem as a great number of radios were not alerting when the tone was put out. In August, the Stutz had the valves cleaned and replaced where necessary; the work was done by the members. supervise by Chief Engineer Herman Gray. The fire school this year was attended by 49 members. Large parade badges would now be given to the new members instead of the small ones. Small ones can be purchased by the members if they wish them. 

A special meeting was held on August 17 in order that the new building plans could be fully outlined and any questions answered. Over 100 members attended and approved proceeding with the pans to erect the station and to arrange with the plans to erect the station and to arrange for a mortgage with the Wilmington Trust Company. Books will be kept on Station #1 and #2 and expenses and income will not be combined. The company station located at Academy Street and Delaware Avenue was changed from Station #10 to Station #9 and the new station on Ogletown Road will be Station #8. The 1960 Cadillac ambulance was traded in on a 19163 model at a net cost of $3,900.00. Six new tires were purchased for the small LaFrance pumper #92. 

The University of Delaware purchase a radio set for their maintenance shop. Now, when an alarm is sounded for the U. of D., their maintenance men guard force will go to the scene. A general discussion was held on replacement for the brush fire truck, with no positive action taken. It was also included that the exterior of the fire station should be painted in 1963. The fund drive produced $24,184.00, the largest fund drive total to date. 

Civilian Defense request to use the basement as a general shelter was turned down in January 1963 due to the layout of the building. Supplies were requested for use of the firemen who will have to man the station in event of an attack. The yearly depreciation for apparatus was raised from $5,000.00 a year to $8,500.00 a year to meet the increasing cost of a replacement apparatus. A bulletin board was placed in the social room with all members' names and the date they joined the company. All deputy sheriffs' badges were called in as the company will no longer ask for deputy sheriff appointments for some of the ambulance crew. Mr. Fred Stiegler passed away and the request was made that, in lieu of flowers, contributions be sent to the Aetna Hose, Hook & Ladder Company building fund; the total received was $245.00. This was the first time this was done. New lights were placed in the social room. New rear springs were put on truck #94 by American LaFrance Company as the original rear springs were never right and the apparatus now operates fine. Two Scott Air masks and insoles for all boots were purchased from State Fire Equipment Company in Dover. Also permission was granted to buy an international truck for brush fire service at a cost of $3,860.00. 

The Civil Air Patrol was granted permission to use the basement for a Red Cross first aid course on six Sunday afternoons and several Aetna first aid men attended. Aetna Fire Chief and Elkton's Fire Chief met with the Glenn Farms Civic Group and explained fire and ambulance response to this area. The Spring banquet held on May 4th in the Brookside Union Hall was well attended. The State Line Motel was voted as the place to make arrangements for the 1963 state convention. It was approved to gradually move out of loaning hospital equipment and to buy no more when what we have is gone. Medical questionnaires were given to active men and, when filled in, are to be placed in the Rescue Truck. The company entered a team in the city softball league and won the championship in August. Money given the company this year by the Ladies Auxiliary is to be used for tables and chairs in the new building. All insurance claims approved by the Fire Chief go to the insurance committee for review before being sent to the insurance company and to Mutual Relief. Three new chairs were purchased for the television room for $59.00 each. 

The international brush fire truck was received and put into service. Members added a portable pump, booster hose, piping, siren and a 200 gallon water tank. A two-way radio was installed by State Communications. The ambulance committee transferred $7,000.00 to the new building fund in June. Two insurance plans were presented by the Insurance Committee, one without Workmen's Compensation and the other including it. The plan with Workmen's Compensation was accepted. Mrs. Louisa Bensinger, mother of one of the members, passed away. She had requested contributions be sent to the Aetna Ambulance Fund in lieu of flowers. 

The annual picnic was held on August 11 at the Louviers picnic area from 2:00 p.m. until dark. It was a great success with about 400 members and their families attending. The firemen played a donkey softball game with the Junior Chamber of Commerce and won 5 to 2. Corduroy jackets with Aetna H H & L Co., Newark, Delaware" across the back were purchased by the members who wanted them at a cost of $20.00 each. The house committee reported Clyde Crow had been carataker for one year and had done a fine job. Uniformed members of the company won prizes at all the carnival parades they attended this year, for a total of $265.00. 


The Ogletown Road Fire Station was completed in September of 1963 and dedicated October 12. An open house was held on October 13 at the new station. 

The building included a 34' x 70' engine room, a training tower, a 56' x 92' banquet hall, a kitchen, a recreation room, a lobby and an office. The building lot, with a frontage of 200' and a depth of 476', was purchased from the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company in September of 1961 at a cost of $16,237.11. Aetna employed the services of Whiteside, Moekel and Carbonell architectural firm and Nowland Brothers constructed the building at a cost of $184,245.00. 

For the new station, the company purchased a generator ($3,9500.00), a siren ($773.00), base radios ($584.00), tables, chairs and carriers ($5,001.00), and assorted kitchen and fire-fighting equipment. 

When the ground-breaking ceremony for what would eventually become Station #8 was held on September 7, 1962, participants included: Delaware's Governor, Elbert N. Carvel; Levy Court President, Harry Lambert; Newark Mayor Carl S. Rankin; and other distinguished guests. 

During the same period, it was business as usual at the Academy Street station. The company purchased concrete and members contributed their time to carry out repairs on a section of damaged sidewalk. 

President Olan Thomas began preparing a history book for the company's 75th anniversary. Two thousand copies were produced at a cost of $1,050. A members, auxiliary members, and guests attending the banquet held on December 17th in the new banquet hall of Station #8 were presented with a copy. Additional copies were mailed to those who were unable to attend. 

Numerous improvements were made at both stations throughout the year. Station #8's parking lot was paved by W. E. Walls Paving at a cost of $11,755. J. W. Tweed painted the outside of Station #9. Lights were placed on both sides of the parking lot at Station #8 at a cost of $1,148. Piane became caterer for station #8 and agreed to supply dishes and silverware for the kitchen. In October, a piano was purchased for the social hall. The 1962 Cadillac ambulance was purchased for $4,350 plus trade-in. 

Candy machines were purchased for both stations at a total cost of $125.00. Frank Smith was placed in charge of the machines whose profits were turned over to the company. Truck 90 was painted by Walter Seydell and several of the members, limiting the company's financial expenditure to the paint price only. 

In November, the company sent men and two engines to stand by at the dedication of the new interstate turnpike, I-95. The keynote speaker was President John F. Kennedy. No one could have guessed that the President's appearance here would be one of his last official acts, or that within the next 200 hours he would fall victim to an assassin's bullet. 

Annual elections were held and the number of fire line officers was changed for the coming year. A Chief, two Deputy Chiefs, Two First Assistant Chiefs, and two Second Assistant Chiefs were elected. 

At Christmas, both stations were decorated. The company Christmas party was held on December 20 at Station #9 with Henry VanName as chairman. At the end of the year, donations to the fund drive totaled $26,846.00.

During 1963 Aetna responded to 433 fire alarms and answered 1,192 ambulance calls. Snow chains for all engines were repaired or replaced during February of 1964 and the large hydraulic jack was repaired. Taylor Exterminating was contracted to service both stations at a cost of $5.00 per month per station. 

During the spring, eleven members attended the State Fire School held in Camden-Wyoming. The company's Spring banquet was held at the Station #8 social hall on May 9th. An air compressor was purchased for use with the Scott Air Mask tanks carried on all trucks. All of the old "all-purpose" masks were discontinued. To assure efficient fire protection coverage for the community, each member, depending on where they lived, was instructed to report to a specific station when responding to fire calls. If a member was in transit when an alarm sounded, however, they were to respond to the nearest station. On the fall, the company's family picnic was held on Sunday, September 6, at Louviers picnic grounds, Milford Cross Roads, and over 200 people - including members, theirs wives and children - had a very enjoyable day. 

A new folder was used for the annual fund drive. The fund drive, held that last Sunday of October and the first Sunday of November (as in previous years), raised a total of $29,683.78. Twenty-five sets of fire-fighting turnout gear were purchased and distributed to both stations and 500' of new 2 1/2" hose was acquired. 

In November, while driving his car, Assistant Chief Joseph A. Amoroso passed away. On November 13, just prior to the opening of our regular monthly meeting, over 100 members attended his viewing in Elkton, Maryland. The following morning, a large number of uniformed members were present at the funeral service. 

1964 - Aetna Fleet


A variety of improvements were made at Station #9 during 1964. The engine room walls floors and ceiling were painted by the members, and general clean-up, fix-up program was completed on the entire station. The flag pole and metal building under the siren tower were painted by the House Committee. New shades were placed on all engine and ambulance room windows. The water tank on truck 95 was removed and repaired by the members, saving the company several hundred dollars. New tires were purchased for rescue truck 96 and the old ones were sold for $100.00. The City of Newark installed a new drainage system in front of the Academy Street station, eliminating the old metal cover plates, and a new television was purchased for Station #9's social room. 

At Station #8, members installed underground drainage pipe for all downspouts. Tornado floor-cleaning equipment was purchased for cleaning and waxing all rooms (except the social hall). This $618.75 purchase made it possible to clean Station #8 without having to use the cleaning equipment from Station #9. The parking low was marked off and painted; an ice cube machine was purchased for the social hall; a screen and storm door was placed on the entrance to the social room; and screens were put on the three restroom windows. 

One company meeting was held at Station #8 but the social hall, which holds a capacity of 600 for a seated dinner and 300 for dancing, proved larger than necessary for regular company meetings. A lease plan for renting the hall was started in January. Those interested in renting the hall were required to make a deposit and register their name and address. the hall was rented each Friday night to a local band who sponsored a weekly dance for teenagers. Rent was $125.00 per Friday night. Soda, hot dogs, candy, gum, etc., were sold by the company to those in attendance. Although there were occasional problems, the dances worked out quite well overall. Eventually, the flat rental charges became the responsibility of the Hall Committee. By year's end, a used floor scrubbing machine was purchased for the hall at a saving of about $500.00. Income from hall rentals totaled $8,200.00 for 1964. 

