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The reason why Pennsylvania's first African American fire company no longer exists

In 1925, the Edgemont Fire Company broke barriers becoming many "firsts." The reign of the fire company fell short a few years of its 100th anniversary.

EDGEMONT, Pa. — Started in 1925, the Edgemont Fire Company became a blueprint for future companies.

It was the first station in Susquehanna Township and the first African-American fire companies in Pennsylvania.

 "That was our pride and joy, we were very proud," said Charlene Morris, an Edgemont Historian.

Morris, an Edgemont native, has been researching about the town's history for decades. Throughout the years, she has kept an electronic file cabinet  filled with newspaper clippings and photographs; many of them chronicling the fire company's legacy

However, it no longer exists.

"Just like everything to me and the people of Edgemont, there's a hurt when it's no longer there," said Morris. 

At its peak, the fire company, not only extinguished flames but organized community events such as BBQs, dances and parades. It became an inspiration to younger generations.

"Because they see positive minorities doing things," said Maurice Titus, a former firefighter who spent 20 years as an engine man.

"[I just loved] helping the community out, I knew I played a vital part," he said.

In 2020, at the start of the pandemic, many Edgemont Firefighters retired.

The search to find new recruits, especially younger ones, became an uphill battle.

"They don't have that drive of  helping their community," said Titus.

It's a struggle many volunteer fire companies are facing, not only in Edgemont, but nationwide.

"The interest in that type of career for some young men is not there anymore, it's not fast money," Morris said.

Some people in the community believe the Edgemont Fire Company may return someday, others remain uncertain.

"It's a possibility but I don't think there's anyone in the community that has the drive to bring it back," Titus said.

The Edgemont Fire Company has since transformed into an  event space and is used for an afterschool program.

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