Aston-Beechwood Fire Company Decommissioned During Solemn Ceremony
Emotions ran high the evening of August 18 as members of the Aston Township Fire Department (ATFD) #17 joined commissioners, officials and neighbors for the decommissioning ceremony of the ATFD West station, formerly known as the Aston-Beechwood Fire Company #72 on Mount Road.
“Traditions in the fire service are very important, said Sean Joyce, ATFD president. “We, as the newly formed Aston Township Fire Department, feel the same way and believe this station is a very important part of our legacy… Change is not always easy, and in order to grow and continue to serve the community we must continue to move forward.”
A merger between the Aston-Beechwood and Green Ridge Fire Companies took more than 10 years of discussion and 18 months of intensive meetings to complete. Members of both companies formed the Aston Fire and EMS Cooperative Partnership Steering Committee, and worked diligently to work toward the joining of the two departments
The Aston Board of Commissioners officially recognized the ATFD as the official township fire company in January, 2015.
Commissioners were then faced with making a decision about the location of the newly established company. It was decided that the Aston-Beechwood building would be sold, leaving the Green Ridge site, and possible new construction at either the township municipal building on Pennell Road or purchase property and build at the corner of Concord and Red Hill Roads. Several public meetings were held which were very well attended. With added expense and the possibility of a tax increase being the primary concerns of the majority of the residents, commissioners ultimately voted to maintain the Dutton’s Mill Road site, which will eventually be expanded.
At the time, Joyce stated that the Dutton’s Mill Road, or site of the former Green Ridge Fire Department was the preferred site of the members of the fire company.
Township Emergency Management Coordinator/ATFD Director Thomas Morgan, Sr., read a brief history of the Aston-Beechwood Fire Company prior to the official decommissioning service.
Morgan said resident Ed Cordell, in 1945, began talking to neighbors and friends about forming a fire company. Joined by Harold Eusden and Thomas Fisher, Cordell saw his dream come true in 1947 when the first slate of officers were elected for the fire company. A charter was granted on February 13, 1948 and the department soon grew to 68 members.
Land for the Aston-Beechwood fire house was purchased in 1949 and the first cinder block structure was built in 1951.
In 1976, a bell which sits at the entrance to the station was dedicated after being donated by the Franklin Fire Company in Chester. The bell will be moved to the Dutton’s Mill Road site of the ATFD and placed in a position of prominence.
“It is not with solemn hearts that we bid farewell, but with pride, joy and dedication to the future that we respectfully forge our new path into the unknown,” Morgan said. “May God Bless all those that have served in this station, and all those that will continue that same service in our new home.”
The bell was then rung one time to signify the last call for the Aston-Beechwood Fore Company.
“This fire company holds great memories for me,” said township resident Cathy Jones. “All of my children ran with the company as did my late husband Ronnie.”
Florence Fisher was on-hand for the decommissioning and said she and her late husband Lew were the first couple to have their wedding reception in the fire company hall in 1953.
“And, what is interesting is that my son and his wife were the first couple to have their reception in the Green Ridge fire hall,” Fisher said.
Aston 2nd Ward Commissioner Carol Graham said the decommissioning was bittersweet.
“This fire house has been in this community for a long time,” Graham said. “However, things change and time marches on. I am very grateful for everything our emergency personnel does for this community.”