During that same period, the company responded to 405 fires and 1,274 ambulance calls. 


In the spring of 1965,a new International brush fire truck ($3,700.00) and a new American LaFrance pumper ($27,385.00) were ordered. A used Addressograph machine was given to Aetna by the Budd Company and was used for company membership mailings. A study was undertaken to determine the practically of using this equipment in conjunction with the annual fund drives. 

Small air conditioners were placed in the social rooms at a cost of $1,000.00. Electric door-raising equipment was purchased for all engine room doors at station #8 at a cost of $200.00 per door and was installed by the members. The annual spring party was discontinued and a combined Christmas-Spring party was held instead. Tickets for the affair were $5.00 per couple. 

Six hundred feet of 1" hose for the brush fire truck trucks was purchased for $388.50 and 300' of hose was placed on each truck. A motion to build a storage addition to Station #8 was defeated since the estimated cost was $35,000.00. The old G-I brush fire truck was sold for $200.00, and a small power lawnmower was added to Station #8 in August. Twelve complete sets of turnout fire fighting gear were purchased. Small 15 - and 25 - year badges were presented to members at the annual dinner. 

A new 1966 ambulance was ordered. Its cost was $15,258.50, less a trade-in allowance of $9,815.50, for a net of $5,443.00. The directors requested a five-year extension of the agreement for use of University of Delaware land on Chestnut Hill Road since the company was not in position to add another station 1965. New tires were placed on truck 83 and a great assortment of miscellaneous fire fighting items were purchased for the apparatus during the year. 

Addressograph equipment was purchased from Avon and the Fund Drive Committee was instructed to investigate the cost of mailing and return envelopes for our Fund Drive as compared with the expense of door-to-door delivery of donation request literature. 

A total of $12,194.00 from hall rentals was turned over to the treasurer by the Hall Committee during 1965. The members annual Christmas Party cost $478.00; $10.00 more than had been collected through ticket sales. The Fund Drive total for the year was $28,323.97. The Ladies Auxiliary presented the company with a check for $6,000.00 at the annual dinner. 

The average number of members attending monthly meetings during 1965 was 56 per meeting. The company responded to 417 fires and 1,306 ambulance calls during the year.


In January of 1966, 1,000' of 1 1/2" hose was purchased for $745.00. Color televisions were approved for placement in the social rooms of both stations. After investigating costs, however no action was taken. A letter from the University of Delaware extending the Chestnut Hill Road ground use agreement for five years was received. As of February 1, the mortgage on Station 8 was $107,332.00. A Committee was appointed to study the possibility of purchasing a new rescue truck. After several meeting, the committee recommended the old truck could provide a few more years of service if it were completely overhauled and put in top running condition. 

Orville Little, a longtime member, presented the company with a painting of station 9 which he had completed. It is a fine painting and was placed in the lobby of station 8. 

Piane was discontinued as caterer at Station 8; the Auxiliary purchased dishes and silverware for the hall and lobby were painted at a cost of $2,580.00 and a larger bat was installed at a cost of $4,319.00. Our oldest pumper, a 1938 Stutz, was sold for $256.00. The Ambulance Committee reported that receipts from the ambulance fund drive totaled $11,756.00. 

In August, company members attended the Cumberland Vally Convention Parade in Martinsburg, West Virginia. By summer's end, Aetna had received over $400.00 in parade prizes. The 1966 company picnic was well attended. 

Members were requested to drive carefully when responding to alarms. The Fund Drive material was approved to go out on a mailing basis in the fall and Addressograph plates were cut for all address in the Fire District. Donation request material was mialed throughout the District and members made in-person collection calls on November 6. 

The question of paid caretakers was discussed at several meetings, but no immediate action was taken. A snow plow was purchased for truck 90 and a new American LaFrance 1250 g.p.m. pumper was ordered at a cost of $35,500.00. A new Ambulance was ordered for $5,750.00 plus trade-in on the old ambulance. The Hall Committee turned over $12,500.00 to the treasurer. This represented the net receipts from hall rentals during the year. The average number of members attending monthly meetings during 1966 was 54 per meeting. The company responded to 462 fires and 1,366 ambulance calls during the year. 


At the January 1967 monthly meeting, it was reported that a manpower shortage for daytime ambulance service was becoming critical. The February meeting was interrupted by a fire alarm at 8:30 p.m. 

Two pumpers were equipped with 3" supply line hoses and 2,000' of 2~/2" and 2,000' of 3" hose were purchased for $7,380.00. A check for $500.00 was sent to Mill Creek Fire Company's ambulance service for assisting Aetna with day" time ambulance coverage. 

In March, a special county meeting was held at Five Points Fire Station to discuss the use of paid personnel at the county's fire stations. All companies sent representatives and, after several meetings, the decision was made to continue fire-fighting service under the existing volunteer system.

A small metal building was placed at the rear of Station 8 for lawnmower and miscellaneous storage. Two portable radios and a large rescue saw were purchased at a cost of $2,O35.00. The radio removed from the Stutz was installed on one of the pumpers in Elkton, Maryland, so that Newark and Elkton could maintain 2-way radio contact. A special meeting was called in June when ambulance daytime manpower reached a new low. The old Dodge tank truck was sold for $ 1,300.00. During the fall, the interior of Station 9 was washed. 

It was decided that, beginning with the 1967 State Convention, Aetna would sponsor a trophy for the best appearing Auxiliary from Delaware. The trophy was named in honor of Marie G. Saunders who was instrumental in establishing Aetna's Ladies Auxiliary, had served as Auxiliary President for seven years and had held presidential posts in both the county and state auxiliary organizations. A committee was appointed to study plans to purchase a new rescue truck. For the first time, approval was given for members of other fire companies to answer Aetna's ambulance and fire calls. A new 1968 ambulance was ordered for $5,930.00; the 1966 ambulance was traded in. Andy Walp was elected president of the County Fire Chiefs Association for 1968. 

The annual Christmas Dinner was held on December 2 and was very well attended. That same month, Aetna's new 1250 g.p.m. pumper was placed in service as Pump 91. For the first time the Fund Drive was conducted completely by mail and the receipts for three mailings totaled over $28,000.00. Aetna responded to 397 fires and 1,344 ambulance calls during 1967. The average attendance at monthly meetings during the year was 57 members per meeting. 


Contracts seemed to be the order of the day in 1968 and, for the first time, the City of Newark and Aetna entered into a formal contract to provide city fire and ambulance service. The fire and ambulance appropriation from the city was increased to $17,100.00 a year. In order to improve ambulance service, by-laws were reviewed and changes recommended by the committee. No agreement could be reached regarding these changes and no immediate action was taken. The chiefs presented a proposal covering equipment and stations needed through 1985. The estimated cost exceeded $500,000.00; the report was accepted for study. 

During April, the rear of Station 9's south engine bay was divided to provide a new room for all Addressograph and Fund Drive material and equipment. The Friday night teen dances which had been held for so long were discontinued due to poor attendance and the fact that the groups who rented the hall for this purpose were no longer clearing expenses. This change represented a loss of income of about $400.00 a month for Aetna. A hose washer and dryer were purchased at a cost of $1,944.00 and placed in the rear of the north engine bay; 2,000' of 3" hose at $2.14 per foot and 1,000' of 1 1/2~' hose at $ 1.02 per foot were purchased as replacement for existing equipment. A Dodge chassis was purchased for a new rescue truck at a cost of $2,188.60 and Swab Body Company contracted to construct the truck body for $6,390.00. 

The May meeting was adjourned at 9:20 p.m. because of a fire alarm, but the officers completed monthly business after the apparatus had responded. Special civil disorder protective wire cages were made for trucks 94 and 97. A special Manpower Committee was appointed to improve daytime service for both ambulances. Each station was painted at a total cost of $6,354.00. Committees were appointed to study the need for a new aerial apparatus and a third fire station. New lounge chairs were purchased for both station's social rooms. Approval was granted to blow the siren one long burst for ambulance runs, but only if no one answered the wall phone. The siren was to be used for this purpose only during the day. During the night, members signed up for duty and the call board called them. A successful Fun Fair was held at Station 8 during Fire Prevention Week. 

For the second year, Aetna entered a team in the County Firemens' bowling league and, for the second straight year, finished in second place. On Sunday, September 22, pumper 91 and uniformed members attended the dedication of the new State Fire School near Dover. Hose racks for the storage of dry hose were constructed in the center of the engine bays at Station 9, affording easy replacement of hoses on firefighting apparatus. 

A fire alarm interrupted the regular October meeting at 10:00 p.m. But, after equipment and men had responded, remaining members completed the meeting. Soft suction sleeves were purchased for all pumpers; a new 1969 ambulance was ordered at a cost of $6,906.00 and the old 1967 ambulance traded in. A large turnout attended the annual dinner at Station 8 and service pins were presented. The Third Station Committee reported that an additional station was not in the best interest of the company or community at that time and should be put off for two to three years. The Ladies Auxiliary presented the president with a check for $7,000.00 from money raised during 1968 and the Fund Drive reached its goal of $34,000.00. Complete records were put on file for future reference. 

Aetna responded to 508 fires and 1,455 ambulance calls during 1968. Average monthly meeting attendance was 55 members per meeting.

 1968 - Aetna Fleet 


At the January 1969 meeting, it was reported that the income from hall rentals during the previous year had been very good and that the hall was booked through May. A new stove and hood with extinguisher system was installed in Station 8's kitchen at a cost of $1,100.00. Mrs. Emma Morris contributed 26 shares of Olin Mathieson Chemical Corporation stock to Aetna. Its value as of December 1968 was $50.50 per share. 

