Brownsville is a borough in Fayette County, Pennsylvania, United States, founded in 1785 and located 35 miles south of the City of Pittsburgh along the Monongahela River. In the 19th century, the borough became an industrial center, transportation hub, outfitting center, and river boat-building powerhouse. It was a gateway city for emigrants heading west to the Ohio Country, Northwest Territory and beyond on the various Emigrant Trails to the far west from its founding until well into the 1850s.
Brownsville became a major center for building steamboats through the 19th century, producing 3,000 boats by 1888.
The borough developed in the late 19th century as a railroad yard and coking center, with other industries related to the rise of steel in the Pittsburgh area. It reached a peak of population of more than 8,000 in 1940. Post-war development occurred in suburbs, as was typical of the time. The restructuring of the railroad and steel industries caused a severe loss of jobs and population in Brownsville, beginning in the 1970s. The borough has a population of 2331 as of 2010.
Brownsville began to see the need for a fire company around 1822 thus the council had purchased some fire equipment. Beginning in 1827 the first fire company was established in the borough with only 6 ladders, 3 fire hooks, and 1 chain typed 10ft ladder. That's it! Obviously recognizing the need and demand for more equipment, the borough purchased the first fire apparatus in 1830. This Company failed - the only fire protection consisted of the Monongahela River and a few town pumps. The alarm was sounded by bells, whistles, or the cries of alarm. Those who answered the alarm were much disorganized.
In 1910, Brownsville Fire Company No. 1, as we know it today was established and granted a charter, which was equipped with a horse-drawn wagon. Initial alerting for fireman came from the Bell Telephone company who had a list of members to call and by the school bell. A year later, the old Brownsville Lock #5 had agreed to implement their steam powered whistle to alert fireman, which later proved insufficient due to low volume. In 1928, the implementation of a box alarm system was put in place, and signal in code an intersection close to the emergency.
In 1914, the "North Bend" firehouse was established for the organization. In 1919, the company purchased new the first motorized apparatus, an Ahrens Fox for the amount of $12,050.
In 1934, the two boroughs (Brownsville & South Brownsville) became one, however the fire companies were still their own entities.
Over the years, the company made great success to show what we have today!
In July 2022, the Company acquired the status of being a QRS (Quick Response Service) Agency. A QRS is a non-transporting level of EMS. An EMS agency operating a QRS uses EMS providers to respond to calls for EMS and provide EMS to patients before an ambulance arrives. Acquiring this level of certification allows us to better provide emergency medical care to the community and its visitors prior to an ambulance arriving on scene. This improves chances of survival for those incidents that are considered to be life threatening.
Today, the Brownsville Fire Company No. 1 proudly houses 4 units and a light/generator support unit! Our current apparatus includes heavy engine, mini-engine/rescue, engine/rescue combination, and utility/support unit.
Other Organization Affiliations
The Brownsville Fire Company No. 1 is a member of the Fayette County Fireman's Association, the Southwestern Chief's and Assistant Chief's Association, and the Western Pennsylvania Fireman's Association.
We also have members that are affiliated with Fayette County Emergency Management Agency - Swift Water Rescue Team, where our members are trained to the technician level for swift water rescue events. These skilled members have deployed as far as Wilkes-Barre, PA and other areas with the team to assist other agencies with high-risk water related emergencies.