Sun. Mar 26th, 2023

Returning the favor for their constant aid and dedication to West Chester, the West Chester University Foundation answered the call this time to support our local volunteer fire fighters, the First West Chester Fire Company, on Thursday, Nov. 19.

At 2 p.m. in the First Company’s station off South Bradford Avenue, WCU Foundation Executive Director Richard Przywara met with Thomas Barton, president of the First West Chester Fire Company.

A check for $3,000 was presented to First West Chester, as a token of gratitude for their constant and voluntary dedication to the safeguarding of West Chester University’s campus and community.

This was not the Foundation’s first contribution. However, it was the first hand-delivered donation to First West Chester.

“It’s good to know who you’re working with,” Przywara said. “I thought I would drive over and see the chief and some of the captains. I haven’t seen them in a year and I got to see some of the equipment and what they’re doing with their volunteers. It was a chance to reconnect and say thank you.”

Przywara offered his praise to the fire company.

“WCU recognizes the critical role this fire company has played in our campus community for nearly 150 years so we try to give back whenever possible,” said Przywara. “As a volunteer fire department, these brave men and women continuously demonstrate their dedication to West Chester and we are happy to have a chance to support their operations.”

Przywara continued on to explain that the foundation is “accountable for and operates most of the campus dorms.” If there was a fire in any one of these high-rise buildings, or an emergency that required the fire department, one of the three all-volunteer fire companies that comprise the West Chester fire department would be readily equipped to be of service.

The foundation works to support both the short and long term goals of West Chester University, through fundraising and actions such as donations, like the thank you donation to the First West Chester’s funding. They also manage donated resources and strive to promote the University’s needs to prospective contributors.

First West Chester is one of three companies, Fame and Good Will being the other two.

Since 1799, the First West Chester Fire Company has served the West Chester community–including the campus of West Chester University since its founding in 1871.

Known as the “Fightin’ 51st” among the tight-knit group, the First West Chester Fire Company is made up of volunteers of all ages.

“We’re all volunteers,” said Thomas Barton, President of First West Chester. “We have people that work around the clock—I’m actually going to work right after this.”

He continued, “We have great relationships with a lot of our members that work locally, whose employers will let them out of work if needed, so they carry their pagers at all times. Their companies will let them go as needed, and are still secure in their jobs.”

Younger people are also among the diverse fire service roster and begin training as early as they can.

Barton explained that they teach young adults that are ages 16-18. “You have to be 18 years old to be qualified to become an interior firefighter,” said Barton. “Up until that point, younger people can train and learn with us, and see how we operate. They are also able to respond to locations, but can only do outside work, like operating the hoses.”

As young as the volunteers are, they have members in their 70’s doing their part at First West Chester as well.

“We’ve been around since 1799 and it has rung true year after year that members young and old come together in an emergency,” said Barton.

Funding from the foundation, and other contributors, Barton explplained, goes toward the upkeep of their establishment and mortgages.

“Department-wide, the trucks are owned by the borough. We do get some state funding throughout the year,” said Barton. “We just spent some capital on fixing up the driveway, and, as you can see, funding will primarily go towards ‘keeping the lights on,’ so to speak. Funding helps us maintain the building and keep everything working and in check.”

If anyone were to be interested in answering the call with First West Chester or either of the two other fire companies in West Chester, feel free to contact any of the headquarters and come for a visit to the station.

Aidan Paggao is a third-year student majoring in marketing with a minor in international business. He can be reached at

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