The Ambulance Committee asked that more members become active in order to help relieve the manpower problem that continued to exist. A committee chaired by James Wood was appointed to investigate the purchase of a new ladder truck. Additional uniforms were purchased for members who wanted to parade but did not have uniforms. The Delaware State Fire School patch was approved for placement on the uniform jacket shoulder, opposite the sleeve bearing the company emblem. 

In April a committee was appointed to look into hiring two men to cover ambulance calls from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., 

Monday through Friday, and a new Swab rescue truck was purchased and placed in service early in the year. The State of Delaware approved license tags for all fire company equipment. The new tags indicated both the station and equipment numbers. The new ambulance arrived and was placed in service the same week. The treasurer reported that the company's fleet insurance cost had increased $2,000.00 per year because of the equipment's involvement in accidents. A motion made to discontinue ambulance service was defeated. The committee was asked to develop ways to interest more members in assisting with ambulance service or to recruit new members specifically for this purpose. 

As a supplement to the original Company History Booklet, Olan Thomas arranged for production of an insert covering the period from 1963 to 1968. The piece was multilithed and mailed to all members for inclusion with their copies of the original booklet. After many months of meeting and planning, specifications were sent out in August requesting bids on a new ladder truck. The bids were mailed to American LaFrance, Seagraves, and Maxim Fire Apparatus. In September, the company received $21,738.41 in state appropriations, $1,250.00 from the City of Newark, and the Hall Committee reported good income for the period. 

Ambulance service was improved under Chairman James Stoudt and 134 runs were made during the previous month. A by-law change was presented to lower the membership age to 19 and other changes were suggested to make it easier to provide ambulance coverage. The recommendations were defeated by three votes. Changes proposed to the defeated by-law were also defeated. During the year, purchases included several sets of turnout gear, a new Miller Metior Ambulance, a new engine for truck 83 (at a cost of $5,500.00), and a new LaFrance ladder truck with a diesel engine (at a cost of $76,997.00). University students who were active members of other fire companies were invited to assist Aetna on fire responses and ambulance calls. During October, 170 ambulance runs were made which set a new record.


In January 1970, the membership voted to dismantle and dispose of the large air raid siren at Station 9. Members also voted to increase the Mutual Relief weekly benefits from $100.00 to $125.00 per week for a period of 104 weeks. The suggestion to place all equipment and a color guard in the annual Memorial Day Parade was approved and became a yearly tradition. 

Hose covers were placed on all pumpers at a cost of $85.00 per pumper. Thirteen new tires and tubes were placed on various apparatus by Kiels Incorporated at a cost of $1,118.73. A new Mako 12 cubic foot air compressor was purchased at a cost of $2,690.00. Late in the year, the Ambulance Committee Chairman asked for and received permission to start a program of training women to operate the ambulance. This new program proved to be very successful. 

President Wollaston reported that the Ladies Auxiliary had presented the company with over $46,000.00 from their efforts with hall rentals since 1963 and that the Hall Committee had netted $72,500.00 from hall operations during the same period. The net income derived from the hall had paid off its construction costs. 


During the third week of January 1971, the chief and several members went to New York to visit the LaFrance plant and inspect the new ladder truck in production. A two-way fire band radio was purchased for the fire chief to use in his car. The company had a fuel tank installed at Station 9 on Academy Street so that the equipment could be fueled 24-hours a-day. At about the same time, the north engine bay door on Academy Street was made wider and an electric door opener was installed at a cost of $2,000.00. The new ladder truck arrived but was missing some equipment. Approval was given to pay $60,000.00 to American LaFrance from the depreciation account and to hold the remainder until the missing equipment was received. 

All radios, plus the two base radio stations, were changed over to dual frequency. The 1951 LaFrance ladder truck was involved in an accident at Delaware Avenue and South Chapel Street while responding to an alarm and was heavily damaged. During the August meeting the membership approved a Board of Directors recommendation to dispose of the truck in a manner best suited to the company. By October, it was reported that the ladder truck had been transferred to the Christiana Fire Company and that the insurance company had paid Aetna $3,895.00. The estimated cost to Christiana Fire Company to repair the truck was $14,995.00. 

A new field fire truck was ordered in October with the members agreeing to install the pump and tank. In addition, a new ambulance from 

Wolfington Body Company was ordered at a price of $10,900.00. Five portable two-way radios with fire-band access were obtained along with turnout equipment, hose and related fire-fighting items during the year. A total of 621 fire alarms were answered in 1971. The ambulance - logging 42,885 miles-responded to 1886 calls. The Hall Committee realized a total of $8,365.14 net income for the period.


In January of 1972, a $5,000.00 appropriation increase brought the City of Newark's total fire service contribution to Aetna to $20,000.00 per year. The state insurance check totaled $22,342.62 and state appropriations totaled $6,500.00. A new sound system was placed in the social hall at a cost of $3,442.00. The company began buying Plectron radios and reselling them to the members. Also purchased was an encoder to alert the sets. A great deal of maintenance was completed on both stations. Many small items of fire line equipment were purchased and placed on the trucks. The old field fire truck was sold for $ 1,000.00 and an International field fire truck with new tank and Hale pump (installed by the members) was placed in service. One thousand feet of new 2~/~" hose was purchased at a cost of $1,460.00. New tables and chairs were purchased for the hall at a cost of $2,565.70. Foam ejectors, nozzles, hoses and foam were purchased at a cost of $894.00 and safety belts were placed on the rear of all pumpers. 

The membership voted to host the 1973 State Convention and Charles Wollaston was appointed chairman. A Hurst rescue tool was presented to Aetna by the state of Delaware at no cost and the company agreed to respond with this equipment in other districts whenever requested. President Wood, Chief Farrall and Olan Thomas met with Newark City Manager Ed Stiff and reviewed an appropriation for two paid drivers during daytime hours. The city agreed to place funds in its budget to meet this expense and offered to work out details once the needs determination was made. The Engine Committee recommended and received approval for purchase of a new Seagraves pumper at a cost of $53,180.00. A total of 201 ambulance responses were made during October setting a new record for a one month period. A new Wolfington Superior ambulance was purchased for $22,852.00 less a $7,502.00 deduction for the Oldsmobile which was traded in. 

In preparation for the State Volunteer Firemen's Convention which Aetna would host in September of 1973, convention chairman Charles Wollaston began providing detailed monthly reports concerning convention plans. As early as April, the committee was meeting every two weeks and, by June, the convention favors had been ordered. At convention time, meetings were held in Clayton Hall and social events were staged in Aetna's fire stations. The parade route ran from Elkton Road to Station 8. The company's total cost for the event was $6,064.86. 

1972 - New Field Truck 


On April 27,1973, Aetna responded to a call at the Pennsylvania Railroad station which involved a fire in the undercarriage apparatus of an in-use passenger car. Chief Kenneth Farrall, twenty-five fire fighters and three pieces of equipment responded. Upon arrival, the chief observed smoke issuing from underneath the third car of a recently arrived train and questioned the conductor. The chief was told that Aetna's intervention was not required and that the train would be departing shortly. 

As it moved slowly northward from the station, Chief Farrall telephoned the tower and asked that the train be prevented from leaving. The train was halted after moving about 100'. When the Fire Chief approached the engine, someone-presumably the engineer-shouted for the chief to get away from the train and insisted that the train was leaving Newark. The chief was still walking toward the train as it pulled away from Newarks depot. While the train had been stopped, burning debris had dropped from the undercarriage and set a railroad tie on fire. 

On May 1, Chief Farrall met with City Fire Marshall William Donahue to get clarification on the degree of authority allowed a fire chief in such cases. Farrall was concerned that the lives of those aboard the train had been in serious danger and that the unattended fire could have eventually caused a derailment. Fire Marshall Donahue raised this question with the State Attorney General. 

On September 25, 1973, State Solicitor Kent Walker issued an opinion. He determined that while a fire chief could not command the conduct of a person other than a firefighter at the scene of a fire, a Fire Policeman, while acting under the supervision of the fire company offficer in charge of the scene, was empowered, within his enumerated duties, to control the conduct of others. 

Because of Chief Farrall's follow-up, this opinion -number 73-063, which was placed on file in the chiefs office-led to the creation of the Delaware Fire Chiefs Authority Law. 

Twenty-four complete sets of fire-fighting gear were purchased from Hoopes Fire Equipment at a cost of $2,415.50. A committee was appointed to draw up specifications for a new 1,000 gallon pumper and a second committee began looking into the specifications and purchase of a utility vehicle. The interior of each station was painted and cost $2,990.00 for labor and $532.00 for materials. The exterior of Station 9 was painted by an outside contractor at a cost of $3,875.00. Hose, nozzles and miscellaneous items were purchased during the year to replace items no longer in peak operating condition. At the May meeting Rittenhouse Motors' bid to provide a Dodge utility vehicle was accepted. The cost was $3,495.00 plus charges for repainting. 

The insurance rebate check from the State of Delaware for 1973 amounted to $30,004.87. The state check was $8,500.00, the county check $5,000.00, and the fund drive raised $38,515.74. This was the year of gas rationing but Shelhorn £ Hill was able to maintain the company's necessary fuel supplies. 

The state approved a change in the social hall's liquor license-shifting from a per rental basis to a full year license. This was a great help to the Hall Committee. The Seagraves pumper ordered during 1972 was received in September in time for the state convention. 

During the October meeting, a new Seagraves pumper was ordered at a cost of $52,861.00 and a new ambulance from Wolfington Cadillac cost $22,902.00 less a trade-in allowance of $10,002.00. A number of members purchased fire and ambulance radios through the company and paid them off on a monthly payment basis. By the November meeting, all the radios had been paid for in full. During the year, ambulance crews responded to 2,213 calls. 

1973 - First High Rise Fire, 

Christiana Towers, 14th Floor 


At the January 1974 meeting a committee was appointed to contact an architect with proposed plans for the renovation of Station 8's kitchen. In July, the committee reported back with their recommendation from the architect and an estimate of $13,688.00 for equipment and $63,750.00 for the first stage of construction. The renovation expenditure was approved and the work was completed during 1975. 

The Insurance Committee chairman reported that the number of accidents during 1973 had resulted in an insurance cost increase of $1,800.00 for 1974 and that all claims had been settled except for the accident involving truck 97, which might involve court settlement. 

During the year steel belted radial tires were placed on all engines except pump 94. Drivers were reminded that the maximum in-city speed limit was 45 m.p.h. for all vehicles, that equipment was not to be operated above 4th gear, and the speed on turns for truck 97 was 10 m.p.h. During 1973, income realized for the social hall amounted to $9,575.08. 

1973 - Aldermans Court Fire

Station 9A Restored after Aetna Re-Gained ownership


The new Seagraves pumper arrived in January of 1975 and was placed in service in February. That same month a new ambulance was ordered from Gissel and Son. The ambulance was a Dodge van type Life Guard 3 and cost $17,660.00. The older of the two existing ambulances was sold upon arrival of the new one. At the March meeting, a committee was appointed to study the replacement of the rescue truck and determine what type of equipment should be purchased. Specifications were drafted and presented in December. Approval was granted to request bids on both a new rescue truck and a new pumper. 

Negotiations continued with the city in an attempt to find a way to transfer ownership of the old Academy Street fire station from the City of Newark to the company. Over the next several months, details were finally worked out and a firm agreement was signed in September. A new base radio was purchased for Station 8 at a cost of $1,965.00. The report that the Marrows Road railroad bridge would be closed for at least nine months resulted in a motion to look into establishing a temporary "station 7" on the south side of the railroad as an interim precaution. With the help of the State Highway Department, a location was arranged with Our Lady of Grace Home on East Chestnut Hill Road and service from this site began in June. The operation from this temporary station worked out well. Use of this location was discontinued when bridge construction was completed. 

A lighted marquee was purchased for Station 8 at a cost of $700.00. The program of buying Plectron radios and reselling them to members was continued and 22 additional radios were purchased. A new ice machine was obtained for the social hall at a cost of $1,898.40 and a separate 220 volt line was run to it from the fuse panel in the kitchen. 

The City of Newark offices were moved from the Academy Building on Main Street to the new city office building on Elkton Road and the University of Delaware received the Academy Building property adjacent to Station 9. A successful parking arrangement was worked out with the university. Hockessin, Mill Creek and Aetna officers met several times with representatives from Pike Creek Valley developments concerning fire protection and the possibility of a fire station in that area. The meetings continued intermittently for several years, but no plans for a station in the Pike Creek area were developed until 1987. As a result, Hockessin, Mill Creek and Aetna continued to provide fire protection to the Pike Creek section. Mill Creek eventually began planning the establishment of a station in the area. 

The Fund Drive raised $38,814.70 for 1975. Men and equipment responded to 678 fire alarms during the year. 

1975 - Sussex Hall Fire 


A new Motorola tone encoder was ordered and placed in operation at Station 9 in January of 1976. A new ambulance was purchased at a cost of $20,655.00 less $4,000.00 trade-in, and approval was granted for electrical repairs to begin at Station 9 ($2,400.00). One thousand feet of 1 1/2" hose was purchased at $1.05 per foot and 2,000' of 3" hose at $2.35 per foot. Approval was given to proceed with repairs to Station 9's roof at a cost of $3,560.00 which included a charge of approximately $300.00 to replace rotten wood. 

During the April meeting, a new Seagraves pumper ($72,111.00) and a new Seagraves rescue truck (63,963.00) were ordered. Plans were gotten underway for the restoration of the old Academy Street fire station to as near original condition as possible. Members began clearing out debris from the fire that had devastated the building and worked carefully to avoid further structural damage. Paul Hawthorne was engaged as contractor and the cost of restoration totaled $63,559.92. 

An Aetna pumper and a busload of members left Newark for Martinsburg, West Virginia, at 7:30 a.m. on August 21 to attend the annual Cumberland Valley Convention where they went on to win first prize. 

The parking lot at Station 8 was paved at a cost of $11,017.50. During the year, Aetna responded to 1,058 fire alarms and 2,605 ambulance calls. 


Robert Sweetman was elected president of the New Castle County Chiefs Association for 1977. The old Academy Street station was completed and became designated Station 9 A. On November 27,1977, the station was dedicated in honor of Dr. Wallace M. Johnson, a longtime Aetna member, company doctor and past mayor of Newark. A new ambulance was ordered at a cost of $20,775.00 and the old ambulance A-8 was sold. The roof covering at Station 8 was replaced at a cost of $6,996.00. In April the new Seagraves rescue truck arrived and was located at Station 8. Training of drivers was started at once. By August the new truck was placed in service. The Newark Lions Club donated $3,500.00 to the Ambulance Committee to purchase paging equipment for the ambulance drivers and attendants. 

The dry chemical extinguishers on trucks 84, 86 and 87 were not rechargeable and were replaced with rechargeable Ansel extinguishers. A new parade uniform was approved which consisted of short-sleeve white shirt, black tie, new- style hat and black shoes. A decision was made to buy Plectron receivers, pagers, and a converter, and to discontinue repairing the Motorola radios. A tape recorder was purchased for the secretary to record company meeting minutes. Ambulance B-9 was involved in two accidents late in the year. The first caused damage in the amount of $4,800.00 and the second totaled $1,700.00. Throughout the year several members' cars were damaged in the parking lot at Station 9. 

A total of 1,227 fire alarms were answered and 2,255 ambulance calls were handled during 1977.


Early in 1978, Electralert radios purchased in the early 1960's were phased out and 20 new Plectron radios were ordered to replace the Electralerts as they were removed from service. The new radios cost $151.50 each. Late in the year, the Motorola radios were also phased out. Plectron became the company radio from this point. The hall light controls at Station 8 were moved to a position behind the bar and a dimmer switch was added. 

Ambulance A-9 was involved in an accident and two members were injured. Early in the year, the weekly radio checks were discontinued by the county call board. The stations had become so active that the tests were no longer required. Station 8 was painted at a cost of $3,700.00. Aetna's first chief s active car was purchased at a cost of $5,600.00 plus light bar ($445.00). The chiefs presented a standard operating procedure which was approved by company members. A discussion got underway with the University of Delaware regarding the installation of a gate at the entrance of the parking lot at Station 9. After many meetings between the university, city officials and Aetna representatives, a card operated gate was placed at the lot entrance and paid for by the university and Aetna. 

During the May meeting, approval was given to purchase a new field fire truck with a new pump, radio and siren. Twelve complete sets of fire" fighting turnout gear were purchased ($2,092.80) as was a new ambulance ($17,975). New uniforms were ordered during August at a cost of $40.80 each and consisted of shirt, slacks and new-style hat with badge. The belt was purchased by each member for $7.45. 

Robert Sweetman was elected Second Vice President of the New Castle County Firemens Association. Aetna's past-president, Charles Wollaston, was appointed chairman of the State Convention Committee which would arrange for the 1979 convention to be held in Newark. The ambulance responded to 2,167 calls and 1,278 fire alarms were answered during the year. In 1978, the fund drive raised $41,000.00.


Early in 1979 an agreement was reached to rent the hall at Station 8 for Bingo every Monday night. Eight large, round tables were purchased at a cost of $1,300.00 for use at dinners and wedding receptions. A canopy was installed over the hall bar ($1,814.00) and acoustic changes were made ($3,500.00). Twenty additional alarm radios were ordered for active members. The trial concerning the accident with ladder truck 97 was held in April and attended by twelve members including the chief, the vice-president and several directors. 

A radio was ordered for the new field fire truck ($1,500.00) and a 35' extension ladder was obtained for the rural pumper at a cost of $980.00 plus $200.00 for mounting brackets. The ladder truck was sent for repairs and modifications including: damage from accident ($4,343.00), a closed cab installed ($2,663.00), roll-down windows installed in doors ($1,093.00) and correction of rust damage ($3,096.00). Two 4~/2" hydrant valves were purchased at a cost of $ 1,700.00 and four new tires for pumper 84 were bought at a cost of $199.00 each plus a $7.50 mounting charge. Trade-in on the old tires was $20.00 per tire. 

A new ambulance was purchased from Wolfington Body for $25,973.00 (less trade-in) for a net cost of $14,400.00. A second bid, which was rejected, was from First State Ambulance who quoted a price of $30,309.00 less trade-in for a net amount of $19,000.00. Snow plow equipment was ordered for field fire truck 80 ($2,300.00) and a four or five-man crew began staying in Station 9-A at night to cover single unit responses. Twelve complete sets of turnout gear were purchased in October for $350.00 per set. The fund drive raised $43,707.75. Aetna responded to 1,190 fires and 1,901 ambulance cells curing 1979.


In January of 1980 a private telephone line and a recorder were approved for the Hall Chairman to use in connection with hall rental calls. A donation of $500.00 was made to the Reliance Fire Company of Boothwyn, Pennsylvania, who lost their station and equipment to fire that same month. 

Purchases with a total cost of $7,440.00 included: 1,000' of 3" hose, 600' of 13/4" hose, 600' of I i/2" hose, two l 1/2" TFT nozzles, a John Deere washer, a smoke ejector, and Kohler lights. In addition, four new air packs, twelve sets of turnout gear, and 50 gallons of high expansion foam were replaced at a cost of $4,400.00 and Station 9 was painted inside and out for $3,123.00. 

Approval was granted to set aside $5,000.00 for the 1988 State Convention and the 100th Anniversary of Aetna to occur that same year. A committee was again appointed to look into adding a stage to Station 8's hall. After much study the project was determined to be too expensive. Alarm systems were installed on all trucks to warn of low oil pressure and overheating of the engines. 

A new ambulance was ordered from First State Ambulance at a cost of $19,990.00. A committee was appointed to write specifications for a new pumper to replace the existing fifteen-year-old vehicle. Steve Miller was injured during a fire at Chrysler and was unable to return to work for an extended period. Arrangements were made to have photos taken of all members so they would be available when a need arose. Funds were put into a seven-year savings certificate to be used for the 1988 convention. The members again returned from the Cumberland Valley Firemens Convention with a trophy for first place. Robert Sweetman was elected President of the New Castle County Volunteer Firemens Association and JoAnn Sweetman, his wife, was elected President of the New Castle County Ladies Auxiliary-the first time husband and wife had ever held these offices at the same time. 

Coach Dave Nelson of the University of Delaware agreed to schedule an "away" football game on the Saturday of the 1988 convention parade in Newark. However, when the university team switched football conferences, a game was scheduled which coincided with the day of the parade. 

The ambulance responded to 1,771 calls and fire calls totaled 1,189 for 1980. The fund drive raised $50,506.48 during the year.


In 1981,1,000' of 13/4" hose ($1,750.00), three TFT nozzles ($1,100.00), one battery charger ($296.75), four steel bay doors for Station 8 ($5,600.00), storm windows for Station 9 ($1,360.00),50 new uniforms consisting of coat, hat and slacks at $85.75 Bach, 18 sets of turnout gear ($6,600.00), six new Scott air tanks ($225.00 each) and 18 new helmets at $55.00 each were purchased. 

President Jim Wood learned the Pemberton property on Elkton Road at Thorn Lane was for sale. At the same time he was informed that the City might be able to help with the purchase. President Wood submitted the proper requests for the assistance and his request was granted. The City of Newark appropriated $ 100,000.00 for the acquisition of the property to be turned over to Aetna H. H. £ L. Co. It is now Station 7. 

A major fire occurred at Delaware Tire on South College Avenue and resulted in soft rubber on boots, coats, helmets and several sections of hose. When fire fighters returned to the stations, much of the rubber became imbedded in the flooring. A new chiefs car was purchased for $7,405.00 and the old one sold. A new American LaFrance pumper was ordered at a cost of $126,923.00. Ambulance A-8 was replaced with a 1981 Ford Yankee Ambulance ($23,300.00) and the directors suggested the ambulances needed to be kept longer. 

The original Aetna banners could not be restored for use. Instead they were placed in the display case in the social hall at Station 8. During 1981 Aetna's ambulances answered 1,599 calls.


There were several meetings during 1982 concerning a group known as the Newark Firefighters Association, specifically as related to their sale of mugs as a fund-raising device. The directors and those concerned handled the problems that arose as a result of this group's efforts. 

A variety of small firefighting items were purchased. Larger purchases included 2,000' of 13/4" hose, 18 sets of turnout gear, 12 air packs, four nozzles, a new water tank for truck 90, and a foam nozzle and foam for the new fire truck. The cost for these totaled about $4,000.00. Additionally, truck 91 was refurbished at a cost of $28,990.00. 

The new pumper arrived in May and was not put in service until the end of the year. Station 9 and 9-A were placed on the National Historical Register. A new dimmer system was added to the light controls in the hall at Station 8 ($1,545.00). 

1982 - Memorial Day Parade


Early in 1983 a contract was signed with an architect for the design of Station 7 at Elkton Road and Thorn Lane. After months of meetings, an estimate of building costs was arrived at and plans were presented. The cost was estimated at $652,000.00. Equipment purchased during the year included two nozzles ($255.00 each), a new K-12 for truck 86 ($600.00 net after trade-in), a charger for the portable radios ($720.00), 20 gallons of Universal foam ($320.00), a deluge gun for truck 82 ($2,220.00),12 boxes of Scotch-guard safety tape ($360.00), and six bottles for the air masks ($1,200.00). 

Truck 91 was sent out for major repairs to the pump as well as other minor changes and was out of service for over three months. Pumper 93 had rust damage repaired and was repainted ($5,300.00); pumper 95 had the transmission rebuilt ($2,500.00). The office room of Station 8 was changed to sleeping quarters and the company now had two locations where members could stay for extended periods of time. 

A review was made of parade uniforms. The company had 108 complete uniforms, 91 of which had been issued, and 17 of which were extras used by members who only paraded infrequently. New coolers were purchased for the bar in the social hall of Station 8 at a cost of $4,400.00. William Doyle, Jr., was employed by the City of Newark as Fire Marshal. Members attended Cumberland Valley's convention and won awards for "Best Appearance" and "Company Coming the Longest Distance," and the 52 members who marched in the 1983 Delaware State Convention parade took the fifth place prize.


In 1984, the late Mrs. Marian Glenn, a longtime member of Aetna's Ladies Auxiliary, left half of her estate to the company. The property, located on East Main Street, consisted of a building which housed a store on the first floor and two apartments on the second floor. Aetna purchased the other half of the estate and became owner of the complete property. Shortly thereafter the property was sold. 

Bids were received for the construction of Station 7 and ranged from $548,000.00 to $591,000.00. The bid from Hart Construction Company was accepted for the amount of $570,721.00. Groundbreaking ceremonies were held on March 22 at 4:30 p.m. and a reception followed at Station 8. It was estimated that construction would take approximately twelve months. 

Purchases during the year included six batteries for portable radios ($400.00), six TFT nozzles ($380.00),1,500' of 13/4~' hose ($2,250.00), one JS-10 foam nozzles ($300.00), a 95 gallon per minute ejector ($250.00),18 sets of turnout gear ($392.00 per set), two Regency radios ($500.00 each), one 12' extension ladder ($350.00), one smoke ejector ($600.00), and six Scott air packs at $900.00 each. 

Ambulance A 9 was involved in an accident in which damages totaled $1,323.00. The insurance company believed that the accident could have been avoided and advised that they would be obtaining driving records on all company drivers. The directors advised all drivers to use due care while operating company equipment. The issue of employing two full-time drivers for daytime hours resurfaced, but no action was taken at that time. 

A Centrex telephone system was installed in all of Aetna's stations at a cost of $1,000.00. The agreement for the rental of Station 8's hall for weekly Bingo games was terminated in August when the renters' new building was completed. Shortly after, Aetna began sponsoring its own weekly Bingo game, a project that proved very successful under the direction of Harry Balthis. The cost of Bingo start up was $3,300.00 and, by October, $3,700.00 had been earned. The total insurance premium for all company policies reached $20,000.00 per year. A new van-type ambulance was ordered for $25,827.00 and a box-type ambulance for $31,000.00. 

Member David Savage, seriously injured while fighting a fire, was hospitalized for a month and a day and was unable to return to work for a considerable period of time. A Texas Instruments computer, printer, and software were purchased for $11,200.00. All 25-year members in good standing were made Life Members, and Aetna resumed from the Cumberland Valley Convention with two trophies and $250.00 in prize money. 

A base station radio was purchased from General Electric for Station 7 at a cost of $4,125.00 and a Ford Station Wagon was purchased for use by the assistant chiefs at a cost of $11,329.40. 

During the annual banquet in December, the Ladies Auxiliary presented the company with a check in the amount of $19,000.00 and the Fund Drive reached a total of $63,000.00. Harry Balthis and his committee reported net profits of $5,109.00 for the year from the weekly Bingo games. Several of Aetna's members were elected to office in the County Firemens Association: James Wharry, Secretary; Steve Austin, Assistant Secretary; and H. C. Stanley, Director. Wall lockers were installed at Station 7 for $2,600.00 and a new generator for Station 9 cost $24,225.00. New tires were placed on pumper 82 ($920.00) and a Vetter air bag system was purchased for use in rescue operations. 

The directors approved the sale of jackets and baseball caps with "Aetna Hose, Hook and Ladder Co." on them. The company made 1,910 ambulance runs and answered 1,201 fire alarms during the year. 

Station 7 Groundbreaking

Station 7 Dedication


At the January 1985 meeting, directors advised the membership that the new telephone system which tied the four Aetna stations together was in place and discussed how the system operated. 

Purchases for the year included two lights, two tripods, four rescue ropes, two exhaust fans and two radios for the Chiefs Department at a total cost of $3,660.00. Approval was given for the emergency purchase of a new boiler for Station 9 (approximately $9,000.00). Two new Scott air packs were purchased ($1,700.00) and new tires for rescue truck 86 ($900.00). New roof covering was installed at Station 8 at a cost of $ 14,510.00. The profit from the New Year's Eve party was $1,622.00. 

In February, the Dedication Committee for Station 7 advised that plans were well underway and that the dedication was scheduled for Sunday, April 21. Furniture was purchased for Station 7 (approximately $1,400.00). In August, it was necessary to go into arbitration because of construction problems at Station 7. But, by November 9, the station was open and placed into service. 

On March 20, members of the Newark Police Department and active firefighters attended a special get-together which was an enjoyable event for all who participated. 

The state passed a bill to increase the death benefits for firefighters killed in the line of duty to $100,000.00. The "line of duty" definition which applies to U. S. Government death benefits was read and passed to become part of the company's by-laws. The Fire Chiefs car was replaced at a cost of $ 11,606.00 and the new vehicle purchased from Tri-State Ford. The old Chief s car was then sold for $4,800.00. Improvements were made at Station 8 at a cost of $13,600.00. A new Hahn pumper was purchased for $145,454.00. 

Aetna's portion of the state insurance funds totaled $96,062.00. Additional revenue came from the following sources: Fund Drive - $62,239.00; New Castle County-$60,000.00; the Ambulance Fund Drive-$50,363.00; City of Newark-$30,000.00; Bingo (August to August during the first year) - $27,525.00; hall rental -$19,000.00; Aetna Ladies Auxiliary-$10,500.00. 

Aetna firefighters won $441.00 in prize money at the Cumberland Valley Convention in August and, in October, the Cumberland Valley Association held their fall meeting at Station 8. Ambulance A-9 won the "Best Appearing Ambulance" prize at the Delaware State Convention in September, and Robert Sweetman and James Wharry were elected Second Vice-President and Secretary, respectively, of the Delaware State Volunteer Firemens Association. Vice President Stephen Austin was appointed to the Joint Council of National Fire Service Organizations. 

Delaware State Fire School Lifetime Instructor certificates were presented to William Doyle, Jr., and Olan Thomas. Also awarded were George MyCock and Andy Walp who were unable to attend the presentation meeting. Leon Wegman was appointed chairman of the 1988 Convention Committee which Aetna would host. Clem Valiant was made a Life Honorary Member of the Board of Directors of Aetna. 

Aetna responded to 1,695 ambulance runs and members spent 822 hours covering 1,327 fire alarms during 1985. The total number of firefighters responding to alarms was equivalent to 22,628 man-responses for the year. Diane Silverman, Fund Drive Chair, reported receipts of $65,542.00 for 1985, the highest ever for a single year.


In January of 1986, the new Hahn pumper arrived and training began the following week. The pumper was placed in service in April. George Robinson, chairman of the New Year's Eve party reported a net profit of $1,259.00. A committee was appointed to look into the feasibility of building a stage in the social hall at Station 8 and separating the hall's heat and air conditioning system from the rest of the building. The architect presented his report at the May Directors' Meeting. The cost of his services: $5,875.00. At the June meeting, Nowland Associates' bid of $155,490.00 for the stage addition and segregation of the heat and air conditioning systems was approved. During the same time the parking lot at Station 8 was resealed and restriped for $6,415.00. 

The timing of the siren was changed to allow a slight delay between the alarm being given and the siren being activated. Additionally, the number of times the siren was sounded was reduced. After many discussions, approval was given to replace the 15-year-old ladder truck 97 at an estimated cost of $250,000.00. Delivery of the new vehicle would take approximately two years. 

George Getty, longtime member and Hall Chairman for several years, died suddenly. A large number of members attended both viewing and funeral services and a plaque in his memory was placed in the social hall at Station 8. Shortly thereafter George Robinson was appointed Hall Chairman, a post very important to Aetna. 

Deputy Chief Jon Townley was elected president of the New Castle County Fire Chiefs Association. 

The company by laws underwent major changes and were approved by an overwhelming majority of the voting members. Few major purchases were made during 1986. However, 3,000' of 3" hose at $2.65 per foot was obtained, pumper 95 was refurbished for $58,000.00, and a new radio for station wagon C 9 cost $1,200.00. 

Aetna won $1,175.00 in prize money at the Cumberland Valley Firemen's Convention parade in August and, during the Delaware State Convention, members and equipment from Cumberland Valley manned Newark's stations as fire-fighting backup for Aetna. 

Allen Smith was appointed chairman of Aetna's 100th Anniversary activities for 1988 and Ray Gregg and Bill Jarrell were appointed co-chairmen for the 1986 Christmas Banquet. During the Christmas Banquet, the Ladies Auxiliary presented the company with a check in the amount of $20,000.00. Harry Balthis, chairman of the Bingo Committee, reported income from Bingo operations in 1986 had totaled $31,648.00 and Fund Drive Chair Diane Silverman reported that over 65,000.00 had been raised during the 1986 fund drive campaign.

Cumberland Valley Volunteer Firemen's Convention


Early in 1987, the membership voted to support the county and state associations' request for state funding of a new Hi-Band radio system and equipment for the New Castle County Fire Board. Qualifications for participation in the State Firemen's Pension program were approved and the membership was advised that the qualifications must be met in order to remain in the program. 

At the March meeting, approval was given to purchase a new Ford field fire truck from Tri-State Ford at a cost of $16,480.00 and a 12 passenger van at a cost of $15,204.00. The old van was sold for $2,100.00 and the old field fire truck, number 90, was put up for bids and sold as well. A car phone was installed in the chief s car for $1,275.00. 

Aetna's liability insurance premium was reduced by $3,000.00 in July, bringing the cost of the 1987 policy to $6,500.00. Pump repairs and other corrective maintenance totaling $62,000.00 were approved for Pumper 95. Chief Farrall was appointed to the Fire Department Safety and Health Committee for the State of Delaware. 

1986 - Aetna at Cumberland Valley Firemen's Convention, Martinsburg, West Virginia 

The 1988 Convention Committee Chairman, Leon Wegman, reported that his committee and subcommittee planning was well underway. Much of the preparation had been completed and most of the souvenirs to be distributed during the event had been received. 

The new Seagraves Ladder Truck arrived in August and training on the new equipment was begun the same month. The new Seagraves cost $260,000.00 and the old ladder truck sold for $60,000.00. Approval was granted for Olan Thomas to proceed with the typesetting arrangements for Aetna's 100th Anniversary History Book, including the artwork layout for both front and back covers. At this point, the company history had been compiled and typewritten for the period between Aetna's 75th Anniversary in 1963 through July of 1987. 

Members and equipment attended Cumberland Valley's Firemens' Convention and won $75.00 in prize money and four trophies. 

During the annual state convention in September, Robert Sweetman was installed as President of the Delaware State Firemens' Association, the first Aetna member to hold this office. Stephen Austin was elected president of the New Castle County Firemens' Association in December. By the end of the year, plans for the 1988 State Convention to be held in Newark were in full swing, as were the arrangements for Aetna's 100th Anniversary celebration. 

Twelve names were added to Aetna's Life Membership list and a newly designed membership card was distributed to all Life Members. Van U-9 incurred $840.00 worth of damage when the unit was struck by an intoxicated driver. 

Replacement and update of small equipment included 50 helmets at $224.88 each, 6 Scott air packs at $1,205.00 each, 4 two-way radios at $500.00 each, and I ,000' of 3" hose at $2,700.00. Firefighting turn-out equipment consisting of 12 pairs of regular boots, 10 pairs of bunker boots, 8 pairs of bunker pants, and 4 coats totaled $3,320.00. A new cot for Ambulance A-9, a wet dry shop vacuum ($1,320.00), a video camera ($1,500.00), 24 pairs of gloves ($648.00), and a National Fire Prevention Association code book ($292.00) were also obtained. 

Station house purchases included 8 round tables for wedding receptions and dinners ($144.60 Each), 5 storage racks (totaling $600.93), a 12' ladder ($251.00), a mat for the stage ($300.00), 20 tables and 50 chairs for use in the social hall at Station 8. At Station 9, an air compressor ($1,095.00), electrical controls for the Delaware Avenue engine bay doors ($1,329.00) and similar controls for the Academy Street doors ($1,206.60) were purchased. 

The company's financial status remained sound. However, the need to replace Aerial Truck 97 required the withdrawal of monies from the reserve fund for apparatus replacement. Aetna's expenses for the year totaled $770,578.00, while income for 1987 came to $659,907.00. The company continued to be completely staffed by volunteers, saving taxpayers several million dollars yearly in wages and benefits. 

During 1987 Aetna responded to 1,363 fire alarms and answered 1,963 calls for ambulance service.


In January 1988 Rescue 8 was sent out to be refurbished at a cost estimated at $82,000.00. Deputy Chief Matthews and his committee reported a total of 952 Fire Prevention Programs were presented last year and Aetna Fire District had three state winners for the poster and essays. 

The restoration of the 1926 Seagraves was completed ahead of schedule. Past Fire Chief William Jarrell, chairman of the Restoration Committee, was recognized and thanked for a fine job and for the hundreds of hours he worked on this engine. More on this on the inside back cover. 

Chairman George Robinson of the NewYear's Eve Committee reported a profit of $2,907.00. Also the Ladies Auxiliary held a public chicken and dumpling dinner which was very successful. 

A major fire occurred at Strawberry Run Apartments and four firemen were injured due to hypothermia. Chief Farrall also reported the company won $1,225.00 at the Cumberland Valley Convention and that Norritom, Pennsylvania, and Halfway, Maryland, Fire Departments would be covering for Aetna during the State Convention held in Newark. Stephen Austin and Joe Bukowski were appointed to the Board of Directors, Cumberland Valley Association. 

The Chief and his Deputy Chiefs attended the Eastern Chiefs Association meetings in Wilmington and the Chief and Vice President Austin attended the Arson Conference held in NewYork. Chief Farrall was appointed by the president of IAAI to the Fire Service Advisory Committee. 

Aetna's oldest American LaFrance pumper 75 was donated to the State Fire School. Financial Secretary Roland Leathrum completed the computing system at a cost of $200.00 for items needed to be purchased and donated hundreds of hours, saving Aetna approximately $4,000.00. 

Several items were approved for maintenance of the stations; engine bay doors on Delaware Avenue were replaced, $3,210.00; acoustics in the Hall and general maintenance, $12,500.00; Station 8 engine bay floor stripped and resealed, radio room (paneled, new ceiling, new flooring and painted). 

Two new dumpsters were purchased for Station 8 and the old ones placed at Station 7 and 9. I.D. cards, including photo, were issued to members who desired one. The quantity of history books to be printed was increased from 1000 to 2000. 

Fireline equipment purchased during the year included: six new chief s coats at $150.00 each; four two-way radios at $500.00 each; 1000' of 13/~" hose, $2,500.00; 50 New Yorker helmets at $215.00 each; a replacement hose washer $6,400.00; 40 air packs serviced at $50.00 each; 18 pairs of boots at $1,200.00; paint lockers for each station and 24 pair of fire turnout gloves at $27.00 per pair. 

A Fund Drive Century Club Reception was held in June at Station 8 Hall. Chairman Allen Smith reported it was the first of several affairs to be held this year and was well attended. 

Diane Silverman reported the Ambulance Fund Drive was a success and the Fire Fund Drive folders were mailed in early September. To date returns were reported very good and many congratulation letters on the convention and Aetna 100th Anniversary have been received. 

Under the direction of Leon Wegman, chair man of the Convention Committee, a very fine 68th Annual State Convention was held in Newark on September 15,16 and 17. All members were invited to serve on any committee or committees they were interested in and most did take part. Leon and the committee worked on the planning for several years and it is believed the convention and parade was the largest of any Firemen's Convention held in Delaware. A great convention! 

Aetna's 100th Anniversary Banquet will be held 100 years to the day on December 17,1988, at Station 8, with Allen Smith as chairman.

Today Aetna provides fire and ambulance service to a district of over 100,000 people in the City of Newark and the surrounding area. Company fire schools are attended weekly and many attend the Delaware State Fire School regularly.


In December of 1988, Chief Bill Matthews was elected Chief of Aetna for the coming year.

During his term, Chrysler Corporation recognized Aetna for its service to 

the community of Newark. President Jim Woods was reelected as President.

In 1990 President Jim Wood was elected to his 20th year as President of Aetna. Chief Jeff Smith was elected as Chief of the Department. 


In 1991, President Jim Wood began his 21st year as President, Jon Townley was elected Chief. In the February meeting, the company agreed to purchase a trailer to haul Ole Bessie and have it

painted & lettered with the company name Aetna for the amount of $7,500.00. On March 14th, Aetna responded to a fire alarm at the Ames Store in Chestnut Hill Shopping Center to find the second floor storage area involved, because the sprinkler system was blocked by boxes. The fire went to a second alarm and Station 8 hall was used as an interview location for the fire marshals. Later that month, Aetna was dispatched to Fairway Road for a fire. Chief Townley arrived to find subjects trapped on the third floor. First arriving apparatus rescued several persons from the building. Fire damaged several apartments in the building. In April’s meeting, Phil Sereni was recognized for writing a paper on Seat Belts saving lives, which also appeared in the News Journal Paper. In August, the company approved to have an air brush mural done for the trailer hauling Ole Bessie at a cost of $1,000.00. During this year, several two alarm fires were managed by Aetna including Wholesale Warehouse on Ogletown Road and a Lumber Company in the Old Baltimore Industrial Park.


In 1992 the department agreed to send Ole Bessie to the Cumberland Valley Convention Parade, its first parade outside of Newark. In February, an abandoned house burned on Kirkwood Highway at New Kirk Estates, Chief Townley advised the crews to let it burn to the ground. The location had been a multi-response for small fires in the past. The owners thanked Aetna for removing the problem. 

In July, Chief Townley was injured in a golf accident, President Wood appointed Deputy Chief Bill Butterworth as acting Chief.


Jeff Smith was elected Chief in 1993. The department tried 2” hose as attack lines on Engine 7-2. In May, an open Directors seat was filled by Past President Charles Wollaston. Past Chief Frank Beers tried to swear in the newly elected Director Charles Wollaston who repeated the oath of office from memory. 


A new chief’s vehicle was approved in 1994 for purchase in the amount of $10,374.00. President Jim Wood received an award from the Rotary Club of Newark for his dedication, commitment, community service and excellence. Delaware City Fire Department Chief Wally Poppe offered Aetna first choice to purchase Ladder 15, which was Aetna’s first ladder truck. Aetna declined. A motion in the October meeting to install sprinkler system in Station 9 at a cost of $5,000.00 was purchased. Ray Gregg was recognized for 51 years of service at the December banquet. 


John Farrell was elected Chief of Aetna in 1995. In June of that year, member Steve Austin was presented the Presidential Award at the International Association of Arson Investigators. 


In 1996, Jim Wood began his 26th year as President of Aetna Hose, Hook, & Ladder Company.


In 1997, Larry Thompson was elected Chief and Past Chief Frank Beers was elected President, 

ending Jim Woods 26 consecutive years in office. President Frank Beers was the first to hold both the Chief’s position and the President’s position in the department. In June, the company passed a resolution making Jim Wood, Jr. President Emeritus of Aetna Hose, Hook, & Ladder Company.

In October, Past Chief John Farrell was honored for his work in Fire Prevention and Ed Klima was

honored for his work with the Fire Fighters Combat Challenge. Olan Thomas was honored for 50

years of service, Joe Bukowski was elected 2nd V.P. of the Delaware State Fire Police Association 

and Steve Austin was elected as 2nd V.P. of the Delaware Volunteer Fireman’s Association.


Larry Thompson continued as Chief and Frank Beers continued as President of Aetna in 1998. Total fire responses for the previous year (1997) were 2,329 with 32,478 personnel in service for 1,254 hours. The EMS responses totaled 4,036 with 9,717 personnel in service with 3,828 hours contacting a total of 4,442 patients.


In 1999 Jon Townley was elected as President and the membership endorsed Joe Bukowski for President of the State Fire Police Association. This year the DVFA released the “Fitch Report” of the state’s responses to Fire and EMS incidents. Aetna questioned some of its contents and who was in charge of EMS in the State. Aetna was recognized by the State Commission for the most active EMS personnel with a total of 49 EMT-B’s actively riding the ambulance. Fire Fund drive totaled $104,518.50 this year compared to $104,777.44 last year. A New Utility Pick-up truck had been ordered and will be tagged as 7-0. Automatic Steel overhead garage doors with remotes and reverse features were installed at station 9 bays for the amount of $10,782.00. In March, three members were injured in a working fire at Carleton Court Apartments. All were treated and released. A By-Law change was presented at the March meeting changing the membership joining age from 20 to 18 years of age. Stations 7 & 8 were used as polling places this year. In addition to the career staff, Aetna Board approved a six month trial period for a paid on call program to staff the ambulance for 6 hour shifts. The same month, Fire Board designated Tac 3 for fire ground operations and EMSOPs 1 for EMS radio operations. In May of this year, a working fire at the Chestnut Crossing Apartments sent victims to the Chester Crozer Burn Center for treatment. The EMS fund drive raised $112,950.00 this year. In June, the New Castle County Police Chief recognized several members for helping at the Carleton Court Fire. On July 4th Aetna supplied Engines to cover several fire work displays in the district. This year, Aetna & Christiana Fire Companies met discussing way the departments could better utilize joint purchasing, joint public relations, and district coverage among other topics. A committee was appointed to repair and upgrade Ladder 9. 

The Long Range Planning Committee chaired by Dan Seador reported at the June meeting that there is someone interested in purchasing Station 8. During that meeting, discussions were held on consolidating Station 8 & 9 into one location on South Chapel Street. Past President Frank Beers was appointed to investigate the inquiry and report back to the company with his findings. Bunk beds were purchased for Stations 7, 8, and 9 to upgrade the sleeping quarters at all the stations. 

Discussions were held on a contingency plan in the event that the computer systems would fail at year end. (Y2K) This would include planning for support of members and their families. A motion passed to provide a budget of $10,000.00 to support Steve Austin while he was in office as President of the Delaware Volunteer Fireman’s Association. Aetna placed a nomination for President Emeritus Jim Wood for the Fireman’s Historical Foundation of Delmarva Hall of Fame.

The ambulance fund drive totaled $122,755.00 this year. Member Mark Moroz was selected by DVFA to receive the 1999 DVFA Scholarship Award. Chief Thompson presented a new policy for keeping a gear locker and a company pager. Members would have to maintain at least 15 calls per month. 

In July, Past President Beers gave an update on the interest of Station 8. A motion was made and passed to have all stations appraised. In August, Aetna hosed the Cumberland Valley Volunteer Fireman’s Association conference & Parade in Newark. President Joe Bukowski completed his term as President of the CVVFA. An Aetna picnic was held on the DuPont site in Glasgow chaired by Director John Bonner. A New Ambulance was ordered from Delmarva Pump in the amount of $138,022.09. Delivery was scheduled in 120 days and it will be designated as A-7. At the state fireman’s convention, Steve Austin was installed as President of DVFA, Joe Bukowski was installed as President of the State Fire Police and member Drew Bowerson was selected as the EMT of the Year. In October, Hurricane Floyd passed thru the district, causing damage to the radio system. Greg Russell was named to serve as chairman of the renamed William “Pop” Hitchens Children’s Christmas Party in honor of Bill Hitchens. Member Rand Townley was honored for receiving the President’s Award from New Castle County Police. The award was presented at the White House. Crews were scheduled at all stations for the overnight shifts on December 31st. The Y2K planning was in place for the year end. 

The Y2K at the year-end of 1999 had no effect to any computer or radio system. Business as usual. Aetna purchased the first portable phone in January. Aetna member Doctor Dave Bailey was appointed as the State BLS Medical Control Doctor responsible for all the EMT’s in the State. In March, the company approved to add three bays to Station 7. One would be a maintenance bay for apparatus. A motion was passed to limit smoking in the stations to the Engine Bays only.  At a working fire in Fairfield, one occupant was rescued by members Tripp Wagner & Dan Einhous.

Aetna approved shirt and hat sales with NFD logo. In May, Aetna sent members to staff apparatus in Greenwood, DE after the death of their Assistant Chief Blankenship during a training exercise. The Company purchased EMS Bikes for the Bike team to be used for large crowd functions. Chief Kavanagh purchased an Imaging Camera and an Accountability System to be used on fire ground and large incidents. AED’s were purchased for ambulances and front line apparatus. Five additional AED’s were purchased for the Newark Police Department as they were more likely to be first on the scene of a CPR. A memorandum of understanding between Aetna & the U of D EMS Division concerning mutual aid responses for EMS & Fire calls was agreed upon. A portable lift was purchased for the maintenance of apparatus. The Fire fund drive totaled $84,761.50 this year. At the DVFA convention, Aetna placed 6th overall, Drew Bowerson was named Delaware Firefighter Hall of Fame and Irene LaVita-Harris was named EMT-B of the year.

In November, a working fire at Cartier Court Townhouses injured Assistant Chief Kevin Eichinger. Kevin was transported to the Chester-Crozier Hospital for his injuries. The department made available the Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD) team for members. The company approved the expansion of station 7 by Builder Barclay-White. Assistant Chief Eichinger was released from Crozier and was home doing well. Final price for Station 7 expansion was $370,000.00, $90.00 a square foot. Ground breaking ceremony was Dec. 16th and construction was started Dec. 18th. 


In January of 2001, U of D presented Aetna with a check for $6,000.00 for pagers to have the 

siren at station 9 turned off. It was effecting their equipment in the lab at Academy & Delaware.

The Long Range Planning Committee held a day and a half summit at Station 27 facilitated by Lou Amibili and Jamie Turner. The goal was to look at where Aetna was going in the next 15 to 20 years. In February, Aetna responded to the Newark Country Club for a successful rescue on the pond. A meeting was held between Aetna, Christiana, & Middletown for a possible joint firehouse to be built in the Glasgow area. The phone system at the stations was upgraded for improvement of EMS Data information. Chief Kavanagh presented a NIOSH/NFPA report at the State Chiefs meeting at Station 8 on the Cartier Court Fire. In April, a serious crash on Paper Mill Road had five fatalities. Aetna activated the CISD team. A new ambulance was purchased for $141,927.00. The new maintenance bay that was part of the expansion to station 7 was dedicated to member Richard “Dicky” Wegman who passed away recently and was a tireless assistant engineer.

In June 2001, Aetna responded to assist North East, Maryland with multiple townhouses on fire. Desk top computers were now in every radio room of all stations. Aetna has agreed to sell the tractor trailer due to lack of use. Aetna participated in manpower and apparatus sent to New York City during the terrorist attack on the United States of America. In October 2001, it was decided by the Company not to pursue the property on South Chapel but to concentrate on the Glasgow area. Treasurer Jerry Daniels reported that an increase in donations & letters to Aetna’s emergency services have been received including a donation from Irma Dudleheim’s friend from England. Total fund drive was $161,373.75. Member Irene LaVita-Harris was inducted into the DVFA Hall of Fame. Member Steve Austin was recognized as CVVFA’s Fire Person of the Year 2001.


In February of 2002 Steve Austin reported that DVFA fund raisers donated $210,000.00 to the FDNY/NYPD Relief Fund from the State of Delaware.  Aetna participated in the State wide smoke detector give away by DVFA. Commissioner Ken McMahon recognized Aetna who had 53 certified EMT-B’s, the most in the State. Chief Steve Kavanagh was chosen to serve as a model for a painting that would be shown at the CFSI dinner in Washington. EMS Captain Chris Johnson reported that the EMS response time was 2.5 minutes for Aetna. A letter from Aetna was sent to New Castle County EMS Chief Larry Tan requesting a Medic Unit be located in one of the fire houses in Newark.  In June 2002, Career staff Marty Rogolowicz accepted the position as Aetna’s supervisor. Del Dot installed Opticon devices at intersections to assist emergency apparatus thru the lights. A bus crash on I-95 ended up being a mass casualty incident (MCI). Aetna had trained for such incident in the past. Aetna purchased rapid intervention bags (RIT) for the apparatus. Total fires for the year 2002 was 2,599 and EMS responses were over 6,000, an increase of 10% over last year. Fire fund drive was $132,310.50.


In May of 2003, Aetna accepted a bid from Pierce to purchase three new engines, to be delivered on January 1st of the next three years for a total of $962,410.00. By purchasing three, it saved the department over $250,000.00. In August of 2003, Aetna hired a full time mechanic and approved a motion to establish an Honorary Membership for the Company. During a hurricane in October, the department responded to over 140 calls. Chief Kavanagh was working on a refund for apparatus use and costs for manpower thru FEMA. Past President Charles Wollaston was honored as the Fireman of the Year. 


In 2004 President Ed Hawthorne hired a full time mechanic for station 7, Scottie Uhey. That year, an AED was installed in the hall at Station 8. In October of 2004, Aetna made settlement on the Glasgow property on Old County Road for the new Station 10 project. A “Live-in Program” for Aetna was passed on the company floor. Fire fund drive totaled $ 142,278.57.


At the January meeting in 2005, Chief Walt Meredith & President Larry Thompson reported that the fire calls for 2004 were 2,152 & EMS calls were 6,280, for a total responses of 8,432. Past Chief Steve Kavanagh was appointed to the county Fire and Ambulance Advisory Board to represent Aetna, Christiana, & Mill Creek.  Past Chief Bill Matthews was awarded Firefighter of the Year. 


In January 2006, Chief Jon Townley & President Larry Thompson reported the total responses for Aetna for 2005 were at 8,955 calls. In February, Aetna purchase three vehicles, a new Chiefs car, a new fire duty vehicle and an EMS duty vehicle, all for under the two vehicle budget of $100,000.00. In April, the EMS Captain was changed to the EMS Deputy Chief by a vote of 35 in favor, 2 opposed. Member Chris Johnson was the new EMS Deputy Chief. The old chief’s car was sold to Preston for $5,000.00. Medic 9 was located at station 8 from 8am to 8pm, 7 days a week. On June 10th, ground breaking ceremonies were held on Old County Road for the new station 10. In July, Aetna was recognized by the City of Wilmington for the response to the City’s Crestview Apartment Fire. In August at the Chief’s meeting, a motion was passed to do away with the “10 code” and transmit with plain language. Aetna held a drill at the new Newark Reservoir. In November, Aetna reported a “close call” when a member was rescued after he ran out of air in a fire. In December, a working house fire in Woodmere ended up being a double fatal fire with heavy damage to the house. 

President Larry Thompson & Chief Bryan Kreer reported that the final fund drive for 2006 was $143,705.00. Dedication for Station 10 was held on June 6th, 2007 and the station was placed in service. The total for the ambulance fund drive was $142,717.00. Several members were recognized for a successful rescue from a working house fire on Stage Road. In November of 2007, Chief Kreer placed in service accountability tags for all members and safety vests on all apparatus. At the annual “Wake up Delaware”, Aetna gave away 341 smoke detectors. 


In 2007 for the first time, Aetna responded to over 10,000 Fire, Rescue & EMS calls. The Fire & Rescue responses were 2008 incidents and the EMS responses were 8,286 totaling 10,004 calls.


In 2009 President Robinson signed a contract to purchase a new Ladder 9 from Pierce in the amount of $839,727.00 to be delivered in 2011. Chief Brian Hendricks nominated Past Chief Ken Farrall for Chief Emeritus and the department voted in favor the same year. Fire Department Service Medal Ribbon program was instituted for Class “A” uniforms for acts of Valor which included years of service on the sleeves of the Class “A”.


In 2010 Chief Hendricks took delivery of a New Pierce Rescue 8. This year Chief Hendricks also instituted the Individual Reflective Vests for all Fire, EMS & Fire Police members while on duty. Two additional Career Firefighters were hired to the staff.

In July of this year during a heavy rain storm, Aetna responded to a motor vehicle crash where a pedestrian was fatally struck. The patient was Aetna Firefighter/EMT Teri Schall. Multiple fire departments provided coverage for the District immediately afterwards and for the next two days straight demonstrating the true Service for Others Motto.


On March 17th 2011 the new Ladder 9 was delivered to Station 9. Prior to delivery the ladder 9 bay height had to be raised to fit the ladder into the bay. The construction was completed by PHB, Inc. of Middletown for $75,000.00. Impact fees from New Castle County covered $70,000.00 of the costs. In May of this year, a jack knifed tractor trailer in the Pencader Corporate Center carrying a hazardous chemical involved several agencies. This resulted in closing I-95 to tow the trailer to New Jersey for off-loading. An open house at Station 8 this year housed the new Rescue 8 and the New Ladder 9. Past President Bill Frazer, the oldest living member was recognized. This year the Class “B” uniform was instituted for the EMS crews and Public Service events providing a professional image for Aetna.


In March of 2012, Aetna was in service at a motor vehicle crash on Pulaski Highway with entrapment when Aetna was dispatched for a working fire in Covered Bridge. Early on, a career firefighter fell thru a hole in the floor while battling the fire. A Mayday was declared and he was rescued with only minor burns & released back to duty. In October, Aetna responded to a bus crash on the interstate, which ended up being an MCI. In December 2012, Chief Rudd reported on a two alarm building fire at 92 Hobart Drive with heavy fire damage to the building.


In 2013 with Chief John Rudd and President George Robinson, the Department began celebrating its 125th year of “Service to Others” in Newark. Chief Rudd hosted the Delaware State Fire Chiefs in January 2013.  In April, Station 10 hosted a motorcycle fund-raiser ride, and a portion of the proceeds were donated to the Wounded Warriors Project. On May 19th, the Memorial Day Parade in Newark had 125 members in attendance. In September, Aetna had 125 members participating in the DVFA parade in Dover. Aetna had the color guard participating at the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service in Emmitsburg. On December 17th, 125 years of Service to Others was celebrated at Station 8 with a Chief’s Christmas Party. 

During this year, Chief Rudd took command during a major storm. Damage was the result of a confirmed EF0 tornado which touched down in Robscott Manor, Yorkshire and Woodland Villages in June. Multiple agencies assisted with injuries but eight homes were condemned due to severe structural damage from winds and falling trees. Aetna assisted in a “Hero’s Welcome Home” for a USMC L/CPL returning from a tour in Afghanistan. The U of D UDECU program run by University students was turned over to the U of D Department of Public Safety. Aetna offered any help to field train their students. Several Aetna Officers and Career staff took the fire instructor class offered by the DSFS called the Blue Card Command class. This year, Chief Rudd worked with the EMS Deputy Chief Fardanesh and his staff in an outreach program to teach CPR to over 100 members of the public.